News Analysis

News: Image of Mohammad


>> = Important Articles; ** = Major Articles


Related websites

Support Denmark: Why The Forbidden Cartoons Matter (Michelle Malkin, 060130)

Depictions of Mohammed Throughout History (Mohammed Image Archive)

Anti-Jewish Cartoons from the Arab World

Coverage by Brussels Journal

Jihad Against Danish Newspaper (Brussels Journal, 051022)

Cartoon Case Escalates into International Crisis (Brussels Journal, 051027)

Selective Muslim Silence (051031)

Moslems Move to End Danish Free Speech (Brussels Journal, 051028)

Out of the Iranian Frying Pan into the Danish Fire (Brussels Journal, 051029)

Pigs Do Not Fly (Brussels Journal, 051117)

Bounty Offered for Murdering Cartoonists (Brussels Journal, 051204)

UN to Investigate Racism of Danish Cartoonists (Brussels Journal, 051207)

Europe Criticises Copenhagen over Cartoons (Brussels Journal, 051221)

Cartoon Case: EU and UN Call Denmark to Account (Brussels Journal, 051228)

Danish Cartoon Affair (Brussels Journal, 051231)

Danish Muslims Divided over Cartoon Affair (Brussels Journal, 060108)

Danish Prime Minister Shocked at Lies (Brussels Journal, 060111)

Scandinavian Update: Israeli Boycott, Muslim Cartoons (Brussels Journal, 060114)

Denmark: Moderate Muslims Oppose Imams (Brussels Journal, 060119)

Danish Imams Propose to End Cartoon Dispute (Brussels Journal, 060122)

European Appeasement Reinforces Muslim Extremism (Brussels Journal, 060124)

Norway Apologizes over Muhammad Cartoons (Brussels Journal, 060127)

Cartoon Paper Justifies Itself to Saudis (Brussels Journal, 060129)

Cartoon Rage: Vikings Warned to Leave Palestine (Brussels Journal, 060130)

Danish Paper Apologizes. Dutch Cartoon on Its Way (Brussels Journal, 060131)

Take Note Cardiff: We Are All Danes Now (Brussels Journal, 060201)

France Soir Backs Down. Others Stand Firm (Brussels Journal, 060202)

Danish Embassy in Beirut Set on Fire in Cartoon Protests (Foxnews,060205)

The Mohammed Cartoons: Western governments have nothing to apologize for. (Weekly Standard, 060213)

Demonstrators set fire to Danish Embassy (National Post, 060205)

Islamic group posts anti-Jewish cartoons (National Post, 060205)

Palestinians storm German centre, Stone EU building to protest cartoons (National Post, 060205)

As protests spread over drawings, Denmark bears brunt (National Post, 060204)

Beliefs on freedom at heart of furor (National Post, 060204)

A clash of values (National Post, 060204)

Editors weigh free press, respect for religious views (National Post, 060204)

Editor who commissioned cartoons cites ‘tradition of satire and humour’ (National Post, 060204)

Muslims lash out against drawings of Muhammad (National Post, 060203)

NATO Troops Open Fire on Afghan Demonstrators (Foxnews, 060207)

Lebanon Says Sorry for Danish Mission Fire (Foxnews, 060206)

Danes accuse the imams of ‘speaking with two tongues’ (Times Online, 060209)

Violence Spreads Over Muhammad Caricatures (Foxnews, 060206)

Catholic Priest Shot, Killed at Church in Turkey (Foxnews, 060205)

Creating Outrage: Meet the imam behind the cartoon overreaction. (National Review Online, 060206)

“Religion of Peace” or Riots: Cartoon chaos. (National Review Online, 060206)

Not Ready for Prime Time: Riots and John Kenneth Galbraith’s cat. (National Review Online, 060206)

Drawing Fire: Opportunity knocked down in the case of the prophetic Danish cartoon. (National Review Online, 060206)

Blogs on National Review (National Review Online, 060206)

‘Inquirer’ One of Few U.S. Papers to Publish ‘Muhammad’ Cartoon (Editor & Publisher, 060203)

Outrage Spreads, Escalates Over Muhammad Cartoons (Christian Post, 060205)

Censorship by firing squad (, 060206)

We are all Danes now (, 060206)

Monsters of the Arab street: Pay attention to Muslims gone wild (, 060206)

Protester dies in Afghan cartoons unrest (Times Online, 060206)

Copenhagen rues its lost tolerance (Times Online, 060206)

Timeline: the Muhammad cartoons (Times Online, 060206)

Protests Over Muhammad Caricatures Continue; Four Killed (Foxnews, 060206)

NATO Troops Open Fire on Afghan Demonstrators (Foxnews, 060207)

Denmark, Damascus, and Beirut: Are the Muslims in Lebanon and Syria angrier than others in the Middle East? (Weekly Standard, 060207)

Muslims challenged to address all ‘hate speech’: White House points out anti-Semitic, anti-Christian sentiment in Arab world (WorldNetDaily, 060207)

U.S. Supreme Court depicts Muhammad: Protesters of cartoons insist Islam forbids any image of prophet (WorldNetDaily, 060207)

Iran presents: Holocaust cartoon contest (WorldNetDaily, 060206)

Poll shows voters believe press is right not to publish cartoons (Times Online, 060207)

Cartoon wars (, 060207)

The centre must hold: Moderates of the world, unite (Times Online, 060207)

Rage Against the Western Machine: We’re at war. But only one side seems to get that. (National Review Online, 060208)

No Joke: This isn’t about cartoons. (National Review Online, 060208)

‘Muhammad cartoon’ proved fake: Imam added 3 especially provocative images to fuel outrage (WorldNetDaily, 060208)

Iranian fingerprints on cartoon-rage riots? Lebanese leader accuses Tehran of plotting torchings with Syria (WorldNetDaily, 060208)

Muslim hackers blast Denmark in Net assault (WorldNetDaily, 060208)

Moscow museum to exhibit Mohammed cartoons (UPI, 060208)

Muhammad’s image subject of art in past (Washington Times, 060208)

Cartoons, but not the funnies (Washington Times, 060208)

Clash of the titans (Washington Times, 060208)

Inflamed awakening (Washington Times, 060208)

Cartoon protests turn against UK and US (Times Online, 060208)

Analysis: what next in the cartoons wars? (Times Online, 060208)

Fear Factor: Giving in to radical Islam won’t help moderate Muslims. (Weekly Standard, 060209)

Muslim newspaper ran cartoons 4 months ago: No outrage when Egyptian publication headlined drawings on Ramadan cover (WorldNetDaily, 060209)

Danish Courage: About “both sides.” (National Review Online, 060209)

Beirut riots aimed at chaos (Washington Times, 060209)

Calvin and Hobbes — and Muhammad (, 060209)

Mob Theology: Times decisions. (National Review Online, 060210)

Dreams & Realities: Cartoon problems. (National Review Online, 060210)

Losing Civilization: Are we going to tolerate the downfall of Western ideals? (National Review Online, 060210)

How a meeting of leaders in Mecca set off the cartoon wars around the world (The Independent New, UK, 060210)

The Cartoon Intifada (, 060209)

The Islamofascists defy analysis (, 060210)

God save us from the voices of reason (, 060210)

Pursuing mayhem (, 060210)

Muslim, Arab voices urge calm over cartoon issue (National Post, 060210)

Muslims Create Islamophobes, Then Want Islamophobes Punished (Brussels Journal, 060214)

Libyan Cartoon Protest Turns Deadly (Foxnews, 060217)

Pakistani Cleric Issues Fatwa Over Cartoons (Foxnews, 060217)

Misrepresentations of Islam: Not all Muslims shun depictions of Mohammed. (National Review Online, 060213)

Not All Is Lost in Europe: A continent awakens to a threat. (National Review Online, 060213)

Muhammad Caricatured: Journalists and Wahhabis alike are distorting the Islamic tradition. (Weekly Standard, 060213)

Oh, the Anguish! The cartoon jihad is phony. (Weekly Standard, 060213)

Muslim Mob Targets Western Businesses in Pakistan (Foxnews, 060214)

The Great Danes: A lonely voice for freedom of speech in a Europe of appeasers. (National Review Online, 06014)

American news media: little courage and little honesty (, 060214)

Three Killed in Continued Cartoon Violence in Pakistan (Foxnews, 060215)

Muslim bites dog (, 060215)

Cartoon Protestors Burn 15 Churches in Deadly Nigeria Muslim-Christian Clash (Christian Post, 060220)

Violent Clashes Escalate in Nigeria Over Cartoons (Christian Post, 060222)

Pakistani Cartoon Protesters Chant Anti-American Slogans (Foxnews, 060221)

Constructive Provocation: Why The Harvard Salient published those Danish cartoons and doesn’t regret it. (National Review Online, 060223)

Nigeria Death Toll Rises to 96 in Cartoon-Sparked Violence (Christian Post, 060224)

Cartoon Controversy Spills Over to U.S. Colleges (Christian Post, 060301)

Cleric’s Lawyers: Death to Yemeni Publisher of Muhammad Cartoons (Foxnews, 060309)

The Cartoon Wars Are Over: We lost. (Weekly Standard, 060501)

**Iran Unveils Holocaust Cartoon Exhibit (Foxnews, 060814)

Muslim groups’ suit over cartoons rejected (Washington Times, 061027)





Related websites





Support Denmark: Why The Forbidden Cartoons Matter (Michelle Malkin, 060130)


By Michelle Malkin   ·   January 30, 2006 09:37 PM


Last October, I blogged about a Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, and its cartoonists being threatened by Muslim extremists for publishing cartoons about the prophet Muhammad deemed offensive by Islamist p.c. bulllies. See here and here.

For the past four months, The Brussels Journal has relentlessly covered the ensuing uproar from the Muslim world and the battle over the newspaper’s freedom to publish provocative speech.

Things came to a head over the past week. In Gaza City, Palestinian gunmen took over an EU office to protest the cartoons:

Masked gunmen today took over an office used by the European Union to protest the publication of cartoons deemed insulting to Islam. About five gunmen stormed the building, closing the office down, while 10 other armed men stood watch outside. One of the militants said they were protesting the drawings, one of which depicted Islam’s Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.

Danish flags are being burned. Danish workers have reportedly been beaten. The country now faces an international boycott from Muslim nations.

While the intrepid newspaper has not apologized for printing the cartoons, it has issued a statement acknowledging that the cartoons “offended many Muslims, which we would like to apologize for.” Paul Belien at The Brussels Journal singles out the courage of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has refused to capitulate to the bullies:

He is one of the very few European politicians with guts. If anyone deserves a prize for his valiant defence of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it is certainly Mr Rasmussen. He did not give in to pressure from Muslim fanatics, nor from the appeasers at the UN, the European Commission and the Council of Europe. In the past weeks Denmark has shown that all is not yet lost in Europe. If something is rotten now it is not in Denmark.

Here, for posterity and in solidarity with the paper’s free speech rights, are the 12 forbidden cartoons:













In response to the notion that the West (or Islam) has ever followed the prohibition against depicting Mohammed, Zombie has created the “Mohammed Image Archive,” which contains dozens of Mohammed images from throughout history. A must-read.




Depictions of Mohammed Throughout History (Mohammed Image Archive)


Controversy over the publication of images depicting Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten has erupted into an international furor. While Muslim nations are calling for a boycott of Denmark, Europeans are divided as to whether they should stand up for Western principles of freedom of speech, or cave in to to self-censorship in the name of multiculturalism and fear.

While the debate rages, an important point has been overlooked: despite the Islamic prohibition against depicting Mohammed under any circumstances, hundreds of paintings, drawings and other images of Mohammed have been created over the centuries, with nary a word of complaint from the Muslim world. The recent cartoons in Jyllands-Posten are nothing new; it’s just that no other images of Mohammed have ever been so widely publicized.

This page is an archive of numerous depictions of Mohammed, to serve as a reminder that such imagery has been part of Western and Islamic culture since the Middle Ages — and to serve as a resource for those interested in freedom of expression.

The images in the archive below have been divided into the following categories:

Book Illustrations
Medieval Paintings, Miniatures and Illuminations
Dante’s Inferno
Modern Iranian Icons
French Book Covers
Various Eras
Contemporary Christian Drawings
Animated TV Parodies
Satirical Modern Cartoons
The Jyllands-Posten Cartoons
Recent Responses to the Controversy

(Please note that the Arabic name “Mohammed” has over the years been transliterated into Western languages with several different spellings — some of which you’ll encounter below — including Mahomet, Muhammad, and Mohamed.)

Book Illustrations

Many popular American and European books about Islam from the 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries included lithographs and line drawings depicting Mohammed. Here is a small sampling:

Frontispiece from The Life of Mahomet, published 1719.

19th century book plate.

This illustration is taken from La vie de Mahomet, by M. Prideaux, published in 1699. It shows Mohammed holding a sword and a crescent while trampling on a globe, a cross, and the Ten Commandments.
(Hat tip: Andy B.)

The following three images are of line drawings depicting Mohammed from various 19th-century books about Islam:

Medieval Paintings, Miniatures and Illuminations

Medieval Christian, Buddhist and secular artists created paintings and illuminated manuscripts depicting Mohammed, usually with his face in full view. Even Muslim artists from the same era depicted Mohammed, but they often (though not always) left his face blank so as to skirt the prohibition against actually showing the prophet in full.

Mohammed “preaching,” from a medieval illuminated manuscript, with historically inaccurate landscape and clothing (a common problem in medieval and Renaissance paintings, which usually showed fashions that were contemporary with the time the painting was made, rather than showing the costumes of the era depicted).

This is a miniature from Siyer-i Nebi, an Turkish religious biography of Mohammed completed in 1388 and later lavishly illustrated with 814 miniatures under the reign of Ottoman ruler Murad III, being completed in 1595. Many of the miniatures depict Mohammed, and this particular one shows Ali bin Abu Taleb beheading Nasr bin al-Hareth in the presence of Mohammed and his companions.

Miniature of Mohammed re-dedicating the Black Stone at the Kaaba. From Jami Al-Tawarikh, by Rashid Al-Din, 1324. Edinburgh University Library, ms. 20, fol. 55. Date: 1324-1585. Arabian (Mecca). Notice how Mohammed’s face and body are shown completely, despite this painting being by a Muslim artist in Mecca itself.
(Hat tip for this image and for the following three images: Brett K.)

The Prophet Mohammed in a Mosque. Turkish, 16th Century, painting on paper. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. The artist depicted Mohammed in very long sleeves so as to avoid showing his hands, though his neck and hints of his features are visible.

Newly born Muhammad in his mother’s arms being shown to his grandfather and Meccans. From Turkish book painting (date unknown). University of California, San Diego.

The Ascent of Mohammed, as depicted in a Persian manuscript. Opaque watercolor and gold on paper, c. 1570. From the collection of the Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco. Mohammed upon his winged steed al-Burak ascending into heaven.

Fourteenth-century Persian miniature showing the Angel Gabriel speaking to Mohammed.

Mohammed at Medina, from an Arab or central Asian medieval-era manuscript.

Mohammed’s death.

Colored Renaissance print showing Mohammed at court, with wildly inaccurate fashions.

Central Asian — possibly Persian — scene with Mohammed.

Close-up of a medieval-era drawing showing Mohammed “preaching,” along with a Christian-style halo.

Mohammed (with face not visible) lying (possibly dead) in a grotto, with anachronistic Mongol warriors looking on.

Indonesian allegorical scene of Mohammed riding a mythical beast — possibly a depiction of his “Night Voyage.”

Indian or Asian painting of Mohammed receiving visions.

Mohammed astride a mythological beast; provenance unknown.

Mohammed ascending to Paradise.

A medieval or Renaissance-era tapestry (from the looks of it) showing Mohammed.

Mohammed (face not visible) in an illustration of an episode from the Qur’an.

Islamic image of the Qur’an being revealed to Mohammed during a battle.

Dante’s Inferno

In the Inferno chapter of Dante’s trilogy The Divine Comedy, Mohammed is described as being one of the “Sowers of Discord,” showing his entrails to Dante and Virgil in the Eighth Circle of Hell:

Inferno XXVIII, 19-42.

The poets are in the ninth
chasm of the eighth circle, that of the Sowers of
Discord, whose punishment is to be mutilated.
Mahomet shows his entrails to Dante and Virgil
while on the left stands his son Ali, his head cleft
from chin to forelock.

Several famous artists have created their own illustrations of this scene. In each drawing, Mohammed is the one with his torso slit open.

Gustave Doré.

William Blake.

Auguste Rodin.

Salvador Dalí.

The 1911 Italian silent film L’Inferno contained a dramatization of the scene; Mohammed is here on the right with his entrails hanging out.
(Hat tip: Peter R.)

Modern Iranian Icons

Norwegian scientist Ingvild Flaskerud traveled to Iran in 1999 and purchased several iconic pictures of Mohammed sold openly on the street. Even though the Islamic regime in Iran strictly forbids creating, selling or owning such images, nothing was done to either the artist or the buyer, who was able to take them out of the country without any problems.

This picture was taken from this article; the caption under the photo reads “This poster depicting Mohammed was bought on the street in Iran in 1999 by the Norwegian scientist Ingvild Flaskerud.”

This image and the following two images were taken from this page (associated with Norway’s University of Bergen) [Note: the page seems to have been temporarily overloaded because of this link. Try later, and it may be available again]. The captions indicate that Ingvild Flaskerud purchased them all in the Iranian city of Qum in 1999.
(Hat tip: Jon B.)

Iranian woman artist Oranous created this iconic painting of a young Mohammed and is selling it online, even though she is a devout Muslim and lives in Tehran.
(Hat tip: baldy.)

French Book Covers

Several books about Islam published in France in the last 20 years have unabashedly depicted Mohammed on their covers. None of them caused any uproar or were noticed in the Muslim world at all.

Mahomet: la parole d’Allah, by Anne-Marie Delcambre.

Mahomet, by Salah Stétié.

Mahomet, by Maxime Rodinson.

Nouveau Tintin comic book, May 17, 1977 edition.

A different edition of Mahomet, by Anne-Marie Delcambre.

Various Eras

There have been depictions of Mohammed in every era. Here are a few from periods not covered in other categories:

This picture is of an early Renaissance fresco in Bologna’s Church of San Petronio, created by Giovanni da Modena and depicting Mohammed being tortured in Hell.
(Hat tip: brenda.)

In 2002, Islamic extremists plotted to blow up the church in order to destroy the image.

The North Frieze on the Supreme Court building in Washington, DC features a bas-relief sculpture of Mohammed, among several other historical law-givers. He is in the center of this image holding a curved scimitar; on the left is Charlemagne, and on the right is Byzantine Emperor Justinian. You can download a detailed pdf of the Supreme Court friezes here. The urban legend site has info about the frieze in this entry.
(Hat tip: js, C. Reb, and Matt R.)

1928 German advertisement for bouillon extract shows Gabriel guiding Mohammed up to Allah.
(Hat tip: karmic inquisitor.)

Color print of Mohammed in anachronistic 17th- or 18th-century garb.

Modern-era painting showing Mohammed. Artist unknown.

Recent issue of French magazine Le Nouvel Obervateur with Mohammed on the cover. The current issue has coverage of the Muslim reaction to the Danish cartoons but makes no mention of their own Mohammed cover.

This 20th-century painting from a Shriners’ Hall in Maine shows Mohammed receiving a vision.

Another Shriners’ painting showing Mohammed (in the red robe on the right) being comforted by his uncle as he hides from Meccans during his flight to Medina.

The following two peculiar line drawings show Mohammed dressed in Renaissance-era German garb and not behaving as one might expect:

“Mohammed Cursing the Vines,” German woodcut print, c. 1481. Source (for this image and the one below): The Illustrated Bartsch. Vol. 83, German Book Illustration before 1500: Anonymous Artists, 1481-1482. Series title: Reysen und Wanderschaffen durch das Gelbote Land / Travels and Wanderings Through the Holy Land.
(Hat tip for this image and for the following image: Brett K.)

“His Wife Scolding the Drunken Mohammed,” German woodcut print, c. 1481.

Contemporary Christian Drawings

Some modern evangelical Christian groups have created biographies of Mohammed as part of their proselytizing materials. Many of these brochures and booklets contain drawings of Mohammed at various points in his life. Here is a sampling:

Mohammed getting romantic with Khadijah, who would become his first wife.

Mohammed receiving a vision in a cave. These two panels are among many depicting Mohammed to be found in Jack Chick’s 1988 booklet The Prophet. The tract is quite long — Mohammed doesn’t make an appearance until page 13 (as a pawn in a convoluted historical conspiracy).
(Hat tip: baldy.)

Another drawing from a different Christian group showing Mohammed receiving a vision.

Contemporary stylized drawing of Mohammed.

This reproduction is a bit small, but it shows Mohammed destroying the idols at the Kaaba in Mecca. It is not a Christian illustration exactly, but rather is taken from Manly P. Hall’s occult guide The Secret Teachings of All Ages, which incorporates ideas from many religions, Christianity (and Islam) among them.
(Hat tip: MikalM.)

Animated TV Parodies

The television cartoon South Park aired an episode on July 4, 2001 called Super Best Friends. In it, the founders of the world’s great religions — including Mohammed — team up for super-hero action. Mohammed (seen here) is depicted repeatedly throughout the show. The entire episode can be viewed online here.
(Hat tip: Dayenu.)

Spike TV created a parody advertisement for an imaginary video game called Holy War, featuring religious icons battling to the death. One of the characters is Mohammed, who is shown first defeating Joseph Smith...

