The violent murder in 2004 of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker critical of Islam, by a radical Muslim sent a chill across Europe. In Denmark, a children's writer of a book on Muhammad was turned down by three illustrators, a fourth would take the job only anonymously. A Danish comedian told the Jyllands-Posten that he would urinate on the Bible, but dared not do likewise on the Quran.
Rose was bothered at what he believed was European self-censorship fueled by fear and political correctness. After working as a foreign correspondent in the Soviet Union, he had developed a strong distaste for any law that mirrors Soviet laws that criminalized dissent.
In response, Rose contacted members of the Danish cartoonists union to "draw Muhammad as they see him" to counter "a slippery slope where no one can tell how the self-censorship will end."
Now people look at the Danish cartoons and blithely pronounce that Jyllands-Posten should have known that violence would follow.
In fact, while the paper ran the cartoons in September 2005, violence did not erupt until 2006, after two imams toured the Middle East and disseminated not only the original cartoons, but also three more offensive images, including a photo from a French pig-squealing contest. Blame the men who set out to stoke Islamic outrage for igniting the flames that followed and the violence that claimed so many innocent lives.
As for European critics who say he is Islamophobic, Rose responded that some Europeans believe "you shouldn't offend Muslims because they are so weak, they are so immature, they are such a different kind of minority, that if you treat them like everybody else, they will go wild."
To Rose, who has been highly critical of the "victim-ology" practiced by radical imams living in Europe, the belief that criticizing Muhammad is incendiary is Islamophobic.
Rose warned against newspapers giving into intimidation by loudmouths who want to quash dissenting opinions.
"If you give into intimidation, you will not get less intimidation, you will get more intimidation."