Wikipedia defies demands to remove religious images

Wikipedia, the free online encyclopaedia, has refused to remove mediaeval images of Mohammed despite receiving 180,000 complaints from Muslims.

The images, dating from 14–16th century Persian and Ottoman miniatures, show the face of the Prophet, which is prohibited in current Islam although it was not at that time.

Wikipedia editors stated that: "Wikipedia recognises that there are cultural traditions among some Muslim groups that prohibit depictions of Muhammad and that some Muslims are offended when those traditions are violated. However, the prohibitions are not universal among Muslim communities, particularly with the Shia who, while prohibiting the images, are less strict about it.

"Since Wikipedia is an encyclopedia with the goal of representing all topics from a neutral point of view, Wikipedia is not censored for the benefit of any particular group.

"So long as they are relevant to the article and do not violate any of Wikipedia's existing policies, nor the law of the US state of Florida where Wikipedia's servers are hosted, no content or images will be removed because people find them objectionable or offensive."

The images at the centre of the protest appear on most of the European versions of the web encyclopaedia, though not on Arabic sites.

Also see: Wikipedia defies 180,000 demands to remove images of the Prophet
22 February 2008