...and then getting beaten by Moses, who cuts off his head with the Ten Commandments. You can view a streaming video of the Holy War ad at this site.
(Hat tip: Andrew.)

Satirical Modern Cartoons

A few contemporary cartoonists have ignored any potential threats and created satirical and/or mocking cartoons about Mohammed.

The caption says, in French:
Mohammed (being carried away by devils): “It is a judicial error! I am Mohammed, the prophet!”
St. Peter (with a scimitar through his chest): “Definitely: GUILTY!”

This panel is one of hundreds satirizing Mohammed in the humorous cartoon biography called Mohammed’s Believe It or Else! by pseudonymous artist “Abdullah Aziz.” (Click to see the full biography; the images there are copyrighted, so they can’t be reprinted on other Web sites.)

A Dutch Web site called Pret Met Mohammed (loosely translated as “Fun With Mohammed”) features a series of politically incorrect cartoons. Three of the Pret Met Mohammed cartoons are presented here; click on the link above for a few more and for English translations of the Dutch word balloons.

In 1997, an Israeli woman named Tatiana Soskin drew this caricature of Mohammed as a pig authoring the Koran and tried to display it in public in the city of Hebron. She was arrested, tried and sentenced to jail.
(Hat tip: helloworld.)

In 2002, political cartoonist Doug Marlette published this drawing of Mohammed driving a truck with a nuclear bomb.
(Hat tip: Thomas G.)

The Jyllands-Posten Cartoons

The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten created the furor over depictions of Mohammed by publishing a series of 12 drawings after a local author said he was unable to find any artist willing to depict Mohammed for his upcoming illustrated book. The publication of the images in Jyllands-Posten has been condemned around the Islamic world, and has led to calls for a boycott of Denmark by Muslim nations.

Here are the Jyllands-Posten drawings, for the record:

Higher-resolution jpegs of each individual cartoon, along with a picture of the article on the original Jyllands-Posten page, can be found here.

The entire controversy started when Danish author Kåre Bluitgen complained that he could not find an artist brave enought to illustrate his upcoming book about Mohammed. The newspaper Jyllands-Posten issued a call for submissions from any artists willing to take up the challenge. In the ensuing brouhaha, the original book was almost forgotten; it has now been released, and does feature page after page of Mohammed depictions. This site features scans of several of the pages. This image above, taken from the book (titled Koranen og profeten Muhammeds liv, or The Koran and the life of the prophet Mohammed in English), apparently shows Mohammed with his child-bride Aisha. This Danish blog also has some information about the release of the book.

Recent Responses to the Controversy

Several artists (some professional but mostly amateur) have created their own responses to the controversy over the Danish cartoons. Many of the artists expressed their mockery of and disdain for the Muslim world’s violent reaction with new Mohammed depictions that are intentionally direspectful and/or obscene, to make a point about freedom of speech. If you are easily offended, you might want to stop reading here.

Steve D., the proprietor of this blog, fashioned his own statement about the controversy by Photoshopping one of the Jyllands-Posten drawings onto the rear end of a camel.
(Hat tip: Rant Wraith.)

The Study of Revenge blog featured this uncompromising image by D. T. Devareaux.
(Hat tip: JHW.)

The “Jesus and Mo” comic strip showed one of Mohammed’s testicles.

Mohammed offers some Koranic wisdom about meddlesome artists in the “Mohammed the Prophet Answers Your Emails” cartoon strip.

This Czech Web site featured an artist’s three responses to the controversy. This one shows Mohammed as a nude suicide bomber, with his six-year-old bride Aisha on the right.

This one shows Mohammed as a pig, apparently (?) being inspired by the Devil.

And this is a more traditional portrait.

MSNBC political cartoonist Daryl Cagle drew this response to the story, including a stick-figure Mohammed.


If you know of any other interesting depictions of Mohammed that you think should be included on this page, email suggestions here.



Mirror site: in Denmark

Mirror site: Outpost911
(Mirror sites may not contain the latest updates to this page.)

Article about this page in the Ekstra Bladet newspaper in Denmark.

Anti-Semitic cartoons from contemporary Arab media.




Anti-Jewish Cartoons from the Arab World


A selection of cartoons from the media of seven Arab countries (Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain, Syria and Egypt) and from the Palestinian Authority is displayed below. A number of these countries are regarded as moderate or allied to the West. Most print media in the Arab world are under the full or partial control of the ruling regimes.

One picture can sometimes be deadlier than a thousand words.

— Tom Gross

The cartoon above, clearly depicting the railroad to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau – but with Israeli flags replacing the Nazi ones – is from the Jordanian newspaper Ad-Dustur (October 19, 2003). The sign in Arabic reads: “Gaza Strip or the Israeli Annihilation Camp.” This accentuates the widespread libel that Israel’s policies towards the Palestinians have been comparable to Nazi actions towards Jews. Jordan is supposedly a moderate country at peace with Israel.

In this cartoon, from Al-Watan newspaper in Qatar (June 23, 2002), Ariel Sharon is shown watching on the sidelines as an Israeli plane crashes into New York’s World Trade Center. The Arabic words alongside the Twin Towers are “The Peace.” This cartoon restates the widely held myth in the Arab world that Israel and the Jews were responsible for the 9/11 attacks which were in fact carried out by al-Qaeda.

The cartoon above, from Arab News (April 10, 2002), shows Ariel Sharon wielding a swastika-shaped axe to chop up Palestinian children. Arab News is a Saudi-based English language daily which is supposedly one of the Arab world’s more moderate papers.

In September 2005, at a time when non-Arab Moslem-majority states like Pakistan and Afghanistan were making peace overtures to Israel, even supposedly moderate Arab states like Qatar were continuing their anti-Semitic approach. Above, Israeli jets over Gaza form a swastika in this cartoon published on September 27, 2005 in Al-Watan (Qatar).

This cartoon from the Internet site of Omayya Joha, portrays an Israeli soldier who, having chopped off the foot of a Palestinian man, holds up a bloody hand to the camera and orders “No photographs.” Omayya Joha is one of the staff cartoonists employed by Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the Palestinian Authority’s official daily newspaper. Her cartoons continue to regularly appear in the official Palestinian press.

Above, Ariel Sharon is shown sitting in a large cup overflowing with blood. This cartoon, also by Omayya Joha, appeared in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the Palestinian Authority’s official daily newspaper, on April 22, 2003.

In this cartoon, from Al-Watan (Oman) (August 10, 2002), Jewish acts are equated with those of the Nazis. This Nazi-type anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew has a hooked nose, a hunched back, has no shoes, and is sweating.

In the above cartoon, from Akhbar Al-Khalij (Bahrain) (June 10, 2002), the anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew on the right says: “Say: ‘I hate the Arabs!’” and American president George W. Bush, made to resemble a parrot, repeats: “I hate the Arabs, I hate the Arabs.”

Above, another cartoon from the Internet site of official Palestinian Authority cartoonist Omayya Joha, showing alleged Jewish control (in the form of snakes) of the United States. The snake was often used to portray Jews in historic European anti-Semitic images.

This cartoon, from May 13, 2005 (a month when many western papers were claiming that the Palestinian Authority media had adopted a more moderate tone), shows a Jew impaling the northern region of a map of the Islamic world with the flag of Israel, with blood spurting out. At the lower end is what seems to be an Arab man hanging upside down, holding a white flag of surrender. This cartoon appeared in Al-Hayat Al-Jadeeda, the official daily newspaper of the Palestinian Authority.

This cartoon, from the Syrian newspaper Al-Ahram (May 29, 2002), shows an anti-Semitic caricature of a Jew with a long beard and hooked nose, fuelling the “World Media” with “Zionist Media” propaganda, while in the background bombs are falling on the Moslem al-Aqsa shrine on Jerusalem’s Temple Mount. This cartoon stereotypes Jews, repeats the anti-Semitic myth that the Jews control the world media, and adds the lie that the Israeli government has damaged the al-Aqsa complex on the Temple Mount.

The cartoon above, with text in English designed for a foreign audience, was posted on the official website of the Palestinian Authority State Information Center on April 6, 2003. The Palestinian Authority State Information Center regularly posts ugly anti-Israel and anti-American cartoons, including this reiteration of the anti-Semitic blood libel that Jews kill non-Jewish children.

The cartoon above, from the Egyptian weekly Al-Ahram al-Arabi (June 8, 2002), shows not only members of the Likud party murdering Arabs, but long-time Labor Party leader and Israeli “dove” Shimon Peres standing aside and applauding with bloody hands. Egypt is the second highest recipient of U.S. aid in the world. The U.S. senate has approved a $1.84 billion aid package for Egypt for 2006.

This cartoon is from Al-Watan (Qatar), May 13, 2003. The U.S. and Israel are shown eating from two sides of an apple that represents “the Arab states”. This cartoon is also noteworthy since it was published in Qatar, home to the influential Al Jazeera TV network. Qatar is considered by many in the U.S. State Department to be a U.S. ally and a relatively moderate state.

The cartoon above, from Arab News, depicts rats wearing Stars of David and skullcaps. They scurry backwards and forwards through holes in the wall of a building called “Palestine House.” Arab News, an English-language daily widely read by expats in Saudi Arabia, is widely-regarded as a moderate publication. It is published by a state-owned Saudi corporation. The imagery in the cartoon may well be inspired by a well-known scene from the Nazi film “Jew Suess,” to which it bears a close resemblance – a scene in which Jews are depicted as vermin to be eradicated by mass extermination.




Coverage by Brussels Journal


The problem is that West Europeans have allowed millions of Islamic foreigners to settle in the West. No doubt these people feel genuinely offended by some Western practices. However, the Danish cartoons were published in a Danish newspaper for a Danish public. Now Muslims want Europeans to “consider their [Muslim] feelings,” to apologize and shut up in their own countries.




Jihad Against Danish Newspaper (Brussels Journal, 051022)


Islam is no laughing matter. The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten is being protected by security guards and several cartoonists have gone into hiding after the newspaper published a series of twelve cartoons (see  them all here, halfway the article) about the prophet Muhammad. According to the Islam it is blasphemous to make images of the prophet. Muslim fundamentalists have threatened to bomb the paper’s offices and kill the cartoonists.


The newspaper published the cartoons when a Danish author complained that he could find no-one to illustrate his book about Muhammad. Jyllands-Posten wondered whether there were more cases of self-censorship regarding Islam in Denmark and asked twelve illustrators to draw the prophet for them. Carsten Juste, the paper’s editor, said the cartoons were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark.


The publication led to outrage among the Muslim immigrants living in Denmark. 5,000 of them took to the streets to protest. Muslim organisations have demanded an apology, but Juste rejects this idea: “We live in a democracy. That’s why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures,” he said. The Danish imam Raed Hlayhel reacted with the statement: “This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world.”


Flemming Rose, the cultural editor at the newspaper, denied that the purpose had been to provoke Muslims. It was simply a reaction to the rising number of situations where artists and writers censored themselves out of fear of radical Islamists, he said. “Religious feelings cannot demand special treatment in a secular society,” he added. “In a democracy one must from time to time accept criticism or becoming a laughingstock.”


The affair, however, has also led to a diplomatic incident. On Thursday the ambassadors of eleven Muslim countries, including Indonesia, a number of Arab states, Pakistan, Iran, and Bosnia-Herzegovina, complained about the cartoons in a letter to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen. They say the publication of the cartoons is a “provocation” and demand apologies from the newspaper.


Jyllands-Posten was also included on an al-Qaeda website listing possible terrorist targets. An organisation which calls itself “The Glorious Brigades in Northern Europe” is circulating pictures on the internet which show bombs exploding over pictures of the newspaper and blood flowing over the national flag of Denmark. “The Mujahedeen have numerous targets in Denmark – very soon you all will regret this,” the website says.


Meanwhile in Brussels a young Muslim immigrant published a poster depicting the Virgin Mary with naked breasts. Though the picture has drawn some protest from Catholics (though not from Western embassies, nor from the bishops), this artist need not fear being murdered in the street. On the contrary, he is being subsidised by the Ministry for Culture.




Cartoon Case Escalates into International Crisis (Brussels Journal, 051027)


The case of the Muhammad cartoons, published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten two weeks ago, is escalating into a major conflict between Denmark and the Muslim world. Eleven Muslim ambassadors to Copenhagen, who had protested to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen demanding apologies from the newspaper, decided to take the matter to international Muslim organisations, such as the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.


One of the eleven ambassadors is the ambassador of Turkey. She has received full support of the Turkish Foreign Ministry in asking Rasmussen to call Jyllands-Posten to account for “abusing Islam in the name of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.” According to Muslims it is blasphemy to depict the Prophet Muhammad.


Last week, the ambassadors sent a protest letter to Rasmussen, but the Danish Prime Minister, stressing that Denmark recognized freedom of expression, refused to discuss the matter. On Tuesday the Egyptian ambassador said on Danish television that the group of ambassadors planned to meet Danish politicians to put pressure on the PM, but after a meeting of the group yesterday it was announced that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference would take the matter into its hands. The Organisation, representing 56 member states, has already sent a letter of protest to the Danish government. “Now it is moving up to the international level. Therefore, we will not try to contact Denmark’s political leaders,” the Egyptian ambassador said. She added that also “the Arab League will weigh in soon.”


The fact that Turkey backs the ambassadors is seen by some in Denmark as damaging to the Turkish bid for EU membership. Troels Lund Poulsen, the foreign spokesman of the Liberal Party said that it is important for EU candidate Turkey “to live up to freedom of expression demands.” Last month, however, the Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that anti-Islamism must be treated as a crime similar to anti-Semitism. Addressing the sixth meeting of the Eurasian Islamic Council meeting in Istanbul on September 5, Erdogan said his government has added an article to the declaration in the European Council regarding Islamophobia stipulating that anti-Islamism be accepted as a crime against humanity.


The Danish cartoons have enraged Muslims as far as Uzbekistan. “This is one of the most frustrating things ever happened to me, not only but all mankind. our beloved Prophet gave so much for us in this world, and we will get so much in hearafter inshallah (Shafat). This some kind of Moron journalists are making fun of finest creature of Allah. Allah has not created anybody holier, or better than our Prophet, (pbuh),” one Muslim writes. And another: “I would choke them to death who ever made these cartoons.” And another: “If i had a power I would execute them in front of the mass. Their hands and legs should be chopped off. Kuffaar!”




Selective Muslim Silence (051031)

By Judith Apter Klinghoffer


Ms. Klinghoffer is senior associate scholar at the Political Science department at Rutgers University, Camden, and the author of Vietnam, Jews and the Middle East. She is also an HNN blogger. Click here for her blog.


Where is the sane moderate peace loving Muslim world? Why is its voice so rarely raised in condemnation of Islamist atrocities? It is a question which has been raised in ever increasing urgency since 9/11 and not only by Westerners. A few Muslim commentators have raised it too, but they remained the exception rather than the rule. Last time I raised the issue, it was in the context of a number of cased involving the charge of “insulting Islam,” a charge which led to anti-Coptic riots as well as to the imprisoning a 78-year old Iranian Ayatolla and an Afghani editor of a woman’s magazine.


An Indonesian (and Harvard graduate) editor responded by directing me to an article published in Islamica after the brutal public murder of Theo Van Gogh. It focused not on the disturbing phenomena of Islamic extremism but on the Dutch response to it characterized as “Islamophobia.” Muslims are no more responsible for the murder of Van Gogh it argued than mothers are responsible for Susan Smith drowning her children. Of course, I am not familiar with any organization of mothers encouraging mothers to drown their children, arguing that doing so would assure their place in heaven or supporting the death sentence for people who insult motherhood. I have yet to meet a judge who has sent to prison a person who wrote a book considered critical of mothers.


Leaders of Muslim countries have similarly shirked responsibility for the actions of their extremists. “The Arab world’s silence is deafening,” wrote the St. Petersburg Times editors after the recent Iranian president’s declaration that “ Israel must be wiped off the map.” This silence (with the notable exception of the Palestinian Authority) seemed strange even to Muslim analysts. After all, Ahmadinejad’s speech was an attack of Muslim governments which have moved towards accommodation with Israel. So some pundit suggested that “Arab states may be pleased if Iran is further isolated.” If so, they covered it rather well. When the UNSC gathered to condemn this unprecedented attack of one UN member against another, it was Muslim Algeria which not only failed to condemn Iran but made sure that the resolution will “condemn” but not “strongly condemn” that extremist country. Extrapolation from the case of Israel is misleading, some would argue. Perhaps, but Arab states offered similar protection to Syria following the murder of Hariri and remain silent about the mass murder in Darfur.


However, the same Muslim countries, organizations and pundits can be plenty vocal and aggressive when in comes to protecting Islamists from the consequences of their own actions. In fact, they often support their causes. As human rights activist Abu Khwala explains, “fighting infidels until they either convert to Islam or submit to Muslims as ‘Dhimmis’ is still considered by Islamists to be a religious duty.” Hence, any actions undertaken by Muslims towards that end must be vehemently defended with a total disregard of the means used and that is precisely what supposedly non Islamist Muslim leaders do.


Consider the following headline: “Muslim embassies complain over Mohammed caricatures.” It all started with editors of Jyllands-Posten, a Danish newspaper hearing reports that artists were reluctant to illustrate a book on Mohammed for fear of Muslim retribution. So, they asked cartoonists to send them drawings of Muhammad. “The cartoons,” they argue, “were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark.” It should be noted that Denmark, unlike Germany, has no laws prescribing free speech. In fact, for years Nazis and Islamists have used Denmark as a safe haven from which to continue to promote their heinous totalitarian ideologies.


Islamists may be happy to exploit Danish freedoms and publish material demeaning to Christians and Jews but what is good for the goose is apparently not good for the gander. The Muslim response came fast and furious. The Danish imam Raed Hlayhel dismissed arguments about free press arguing that “This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world.” This same Imam shocked Danes when he said in a sermon during Friday prayer, that Danish women’s behavior and dress invited rape. In any case, Muslim organizations not only protested vigorously. The cartoonists received death threats which led to the arrest of a 17 year old. Threats to bomb the building led to the positioning of security guards around it.


The affair was not only reminiscent of the Salman Rushdie affair but for the first time, as Danish political science professor Mehdi Mozaffari points out “acts of private individuals, and not the Danish state, could lead to the country falling prey to a terrorist attack.” The Middle East Times reports:


Last week as many as 5,000 Muslims demonstrated in Copenhagen against the paper and the drawings, which depicted Prophet Mohammed in different settings. In one of the drawings he appeared with a turban shaped like a bomb strapped to his head.


Meanwhile, an Islamic group calling itself Glory Brigades in Northern Europe issued threats against Jyllands-Posten and Denmark on the Website, Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende reported in its online edition.


AFP was unable to find the link and it was unclear whether it was later removed from the site, but Berlingske Tidende said in its report that it showed Copenhagen images with the caption: “The Mujahideen have numerous targets in Denmark. Very soon you will regret this.”


Suddenly, the ever silent Muslims states found their tongues. 11 ambassadors including those from a number of Arab countries, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Bosnia-Hercegovina and Indonesia entered the fray not to calm the excesses of their coreligionists or condemn the threats of violence but to complain about the cartoons and Danish Islamophobia! The Turkish ambassador even seconded the Imam’s sentiments, berating the paper for “abusing Islam in the name of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.” T he ambassadors wrote a letter to Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen notifying him that they were offended by the caricatures, demanding an official apology from the newspaper and asking for a special audience “to express their concern about what they perceive as anti-Muslim and anti-Islam campaigns in the press and certain far-right political circles.” The Prime Minister turned down the request for a meeting pointing out that he (unlike Arab tyrants whose papers are full of anti-Semitic propaganda) has no control over the press.


At first, the Egyptian Ambassador Mona Omar Attia embarked on a direct political attack against the Prime Minister by telling a Danish news broadcast that the group planned to meet to discuss contacting other parliamentary leaders, some of whom had urged the PM to meet with the ambassadors. Eventully, a decision was reached “to let international Muslim groups take over the cause, allowing groups such as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to try to influence the prime minister.” “It’s out of our hands,” said Egyptian ambassador Attia, “Now it is moving up to the international level. Therefore, we will not try to contact Denmark’s political leaders.” One could imagine that “the Arab League will weigh in soon.”


So, here we are: part of the Muslim community is in the thrall of a totalitarian ideology which turns young Muslims into human bombs. Photos of Muslim and non Muslim civilian body parts flying in the middle of markets, mosques, discos and hotels have become routine. Beheadings of Christian and Jewish men and women are no longer surprising. And what do the ever-silent and passive-defensive Muslim countries, Organization of Islamic Conference and the Arab League vociferously condemn? They are condemning the publication of cartoons featuring Muhammad in a Danish paper. The absurdity of this action is only matched by its hypocrisy.




Moslems Move to End Danish Free Speech (Brussels Journal, 051028)


The Brussels Journal is just a factory of great posts, and they continue today with coverage of the emerging international crisis surrounding the printing of cartoons showing Mohammed in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.  They believe any representations of Mohammed are blasphemous, and the Moslem World is increasingly furious about it and getting organized to pressure the Danish government.  You can go read the post at the link here.  There had been threats against the cartoonists, promises of violence etc.  That was over the last few weeks.  One would think that it would be the Danish government who would be protesting and defending its citizens, and requesting of international Islamic bodies intervention to restore the peace.  One would be wrong.  The people dragging this into the international arena and demanding action are Moslem nations and groups, who strongly insist that these depictions are totally unacceptable and that the Danish government must do something about them.  Here’s a quote from the Brussels Journal:


On Tuesday the Egyptian ambassador said on Danish television that the group of ambassadors planned to meet Danish politicians to put pressure on the PM, but after a meeting of the group yesterday it was announced that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference would take the matter into its hands. The Organisation, representing 56 member states, has already sent a letter of protest to the Danish government. “Now it is moving up to the international level. Therefore, we will not try to contact Denmark’s political leaders,” the Egyptian ambassador said. She added that also “the Arab League will weigh in soon.”


