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Freesheet criticised for publishing Mohammed-story

Despite reaching a limited Danish audience on its launch day due to technical problems, Nyhedsavisen's 'Mohammed-scoop' has reignited fury among Muslims globally and sparked a debate on the legitimacy of publishing the story in the first place.

On Friday the free paper's first edition led with a 'scoop' on how members of the Danish People Party's youth wing (DFU) competed to draw degrading pictures of Mohammed during this year's summer camp and published video recordings of the event, captured with a hidden camera, on its website. Parts of the video recordings were subsequently aired on Danish TV, which caused protests from the world's largest international Muslim body, Islamic Conference.

Yesterday Asger Aamund, a Danish businessman and chairman of an association that supports Democratic Muslims, attacked Nyhedsavisen for publishing the story, and said the newspaper was to blame if this would lead to similar reactions as in 'the cartoon-war'. He told Berlingske that a newspaper should not report "what some half-drunk reactionary youths get up to on a private party." Others have criticised Nyhedsavisen for running a story captured with a hidden camera. They argue that such a controversial measure should only be used when it is in the public's interest and say that this story was not in the interest of the wider society.

David Trads, Nyhedsavisen's editor, has stated that the story was not intended to insult Muslims and defended his decision to publish the story: "DFU held an official summer camp. It was not a private party... The Danish People's Party [DFU's mother party] is Denmark's third largest party and the government's parliamentary support." He called the story "classic journalism" and told Berlingske: "we have absolutely no responsibility for the reactions to this story, that responsibility rests fully with the Danish People's Party and DFU."

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