Was the Muhammad Cartoonist burned alive?

On 23 June 2006 we received an email containing this message:

> The artist who drew the pictures of the Prophet Muhammed
> (P.B.U.H) has died in a fire. He was burned alive. Denmark
> government is hiding the news from the public and everyone has got
> to know. Plz spread this.... (Its the price one must pay 4 the
> insult of Allah's Prophet) plz copy and paste this as many ppl...

salaam all brothers and sisters, i plead and request you to send 
this to all people, this includes the ones amongst the 'kaafir'. if 
this message reaches the kaafir then no kaafir in this day and age 
will have the courage and guts to go against islam. lets establish 
islam as a mazboot religion and lets hope this message reaches the 
kaafir so it shakes their souls. insha-allah sign your names if you 
have recieved the mail,let us sign our names and see how many 
signitures we get, add another number and sign your name becasue 
the prophet on judjement day will say, what did you do in my defence 
when the kaafir made mockery out of me? this is the least we can do 
my brothers and sisters.

1. Sunni Foundation

and then the list continued with 26 individual names.

A quick search on Google revealed that this story has already circulated widely, but none of those websites that deal with hoaxes and urban legend has exposed it so far.

How To Spot an Email Hoax states:

Look for the telltale phrase, 'Forward this to everyone you know!' The more urgent the plea, the more suspect the message.

Virtually any email chain letter you receive (i.e., any message forwarded multiple times before it got to you) is more likely to be false than true. You should automatically be skeptical of chain letters.

This rule is just proven true again.

Many Muslims would certainly rejoice about such news, and so the author of the hoax probably thought that with this message he could bring happiness to many brothers/sisters in these dark times. However, he merely ends up exposing the enormous gullibility of the many Muslims who have taken the message to be true and have spread it around the community and posted it on plenty of blogs.

Despite the world wide coverage of the story of the Muhammad cartoons, and detailed discussion in many different media, neither the author of this message nor the gullible people who believed and spread it further have understood that the press in Denmark and Europe and America is free, i.e. neither printed nor electronic media are under government control. Because the government was not responsible for the original publication, the government of Denmark could not apologize for what a free press has published, nor could it suppress news like the above fictional story. Since the Islamic world does not know a truly free press, this particular blunder will occur again and again and again. A detailed discussion about the Muhammad cartoons and its consequences can be found in this article.

In any case, the point that is exposing the story as a hoax without any question is the fact that these twelve cartoons were the result of a cartoon contest and have been drawn not by one person but by many different cartoonists. Despite the fact that the Jamaat-e-Islami that put out a bounty for the murder of the cartoonist made the same mistake, the call for murder was real. However, this misunderstanding exposes the above story as a hoax driven by a combination of wishful thinking and total ignorance.

Jochen Katz

P.S.: We are glad to see that there are still some Muslims out there who have brains enough to NOT uncritically accept and forward such messages, see this blog.

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