Remember, Islam is a relgion of peace and tolerance.  Really.  Well, at least they say they are, and they wouldn’t lie would they?


Update:  For more posts on the trend towards the disturbing trends of increasing suppression of the Freedom of Speech and Western Civilization in Europe click on this link to take you to the Deep Keel post category covering Europe.  Keep a keen eye out for ‘read more’ links to see the rest of a post and the ‘previous entries’ link at the bottom of the long Europe page that leads back to even more entries.




Out of the Iranian Frying Pan into the Danish Fire (Brussels Journal, 051029)


Two elements in the ongoing conflict between Denmark and the Muslim world that have not been mentioned in earlier posts here, are worth mentioning.


Firstly, there is the reaction of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who refused to meet eleven ambassadors from Muslim countries, including Turkey, Bosnia, Iran, Indonesia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and a number of other Arab countries, who wanted to complain about a series of cartoons published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. “This is a matter of principle. I will not meet with them because it is so crystal clear what principles Danish democracy is built upon that there is no reason to do so,” Rasmussen said. He added that individuals who felt offended by the tone of the public debate should bring their grievances to the courts. “As prime minister, I have no power whatsoever to limit the press – nor do I want such power.”


The Danish PM’s explicit refusal to censor the press must have sounded bizarre to some of the ambassadors, such as the one from Iran. Not everyone in Denmark, however, agreed with Rasmussen. Left-wing opposition parties said the PM should have met the ambassadors “in order to improve mutual understanding.” Nevertheless, the Social-Democrats, the Radicals and the Socialist People’s Party applauded Rasmussen’s refusal to limit the freedom of the press and his suggestion that those who feel offended should bring the case to court.


Secondly, it should be said that the cartoons are not the only reason why the eleven ambassadors wrote to the Danish PM. In their protest letter they also mentioned the case of Radio Holger and the declarations of Brian Mikkelsen and Louise Frevert.


Radio Holger, a private radio in Copenhagen, was temporarily closed down by the Danish authorities last summer when after the London bombings its owner, Kaj Wilhelmsen, had called for “exterminating” extremist Muslims in Europe, by expelling or even killing them.


Brian Mikkelsen, the Danish Minister of Culture and a member of the Conservative People’s Party that forms a coalition with Mr. Rasmussen’s Liberal Party, called for a new culture war. He told a party conference of the Conservatives that “a parallel society is developing in our country in which minorities cultivate their medieval values and undemocratic beliefs.” Mikkelsen said that this was unacceptable and it had to be fought by confronting the Muslims with Danish culture and values.


Louise Frevert, a member of Parliament for the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party, wrote on her website that “Muslims apparently think they are entitled to rape Danish women and beat up Danish citizens.” Reacting to instances of violent rapes by immigrants she added that “as the law forbids us to kill our enemies we have no other choice but to put these criminals in jail.” However, as the Danish prisons are full, Frevert suggested to put them in Russian jails and pay the Russian authorities 3 to 4 euros per day per prisoner.


The ambassadors claim that all these cases prove that Muslims have good reasons to be worried in Denmark today. Indeed, while in Belgium the minister of Culture subsidises Muslims who depict a naked-breasted Our Lady, his Danish colleague wants to wage a “kulturkamp” against them by confronting them with the fairy tales of Hans Christian Andersen. The Iranian ambassador may be justifiably concerned that immigrants from his country are ending up out of the Iranian frying pan into the Danish fire.




Pigs Do Not Fly (Brussels Journal, 051117)


The media, including the news services, no longer report on the French riots. Almost 100 cars were set on fire last night, but according to the French police this is the normal daily figure across France’s no-go areas. Hence, the situation in France is back to normal.


There is some other good news, too. It appears British banks are not going to ban piggy banks after all. According to MediaWatch (MW) the story was hogwash. It was widely reported, also by us, but seems to have been based on an article in a regional paper in the north west of England, The Lancashire Evening Telegraph (LET) that was not checked properly. Or to be more precise: LET quoted bank officials saying certain things – and we did not check with the officials whether they were being quoted correctly – while MW quotes officials from the same banks saying opposite things – and, again, we are not going to check with the bank officials whether this time they are being quoted directly. As people cannot check and double-check every piece of information, a certain degree of trust is always involved: we trusted the facts given by LET to be correct, and now we trust those given by MW to be correct.


Though MediaWatch’s facts may be correct, its comments certainly are not. MW says the piggy bank story was “not just silly” but “nasty and damaging” and adds “Frankly, it was always incredible, but the papers and the talk back hosts didn’t check it out, because it’s grist to their mill and a hot button story guaranteed to light up the switchboard.”


That the papers and talk back hosts did not check the story out because it was “grist to their mill” is a statement which cannot be checked at all because no-one can claim to know other people’s intentions. Perhaps they just trusted LET’s reporting like we now trust MW’s reporting. As far as we are concerned, however, the piggy bank story did not seem that “incredible,” in the light of so many other instances of actual “silly” decisions taken in order not to offend certain sensitivities that have never before been part of Western society but are now as a consequence of “multiculturalism.”


We also wonder what is so “nasty and damaging” about the whole piggy bank story, even if it has been proved to be incorrect, compared to what is currently happening in Denmark, where a newspaper is still under police protection and cartoonists are still in hiding for having made drawings depicting the prophet Muhammad?


The indomitable Fjordman, who will be sorely missed when he quits blogging later this month, is about the only one who keeps the world regularly posted on this ongoing affair which has escalated to a diplomatic “war” between Denmark and moderate Muslim countries, such as Turkey and Egypt, for no other reason than that the Danish government refuses to censor the media.


One may wonder why the international mainstream media do not seem to be in the least interested in this story? It is a good thing that an organisation such as MediaWatch sifts through the news in order to get things straight. Perhaps it can also enlighten us as to why the Danish cartoon affair is receiving hardly any coverage, except by those who did not consider the piggy bank affair to be totally incredible in our post-democratic and post-free, “multicultural” society.




Bounty Offered for Murdering Cartoonists (Brussels Journal, 051204)


The Danish Foreign ministry has warned Danish citizens not to travel to Pakistan. The Pakistani religious party Jamaat-e-Islami and its youth branch have offered a bounty for anyone who murders the Danish illustators who drew cartoons of Muhammad for the Danish daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Last September the newspaper asked twelve cartoonists to draw the pictures to test whether there was freedom of expression in Denmark after a Danish author had complained that no-one was willing to illustrate his Muhammad book. Muslims regard it as blasphemy to depict the Prophet.


As a consequence the offices of Jyllands-Posten have to be protected by security guards after receiving bomb threats, and some cartoonists went into hiding after receiving death threats. Muslims and Muslim organizations, both in Denmark and abroad (including Pakistan), protested the publication of the pictures. In October ambassadors from eleven Muslim countries sent a letter to the Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, demanding that he see to it that Jyllands-Posten apologize for the publication.

Rasmussen refused to discuss the matter since Denmark recognizes freedom of expression and freedom of the press. He said that those who felt offended by the pictures could take their case to the courts. The ambassadors did not settle for this argument and had a meeting with some Danish politicians in order to put pressure on Rasmussen. After the meeting it was announced that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference would take the matter into its hands. The organisation, representing 56 member states, subsequently sent a letter of protest to the Danish government.


The bounty now offered by the Jamaat-e-Islami for the murder of the cartoonists is 50,000 Danish crowns (6,725 euros). However, the party wrongly thinks that only one person drew all 12 pictures. The Danish ambassador in Pakistan, Bent Wigotski, said the Pakistani party had also demanded that all Danish diplomats should be expelled from Pakistan. Wigotski, however, stressed that there are no plans to evacuate the Danish Embassy in Islamabad, despite receiving hundreds of angry protest letters from Muslims.

Wigotski admitted that the situation was nevertheless serious. “They might want to get to the Danish illustrators, but if they cannot reach them, they could make do with a scapegoat,” he said. The embassy has warned that the scapegoat could be anybody and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a travel advisory for Pakistan warning Danes not to visit the country. The ambassador of Pakistan in Denmark, Javed Qureshi, who was one of the 11 ambassadors who signed the letter to Rasmussen, denounced the death threats. “No Pakistani government would ever support such a thing, I’m sure that the current government will take action in the case. I can’t imagine that a bounty like that doesn’t violate Pakistani legislation,” he said.




UN to Investigate Racism of Danish Cartoonists (Brussels Journal, 051207)


Fjordman, the Norwegian blogger (how sorely his invaluable reports from Scandinavia will be missed when he quits blogging next week) reports that Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, has expressed her concern over the 12 cartoons [see them here] depicting the prophet Muhammad which were published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September. Ms Arbour says that the UN experts on racism will deal with the matter.


The 56 member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) are currently meeting in Mecca to discuss joint action against Denmark because the Danish government has refused to call Jyllands-Posten to account and restrict the freedom of the Danish press. According to Muslims it is blasphemy to depict the prophet and the paper should apologize for having done so. Eleven Muslim ambassadors to Copenhagen had asked the Danish Prime Minister to ensure that such an apology would be forthcoming.


In a message to the OIC, the UN’s High Commissioner for Human Rights states: “I understand your concerns and would like to emphasize that I regret any statement or act that could express a lack of respect for the religion of others.” In a complaint to the High Commissioner, the 56 Islamic governments asked Louise Arbour to raise the matter with the Danish government “to help contain this encroachment on Islam, so the situation will not get out of control.” Muslim radicals have threathened to murder the Danish cartoonists and take revenge with bloodshed in Denmark.


According to the director of the Danish Center for Human Rights, Morten Kjærum, “the concern of the High Commissioner reflects that the ban on discrimination is one of the most important and general within human rights law, because we know how disastrous it is when different groups are pitted against one another.”


Over the past three months this case has become a major international incident. Curiously enough, to our knowledge it has hardly been reported in the non-Danish mainstream media.




Europe Criticises Copenhagen over Cartoons (Brussels Journal, 051221)


The Council of Europe (CoE), an organisation of 46 European countries, has criticised the Danish government for invoking the “freedom of the press” in its refusal to take action against “insulting” cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The CoE Committee of Ministers discussed the case during a meeting in Strassburg last week. In a statement the Committee said that “a seam of intolerance” is noted in certain Danish media – a reference to the Danish cartoon case.


According to Islam it is blasphemy to depict the Prophet Muhammad. Last Summer a Danish writer complained that he could not find an artist to illustrate his book about Muhammad because illustrators feared retaliation by Denmark’s Muslim immigrant population. This prompted Jyllands-Posten (JP), Denmark’s largest newspaper, to test whether the threat of Islamic terrorism has restricted the freedom of expression in Denmark. JP asked a considerable number of artists to draw a picture of Muhammad to illustrate an article about freedom of speech in a multicultural society. Only 12 artists were prepared to do so. As can be seen here, some of them criticised JP and its editor, Carsten Juste, claiming that the request was a “provocation” and a “PR stunt.” On September 30, JP published all twelve cartoons, including the ones criticising the paper.


JP’s test led to outrage among the Muslim immigrants living in Denmark, to violent street protests and to terrorist threats against the paper and the cartoonists, some of whom had to go in hiding. It also resulted in a diplomatic crisis when eleven ambassadors to Copenhagen, including the ambassadors of Bosnia and Turkey, asked to meet Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for an urgent meeting to discuss the matter. They wanted him to call JP to account for “abusing Islam in the name of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.”


Anders Fogh Rasmussen

Rasmussen refused to meet the ambassadors, making it clear that in Denmark the government does not interfere with the freedom of the press. “This is a matter of principle. I will not meet with them because it is so crystal clear what principles Danish democracy is built upon that there is no reason to do so,” he said, adding that those who felt offended should bring their grievances to the courts. “As prime minister, I have no power whatsoever to limit the press – nor do I want such power.”


The case escalated into a major diplomatic crisis, even though, apart from the Danish press, it has been hardly been reported upon in the international mainstream media. There were violent protest demonstrations and strikes against the cartoons in the Indian state of Kashmir and in Pakistan, after which Denmark warned its citizens not to travel to Pakistan. Egypt cut off its talks on human rights with Denmark while the Egyptian Grand-Imam Muhammad Said Tantawy condemned the Danish government. Tantawy is the religious leader of Egypt, appointed by the Egyptian president, and chancellor of the prestigious al-Azhar University, one of the Sunni Muslims’ most important centers of learning. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised his Danish colleague during bilateral talks last month.


On 7 December, the 56 member countries of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) unanimously condemned Denmark for its refusal to act against alleged “islamophobia” in the press. In a letter to the OIC Louise Arbour, the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, deplored the Danish newspaper’s “lack of respect for the religion of others” and announced that the UN experts on racism would take the matter up with the Danish government.


The Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali called upon European leaders to support Rasmussen in his refusal to compromise on the principle of freedom of the press, but in vain. Last week, the Council of Europe issued a warning that publications with xenophobic elements are increasing in Denmark and urged the Danish government to “take action.” The CoE’s Committee of Ministers asked Copenhagen to “increase its efforts in protecting the rights of especially Muslim immigrants living in Denmark.” According to the Committee “a seam of intolerance within Danish society is noted, inter alia, in the political arena as well as in certain media.” The CoE added that it is also concerned that “[Danish] legislation, such as the reform of the Aliens Act, and policy, such as the Government’s policy towards integration, may contribute to a climate of hostility towards different ethnic and religious groups.”


Instead of supporting their government, 22 prominent Danish former career diplomats criticised Prime Minister Rasmussen this week. In an open letter to the national daily Politiken the former diplomats write: “It would have suited democracy in Denmark if the prime minister had met the request for a meeting that was put forth by eleven foreign ambassadors from Muslim countries.” According to the former diplomats Denmark is witnessing “a sharpening of tone, which can only be regarded as persecution of the minority that consists of Muslim citizens.”


Their criticism, however, did not impress Rasmussen. The letter by the former ambassadors was “very misguided and sad,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman Troels Lund Poulsen said yesterday. “They are willing to compromise freedom of expression by taking a moral stand. The Muslim ambassadors wanted a dialogue with Rasmussen in order to stop the drawings. It doesn’t serve any purpose to enter into a dialogue with people who want to stop the democratic process. Rasmussen did the only right thing,” Poulsen said.


Meanwhile, Carsten Juste, Jyllands-Posten’s editor, has welcomed efforts to end the cartoon controversy. Moderate Muslim groups in Denmark proposed to stop demanding apologies from JP and organise a “celebration” to show the moderate side of Islam. Juste welcomed the idea. “I consider it a chance at reconciliation,” he said. “While it’s important to protect freedom of speech, there is also a need among Danes to gain more knowledge of Islam and Mohammed.”




Cartoon Case: EU and UN Call Denmark to Account (Brussels Journal, 051228)


The Danish cartoon case is becoming a never-ending story, which shows that freedom of speech no longer exists in Europe. After the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, the United Nations and the Council of Europe, the European Union is now the fourth multinational organisation to lash out at the Danish government for not calling a Danish newspaper to account for publishing caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.


Franco Frattini, the vice-President of the European Commission, called the publication of the twelve cartoons [see them here] “thoughtless and inappropriate” in a time when animosity towards Islam is on the rise. According to Frattini, the EU Commissioner for Justice, Freedom, and Security, the cartoons foment hostility against Islam and foreigners:


“Honestly, these kinds of drawings can add to the growing Islamophobia in Europe. I fully respect the freedom of speech, but, excuse me, one should avoid making any statement like this, which only arouses and incites to the growing radicalisation.”


The twelve cartoons were not all disrespectul, but Islam prohibits making pictures of the prophet. The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published the cartoons last September to test the limits of free speech in multicultural Denmark.


The ambassadors of eleven Muslim countries to Copenhagen, including Bosnia and Turkey, asked Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to demand that the paper apologize to Muslims, but Rasmussen refused to interfere because the Danish government respects the freedom of speech and freedom of the press.


According to the author Robert Spencer the EU reaction shows that the EU recommends dhimmitude: “Instead of praising Rasmussen for his defense of Western values of free speech, the EU is demanding that he stand down and adopt their policy of appeasement.” What the whole affair has so far proved is that Denmark is one of the last Western countries where freedom of speech still exists.


“I am a Catholic myself, and if anyone had created a drawing of a holy Christian symbol with a bomb and a message about death, I would personally take it as an insult,” Frattini said. Does he really? Frattini became European commissioner last year because the European Union vetoed the Catholic Rocco Buttiglione because as a Catholic the latter disapproved of homosexuality and abortion.


Meanwhile, the UN has taken its action against Denmark a step further by asking the Danish Prime Minister for “an official explanation.” Doudou Diene, a Senegalese investigator appointed by the UN Human Rights High Commissioner Louise Arbour, has asked the Rasmussen government to respond to the question: “Do the caricatures insult or discredit?” Copenhagen is expected to present the UN its “official view” on January 24.


Diene emphasized that the UN are taking the matter very seriously because, he says, “Islamophobia is the greatest component of discrimination within Europe.” Earlier on, the Canadian Arbour had stated in a letter to the Organisation of the Islamic Conference that the cartoons were “an unacceptable disrespect.”




Danish Cartoon Affair (Brussels Journal, 051231)


The Brussels Journal has been closely following the Danish cartoon affair. Unlike the meanstraim media, who (apart from Denmark) are not interested in the case, we think it is very important for the future of Europe. Today we received a long email from a Muslim reader explaining why he takes offence at two of the twelve cartoons (see them here) published last September in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Islam prohibits depictions of the Muslim prophet Muhammad. When a Danish author complained that he could not find an artist to illustrate his book about Muhammad, the paper decided to ask Danish cartoonists to draw them pictures of the prophet. Our reader’s letter is published below. But first, the latest events in this ongoing case.


An influential Islamic organisation, the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), has called upon its 51 member states to boycott Denmark unless the Danish government “presents an official apology for the drawings that have offended the world’s Muslims.” Last Thursday, the foreign ministers of the 22 members of the Arab League also expressed their dissatisfaction with the Danish government. They demand that the Danish government change its attitude. So far Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has consistently refused to interfere, saying that his government has no power over what the media do.


Rasmussen has made it clear that people who feel that Jyllands-Posten has broken the law, should bring the matter to court instead of demanding media censorship from the government. According to Troels Lund, Rasmussen’s foreign affairs spokesman, the criticism of the Arab league will not make Copenhagen change its position. “It is important to stand our ground and say that we have a separation of powers in Denmark and something called freedom of expression,” Lund said.


Meanwhile in Sweden a jeans manufacturer, Bjorn Atldax, has designed a jeans brand with an anti-Christian logo: a skull with a cross turned upside down on its forehead. “It is an active statement against Christianity,” Atldax told The Associated Press. “I have a great dislike for organized religion.” He says he wants to make young people question Christianity, which he calls a “force of evil.” He added that he has plans “to make something anti-Hindu because I think its caste system is awful.” But he is not considering any anti-Islamic designs because “there are already a lot of anti-Islamic sentiments.”


As a Caribbean blogger observes: “By his willingness to offend Christians and Hindus, and his hands off attitude to Islam, Atldax is proving himself to be very European.” We trust that the UN’s Louise Ardour, the EU’s Franco Frattini and the Council of Europe will respond in the same way to Bjorn Atldax’s jeans as to Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons, and demand that the Swedish government take the same actions as they want the Danish government to take. Or will they, too, prove themselves to be “very European”?




Danish Muslims Divided over Cartoon Affair (Brussels Journal, 060108)


The public prosecutor in the Danish town of Viborg has dismissed charges by 11 Muslim organizations in Denmark against the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten for its publication of 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad (see them here) last September. Islam prohibits depictions of the Muslim prophet. The charges were brought forward in October. The public prosecutor said the publishing of the cartoons did not violate laws on religious or racial discrimination or on blasphemy. Legal experts say this was to be expected. However, the Muslim organizations are disappointed and are considering appealing to the State Prosecutor and even to the European Court of Human Rights.


Meanwhile some imams, Muslim intellectuals and representatives of Muslim organizations in Denmark have visited a number of Muslim countries to “explain” the matter to local political and religious leaders and media. Their “explanations” were biased and inaccurate. The Danish-Egyptian Dialog Center in Cairo says that after meeting with the Muslim representatives from Denmark the Egyptian press has claimed that Danish newspapers are waging a campaign against Islam, that Copenhagen plans to introduce a state censored version of the Koran, that a Danish film is underway „to show how horrible Islam is”, and that the matter involves 120 cartoons – not 12.


In an editorial on January 1 Jyllands Posten called this “absurd diplomacy” and wondered why the Danish imams were spreading such hatred towards Denmark. Their loyalty is obviously not to Denmark but to Islam. These visits have also caused controversy among Muslims in Denmark. Hadi Kahn, chairman of the Organization of Pakistani Students in Denmark (OPSA), stressed that the group travelling to the Muslim countries does not represent all Muslims in Denmark.


A number of Danish professors said that it may damage the cause of Muslims in Denmark to continue trying to raise international criticism on Denmark instead of using the Danish legal system. The purpose of these visits has been to increase international pressure on the Danish government, but the whole issue has already become a major international dispute involving the United Nations, the European Council, the European Union, the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, and the Arab League.


