Henryk M. Broder in Der Spiegel:
In 1988, Salman Rushdie's novel “The Satanic Verses” was published in its English-language original edition. Its publication led the Iranian state and its revolutionary leader, Ayatollah Khomeini, to issue a “fatwa” against Rushdie and offer a hefty bounty for his murder. This triggered several attacks on the novel's translators and publishers, including the murder of Japanese translator Hitoshi Igarashi. Millions of Muslims around the world who had never read a single line of the book, and who had never even heard the name Salman Rushdie before, wanted to see the death sentence against the author carried out — and the sooner the better, so that the stained honor of the prophet could be washed clean again with Rushdie's blood.
In that atmosphere, no German publisher had the courage to publish Rushdie's book. This led a handful of famous German authors, led by Günter Grass, to take the initiative to ensure that Rushdie's novel could appear in Germany by founding a publishing house exclusively for that purpose. It was called Artikel 19, named after the paragraph in the United Nations' Universal Declaration of Human Rights that guarantees the freedom of opinion. Dozens of publishing houses, organizations, journalists, politicians and other prominent members of German society were involved in the joint venture, which was the broadest coalition that had ever been formed in postwar German history.
More here. My own take on the Danish cartoons, from almost four years ago, can be seen here.