Most recently the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO) called upon its 51 member states to boycott Denmark unless the Danish government apologizes for the cartoons. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said that he has no power over what the media publishes since Denmark recognizes freedom of expression and freedom of the press. In his New Year’s Speech Rasmussen once again stressed the importance of protecting freedom of expression, but also the importance of demonstrating mutual respect and understanding for others. The speech is usually only translated into English, but was now for the first time translated into Arabic because there was much interest from Arab countries. This was seen as a positive step towards easing the tensions.


Last Thursday, Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller phoned Amr Moussa, the Secretary General of the Arab League, in an attempt to ease tensions. The two men agreed that this situation needed to end. Moussa also accepted the Danish position that there should be a mutual respect between religions and that politicians should not interfere in what the media decide to publish.




Danish Prime Minister Shocked at Lies (Brussels Journal, 060111)


Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is shocked at the way in which some Muslims are misrepresenting Denmark in the Islamic world. “I am speechless that those people, whom we have given the right to live in Denmark and where they freely have chosen to stay, are now touring Arab countries and inciting antipathy towards Denmark and the Danish people,” Rasmussen told journalists yesterday.


Rasmussen was responding to the recent visits by certain imams, Muslim intellectuals and representatives of Danish Muslim organizations who toured a number of Muslim countries to “explain” the Danish cartoon affair to local political and religious leaders and media. The affair started last September when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons of Muhammad.


Meanwhile, after last week’s rejection of their complaint by the public prosecutor, Danish Muslim organisations have announced that they will take the newspaper to the European Court of Human Rights over the controversial publication. Islam forbids the depiction of the Muslim prophet. Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten repeated late last week that the daily will not apologise for publishing the cartoons: “We will not apologise, because we live in Denmark under Danish law, and we have freedom of speech in this country. If we apologised, we would betray the generations who have fought for this right, and the moderate Muslims who are democratically minded.”


Rasmussen said he did not want to use the word “treason,” as Pia Kjærsgaard, leader of the Danish People’s Party, has done to describe the Danish Muslims’ visit to the Arab countries. Rasmussen said treason has a certain legal reference and should only be used in appropriate circumstances. He also stressed the necessity of a proper tone in the debate from all parties, but at the same time he said, with a reference to the words of Kjærsgaard, that Denmark had a tradition of wide ranging freedom of expression and one should tolerate the use of this freedom. “As Prime Minister I will not evaluate what other people say nor judge what is proper. The courts decide when someone crosses the line,” he added.


In the Danish Parliament there is general indignation at the Arab visits by the Muslim representatives. However, instead of using strong words the government has decided to ask Danish embassies to correct the misinformation. Previously Rasmussen had urged the Muslim representatives to correct the misinformation themselves. These, however, claim the wrong information did not come from them and that it is therefore not their responsibility but that of the „international press’”.


Meanwhile the 12 cartoons were published on Tuesday in the Norwegian Christian newspaper Magazinet “in support of the freedom of expression.” Magazinet has received much feedback since publishing the cartoons and the overwhelming majority of it has been positive, thanking the newspaper for its initiative in defense of freedom of expression. Much of it has come from Denmark, but also from e.g. Sweden, Great Britain, Canada and the United States. Yesterday the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet also published the cartoons on its website.


„We are ourselves a nation that has been exposed to increasing Muslim violence against freedom of expression,” said Vebjørn K. Selbekk, the editor of Magazinet, and referred to the 1993 murder attempt on Willam Nygaard, the Norwegian publisher of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Consequently, Selbekk said, Norway has a special responsibility to confront this problem. He said that Norwegian illustrators were tending towards the same self-censorship as their colleagues in Denmark. They do not dare to depict Muhammad for fear of a violent Muslim reaction.


Drawing cartoons of Muslim religious leaders suffices to become the target of threats and even death threats, as Morten M. Kristiansen, illustrator at the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, has experienced. He says he often received remarks from Christians when he depicted Jesus Christ and from Muslims when depicting their religious leaders, but in recent years the Muslim remarks have turned into threats.


“We cannot tolerate this in a democratic society,” said Selbekk. Asked if he was himself afraid of reprisals he said: “We have gone astray if we begin to concede on this issue out of fear. Many have already done much to prevent this problem from being hushed up. We hope that by publishing the cartoons we can do our bit.”




Scandinavian Update: Israeli Boycott, Muslim Cartoons (Brussels Journal, 060114)


An article by Hjörtur Gudmundsson (with Filip van Laenen)


Condoleezza Rice has warned Norway not to boycott Israel. This week the American Secretary of State warned Oslo that there would be “serious political consequences” after last week’s declaration by Norwegian Finance Minister Kristin Halvorsen, the leader of the Socialist Left Party (SV), that she never buys Israeli products and supports the commercial boycott of Israel by the Norwegian province of South-Trøndelag. The Norwegian government parties all voted in favour of the province’s boycott of Israel, but – in order to save Norway’s position as a mediator in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – they all stress that they did not do so in their capacity of Norwegian government parties.


While the red-green government coalition in Oslo finds it hard to hide its far-left inclinations, Norway can fortunately take pride in some of its media. On Tuesday the Christian newspaper Magazinet published 12 cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad. Magazinet did so to support the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten that published the cartoons [see them here] last September, but has since received terrorist threats and huge international criticism, including pressure from organisations such as the United Nations and the European Union. Now Magazinet has received threats via e-mail from around the world. One of these, sent anonymously through a popular e-mail service in the Middle East, was mailed to the editor, Vebjørn Selbekk, simply stating: “You’re a dead man!” Other staff members have also received threats. Selbekk said it looked as if the newspaper’s e-mail addresses were being distributed in an organized campaign. One of the e-mails Selbekk received contains a couple of pictures showing a burnt body, sent through an e-mail address in France.


Giving in to the threats, Magazinet decided today to remove the cartoons from its webiste. “The e-mail with the pictures of the burnt body is the most frightening. But I am not afraid. This is of course unpleasant, especially for a family man. But I cannot go around being afraid,” Selbekk told the Norwegian daily Dagbladet which also published the cartoons on its website last Tuesday. However, a number of other Norwegian newspaper editors have said they do not intend to follow the two newspapers’ example, claiming it to be an unnecessary provocation. Arab newspapers around the world have also reacted sharply to the publication of the cartoons. Selbekk, however, said the purpose for his decision was not to provoke anyone, but to highlight the status of freedom of expression in Norway.


Magazinet also interviewed two leading Norwegian cartoonists: Finn Graff and Morten M. Kristiansen. Graff, who was known in the 1960s and ‘70s for his satirical drawings of Jesus Christ, said that he does not draw pictures mocking Muhammad. He does so out of fear for Muslims, and also “out of respect.” Muslims, he said, are very sensitive about their religion and their prophet, which is something one has to take into account and one has to respect. Kristiansen said he had received many protest letters in the past whenever he mocked Christ. The same applies to cartoons about Muhammad, but lately the protest letters from Muslims had increasingly become threats, including death threats in e-mails from places such as Iran. Unlike Graff, Kristiansen said he will not change his behaviour because of these threats because it is important to defend the right to freedom of expression.


Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands Posten, the Danish paper which published the cartoons first, told Magazinet that he does not regret that decision. “We cannot regret it. We live in a country where freedom of expression is recognized and we live and work in Denmark under Danish laws. The nature of the reactions has shown how necessary this debate is.” Juste said.


Asked if Jyllands-Posten had received any support from the Danish media after the decision to publish the cartoons Juste said at first there was not much support. Most of them believed this was something Jyllands-Posten did just to provoke. But after all the arbitrary demands that the newspaper apologize for the publication their attitude began to change. “Fortunately most people now realize this is an important issue about freedom of expression and, as a consequence, we have been getting more and more support.” He added that support has come from all over the world, but, unfortunately, threats, too.


Meanwhile, the Danish tabloid Extra Bladet got hold of a 43-page report that Danish Muslim leaders and imams, on a tour of the Islamic world are handing out to their contacts to “explain” how offensive the cartoons are. The report contains 15 pictures instead of 12. The first of the three additional pictures, which are of dismal quality, shows Muhammad as a pedophile deamon [see it here], the second shows the prophet with a pigsnout [here] and the third depicts a praying Muslim being raped by a dog [here]. Apparently, the 12 original pictures were not deemed bad enough to convince other Muslims that Muslims in Denmark are the victims of a campaign of religious hatred.


Akhmad Akkari, spokesman of the 21 Danish Muslim organizations which organized the tour, explained that the three drawings had been added to “give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims.” Akkari claimed he does not know the origin of the three pictures. He said they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. However, when Ekstra Bladet asked if it could talk to these Muslims, Akkari refused to reveal their identity.




Denmark: Moderate Muslims Oppose Imams (Brussels Journal, 060119)


For four months The Brussels Journal has been covering the Danish cartoon affair (see links below), while the mainstream media have all but ignored the story. There is good news, however. The firm stand by the Danish government against Muslim extremists seems to be paying off.


Despite pressure by various Muslim countries (including Turkey, Bosnia, Egypt, etc.), by international organisations (including the United Nations, the Council of Europe, the European Union) and by some of Denmark’s own ‘sophisticated’ diplomats, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has courageously refused to limit freedom of expression in connection with the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in a Danish newspaper. Though most of the cartoons were far from offensive, Islam forbids depicting the Muslim prophet. So far no other European (or for that matter Western) government has spoken out in support of Rasmussen, but this, too, appears to be changing.


Instead of the Danish government surrendering to Muslim radicals, moderate Danish Muslims are now speaking out against the extremists. A group of Muslims in the Danish city of Århus intend to organize a network of Muslims who do not want to be represented by fundamentalist Danish imams or others who preach the Sharia laws and oppression of women. “There is a large group of Muslims in this city who want to live in a secular society and adhere to the principle that religion is an issue between them and God and not something that should involve society,” said Bünyamin Simsek, a city councillor and one of the organizers. Århus witnessed severe riots after the publication of the cartoons in the newspaper Jyllands-Posten last Autumn.


In Copenhagen, too, moderate Muslims are speaking out. Hadi Kahn, an IT consultant and the chairman of the Organization of Pakistani Students in Denmark (OPSA), describes himself as a modern Muslim living in a Western society. He says that he does not feel he is being represented by the Muslim groups. When he goes to the mosque for Friday prayers he says the imam does not say much that is useful for him. “We have no need for imams in Denmark. They do not do anything for us,” he says. According to Mr Kahn the imams are not in touch with Danish society. He says too few of them speak Danish and too few of them are opposed to stoning as a punishment.


Last week, a number of Norwegian papers decided to support Denmark by publishing the controversial cartoons. They, too, have received death threats from Muslim radicals. Nevertheless, the general secretary of the Norwegian Press Association, Per Edgar Kokkvold, has said that he supports the decision by the Norwegian papers to publish the Muhammad cartoons. Muslim organizations in Norway have suggested that the media should be obliged to respect Muhammad and offered to give them some lessons about Islam, but Mr Kokkvold has another suggestion: Perhaps the Islamic Council in Norway should invite its members to a course about freedom of expression. “We have to stand up and fight for freedom of expression every single day. Freedom of expression is not something which comes as an appendix to other human rights, it is the premise for the other rights,” he said.


Meanwhile, the Islamic World Association has condemned the Norwegian papers that published the cartoons. It has asked the Norwegian government to intervene. However, Trond Giske, the Norwegian Minister of Culture and Church Affairs, has reacted with the courage of a Dane. Mr Giske, a Labour politician, came out firmly in defense of freedom of expression. “The government will not take action,” he said. “There is freedom of expression in Norway, also for this type of drawings.” He said that he believes that issues concerning religion should be approached with respect, but stressed that freedom of expression nevertheless comes first.




Danish Imams Propose to End Cartoon Dispute (Brussels Journal, 060122)


The Danish imams, who protested the publication of 12 Muhammad cartoons [see them all below] in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September, have announced that they want to end the dispute. For four months the imams and their radical Muslim organizations have unsuccesfully demanded government censorship. However, despite immense pressure (also from international organizations such as the UN and the EU) the Danish government refused to call the newspaper to account.


Last week a couple of Norwegian papers decided to publish the cartoons in support of the Danish paper while in Denmark moderate Muslims, encouraged by the government’s refusal to be intimidated by the radicals, have distanced themselves from the imams. The latter announced on Friday that they no longer demand apologies from Jyllands-Posten for the publication. Instead they said they just want two things: a guarantee from the Danish authorities that Muslims can freely practice their religion without being “provoked and discriminated.” And a declaration from Jyllands-Posten that the cartoons were not published with the intention of mocking the Muslim faith. “We want Jyllands-Posten to show respect for the Muslims. This can happen with an apology, but it can also happen in some other way. We will leave it to Jyllands-Posten to come up with some ideas,” said Ahmed Akkari, spokesman of the Muslim organizations. “We want respect for Muhammad restored and we want him to be described as the man he really was in history, and that he gets the respect he deserves,” Akkari stressed that Muslim organizations are still deeply opposed to the publication of the cartoons.


The Muslim organizations and Jyllands-Posten met last week to discuss the matter. “It was a good and constructive meeting. We agreed that we need to find a solution,” said Carsten Juste, editor of Jyllands-Posten. Juste stressed that the meeting was one step in a reconciliation process which the Muslim organizations and the newspaper began in December.


Some sceptics wonder whether the demands of the imams have changed fundamentally. They still insist that Jyllands-Posten admit that publishing the cartoons was wrong and make amends for it. The sceptics argue that the paper should not settle for a compromise on freedom of expression by justifying itself. Others wonder why the radical Muslims appear to be softening their demand and seem so eager to make a deal. Perhaps the decision of Norwegian papers such as Magazinet to support Jyllands-Posten by publishing the cartoons has made the radicals reconsider. Perhaps they fear a domino effect. Some Swedish papers are considering publishing the cartoons as well. If the Swedish government subsequently follows the position of the Danish and Norwegian governments, refusing to interfere and limit freedom of expression, the position of the radical Danish Muslims, who are looking for international support, will only weaken.


According to a poll taken this week among 1,047 people in Denmark 57% of the Danes support Jyllands-Posten’s decision to publish the cartoons, while 31% disagrees. Young people and men are more likely to support the decision. Almost two out of every three males and 61% of people aged between 18 and 25 years of age did so.


Meanwhile an international organization of Muslim intellectuals has threatened to mobilize “millions of Muslims all over the World” to boycott Danish and Norwegian products unless the Danish and Norwegian government condemn the publication of the cartoons, which is called an “attack on the Muslims of the World and on the Prophet.” In Saudi Arabia people are receiving e-mails and sms messages urging them to boycott Danish products “until Denmark offers an official apology.” The Organization of the Islamic Conference protested last week’s publication of the cartoons in the Norwegian paper Magazinet. The Iranian embassy in Oslo said that freedom of expression cannot justify publishing the cartoons. However, Finn Jarle Sæle, the editor of the Norwegian Christian newspaper Norge I DAG, announced that his paper is also considering publishing the cartoons. He called upon other Norwegian editors to do the same. Sæle says that so far many of them have only written editorials supporting freedom of expression but have not dared to publish the cartoons themselves.


Asked if wider publication will not lead to unnecessary confrontations between Christians and Muslims Sæle said the intention was not to provoke just for the sake of provoking, but rather to confront radical Islam in Norway. Perhaps it is necessary to provoke in order to do that, he said. Sæle wants the Norwegian imams to publicly oppose the death threats that have been sent to Magazinet’s editor Vebjørn Selbekk. According to Sæle these threats are not just directed against Magazinet. They affect the entire Norwegian media, not just one editor who dared to stand up for freedom of expression.




European Appeasement Reinforces Muslim Extremism (Brussels Journal, 060124)


The Brussels Journal has reported on the developments in the Danish cartoon case since it started in October 2005. We are one of the few non-Danish European observers to do so. Last Sunday, instead of linking to a website with the twelve Danish Muhammad cartoons we decided to add them to our article about the case. In a sense we were republishing the cartoons, but as we are only a non-commercial website with some 5,000 visitors a day, have no paper edition and did not make a great fuss about publishing them we only received two “threats.” One e-mail, from a certain “Hayet” said:



Les vrais trait de visage de notre profet (que seul les musulmans) les

connais sont d’un homme le plus beau de monde donc votre photo est


The real trace face of our profet mohamed are the best; he is the

best beautiful men in the word. Your photo is misfire


The other, from a certain “Siham,” said:


good morning

you must take us a lot of excuses We respect your profect and all profects; and you you must respect our profect for not to have in futur other problems between us


Both emails were sent via the same IP address in France, indicating that “Hayet” is probably “Siham.”


The best way to end the whole cartoon affair would be for as many websites, blogs and papers in Europe just to publish the cartoons in an act of defiance to extremists. Moderate Muslims take no offense at the cartoons, as could be seen last week in Denmark where the refusal of the government to give in to demands for press censorship has encouraged the moderates to speak out against the radicals. As Glenn Reynolds wrote in a comment on the affair: “I think that moderate Muslims are a lot more likely to speak out if they feel confident that the government will stand up to the immoderate ones.” This is an appeal to all of us, not just our governments: If we all stand up to the extremist Muslims the moderate ones will be encouraged to speak out.


We have been critical (and still are) of the Dutch Somali-born politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali on account of her opposition to religion and religious people but Ms Hirsi Ali had a point yesterday when she said that the only way to confront the radicals is a free and open debate. Sadly, she says, there is no free and open debate “because of the complacency and self-censorship of Europe’s political and intellectual elites, the self-pity of the Muslims, and the threat of violence by the jihadists.” Indeed, it is the appeasement attitude and behaviour of the Europeans that is strenghtening the power of the extremists over the moderate Muslims.


Hirsi Ali was speaking in The Hague where she received the “European of the Year Award” from our American friend (and former inhabitant of Brussels) Conrad Kiechel, the editor of the international editions of Readers’ Digest. The European commissioner Neelie Croes said in her speech that Hirsi Ali is sometimes criticised because of her confrontational approach. “If you believe in eternal life you can afford to be sophisticated. If you do not, you need rebels on this earth to bring about change. Ayaan is a rebel.” In our opinion the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen would have been a better candidate for the European of the Year Award. He is not a rebel but a man of principles. Europe does not need rebellion to change things; all it needs is to stand by its principles in order to safeguard its civilization.


One of our readers drew our attention to the wise commentary of Mona Eltahawy, a journalist of Egyptian Muslim origin, in today’s Daily Star. Unlike Ms Hirsi Ali, Ms Eltahawy has not turned against religion as the root of all evil, but practices a liberal Islam by speaking out against the militancy and terrorism committed in the name of her religion.


She writes about the cartoon case:


Can we finally admit that Muslims have blown out of all proportion their outrage over 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad published in a Danish newspaper last September? [...] The initial printing of the cartoons in Denmark led to death threats being issued against the artists, demonstrations in Kashmir, and condemnation from 11 countries. What did any of this achieve but prove the original point of the newspaper’s culture editor, that artists in Europe were censoring themselves because they feared Muslim reaction? [...]


Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was right not to intervene, insisting the government has no say over media – the argument used by Arab leaders when they are asked about anti-Semitism in their media, by the way. [...]


What should have remained a local issue turned into a diplomatic uproar that Muslims otherwise rarely provoke when fighting for their rights around the world. Perhaps the Muslim governments who spearheaded the campaign – led by Egypt – felt this was an easy way to burnish their Islamic credentials at a time when domestic Islamists are stronger than they have been in many years.


Must we really boycott Danish products, as one e-mail I received exhorted? [...] Here are a few facts we should remember. However offensive any of the 12 cartoons were, they did not incite violence against Muslims. For an example of incitement, though, one must go back a few weeks before the cartoons were published. In August, the Danish authorities withdrew for three months the broadcasting license of a Copenhagen radio station after it called for the extermination of Muslims. Those were real threats and the government protected Muslims – the same government later condemned for not punishing the newspaper that published the cartoons.


Second, the cartoon incident belongs at the very center of the kind of debate that Muslims must have in the European countries where they live - particularly after the Madrid train bombings of 2003 and the London subway bombings of 2005. While right-wing anti-immigration groups whip up Islamophobia in Denmark, Muslim communities wallow in denial over the increasing role of their own extremists.


As just one example, last August Fadi Abdullatif, the spokesman for the Danish branch of the militant Hizb-ut-Tahrir organization, was charged with calling for the killing of members of the Danish government. [...] Muslims must honestly examine why there is such a huge gap between the way we imagine Islam and our prophet, and the way both are seen by others. Our offended sensibilities must not be limited to the Danish newspaper or the cartoonist, but to those like Fadi Abdullatif whose actions should be regarded as just as offensive to Islam and to our reverence for the prophet. Otherwise, we are all responsible for those Danish cartoons.


We need Muslims like Ms Eltahawy, who speak out against the extremists. We need Western journalists and politicians who support them by not allowing themselves to be intimidated by the extremists. But where are these journalists and politicians? None of his European colleagues has dared to publicly support Mr Rasmussen. On the contrary, both the European Union and the Council of Europe (as well as the United Nations) criticized Denmark over the cartoons. Only a handful of Europe’s papers and magazines has publicly supported a Danish newspaper’s decision to publish the cartoons. Most European mainstream media have not even dared to write about the case, leaving the European public in complete ignorance of a very important international conflict that has been going on for four months now.




Norway Apologizes over Muhammad Cartoons (Brussels Journal, 060127)


The left-wing government in Norway apologizes to Muslims worldwide for the publication of twelve Muhammad cartoons [see them here] in the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet. Oslo sent out instructions to all the Norwegian embassies on how to respond to queries about the cartoons. Unlike the Danish government, the Norwegian government is not concerned about safeguarding the right to freedom of expression. Foreign Minister, Jonas Gahr Støre, a leading member of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg’s Workers’ Party, wrote the following e-mail to the Norwegian embassies:


I am sorry that the publication of a few cartoons in the Norwegian paper Magazinet has caused unrest among Muslims. I fully understand that these drawings are seen to give offence by Muslims worldwide. Islam is a spiritual reference point for a large part of the world. Your faith has the right to be respected by us.


The cartoons in the Christian paper Magazinet are not constructive in building the

bridges which are necessary between people with different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Instead they contribute to suspicion and unnecessary conflict.


Let it be clear that the Norwegian government condemns every expression or act which expresses contempt for people on the basis of their religion or ethnic origin. Norway has always supported the fight of the UN against religious intolerance and racism, and believes that this fight is important in order to avoid suspicion and conflict. Tolerance, mutual respect and dialogue are the basis values of Norwegian society and of our foreign policy.


Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of Norwegian society. This includes tolerance for opinions that not everyone shares. At the same time our laws and our international obligations enforce restrictions for incitement to hatred or hateful expressions.


Opposition politicians reacted to this message with indignation. Jon Lilletun, the spokesman on foreign policy for the Christian-democrat Kristelig Folkeparti, points out that it is not the ministry’s task to express an opinion on the content of the cartoons. Carl I. Hagen, the leader of the Progress Party, fears that freedom of expression is being swept under the carpet.


Magazinet published the cartoons in support of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which after publishing the drawings last September has been threatened with revenge by Muslim extremists. According to Islam it is blasphemy to depict Muhammad. The Danish government has consistently refused to give in to demands from Islamic countries that it apologize for the publication of the cartoons and introduce censorship.


As we noted before it is striking to see how Norwegian politics differs from Danish politics. The Norwegian Foreign Minister’s e-mail was meant to be confidential and not to be disclosed to the Norwegian public, “because,” as the Foreign Ministry wrote, “that would look rather stupid in the Norwegian press.” Apparently Muslims abroad are more deserving of respect than one’s own citizens.


Meanwhile the cartoon controversy drags on in Denmark. Saudi Arabia has called its ambassador to Copenhagen home for consultation. In Saudi Arabia there are calls to boycott Danish products and some Danish companies are already losing customers. As a consequence the Danish government felt obliged to actively contact Saudi religious leaders, while the Danish ambassador to Riyadh participated in a debate on Saudi national television. Still it came as a complete surprise to Foreign Minister Per Stig Møller when Saudi Arabia called its ambassador home for consultation.




Cartoon Paper Justifies Itself to Saudis (Brussels Journal, 060129)


In an open letter to the “honoured citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia” the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten emphasized today that it never intented to offend Muslims by publishing 12 cartoons of Mohammed last September. The letter, written by Carsten Juste, the paper’s editor, was published both in Danish and Arabic. It was translated for us by Hjörtur Gudmundsson:


Honored citizens of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia,


Allow me this opportunity to correct a few misunderstandings regarding the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, which have now led to a boycott of Danish products in your country.


The cartoons were published four months ago as a contribution to a Danish debate on freedom of expression – a right to which we attach great importance in Denmark.


The initiative has been interpreted as a campaign against Muslims in Denmark and the whole world. This I strongly dismiss. It was not our intention to offend anyone for their religion. That it has nevertheless happened was also not intentional. We have regretted that many times during the past months. Both in our own newspaper, other newspapers, on TV, radio and in the international media. At the same time we have had meetings with representatives of the Muslim community in Denmark. Those meetings have taken place in a positive and constructive spirit and at another meeting we intend to establish an effective dialogue with the Danish Muslims.


We regret that this affair has assumed such proportions and therefore it must be repeated that we did not intend to offend anyone and that, like the whole Danish community, we highly respect freedom of religion.


With kind regards,


Carsten Juste



On 20 January during Friday prayers religious leaders throughout Saudi Arabia called for a boycott of Danish products. The boycott quickly spread to other Gulf states, including Iraq.


This has led to considerable nervousness amongst Danish companies, such as Arla dairy products, which have more consumers in Muslim countries than in Denmark. The company reported an incident in which stones were thrown at a vehicle carrying Arla products and Arla employees have been thrown out of stores along with their products. Panicking Danish companies pressured Jyllands-Posten to explain its conduct.


The paper published the cartoons last September after a Danish author had complained that he could not find an artist to illustrate a (respectful) book about Muhammad. According to Islam it is blasphemy to depict the prophet. To test to what extent freedom of expression had been affected in Denmark the paper put out a call to some forty illustrators to send them pictures of Muhammad. Only twelve dared to send them drawings, which were subsequently published in the paper to illustrate an article on censorship and freedom of speech. The cartoons were pretty mild by Western standards (see them all here, halfway the article). We have seen worse, and are quite certain this would never have been published by Jyllands-Posten. Nevertheless the publication of the cartoons led to rioting and death threats were directed at the paper and some of the cartoonists.


The Brussels Journal, too, received several threats this week, including this one, which was sent to us yesterday:


what you published on your website about our prophet Muhammad “peace and blessing be upon him” is outrageous and disrespectfull to our prophet and our relegion and is unacceptable.

and i ask you to care much about people’s feelings, what would you do if some newspaper or website have an ironic drawing of a holy sympole of your relegion?? ofcourse you will be mad because you are a human have feelings.

we muslims will never make jokes of any prophet for chirstians jews or any other prophet of god , because simply they are all prophets of our god and they all holy to us.

but if you didn’t remove the cartoons and apologize to all muslims we will boycott your products and we all know how much was the losses in the few days from that cartoons issue, second we will fight you in every possible way to teach you a lesson how to disrespect our religion, after all i’m not a terrorist but after i’ve seen these cartoons i want to kill the people that did that each and every one of them and call me terrorist after that.


We welcome the many posts on our site by Muslims because we believe that dialogue is a good thing, though in this case the two sides seem to be speaking different languages. We wonder whether Muslims know what is meant by the Western concept of freedom of speech.




Cartoon Rage: Vikings Warned to Leave Palestine ( Brussels Journal, 060130)


This morning armed Palestinians stormed the European Union office in Gaza City, threatening Danes and Norwegians and demanding that they leave. Two Norwegian aid workers are on their way out of the region. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has warned Norwegian citizens against travelling to Gaza. The Danish Foreign Ministry warned Danes to be extremely cautious while travelling in the Middle East and North Africa. Yesterday the Danish national flag was burned in the West Bank in protest against the publication of 12 cartoons of Muhammad (see them all here, halfway the article) in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten last September. Depicting the prophet is blasphemy according to Islam.


The Palestinian terrorist organization Islamic Jihad announced yesterday that all Nordic people had 48 hours to leave Gaza. The al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades distributed leaflets saying that Danes and Swedes had three days to get out of the region. Sweden, however, unlike Denmark and Norway, has nothing to do with the cartoon affair. Perhaps the Norwegians have been omitted by the al-Aqsa Brigades because its leftist government parties have called for a boycott of Israel.


There are also reports that a terrorist group called the Glory Brigades of Northern Europe is threatening suicide attacks in Denmark. Meanwhile the internet edition of Jyllands-Posten was offline for several hours today, and also yesterday and on Friday, due to attacks by computer hackers.


Governments of a number of Muslim countries in the Middle East, such as Jordan

and Syria, have contacted Danish ambassadors and condemned the cartoons. Last week the Jordanian parliament called for the punishment of the Danish cartoonists. On Saturday the Foreign Minister of Iran, Manouchehr Mottaki, wrote to his colleagues in Denmark and Norway protesting the „ridiculous and repulsive insult” which he says the cartoons embody. Last week Saudi Arabia called back its ambassador to Denmark for consultation. Yesterday Libya decided to close its embassy in Copenhagen in protest against the cartoons and the lack of „responsible actions” by the Danish government. Libya also said it would be taking “economic measures” against Denmark, but did not say what they would be.


Yesterday the editor of Jyllands-Posten wrote an open letter to the people of Saudi Arabia to justify the publishing of the Muhammad cartoons after a number of Danish export companies with interests in the Middle East had urged him to do so. Several Muslim governments have encouraged their people to boycott Danish products in protest against the cartoons. Disinformation about the affair and about Denmark’s role is being distributed in many Muslim countries, for example through e-mails and sms messages which claim that Jyllands-Posten is a government owned newspaper and that the Danish government was behind the publication of the cartoons. Danish embassies in Arab countries have felt compelled to correct these lies. [There is also disinformation in the Western mainstream media who have finally picked up the story.]


At a press conference in Jeddah on Saturday the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) lambasted the Danish government „over its lack of action or apology” for the Muhammad cartoons. “The Danish authorities have, by providing protection to the newspaper and failure to censor it in unequivocal terms, served neither the cause of freedom of expression nor advanced the goals of multiculturalism, domestically or internationally. The Danish authorities should have categorically condemned the cartoons,” said Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary-general of the OIC.


Ihsanoglu added that the “failure” of the Danish authorities to condemn the cartoons sets a dangerous precedent. He welcomed diplomatic actions from Muslim countries against Denmark and said that the anger against the country is reflected in the boycott of Danish goods. “If they have the freedom of expression, then individual Muslims have the freedom of choice,” he said. Ihsanoglu nevertheless acknowledged the conflicting issues of press freedom and respect for other religions, but said Danish authorities “had a responsibility to control such material which incited hatred and religious intolerance.” Previously the OIC urged Muslims to protest in a peaceful manner.


In addition the OIC and the Arab League have announced their intention to appeal to the United Nations’ General Assembly to issue a resolution “prohibiting attacks on religion.” Such a resolution would among other things make it possible to resort to economic sanctions against countries that contravene it.


Both José Manuel Barroso, the president of the EU Commission, and the Austrian chancellor Wolfgang Schüssel, who currently holds the EU precidency, appear to be avoiding discussions on the cartoon affair. At a press conference in Salzburg on Friday Barroso claimed he did not really know in detail what the issue is about and was obviously not too pleased at being asked to comment on the it. Barroso said furthermore that the EU supported freedom of expression but not necessarily everything which is expressed. The Danish Foreign Minister, Per Stig Møller, has said he intends to bring the issue up for discussion at today’s meeting of EU Foreign Ministers, mainly to inform his colleagues about the situation and the postion of the Danish government.


Though under huge pressure to intervene, the Danish government still stands firmly by its previous statements that it cannot and will not interfere in what the Danish press decides to publish. At his weekly press meeting last Tuesday Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said Denmark need not be ashamed of its handling of human rights in the cartoon affair and referred to a reply from his government to an enquiry from the UN about the issue two months ago.


In a new poll published in Denmark last week 79% of Danes say the Danish government should not apologize for the cartoons while 18% say it should. 62% say Jyllands-Posten should not apologize, but 31% say it should. 58% say the newspaper had every right to publish the cartoons, but also said they understood Muslims were angry. 579 people were polled.




Danish Paper Apologizes. Dutch Cartoon on Its Way (Brussels Journal, 060131)


An article by Hjörtur Gudmundsson (with Filip van Laenen and Paul Belien)


Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten, has apologized on behalf of his newspaper for offending Muslims by publishing twelve Muhammad cartoons last September (see them here, halfway the page). Previously (as in his open letter to the Saudis) Mr Juste had only “regretted” it, without using the word “apology.” Mr Juste emphasizes, however, that he apologizes for offending people, but not for publishing the cartoons. He explains that for the sake of freedom of expression he cannot apologize for publishing them. He says that Jyllands-Posten has not changed its position on the publication as such. “We believe that if we would go out and apologize [for the publication] then the dictators in the Middle East would decide what we should publish in our newspaper. That is of course totally unacceptable,” Juste told the Danish news agency Ritzau.


In an editorial, published in Jyllands-Posten yesterday evening, the editor writes:


“In our opinion the 12 cartoons were moderate and not intended to be insulting. They did not go against Danish laws, but have evidently offended many Muslims, for which we apologize. Meanwhile a couple of offending cartoons have circulated in the Muslim world which were never published in Jyllands-Posten and which we would never have published if they had been offered to us. We would have dismissed them on the grounds that they breached our ethical limits.”


Mr Juste added that Jyllands-Posten prides itself on having high ethical standards. He said that therefore it was especially tragic that those additional cartoons are being presented as if they have something to do with the newspaper.


As The Brussels Journal reported earlier radical Danish Muslim organizations toured the Arab world three weeks ago and themselves added three additional pictures to the original twelve. One of them shows Muhammad as a pedophile demon, another the prophet with a pigsnout, while the third one depicts a praying Muslim being raped by a dog. These pictures had been intentionally added by Muslim radicals in order to incite antipathy towards Denmark, or, as they themselves put it, to “give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims.” Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen commented that he was “speechless” at such behaviour from “people whom we have given the right to live in Denmark.”


Meanwhile former US President Bill Clinton has condemned the publication of the (twelve original) cartoons at a conference in Qatar. He called them “appalling” and “totally outrageous” and warned of rising anti-Islamic prejudice in Europe, which he compared to Europe’s historic anti-Semitism. Mr Clinton was the American president who spent his time in the Oval Office smoking cigars which he had first placed in peculiar locations.




Yesterday Muslim outrage over the cartoons led to an armed raid on the EU offices in Gaza. Terrorist groups threatened Scandinavian officials and demanded that they leave Palestine at once, despite the EU’s donation of $338 million per year to Palestine, a donation which includes money from Danish taxpayers. All over Palestine Danish and Norwegians flags have been burned in protest against the publication of the cartoons. In addition to Jyllands-Posten three Norwegian papers also published the cartoons: Magazinet, Aftenposten and Dagbladet.


While the pro-Palestinian and anti-Israeli Norwegian government was quick to apologize, even before apologies were demanded, this has not prevented Muslims from boycotting Norwegian products. Meanwhile Magazinet journalist Vebjørn Selbekk has already received more than twenty death threats. Mr Selbekk and his family are now under police protection.


Unlike the Norwegian government, Per Edgar Kokkvold of the Norwegian press association Norsk Presseforbund defended the right of Magazinet and the other papers to publish the cartoons. Anne Lene Dale Sandsten, the spokesperson of the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, however, declared that the ministry never apologized for the publication of the cartoons, but only for the unrest they have caused. Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre claims that “since no leading Norwegian paper has published the cartoons” the Norwegian press has shown its sense of responsibility. However, though Magazinet is a small Christian paper, Aftenposten is Norway’s second largest paper and its leading quality newspaper, while Dagbladet is the third largest paper in the country, read by a quarter of the Norwegian adult population.


Yesterday Yasser Najjar, the Palestinian ambassador to Oslo, said that those who published the cartoons were asking for a “war of civilizations.” He said that freedom of speech does not allow one to “insult 1.3 billion Muslims.” The cartoons, he said, are not the expression of an opinion but pure provocation. “Our Prophet cannot be humiliated. I do not believe a Muslim has ever said anything negative about Christianity or Jesus Christ.” [KH: laughable!]


Media commentator Henrik Færevåg, however, declared that Norway should reconsider its financial aid to Palestine. The Norwegians have been “stupid idiots” to give more subsidies to Palestine than Saudi Arabia, he said. If the Palestinians cannot tolerate Norway’s freedom of speech they should not accept its money either.


Though the twelve Muhammad cartoons are pretty mild, except perhaps for two of them (which are also mild by Western standards), Muslims are offended by the simple fact of depicting their prophet. According to Islam it is blasphemy to draw Muhammad. Nevertheless the Mohammed Image Archive shows many depictions of the prophet throughout history, some of them apparently made by Muslims.


The Netherlands


In an article in the Amsterdam newspaper De Volkskrant today Dutch cartoonists admit that they do not depict Muhammad out of fear for violent retaliations. “It is a kind of self-censorship,” Stefan Verwey admits. “I have large windows and would rather keep them intact,” says Peter de Wit, while Joep Bertrams concedes. “It causes a lot of problems. Why throw oil on the fire?”


Other cartoonists, however, who have asked to remain anonimous, think that Western artist should not allow themselves to be intimidated and propose an international “Draw Muhammad Week.” Next month a book will be out in the Netherlands which contains a cartoon by Gregorius Nekschot [a pseudonym] of the prophet “in a compromising pose” with his child-wife Aisha.


Will the Netherlands soon be on the Muslims’ boycott list as well? And will Belgium, Germany, Britain and the United States because bloggers in these countries are republishing the Jyllands-Posten cartoons, as well as other pictures of Muhammad?




Take Note Cardiff: We Are All Danes Now (Brussels Journal, 060201)


Today almost all the European newspapers are reporting on the Danish cartoon case. What most papers do not mention is that the whole affair escalated after a group of radical Danish Muslims and imams visited the Arab countries early in January with the deliberate intent to provoke a consumer boycott of Denmark. These people wanted to punish the Danish government for its refusal to introduce press censorship. They even added three false cartoons, possibly of their own making, to the twelve drawings of Muhammad that the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published last September. (See the original cartoons here, halfway down the page.)


The result of their actions has not only been the current Muslim boycott of Danish products, which some sources say may lead to 11,000 Danes losing their jobs, but also death threats to Scandinavians in general. As Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in mid-January about the Danish radicals touring the Arab world: “I am speechless that those people, whom we have given the right to live in Denmark and where they freely have chosen to stay, are now touring Arab countries and inciting antipathy towards Denmark and the Danish people.” It was not just antipathy they were inciting, it was downright hatred. If ever there was a hate crime, this is it.


No-one will blame Denmark if it throws these fanatics out of their country. However, it is unlikely that this will happen because the Danes are way too good. If they were truly racists, as the radicals claim, the Danish authorities would  make sure that the people who lose their jobs in Denmark because of the boycott are all Muslim immigrants. This will not happen because the Danes are a civilised people, who do not punish entire groups for the possible offense some of their members may have caused. Sadly, a similar civilized attitude is apparently not to be expected from the hordes burning Danish flags in the Middle East and from those threathening to kill people for the mere fact that they are Danes. What kind of “religion” is it anyway that encourages people to behave in such way?


Let it be known to the fanatics that today all Westerners are Danes. All across the Western world papers have begun to show the Danish cartoons [but not, apparently, the BBC]. Weblogs proudly carry the Danish flag. Petitions are presented in support of Jyllands-Posten. “Buy Danish” campaigns have been launched. Will the twelve cartoons mark the beginning of the clash of civilizations? Will this be the turning point where Westerners tell immigrants that “guests” are expected to accept the rules of the house where they have come to live?


Many in the West clearly do not accept the Muslim verdict that even Westerners are subjected to the rule that one may not depict Muhammad. The French newspaper France-Soir, which republished the cartoons today, wrote on its front page: “Oui, on a le droit de caricaturer Dieu” (Yes, we have the right to caricature God). Though religious people may object, so long as they are not forced to contribute (e.g. through their taxes) to the making or publishing of such images (as was the case recently in Belgium), or to watch, they cannot persecute others for mocking whatever they like, as some do, for instance, by placing a crucifix in a glass of urine. Has Jyllands-Posten forced any Danish Muslim to buy its paper?


Fortunately, there are Muslims who are beginning to oppose the intolerance of the radicals. Mona Eltahawy is one of them, the Danish Muslims who courageously oppose their own radical imams are, too, as well as some Muslims who mailed us during the past few days. Many of these live in Arab countries. Yesterday one of them wrote:


I am a muslim from Lebanon. I’ve been following the news of the offensive release of the photos of our Prophet Mohammad by your newspaper... but what I am most concerned at is the aftermath: burning Danish flags, boycotting Danish products, asking Danes to leave, and putting the blame on them and  demanding an apology. I would like to send this message to you and the Danish people: I am a muslim, and I tell you that I totally DISAGREE with how the Muslims are reacting to this!!


Yes, I DISAGREE. The muslims are offended, true...but is this the right way to react? Not at all. As a muslim, yes, I am deeply offended by those pictures. they have insulted my religion and I totally disagree with their context. However, I would not react by burning flags or demanding an apology.


I would react by publishing pictures, articles and other material that would show how Islam is a religion of peace, harmony and forgiveness. A religion of science and human value. Just like there were cartoons representing my Prophet as a terrorist, I would make similar cartoons representing him in his real image, sending those cartoons to Denmark :)


I would react, by understanding the real root causes of WHY Prophet Muhammad is viewed in that way by some people in those societies, and I try to see if I can do something to treat those causes. Last but not least, and most importantly. I would react by standing FIRM AND STRONG against the MUSLIMS that are exploiting my OWN religion for political interests: Ousama Bin Laden, his ideology, his actions and their supporters. […]


But what to think of this e-mail which The Brussels Journal received today from the following IP address belonging to the “Cardiff County Council”?




link: node/382





Not all is rotten in the state of Britain, however. Today, the House of Commons defeated a bill proposed by Tony Blair’s government to prohibit the right to ridicule religion. As a spokesman for the Barnabas Fund said: “We praise God and rejoice in this surprise result.” Tony Blair is definitely no Anders Fogh Rasmussen – which The Brussels Journal says is yet another reason why Mr Rasmussen should be given a freedom award.




France Soir Backs Down. Others Stand Firm (Brussels Journal, 060202)


Raymond Lakah, the owner of the French newspaper France Soir, has sacked Jacques Lefranc, the paper’s editor. Yesterday France-Soir republished the twelve controversial Danish Muhammad cartoons (see them all here, halfway down the page). Mr Lakah declared: “We express our apologies to the Muslim community and to all the persons that were shocked by the publication of the cartoons.”


French Muslim leaders had announced their intention to sue the paper for the cartoons. They said the publication was a “provocation.” Raymond Lakah, a Franco-Egyptian businessman, is the owner of Angel Gate, a holding company that also owns the airline companies Air Horizons and Star Airlines. The only adequate response to Mr Lakah’s decision is a consumer boycott of France Soir. While Mr Lakah has a right to sack Mr Lefranch, French readers have the right to boycott his paper.


Robert Ménard, the chairman of the Paris based organization Reporters Sans Frontières (Reporters Without Borders), said yesterday that Jyllands-Posten has given the world a good lesson in what freedom of expression and democracy is all about. He said the newspaper has nothing to apologize for; if someone is offended the case can be brought to a court of law. “I understand that Muslims feel shocked because of depictions of the prophet. They have the right to, but they cannot force others to have the same opinion. It is not up to them to judge what a newspaper in a non-Muslim country should publish,” Ménard said. He added that Denmark is greater for not accepting a compromise.


Michael Konken, the chairman of the German Journalists Association DJV, agrees. He corrected his own spokesman who had previously claimed that the republishing of the cartoons by two German newspapers, Die Welt and Berliner Zeitung, violated good journalism. “Nothing can justify threats by Islamists to murder Danish journalists,” Konken said at a press meeting yesterday, arguing that freedom of expression was one of the pillars of democracy. The editor of Die Welt, Roger Köppel, said that he considered it “his duty as a journalist” to publish six of the twelve cartoons to show readers what the dispute was about.


Last month the chairman of the Norwegian Press Association, Per Edgar Kokkvold, had come out in support of the Norwegian daily Magazinet which was the first newspaper to republish the cartoons. Its editor and other staff members have received many death threats. Last week Kokkvold received a death threat, too. Asked if this affected him he said he stood firmly by his previous statement that it was the right decision for Magazinet to publish the cartoons and start a debate in Norway on Islam and freedom of expression.


After a meeting in Tunis interior ministers from 17 Arab countries have issued a statement urging the Danish government to punish the illustrators who drew the cartoons. On Monday the Egyptian parliament urged Egyptians to boycott Danish products, the Syrian government has called its ambassador in Denmark home and the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem and Palestine, Ekrima Sabri, has demanded apologies from the Danish government for the cartoons.


Yesterday, however, the leader of the Danish Muslim organizations which have been protesting the cartoons in Denmark, imam Abu Laban, was exposed as being double-tongued. To the Western media he said that he was in favour of easing tensions while to the Arab media he continued inciting hatred towards Denmark and the Danes.


Danish imams and radical Muslims are still feeding the Arab media with disinformation about the country they live in. “Every day pictures and articles are being published more horrible and serious than those published last September,” the Danish imam Raed Hlayhel said in an interview with the The Saudi Gazette on Monday. According to the paper Mr Hlayhel is preparing another tour of the Middle East to raise more support for the campaign against Jyllands-Posten and the Danish government. His spokesman in Denmark, however, says that this is not correct and that The Saudi Gazette quoted Mr Hlayhel wrongly.


Meanwhile, the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen is attempting to find a diplomatic solution to bring the cartoon dispute to an end. He repeated, however, that “The Danish government cannot apologize on behalf of a Danish newspaper. Independent media are not edited by the government.” Mr Rasmussen called upon his countrymen not to boycott Muslim owned stores and restaurants in Denmark or products from Muslim countries.


The offices of Jyllands-Posten in Copenhagen and Aarhus were cleared on Tuesday after bomb threats which later turned out to be false. Asked by the BBC whether the paper would still publish the cartoons today, knowing all the consequences, Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, said: “That is a hypothetical question. I would say that I do not regret having commissioned those cartoons and I think asking me that question is like asking a rape victim if she regrets wearing a short skirt Friday night at the discotheque.”




11/21/2003: CAIR Goes Ballistic Over B.C., Dr. Laura


The Council on American Islamic Relations (leading front group for radical Islam in America, masquerading as a “civil rights” organization) is blowing a gasket (yes, again) over a B.C. cartoon by Johnny Hart: Cartoon Raises a Stink.


Did Johnny Hart — the beloved creator of “B.C.” and one of the most widely read cartoonists on Earth — sneak a vulgar defamation of Islam into the comics pages last week?


The question was raised yesterday by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based civil rights group, in an e-mail to its membership.


Hart and his syndicate say no — that a simple, straightforward joke is being misconstrued. That may well be true, but the 73-year-old cartoonist’s history of evangelizing his Christian beliefs through his comic cavemen have left many people doubtful.

The cartoon, which appeared Nov. 10, 2003 in more than 1,200 newspapers worldwide — including The Washington Post — shows a caveman entering an outhouse at night, and then saying, from inside, “Is it just me, or does it stink in here?”


The first public questioning of this cartoon arose in a chat Tuesday, when a reader noted that the cartoon seemed to make no sense, except metaphorically. The reader noted that the cartoon contained six crescent moons — three in the sky, and three on the outhouse door — and wondered if this might have been a veiled slur on the world’s 1 billion practicing Muslims.


The CAIR e-mail mentioned the moons, and also noted that Hart had drawn a prominent sound effect — “SLAM” — between two frames to accompany the closing of the outhouse door. The SLAM was stacked vertically, in the shape of an I, and could be seen to signify “Islam.” The cartoon appeared on the 15th day of Ramadan, the Muslim holy month.




Danish Embassy in Beirut Set on Fire in Cartoon Protests (Foxnews,060205)


BEIRUT, Lebanon — Thousands of Muslims rampaged Sunday in Beirut, setting fire to the Danish Consulate, burning Danish flags and lobbing stones at a Maronite Catholic church as violent protests over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad spread from neighboring Syria.


Troops fired bullets into the air and used tear gas and water cannons to push the crowds back after a small group of Islamic extremists tried to break through the security barrier outside the building. Flames and smoke billowed from the building. Security officials said at least 30 people were injured.


The Danish Foreign Ministry urged Danes to leave Lebanon as soon as possible, while Danes and Norwegians heeded a similar call in Syria, where violent protests broke out on Saturday.


“It is a critical situation and it is very serious,” Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said Sunday on Danish public radio.


Protesters also took to the streets by the thousands elsewhere in the Muslim world, a day after demonstrators in Syria charged security barriers outside the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and sent the buildings up in flames.


Those attacks earned widespread condemnation from European nations and the United States, which accused the Syrian government of backing the protests.


The Danish foreign minister said: “enough is enough.”


“Now it has become more than a case about the drawings: Now there are forces that wants a confrontation between our cultures,” Moeller said. “It is in no one’s interest, neither them or us.”


Syria blamed Denmark for the protests, criticizing the Scandinavian nation for refusing to apologize for the caricatures of Islam’s holiest figure.


Denmark’s “government was able to avoid reaching this point ... simply through an apology” as requested by Arab and Muslim diplomats, state-run daily Al-Thawra said in an editorial Sunday.


“It is unjustifiable under any kind of personal freedoms to allow a person or a group to insult the beliefs of millions of Muslims,” the paper said.


Anger has broken out across the Muslim world over 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were first published in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted in European media and New Zealand in the past week.


One depicted the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. The paper said it had asked cartoonists to draw the pictures because the media was practicing self-censorship when it came to Muslim issues.


The drawings have touched a raw nerve in part because Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.


Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said he personally disapproves of the caricatures and any attacks on religion — but insisted he cannot apologize on behalf of his country’s independent press.


Iraqi Transport Minister Salam al-Maliki said his country has decided to cancel its contracts with Danish firms and reject any offers of reconstruction money from Copenhagen to protest the publication of the caricatures. The government had issued no official statement and the value of the transportation contracts was not available.


Iran also said it has recalled its ambassador to Denmark amid the controversy.


“Insulting the prophet was unacceptable, resentful, and a sign of barbarism,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, adding that Tehran planned to take further action.


Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya have also recalled their ambassadors to Copenhagen in condemnation of the caricatures.


Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani denounced the violence and appealed for calm, accusing infiltrators of sowing the dissent to “harm the stability of Lebanon.”


Lebanon’s President Emile Lahoud denounced the violence, saying: “National unity should remain protected and consolidated.” He warned against attempts to destabilize the country, and his government called for an emergency Cabinet meeting later Sunday.


In Beirut, protesters came by the busloads to rally outside the Danish Consulate, where they chanted, “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God!” Some 2,000 troops and riot police were deployed.


A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said staff at the Danish Consulate had been evacuated two days ago.


The trouble threatened to rile sectarian tensions in Beirut when protesters began stoning St. Maroun Church, one of the city’s main Maronite Catholic churches, and property in Ashrafieh, a Christian area. Sectarian tension is a sensitive issue in Lebanon, where Muslims and Christian fought a 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.


Lebanon’s Justice Minister Charles Rizk, a Christian, urged leaders to help end the violence. “What is the guilt of the citizens of Ashrafieh of caricatures that were published in Denmark? This sabotage should stop,” Rizk said on LBC television.


In the Afghan city of Mihtarlam, some 3,000 demonstrators burned a Danish flag and demanded that the editors at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten be prosecuted for blasphemy, Gov. Sher Mohammed Safi said.


Some 1,000 people tried to march to the offices of the United Nations and other aid groups in Fayzabad. Police fired shots into the air to disperse them, officials said. Nobody was hurt.


Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed anger over the cartoons but said Danish troops and other citizens should feel safe in his country.


“It’s not the responsibility of Danish troops, it’s not the responsibility of Danish government, it’s the free media. ... We must not hold the troops who are serving in Afghanistan responsible for this,” he said Sunday in a televised interview.


In the West Bank city of Ramallah, students in uniform — age 13 and even younger — carried protest posters and shouted: “No to offending our prophet.” Dozens of Palestinian gunmen also defaced the entrance to a French learning center and attacked a man who tried to protect the closed building in Nablus.


In Iraq, about 1,000 Sunni Muslims demonstrated outside a mosque in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi. A giant banner read: “Iraq must end political, diplomatic, cultural and economic relations with the European countries that supported the Danish insult against Prophet Muhammad and all Muslims.”


Another 1,000 supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rallied in Amarah, denouncing Denmark, Israel and the United States and demanding that Danish and Norwegian diplomats be expelled.


More than 700 Muslims marched through Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, to protest the cartoons’ publication in two New Zealand newspapers.


European leaders urged calm and respect — both for religion and freedom of the press.


“The violence now, particularly the burning of Danish missions abroad, is absolutely outrageous and totally unjustified, and what we want to see is this matter being calmed down,” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in London, adding that the media must exercise its free speech privilege responsibly.


German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier pushed for intercultural dialogue.


“We all agree that words and deeds that insult or ridicule other religions or cultures do not contribute to mutual understanding,” he said at a security conference in Germany. “Both freedom of the press ... and freedom of religion are great liberties — those who use them must use them with care.”




The Mohammed Cartoons: Western governments have nothing to apologize for. (Weekly Standard, 060213)


AS MOST OF THE WORLD now knows, on September 30, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad. Subsequent disputes have drawn in the Arab League, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Council of Europe, the European Union, the World Trade Organization, the United Nations, and Hezbollah, to name a few. Since not only freedom of the press but also freedom of religion are threatened, it is vital to be clear-sighted about the issues at stake.


In the light of Salman Rushdie’s case, the butchering of Dutch director Theo Van Gogh for his film on Muslim women, and death threats against Egyptian actor Omar Sharif for playing St. Peter on Italian TV, Jyllands-Posten wanted to test whether “we still have freedom of speech in Denmark.” Knowing that Islamic tradition forbids such portrayals, it commissioned illustrations for what editor in chief Carsten Juste called “an article on the self-censorship which rules large parts of the Western world.”


The paper expected a strong reaction, and got it. Immediately, two employees received death threats, and the paper hired security guards. Juste responded, “If we apologize, we go against the freedom of speech that generations before us have struggled to win.”


On October 20, eleven ambassadors from Muslim-majority countries asked to meet Danish prime minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to complain about a “smear campaign” against Islam. He responded, admirably: “I won’t meet with them because it is so crystal clear what principles Danish democracy is built upon that there is no reason to do so. . . . As prime minister I have no tool whatsoever to take actions against the media, and I don’t want that kind of tool.”


With no apparent sense of irony, Egyptian officials then withdrew from a dialogue on human rights with their Danish counterparts. Subsequently, Arab interior ministers called for Danish authorities to “punish those responsible,” the Jordanian Parliament demanded action against those “striking at the sentiments of the Arabo-Muslim nation,” Iran and Iraq protested to Danish envoys, Syria, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait recalled their ambassadors, Libya closed its embassy, and Saudi Arabia and Sudan announced a boycott of Danish products.


In Gaza, thousand of protesters burned Danish flags while chanting “Death to Denmark,” and gunmen stormed the European Union office. In Iraq, Danish troops were put on alert after a local fatwa was issued. In Kashmir, shops closed in protest. Pakistan’s Jamaat-e-Islami party placed a bounty of 50,000 Danish kroner on the cartoonists. Jihadi websites are threatening suicide bombings in Denmark. Hezbollah’s head, Hassan Nasrallah, declared if Muslims had carried “out the fatwa of Imam Khomeini against the renegade Salman Rushdie, the scum who are insulting our Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, Norway, and France would not dare do so.”


Mohammed Sayed Tantawi, head of Al-Azhar University in Cairo, proposed to raise the matter with the “U.N.’s concerned committees” and human rights groups. The Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC) and the Arab League want the U.N. General Assembly to pass “a binding resolution banning contempt for religious beliefs and providing for sanctions to be imposed on contravening countries or institutions.”


The U.N. high commissioner for human rights, former Supreme Court of Canada justice Louise Arbour, replied to the OIC, “I find alarming any behaviors that disregard the beliefs of others.” She launched investigations into “racism” and “disrespect for belief,” and asked for “an official explanation” from the Danish government. However, despite being a professed defender of human rights, she showed no alarm at the OIC’s disregard for the Danes’ belief in and commitment to a free press.


Thereafter some newspapers took their own steps. The Norwegian Magazinet republished the cartoons on January 9. Then, on February 1, seven European papers including Italy’s La Stampa, Spain’s El Periodico, and the Netherlands’ Volkskrant followed suit. Germany’s Die Welt did likewise, arguing that in the West there is a right to blaspheme. France Soir published them, along with Buddhist, Jewish, and Christian caricatures, under the headline “Yes, we have a right to caricature God.” Other media, including the BBC, are taking similar steps.


Gaza gunmen then threatened to kidnap French, Norwegians, Danes, and Germans unless their governments apologized. Meanwhile, France Soir’s managing editor was sacked, as was the editor of Jordan’s Shihan, which ran some of the cartoons to show how offensive they were, while urging Muslims to “be reasonable.”


Defending freedom of religion and freedom of the press requires distinguishing who is being criticized, and distinguishing criticism from threats. It is one thing to condemn Jyllands-Posten for offending millions of people. It is a very different thing to criticize the Danish or other governments, since the criticism itself, even apart from invidious calls for cartoonists to be punished by the state, assumes that government should control the media. Saudi Arabia, Iran, and their authoritarian brethren, as well as jihadist vigilantes, are attempting to export and impose their media censorship and version of sharia on the world at large, using economic pressure, international organizations, or violence.


Hence, as Rasmussen correctly stated, he was sorry that Muslims “felt insulted,” but the Danish government”cannot be held responsible for what is published in the independent media.” Similarly, Norwegian prime minister Jens Stoltenberg was sorry “this may have hurt many Muslims,” but said the Norwegian government “cannot apologize for what the newspapers print.”


As a man of principle, Rasmussen should also tell the Egyptian and other ambassadors that not only is this none of the Danish government’s business, but, since they are ambassadors of countries, not religions, it is none of their business either. They, especially the Saudis, may reply that they do not make that distinction. Our response should be to state clearly and firmly that we do, and that protecting religious freedom requires us to uphold it in our dealings with others.


Finally, amid current calls for “toleration” and “respect for belief,” we need to be very clear about the distinction between religious toleration and religious freedom.


Religious toleration means not insulting somebody else’s religion, and it is a good thing. But religious freedom means being free to reject somebody else’s religion and even to insult it. Government should want and encourage its citizens to be tolerant of one another, but its primary responsibility is to protect its citizens’ rights and freedoms. The fact that people are sometimes insulted is one cost of freedom. The Jyllands-Posten affair calls us to uphold that principle internationally as well as domestically.


Paul Marshall is senior fellow at Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom and the editor of, most recently, Radical Islam’s Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Shari’a Law (Rowman & Littlefield, 2005).




Demonstrators set fire to Danish Embassy (National Post, 060205)


BEIRUT — Thousands of Muslims rampaged Sunday in Beirut, setting fire to the Danish Embassy, burning Danish flags and lobbing stones at a Maronite Catholic church as violent protests over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad spread from neighbouring Syria.


Troops fired bullets into the air and used tear gas and water cannons to push the crowds back after a small group of Islamic extremists tried to break through the security barrier outside the embassy. Flames and smoke billowed from the building. Security officials said at least 30 people were injured.


The Danish Foreign Ministry urged Danes to leave Lebanon as soon as possible, while Danes and Norwegians heeded a similar call in Syria, where violent protests broke out on Saturday.


“It is a critical situation and it is very serious,” Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said Sunday on Danish public radio.


Protesters also took to the streets by the thousands elsewhere in the Muslim world, a day after demonstrators in Syria charged security barriers outside the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and sent the buildings up in flames.


Those attacks earned widespread condemnation from European countries and the U.S., which accused the Syrian government of backing the protests.


The Danish foreign minister said: “enough is enough.”


“Now it has become more than a case about the drawings: Now there are forces that wants a confrontation between our cultures,” Moeller said. “It is in no one’s interest, neither them or us.”


Syria blamed Denmark for the protests, criticizing the Scandinavian country for refusing to apologize for the caricatures of Islam’s holiest figure.


“(Denmark’s) government was able to avoid reaching this point ... simply through an apology” as requested by Arab and Muslim diplomats, state-run daily Al-Thawra said in an editorial Sunday.


“It is unjustifiable under any kind of personal freedoms to allow a person or a group to insult the beliefs of millions of Muslims,” the paper said.


Anger has broken out across the Muslim world over 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were first published in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted in European media and New Zealand in the past week.


One depicted the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse. The paper said it had asked cartoonists to draw the pictures because the media was practicing self-censorship when it came to Muslim issues.


The drawings have touched a raw nerve in part because Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.


Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said he personally disapproves of the caricatures and any attacks on religion — but insisted he cannot apologize on behalf of his country’s independent press.


Iraqi Transport Minister Salam al-Maliki said his country has decided to cancel its contracts with Danish firms and reject any offers of reconstruction money from Copenhagen to protest the publication of the caricatures. The government had issued no official statement and the value of the transportation contracts was not available.


Iran also said it has recalled its ambassador to Denmark amid the controversy.


“Insulting the prophet was unacceptable, resentful, and a sign of barbarism,” Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said, adding that Tehran planned to take further action.


Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya have also recalled their ambassadors to Copenhagen in condemnation of the caricatures.


Lebanon’s Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani denounced the violence and appealed for calm, accusing infiltrators of sowing the dissent to “harm the stability of Lebanon.”


Lebanon’s President Emile Lahoud denounced the violence, saying: “National unity should remain protected and consolidated.” He warned against attempts to destabilize the country, and his government called for an emergency cabinet meeting later Sunday.


In Beirut, protesters came by the busloads to rally outside the Danish Embassy, where they chanted, “There is no god but God, and Muhammad is the messenger of God!” Some 2,000 troops and riot police were deployed.


A security official, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the press, said staff at the Danish Embassy had been evacuated two days ago.


The trouble threatened to rile sectarian tensions in Beirut when protesters began stoning St. Maroun Church, one of the city’s main Maronite Catholic churches, and property in Ashrafieh, a Christian area. Sectarian tension is a sensitive issue in Lebanon, where Muslims and Christian fought a 15-year civil war that ended in 1990.


In the Afghan city of Mihtarlam, some 3,000 demonstrators burned a Danish flag and demanded that the editors at the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten be prosecuted for blasphemy, Governor Sher Mohammed Safi said.


Some 1,000 people tried to march to the offices of the United Nations and other aid groups in Fayzabad. Police fired shots into the air to disperse them, officials said. Nobody was hurt.


Afghan President Hamid Karzai expressed anger over the cartoons but said Danish troops and other citizens should feel safe in his country.


“It’s not the responsibility of Danish troops, it’s not the responsibility of Danish government, it’s the free media. ... We must not hold the troops who are serving in Afghanistan responsible for this,” he said Sunday on CNN’s Late Edition.


In the West Bank city of Ramallah, students in uniform — age 13 and even younger — carried protest posters and shouted: “No to offending our prophet.” Dozens of Palestinian gunmen also defaced the entrance to a French learning centre and attacked a man who tried to protect the closed building in Nablus.


In Iraq, about 1,000 Sunni Muslims demonstrated outside a mosque in the insurgent stronghold of Ramadi. A giant banner read: “Iraq must end political, diplomatic, cultural and economic relations with the European countries that supported the Danish insult against Prophet Muhammad and all Muslims.”


Another 1,000 supporters of radical Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr rallied in Amarah, denouncing Denmark, Israel and the United States and demanding that Danish and Norwegian diplomats be expelled.


More than 700 Muslims marched through Auckland, New Zealand’s largest city, to protest the cartoons’ publication in two New Zealand newspapers.




Islamic group posts anti-Jewish cartoons (National Post, 060205)


AMSTERDAM — A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization has posted anti-Jewish cartoons on its website.


It’s in response to the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that appeared in Danish papers, triggering violent demonstrations by Muslims.


The cartoons are posted on the Arab European League’s site.


The site carries a disclaimer saying the images are being shown as part of an exercise in free speech rather than to endorse their content — just as European newspapers have reprinted the Danish cartoons.


One of the AEL cartoons is of famed Dutch Holocaust victim Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler.


Another questions whether the Holocaust actually occurred.




Palestinians storm German centre, Stone EU building to protest cartoons (National Post, 060205)


GAZA CITY — Hundreds of Palestinians marched through the streets of Gaza City on Saturday, storming European buildings and burning German and Danish flags to protest cartoons deemed insulting to the Prophet Muhammad.


The cartoons have caused a furor across the Muslim world, in part because Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depictions of Islam’s holiest figure. Aggravating the affront was one caricature of Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.


The cartoons were first published in Denmark, and then in newspapers elsewhere in Europe in a show of solidarity with press freedoms.


About two dozen protesters stormed the German cultural centre Saturday morning, smashing windows, breaking doors and burning the German flag. Down the street, about 30 Palestinians threw stones at the European Commission building, and replaced the EU flag with a Palestinian flag, before police brought them under control.


About 50 schoolchildren and teenagers gathered at one corner of the street shortly after to try to resume the attacks on the two buildings, but Palestinian riot police, armed with batons, pushed them back. The youths threw stones at the police, then fled.

Later in the day, about 400 protesters marched to the European Commission building, accompanied by a loudspeaker car that blared, “Insulting the prophet means insulting every Muslim,” and urged merchants to boycott Danish products: “With our blood and souls we defend you, O Prophet.” Protesters also set fire to a Danish flag.


Police set up a cordon at the building to prevent stone-throwing, but protesters heeded organizers’ appeals and didn’t attack the building. Most of the demonstrators were merchants who called for a boycott of European goods, and many carried small books of the Quran, the Islamic holy book.


In Brussels on Saturday, the European Union called on the Palestinian Authority to protect EU buildings from attack.


“The Commission expects the Palestinian authorities to ensure that European premises are properly protected,” the EU said. “The Commission deeply regrets that Europeans who are working to bring a better life to Palestinians should be the subject of such attacks.”




As protests spread over drawings, Denmark bears brunt (National Post, 060204)


GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip — Outrage over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad erupted in a swell of protests across the Muslim world Friday, with demonstrators demanding revenge against Denmark and death for those they accuse of defaming Islam’s holiest figure.


In Iraq, the leading Shiite cleric denounced the drawings first published in a Danish newspaper in September, one of which depicted the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb. But the cleric also suggested militant Muslims were partly to blame for distorting the image of Islam.


Some European newspapers reprinted the caricatures this week, prompting protests Friday in Britain, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, Pakistan, Indonesia, Malaysia and Palestinian areas. In Sudan, some even urged al-Qaida terrorists to target Denmark.


“Strike, strike, bin Laden,” shouted some in a crowd of about 50,000 who filled a Khartoum square.


The U.S. and British governments criticized publication of the caricatures as offensive to Muslims, raising questions about whether the line between free speech and incitement had been crossed.


The Danish government tried to contain the damage. Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller called Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and said the Danish government “cannot accept an assault against Islam,” according to Abbas’ office.


On Monday, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said his government could not apologize on behalf of a newspaper, but that he personally “never would have depicted Muhammad, Jesus or any other religious character in a way that could offend other people.”


Many Muslims consider the Danish government’s reaction inadequate.


Clerics in Palestinian areas called in Friday prayers for a boycott of Danish and European goods and the severing of diplomatic ties. Tens of thousands of incensed Muslims marched through Palestinian cities, burning the Danish flag and calling for vengeance.


“Whoever defames our prophet should be executed,” said Ismail Hassan, a tailor who marched in the pouring rain with hundreds of other Muslims in the West Bank city of Ramallah. “Bin Laden our beloved, Denmark must be blown up,” the protesters chanted.


Foreign diplomats, aid workers and journalists began pulling out of Palestinian areas Thursday because of kidnapping threats against some Europeans.


In Iraq, about 4,500 people protested in the southern city of Basra, burning the Danish flag. Some 600 worshippers stomped on Danish flags before burning them outside Baghdad’s Abu Hanifa Mosque, Sunni Islam’s holiest shrine in Iraq. Demonstrators also burned Danish journalists in effigy and torched boxes of Danish cheese.


Iraq’s leading Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, condemned the publications as a “horrific action.”


But in remarks posted on his website, al-Sistani referred to “misguided and oppressive” segments of the Muslim community whose actions “projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love and brotherhood.”


Islamic law, based on clerics’ interpretation of the Qur’an and the sayings of the prophet, forbids any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad, even positive ones, to prevent idolatry.


British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw criticized European media for reprinting the caricatures. While free speech should be respected, Straw said “there is not any obligation to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory.”


The U.S. State Department called the drawings “offensive to the beliefs of Muslims” and said the right to freedom of speech must be coupled with press responsibility.


“Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable,” State Department press officer Janelle Hironimus said.


In Damascus, Syria, entrances to the Al-Murabit mosque were strewn with Danish, Israeli and American flags so worshippers could trample them as they entered. Banners outside called for a boycott of Danish, European and U.S. products “until Denmark is brought to its knees, regretting this farce of freedom of expression.”


Some 1,500 worshippers in Jordan marched in the northeastern city of Zarqa, demanding that Denmark prosecute the cartoonist who drew the caricatures.


Pakistan’s parliament unanimously passed a resolution condemning the cartoons as a “vicious, outrageous and provocative campaign.”


And in Jakarta, Indonesia, more than 150 Muslims stormed a high-rise building housing the Danish Embassy and tore down and burned the country’s flag.




Beliefs on freedom at heart of furor (National Post, 060204)


Anti-cartoon protesters call for violence in UK, Gaza erupts


PHILADELPHIA — Images of the Prophet Muhammad’s face are rare in Islamic art. If he is depicted at all, his face is often obscured.


But it was not the caricature of Muhammad by a Danish cartoonist that triggered protests across the Muslim world in recent days. It was the fact he was shown wearing a turban that appeared to be a bomb.


“It’s not just that it was an image,” said Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub, a professor of Islamic studies at Temple University in Philadelphia. “It was that Muhammad was portrayed as a terrorist.”


To be sure, extremists eager to portray the West as anti-Islamic have egged on the protests. But the outrage also reflects the huge cultural chasm between the Muslim world and the secular West, where freedom of expression is sacrosanct even if the ideas expressed are blasphemous.


“It has a lot to do with the difference in belief about freedom,” said Mr. Ayoub, a native of Lebanon.


“The essential difference is how freedom is understood. I believe that my freedom ends where the dignity and respect for all the prophets begins.”


Islam’s holy book, the Koran, does not specifically prohibit artistic depictions of Muhammad. But the Islamic tradition that developed in the centuries after his death in 632 AD includes several bans against the depiction of any human figure on the grounds it might lead to idolatry. As a result, traditional Islamic art incorporates geometric patterns or Arabic script rather than figures.


As Islam spread beyond the Arab world, the ban on figures was relaxed — miniature Persian art from the 12th century depicts birds, animals and even Muhammad, though his face is almost always hidden or obscured. And most modern Muslims do not have problems with human photography or figure paintings.


“Some very conservative schools of thought, such as the Wahhabis in Saudi Arabia, don’t permit any pictures of human beings,” said Radwan Masmoudi, director of the Center for Study of Islam and Democracy near Washington. “That’s not the position of most Muslims.”


But Muhammad is still off limits.


“In general, Muslims don’t want the prophet depicted in any fashion, even if it’s positive,” Mr. Masmoudi added.


The controversy is similar to the incident that erupted last year after Newsweek magazine reported U.S. interrogators questioning prisoners at Guantanamo Bay had desecrated copies of the Koran. The magazine retracted the story, but not before anti-American politicians organized violent riots in Afghanistan and elsewhere.


Some scholars say the insulting cartoons are a recruiting tool for extremists, who portray the West’s war on terrorism as a campaign against all Muslims.


The reaction among American Muslims is muted. “On the one hand, we understand the basic principles of freedom of expression,” he said. “On the other hand, as Muslims, we do feel offended when the insult goes to the root of Islam, Muhammad himself.”


Mr. Ayoub says he knows some Lebanese academics who are atheists, but for whom Muhammad represents a great figure of Arab civilization.


“I think even secularized Muslims would react badly to this,” he said.




A clash of values (National Post, 060204)


In 2003, artist Dave Brown published a cartoon in Britain’s Independent newspaper depicting Ariel Sharon eating a Palestinian baby. “What’s wrong?” Sharon is saying. “You never seen a politician kissing babies before?”


The cartoon provoked outrage for two reasons. First, it played on the debunked myth that Israel had massacred Palestinian civilians in Jenin the previous April. Secondly, it evoked the ancient libels against the Jews — the most famous being the claim that Jews use the blood of Gentile children to make their Passover Matzoh.


Yet Brown never felt compelled to go into hiding from Jewish mobs. Nor was he bashful about showing up when the Sharon image won Political Cartoon of the Year honours from Britain’s Political Cartoon Society. His award was presented by a former Cabinet minister at the London headquarters of The Economist, with nary a protester in sight.


Later, Canadian filmmaker Martin Himel interviewed the Cartoon Society’s director, Tim Benson, to find out what he thought of Brown’s award-winning creation. The exchange is captured in Himel’s 2004 documentary Jenin: Massacring Truth.


Himel: “Why, in all these [British cartoons], don’t we see maybe [Yasser] Arafat eating babies?”


Benson: “Maybe Jews don’t issue fatwas.”


Himel: “What do you mean by that?”


Benson: “Well, if you upset an Islamic or Muslim group, as you know, fatwas can be issued by Ayatollahs and such-like. And maybe it’s at the back of each cartoonist’s mind that they could be in trouble if they do so.”


A dozen cartoonists who published crude depictions of Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten are now learning this the hard way. At a rally in front of the Danish embassy in London yesterday, protesters held signs that demanded that such infidels be variously “beheaded,” “slain,” “exterminated” and “massacred.” So much for freedom of speech. Or, as one protester’s sign put it: “Freedom of expression — go to hell.”


That last one crystallizes the reason the Danish firestorm represents such a watershed in the clash of civilizations between the West and the Muslim world.


If the cartoons constituted garden-variety hate-speech, there would be no story. Political correctness is now as much a Western value as due process and representative democracy. In 1997, following a terrorist attack in Egypt, Gazette cartoonist Aislin published a cartoon showing a dog wearing an Arab headdress. The heading read, “In the name of Islamic Extremism ...,” followed by the words “With our apologies to dogs everywhere.” The Montreal newspaper quickly apologized to readers, and few even remember the incident. Such teapot tempests are old hat.


What makes the Jyllands-Posten controversy different is that it is not about hate censorship — which has broad approval across all religions — but about the idiosyncratic dogma of one particular faith.


As Haroon Siddiqui noted in the Toronto Star on Thursday, things began when a Danish author complained he could not get an artist to provide illustrations for an innocent children’s book. The reason: Islam forbids pictorial depictions of Muhammad — or at least of his face — as risking idolatry. It doesn’t matter whether the depiction is flattering or unflattering, peaceful or menacing. It is forbidden, period. That is what led an editor at Jyllands-Posten — in a misguided effort to uphold the principle of free speech — to commission the cartoons at issue.


I say misguided because the cartoons are crude, and not particularly clever. Had they been submitted for publication in the Post, or any other Canadian newspaper, they would have been rejected on that simple basis alone.


But in Europe, it’s the lofty principle — not its vulgar implementation — that editors are now standing on. Which is why several other newspapers defied Muslim threats and republished the cartoons this past week. Their point is that the ban on depicting Muhammad is, from a secular perspective, arbitrary — like a fiat against showing a man’s elbow. Or an avocado. Or the number eight. And if you give in to that, you’re validating a quantum leap in political correctness that opens the door for extremists — of any religion — to enforce any no-go area they please.


All across Europe, the ingredients for a violent culture war are in place. American conservatives like to lampoon Europeans as touchy-feely lefties who will do anything to appease militant Islam. But in recent years, the continent has begun to fight back.

The French decision to ban the hijab from public schools in 2004 is the most famous example. But there are many others. From Jan. 1, 2006 onward, for instance, the German state of Baden-Wurttemberg has required immigrants to take a “conscience test.” The questions include: “(13) What would you do if your daughter wants to marry a man of a different religion?”, “(22) You have learned that a terrorist operation is under way. How would you act?”, “(27) Some people think the Jews are responsible for many evil actions in the world and even believe that the Jews were behind the Sept. 11 attacks in New York. What do you think?”, and, most pertinently to the current crisis, “(3) Some films, plays and books offend the religious sensitivities of people of different religions. In your opinion, what methods should be employed for the prevention of religious sensitivities from being hurt?”


As you run through the test’s 30 questions, you realize how abundant and fundamental are the moral divisions between traditional Islam and secular Western society. Some pundits have written that Hamas’s victory in last week’s Palestinian election was a good thing, because it showed Israel what it’s up against. The Danish affair may have the same effect on Europe.


Westerners tend to make triumphalist assumptions about their values. We assume that once traditional societies get a taste of free speech, female emancipation, capitalism and all the rest, they’ll quickly cast off their patriarchal strictures and religious dogmas. That’s proven true in most of the developing world — including East Asia, eastern Europe and Latin America. But the Muslim world is putting up a stronger fight. A lot of blood will be spilled before it’s over. And some of it may belong to cartoonists.




Editors weigh free press, respect for religious views (National Post, 060204)


News editors around the world are struggling to balance their right to free expression with respect for religious sensitivities as they debate whether to republish controversial cartoons of Prophet Muhammad.


European media are defending the Danish newspaper that first published the images by reprinting them — unleashing new rounds of fury from offended Muslims. But few media outlets in North America have followed suit.


Editors throughout the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Thursday received an e-mail sent on behalf of editor-in-chief Tony Burman warning that CBC News would not show the cartoons “either in a news piece or other ways.” The network’s senior leadership subsequently decided to stick with the decision.


“We felt that we could explain to our audiences what the images showed without crossing the line,” Mr. Burman said in an interview yesterday. “We feel that we’re dealing with an intelligent, mature audience that understands our language quite clearly. if there are alternative ways of conveying what the issue is, and in so doing we’re not offending many in our audience, then that’s the direction that we favour.”


The editors’ concerns in this case went beyond offending Muslims, Mr. Burman added. “We’re also talking about many people who believe that even in a secular society, we should be respectful of important religious symbols and figures.”


Only a select few media outlets in Canada dared to reprint any of the controversial cartoons. Le Devoir yesterday published one of the tamer images — a caricature of Prophet Muhammad with horns — with a wire story that ran on Page B9. The newspaper wanted to “give our readers an idea of what we were talking about.” The cartoon was only three inches high, noted editor-in-chief Jean-Robert Sansfacon.


“Freedom of speech is something that remains fundamental,” he said.


“It’s a journalistic decision, just like publishing a photograph. We don’t want to push self-censorship to the point where we publish nothing, but we also don’t want to provoke the crisis.”


But many Canadian newspaper editors agreed with the CBC, saying it has not been necessary to publish the cartoons in order to report on the controversy surrounding them. Now that the cartoons have become an issue of their own, there would be an “element of provocation” to reproducing them in a major way, said Andrew Phillips, editor-in-chief of The Gazette in Montreal.


Mr. Phillips said there has not been a major call from readers to publish the images. Montreal has one of the largest Muslim populations in Canada.


Douglas Kelly, editor-in-chief of the National Post, said this newspaper decided not to publish the images after much deliberation.


“On the question of can we run it? Yes, we can. The question is should we run it,” Mr. Kelly said. “The depiction of an image in a newspaper is offensive to some readers, and that is of concern.”


Most news agencies in the United States have reached the same conclusion — that the right to free expression must be tempered with respect for their beliefs of their audience. But in so doing, many newspapers have also published editorials supporting the decisions of their European counterparts.


“The cartoons are undeniably offensive to Muslims. Yet the overreaction by opportunistic, authoritarian governments and backpedalling European officials has been deeply disappointing,” wrote the Los Angeles Times, which has not reprinted the cartoons.


“It is not necessary to agree with these cartoons to defend another’s right to publish them.”


Giles Gherson, editor-in-chief of The Toronto Star, pointed out Canadian news outlets may be responding differently because they are operating in a different environment. Religious tensions are not as pronounced here as they are in some European nations.


“There’s an interesting question about the nature of our society,” he said. “One of the things that marks our society is that we try to be tolerant and we try to understand where members of our society find offence.”


Publishing the images would offend readers gratuitously. Written descriptions of what is in the cartoons have sufficed, Mr. Gherson said.




Editor who commissioned cartoons cites ‘tradition of satire and humour’ (National Post, 060204)


Cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad were published as part of the “tradition of satire and humour” in Denmark, the newspaper editor who commissioned them told BBC television yesterday. Fleming Rose, cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, made the comments as he was interviewed on BBC television’s HardTalk program with Ahmed Abu Laban, the Muslim cleric who has led protests against the cartoons in Scandinavia. The meeting took place in the Danish capital, Copenhagen, as a debate about free speech and demonstrations raged across Europe and beyond. “In Denmark, we do have a tradition of satire and humour,” Mr. Rose told the program. “We make fun of the royal family. We make fun of Jesus Christ. By publishing these cartoons, we are saying to the Muslim community in Denmark: we treat you as we treat everybody else.”




Muslims lash out against drawings of Muhammad (National Post, 060203)


Fury rippled throughout the Muslim world Friday after cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, originally appearing in a Danish newspaper in September, were reprinted across Europe in a show of press freedom.


In Indonesia, more than 150 hardline Muslims stormed into a highrise building housing the Danish Embassy to protest the caricatures, then tore down and burned the country’s white and red flag. The rowdy protest was one of the first in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim country, against the 12 cartoons.


The cartoons included an image of Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.


Islamic tradition bars any depiction of the prophet, favourable or otherwise, to prevent idolatry. The drawings have prompted boycotts of Danish goods, bomb threats and demonstrations against Danish facilities in Muslim countries.


“We are not terrorists, we are not anarchists, but we are against those people who blaspheme Islam,” one of the Indonesian protesters shouted outside the building, which also houses several other foreign missions.


The demonstrators, who wore white Arabic-style robes, pelted the building with eggs before pushing their way past security guards into the building’s plush lobby.


Shouting “God is Great,” they tried to push into elevators to reach the mission on the building’s 25th floor, but were told to stop by protest leaders. Some furniture was damaged in the melee, an Associated Press photographer said.


Meanwhile in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Muslims chanted “Destroy our enemies” at a rally Friday outside the Danish Embassy.


About 60 members of the opposition Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party, or PAS, accused the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten of intentionally seeking to incite hatred and violence against Muslims.


“It’s an uncivilized act, it’s heinous,” PAS youth chief Hanifah Maidin said after submitting a letter to the Danish Embassy.


“We want the Denmark government to tender an apology to the Muslim world and . . . take serious measures to prevent Jyllands Posten from repeating the same mistake,” he said.


Pakistan’s parliament passed unanimously a resolution Friday condemning the cartoons, and a coalition of hardline Islamic parties planned to hold street protests in major cities.


The resolution said that the cartoons have “hurt the faith and feelings of Muslims all over the world.”


The measure added: “This vicious, outrageous and provocative campaign cannot be justified in the name of freedom of expression or of the press. Freedom also requires responsibility.”


Iraq’s top Shiite cleric also weighed in on the controversy, condemning the publication of the cartoons, but suggesting Muslims were partly to blame for distorting the image of Islam.


“We strongly denounce and condemn this horrific action,” Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani said.


Al-Sistani’s remarks, posted on his website and dated Jan. 31, refrained from any calls for protests against the cartoons. Al-Sistani referred to “misguided and oppressive” segments of the Muslim community and said their actions “projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love and brotherhood.”


France’s foreign minister said Friday he was shocked that Islamic hardliners have burned flags to protest caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad printed in European newspapers.


Philippe Douste-Blazy also criticized the drawings, saying “it isn’t normal to caricature a whole religion as an extremist or even terrorist movement.”


However, the minister told LCI television: “I’m shocked and I find it unacceptable that, because there were caricatures in the West, extremists can burn flags or adopt fundamentalist or extremist positions that would suggest the caricaturists were right.”

Right-wing Italian newspapers on Friday published the 12 caricatures and printed editorials criticizing European media for giving in to pressure over the drawings.


The drawings appeared on the front pages of the Libero daily under the headline “Muhammad rules here.”




NATO Troops Open Fire on Afghan Demonstrators (Foxnews, 060207)


KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO peacekeepers exchanged gunfire with protesters who attacked their base Tuesday in another day of deadly demonstrations in Afghanistan over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, officials said. Three demonstrators were killed.


In neighboring Pakistan, 5,000 people chanting “Hang the man who insulted the prophet!” burned effigies of Denmark’s prime minister and a cartoonist.


Denmark Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen called the protests “a growing global crisis” and appealed for calm. The Danish paper Jyllands-Posten was the first to publish the drawings, in September.


“It now is something else than the drawings in Jyllands-Posten,” he said. “Now it has become an international political matter.”


A prominent Iranian newspaper said it was going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust in reaction to European newspapers recently republishing the prophet drawings. Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the Muhammad drawings were an Israeli conspiracy motivated by anger over the victory of the militant Hamas group in last month’s Palestinian elections.


The European Union, in turn, warned Iran that attempts to boycott Danish goods or cancel trade contracts with European countries would lead to a further deterioration in relations. Those relations already are strained by concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.


President Bush called Fogh Rasmussen to express “solidarity and support” in the wake of the violence, the White House said Tuesday. Spokesman Scott McClellan said the leaders agreed that all sides must move forward “through dialogue and tolerance, not violence.”


The drawings — including one depicting the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb — have touched a raw nerve partly because Islam is interpreted to forbid any illustrations of Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.


The most violent demonstrations were in Afghanistan, where thousands of rioters clashed with police and NATO peacekeepers across the country.


About 250 protesters armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked the NATO base in the northwestern town of Maymana, burning an armored vehicle, a U.N. car and guard posts, said a Maymana Hospital doctor.


Some in the crowd fired light weapons and threw stones and hand grenades, and the Norwegian troops responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and warning shots, said Sverre Diesen, commander of Norwegian forces.


Three protesters were shot to death and 25 others were wounded, while some 50 others were hurt by tear gas fired by the peacekeepers, said Sayed Aslam Ziaratia, the provincial deputy police chief.


Seven NATO soldiers were hurt, Diesen told reporters in Oslo.


It was not clear who killed the protesters.


The United Nations pulled its staff out of Maymana, near Afghanistan’s border with Turkmenistan, and NATO peacekeepers rushed reinforcements to the remote town. Two Norwegian aid groups began pulling international staff out of Afghanistan after Tuesday’s attacks.


In the capital, Kabul, police used batons to beat stone-throwing protesters outside the Danish diplomatic mission office and near World Bank offices. Police arrest several people, many of them injured.


More than 3,000 protesters threw stones at government buildings and an Italian peacekeeping base in the western city of Herat, but no one was injured, witness Faridoon Pooyaa said.


About 5,000 people clashed with police in Pulikhumri, north of Kabul, police commander Sayed Afandi said.


Four people died and 19 were injured Monday in demonstrations.


Muslim anger has been directed at Denmark. Danish missions have been attacked and boycotts of Danish products launched in many Muslim countries.


The cartoons have been reprinted by media outlets in Europe, the United States and elsewhere — sometimes to illustrate stories about the controversy but also by some who say they were supporting free speech.


In India’s portion of the disputed region of Kashmir, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters. At least six protesters and two police were injured in the clash, a police said.


The protest by 5,000 people in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar was the largest to date there against the drawings. There were no reports of violence.


Chief Minister Akram Durrani, the province’s top elected official who led the rally, demanded the cartoonists “be punished like a terrorist.”


“Islam ... insists that all other religions and faiths should be respected,” he said. “Nobody has the right to insult Islam and hurt the feelings of Muslims.”


Danish citizens were advised to leave Indonesia, where rowdy protests were held in at least four cities.


The Iranian newspaper Hamshahri invited foreign cartoonists to enter its Holocaust cartoon competition, which it said would be launched Monday. The newspaper is owned by the Tehran Municipality, which is dominated by allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the former Tehran mayor known for his opposition to Israel.


Last year, Ahmadinejad provoked outcries when he said on separate occasions that Israel should be “wiped off the map” and the Holocaust was a “myth.”


An aid group that provides food to tens of thousands of people in war-ravaged Chechnya suspended its operations after Chechen officials banned all Danish organizations.


The EU’s executive office warned Iran that attempts to boycott Danish goods or cancel trade contracts with European countries would lead to a further cooling of relations.


EU spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said the bloc was trying to confirm comments reportedly made by Ahmadinejad advocating a boycott of Danish products.


“A boycott of Danish goods is by definition a boycott of European goods,” Laitenberger said. “A boycott hurts the economic interests of all parties.”


Ahmadinejad also ordered his commerce minister to study scrapping all trade contacts with European countries whose newspapers published the caricatures, Iranian media reported.




Lebanon Says Sorry for Danish Mission Fire (Foxnews, 060206)


BEIRUT, Lebanon — Lebanon apologized Monday to Denmark after rampaging Muslim demonstrators set fire to its diplomatic mission in Beirut, while violent protests escalated throughout the Muslim world against the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad in Western newspapers.


In Afghanistan, hundreds of demonstrators clashed with police and soldiers during a protest in the central city of Mihtarlam, killing one person and wounding seven. Police fired on the crowd after a protester shot at them and others threw stones and knives, said Dad Mohammed Rasa, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry.


Police used batons and rifle butts to break up a crowd of 200 protesters in front of the presidential palace in Kabul, the Afghan capital. At least three people were injured and seven arrested. Some protesters also threw stones at a guard house outside the main American base in the city, but no injuries were reported.


Elsewhere, violent protests broke out in Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation. Hundreds of demonstrators hurled rocks at the Danish and American consulates in Surabaya, while protesters burned Danish flags in other cities.


The main city in Indian-controlled Kashmir came to a standstill as shops, businesses and schools shut down for a day to protest the drawings. Dozens of protesters torched Danish flags, burned tires and shouted slogans across Srinagar. Police used tear gas and water cannons to break up protesters in New Delhi.


About 400 Muslims also stomped on Denmark’s flag outside the country’s embassy in Bangkok, Thailand.


European leaders, meanwhile, called for an end to violence.


“I understand that, when religious feelings are hurt, that can be expressed, but violence cannot be a means in the discussion,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said.


The prime ministers of Spain and Turkey appealed for calm in a column in the International Herald Tribune, saying: “We shall all be the losers if we fail to immediately defuse this situation, which can only leave a trail of mistrust and misunderstanding between both sides in its wake.”


The Lebanese Cabinet apologized to Denmark following a late Sunday emergency meeting. Information Minister Ghazi Aridi said the government had unanimously “rejected and condemned the acts of riots ... that harmed Lebanon’s reputation and its civilized image and the noble aim of the demonstration.”


At least one person died, 30 were injured and about 200 were detained in the violence Sunday, officials said. Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said the arrested included 76 Syrians, 35 Palestinians and 38 Lebanese.


The protesters set the building housing the Danish Embassy ablaze and threw stones at a Maronite Catholic church — the first attack on Christians since the protests began. Muslim clerics also denounced the violence Sunday, with some wading into the mobs to try to stop the attacks.


The day before protesters in neighboring Syria burned the Danish and Norwegian embassies, a fire that also damaged the Chilean and Swedish missions, which share the building. The United States accused the Syrian government of backing the protests in Lebanon and Syria, an accusation also made by anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians.


The Middle East has for months been a powder keg of anti-Western rage over the war in Iraq and the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But some observers say the furor over the drawings may have been exploited or intensified by some Muslim countries in the region to settle scores with Western powers.


Syria and Iran face growing pressure from the Americans and the Europeans on the issues of foreign extremists infiltrating Iraq’s borders and on Tehran’s nuclear program. And Egypt, one of the first to publicly criticize the series of cartoons, has been critical of the Danish government for funding critics of human rights abuses.


“This is an organized attempt to take advantage of Muslim anger for purposes that do not serve the interests of Muslims and Lebanon, but those of others beyond the border,” Lebanese Social Affairs Minister Nayla Mouawad, a Christian, said Sunday after riots in Beirut.


But Syria blamed Denmark, criticizing the Scandinavian nation for refusing to apologize after the caricatures were first published in September in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.


Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said he disapproves of the caricatures and any attacks on religion, but insisted he cannot apologize on behalf of his country’s independent press.


The caricatures were republished recently in several European, Australian and New Zealand newspapers as a statement on behalf of a free press. One caricature showed the revered prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a burning fuse.


Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.


In Lebanon, Interior Minister Hassan Sabei submitted his resignation at the late Sunday cabinet session following widespread criticism of the failure of the Lebanese security forces, which appeared to lose control of the streets for about three hours.


But Sabei defended their actions.


“Things got out of hand when elements that had infiltrated into the ranks of the demonstrators broke through security shields,” he told reporters. “The one remaining option was an order to shoot, but I was not prepared to order the troops to shoot Lebanese citizens.”


Sabei, like other Lebanese politicians and Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, spiritual leader of Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims, suggested that Islamic radicals had fanned the anger.




Danes accuse the imams of ‘speaking with two tongues’ (Times Online, 060209)


Tensions are on rise as Denmark’s Muslims accused of betraying land they live in

THE Danish media and Government have accused a group of Danish imams of stoking up the “cartoon wars” by touring the Middle East with a dossier to seek international support for their protest.


The clerics, whose trip was organised by Imam Abu Laban, of the Islamic Belief Society, were accused of showing more offensive cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad than those published by the daily Jyllands-Posten, including one of Muhammad looking like a pig and another of him having sex with a dog. [KH: point not clear made: those cartoons were not published but were added by other Muslims.]


Although Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons last September, the wrath of the Islamic world did not fall on Denmark until after the imams’ tour in December and last month.


As the row escalated, Danes blamed their Muslim minority for fuelling the furore, in which Danish embassies have been attacked and Danish companies boycotted across the Middle East. Newspapers in almost 30 countries have now printed the original pictures of Muhammad, one of which shows him wearing a bomb-shaped turban.


Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, has already angrily accused the imams of “double speak” in telling Arab media not to buy Danish goods, while insisting in the Danish media that they do not support the boycott.


Mr Rasmussen said: “Some people are speaking with two tongues. The Government watches the news circulated in Arabic countries very carefully so we can catch these false stories and correct them immediately.”


The centre-right Government said yesterday that it would exclude the imams from talks on integrating ethnic minorities. Rikke Hvilshoj, the Integration Minister, said: “I think we have a clear picture today that it’s not the imams we should be placing our trust in if we want integration in Denmark to work.”


The integration of ethnic minorities has become a priority for the Danish Government, which has also introduced some of the strictest immigration controls in Europe. Out of a population of 5.4 million, Denmark has 180,000 Muslims.


Resentment of Muslims has led to a surge of support for the far-right Danish People’s Party (DPP), which has described Islam as a terrorist religion and has said that it is an inferior civilisation.


Mr Rasmussen’s Government relies on the support of the DPP, whose leader, Pia Kjaersgaard, wrote in a newsletter this week: “The seeds of weeds have come to Denmark — Islamists and liars — who have fuelled the lethal fire through their tour of the Middle East. We will deal with them.”


Jyllands-Posten drew back yesterday from breaking another taboo. The newspaper had planned to call the bluff of an Iranian newspaper and print cartoons about the Holocaust.


The Tehran newspaper Hamshahri, which has close links to the Iranian regime, had accused the West of double standards in denigrating Islam while being frightened of appearing anti-Semitic. It announced a competition for Holocaust cartoons.


Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten, who commissioned the 12 cartoons of Muhammad in the name of freedom of speech, said that he would print the Iranian cartoons. But last night his Editor-in-Chief, Carsten Juste, trumped him. “Jyllands-Posten does not want to publish Holocaust drawings of an Iranian newspaper under any circumstances,” Mr Juste said.


“I have committed an error,” Mr Rose admitted later. “I am 100 per cent with the newspaper’s line and Carsten Juste in this case.”






Hundreds of demonstrators pelted the British Embassy in Tehran with stones yesterday. About 100 demonstrators gathered outside the Danish Embassy, calling for the expulsion of the Ambassador




President Chirac condemned “obvious provocations” after the Paris weekly Charlie Hebdo reprinted cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad and published one of its own




“I have no doubt that Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and have used this for their own purposes,” Condoleezza Rice, the Secretary of State, said. President Bush called for an end to the violence but noted that press freedom should be exercised with sensitivity




Police shot and killed four protesters to stop hundreds from storming a US military base in the southern town of Qalat




For a second day police interrogated the suspected killer of an Italian Roman Catholic priest. The suspect, 16, apparently told interrogators that he killed Father Andrea Santoro to avenge the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet




European observers pulled out of Hebron after their offices were attacked




Formally protested to Syria over the attack on its Embassy in Damascus last weekend




Violence Spreads Over Muhammad Caricatures (Foxnews, 060206)


BEIRUT, Lebanon — Muslim rage over caricatures of the prophet Muhammad grew increasingly violent Sunday as thousands of rampaging protesters — undaunted by tear gas and water cannons — torched the Danish mission and ransacked a Christian neighborhood. At least one person reportedly died and about 200 were detained, officials said.


Muslim clerics denounced the violence, with some wading into the mobs trying to stop them. Copenhagen ordered Danes to leave the country or stay indoors in the second day of attacks on its diplomatic outposts in the Middle East.


In Beirut, a day after violent protests in neighboring Syria, the crowd broke through a cordon of troops and police that had encircled the embassy. Security forces fired tear gas and loosed their weapons into the air to stop the onslaught.


The protesters, armed with stones and sticks, damaged police and fire vehicles and threw stones at a Maronite Catholic church in the wealthy Ashrafieh area — a Christian neighborhood where the Danish Embassy is located.


Flames and smoke billowed from the 10-story building, which also houses the Austrian Embassy and the residence of Slovakia’s consul. Protesters waved green and black Islamic flags from broken windows and tossed papers and filing cabinets outside.


Witnesses said one protester, apparently overcome by smoke, jumped from a window and was rushed to the hospital. Security officials said he died.


Thirty people were injured, half of them members of the security forces, officials said, making it the most violent in a string of demonstrations across the Muslim world. All the injuries were from beatings and stones.


Prime Minister Fuad Saniora said before meeting with top Islamic leaders that about 200 people were detained, and police said they included 76 Syrians, 35 Palestinians and 38 Lebanese.


The first apparent victim of the political fallout from the violence was Interior Minister Hassan Sabei, who submitted his resignation. It was not immediately clear if the resignation was accepted.


Sabei said authorities had tried to prevent the protest from turning violent.


“Things got out of hand when elements that had infiltrated into the ranks of the demonstrators broke through security shields,” he said. “The one remaining option was an order to shoot, but I was not prepared to order the troops to shoot Lebanese citizens.”


Sabei, like other Lebanese politicians and Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, spiritual leader of Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims, suggested Islamic radicals had fanned the anger.


Kabbani said outsiders among the protesters were trying to “distort the image of Islam.”


The United States accused the Syrian government of backing the protests in Lebanon and Syria.


U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in a statement that the resentment over the caricatures “cannot justify violence, least of all when directed at people who have no responsibility for, or control over, the publications in question.”


The Danish Foreign Ministry urged Danes to leave Lebanon. The violence Saturday in Damascus prompted a similar warning.


“The government has no intention to insult Muslims,” Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller said on public radio in Copenhagen. “We are trying to explain to everyone that enough is enough.”


The Syrian state-run daily newspaper Al-Thawra said Denmark was to blame because its government had not apologized for the September publication of the caricatures in Jyllands-Posten.


The drawings — including one depicting the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse — have since been republished in several European and New Zealand newspapers as a statement on behalf of a free press.


In Malaysia, the editor of a small newspaper on remote Borneo Island resigned for reprinting the caricatures and, in a statement Monday, the newspaper apologized and expressed “profound regret over the unauthorized publication.” The Sunday Tribune was the only newspaper in mainly Muslim Malaysia to reprint any of the caricatures.


Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depictions of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.


Denmark’s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has said he disapproves of the caricatures, but insisted he cannot apologize on behalf of his country’s independent press.


Thousands also took to the streets elsewhere in the Muslim world and parts of Europe, including some 3,000 Afghans who burned a Danish flag and demanding that the editors at Jyllands-Posten be prosecuted for blasphemy.


Afghan President Hamid Karzai urged forgiveness.


“God instructs us to forgive. Therefore, we — as much as we condemn it strongly — must stay above this dispute and not bring ourselves ... to equating ourselves to those who have published the cartoons,” he said on CNN’s “Late Edition.”


Stepping up the pressure, the Islamic Army in Iraq, a key group in the insurgency fighting U.S.-led and Iraqi forces, posted a second Internet statement Sunday calling for violence against citizens of countries where the caricatures have been published.


A Lebanese security official, who spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not allowed to speak to the press, said Danish diplomats had evacuated the mission in Beirut two days earlier, anticipating the protests.


The protesters, who came in buses from all over Lebanon, waved flags and banners.


“There is no god but God and Muhammad is the messenger of God!” they shouted as they pushed against riot police.


Many Muslim clerics were among them.


“Regretfully, the march did more harm to the prophet than it did good,” said Sunni Sheik Ibrahim Ibrahim, who was in the crowd. He said he and others tried to stop the mob, but “we got stones and insults.”


European leaders also urged calm and respect — both for religion and freedom of the press.


“The violence now, particularly the burning of Danish missions abroad, is absolutely outrageous and totally unjustified, and what we want to see is this matter being calmed down,” British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw said in London, adding that the media must exercise its free speech privilege responsibly.


Lebanon’s most senior Shiite Muslim cleric, Grand Ayatollah Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, issued an edict banning violence, saying it “harms Islam and Prophet Muhammad the same as the others (the publishers of the cartoons) did.”


But Iran’s Foreign Ministry announced Tehran had recalled its ambassador to Denmark, joining Syria, Saudi Arabia and Libya in pulling diplomatic representatives.


Iraqi Transport Minister Salam al-Maliki also said his country would cancel its contracts with Danish firms and reject reconstruction money from Copenhagen.




Catholic Priest Shot, Killed at Church in Turkey (Foxnews, 060205)


ANKARA, Turkey — A teenage boy shot and killed the Italian Roman Catholic priest of a church in the Black Sea port city of Trabzon on Sunday, shouting “God is great” as he escaped, according to police and witnesses.


Officers were searching for the boy aged around 14 or 15, according to a police official who declined to be identified because of rules that bar Turkish civil servants from speaking to journalists without prior authorization.


The police official would not say if the attack might be linked to the printing in European newspapers of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, which has caused anger in Muslim countries. Earlier Sunday, hundreds of Turks protested in Istanbul against the cartoons.


“Whether the killing is linked to the caricatures will emerge when the culprit has been caught,” Trabzon’s Gov. Huseyin Yavuzdemir said.


The priest, 60-year-old Andrea Santoro, was shot hours after Mass at Santa Maria Church.


A woman who answered the telephone at the church said the priest was inside when he was attacked, and prosecutor Burhan Cobanoglu said he was shot twice from behind, with bullets ripping through his heart and liver.


Pope Benedict XVI’s envoy in Turkey, Monsignor Antonio Lucibello, said he had spoken by telephone with a witness who said she saw the attacker fleeing and “heard the young man shout ‘Allah Akbar’ (God is Great).”‘


Lucibello declined to speculate on the motive for the killing, but said there were “no elements” to link the attack with the protests over the newspaper cartoons.


Turkey’s government denounced the attack.


“We condemn with hatred the fact that the murder was committed in a house of worship against a man of religion,” said Justice Minister Cemil Cicek.




Creating Outrage: Meet the imam behind the cartoon overreaction. (National Review Online, 060206)


Confused by the wave of protests, threats, boycotts, and attacks against diplomatic facilities that have shaken their idyllic tranquility after the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed on Jyllands-Posten, the Danes are asking themselves questions. They wonder if an attack will take place in their country, as threatened by various jihadi groups, and if freedom of speech is in jeopardy. But a more immediate question is puzzling some: Why has the outrage of the Muslim world exploded only now, in February, when the cartoons were published last September? At the time of the initial publication, international media had reported news of the blasphemous caricatures, not only in Danish, but also in English. Yet nothing happened, aside from timid protests from the Muslim community of the tiny Scandinavian kingdom. So what is different about the situation now? More than the question, it is the answer that is keeping a good chunk of Denmark’s political and cultural elite awake at night. The recent anti-Danish emotional wave coming from the Muslim world, in fact, is far from a spontaneous reaction, but it has been cunningly orchestrated by a knowledgeable insider, a real snake in the grass who has been creeping in Denmark for the last 15 years.


Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, a 60-year-old Palestinian imam who has been residing in Copenhagen since 1993, has become over the last few years the face of Islam in Denmark, creating his own persona of a moderate cleric who seeks dialogue but who is victimized by the widespread “racism” of the Danes. Despite his poor command of the Danish language, Abu Laban is a frequent guest on Danish television and in meetings with government officials, where he claims to represent the voice of the local Muslim community. Even though part of the establishment has always looked at him with suspicion (Prime Minister Rasmussen has always refused to meet with him), Danish intelligentsia has made him a celebrity — so much of one that even the Washington Post recently profiled him as “one of Denmark’s most prominent imams.”


But Abu Laban’s real face has now been revealed. In September, the imam immediately condemned Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons and led protests at the local level. Danish politicians and media, busy with local elections, ignored him. But Abu Laban is not the kind of person who gives up easily. After having contacted ambassadors from Muslim countries in Copenhagen, he put together a delegation with the goal of touring the Middle East to “internationalize this issue so that the Danish government would realize that the cartoons were not only insulting to Muslims in Denmark but also to Muslims worldwide,” as he explained in an interview with “Islam Online”. The delegation met with, among others, Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi, and Sunni Islam’s most influential scholar, Yusuf al Qaradawi. The delegation showed each of these leaders the 12 cartoons published by Jyllands-Posten, along with others that had never been published by any Danish publication. The new cartoons were every more offensive, as showing the Prophet Mohammed with a pig face or having sexual intercourse with a dog. While the delegation claimed that the differentiation was pointed out to their interlocutors, there is no other evidence, and rumors about the more blasphemous images began to circulate in the Middle East. Moreover, the booklet that was presented by the delegation contained several other lies about the “oppression” of Muslims in Denmark, claiming Muslims do not have the legal right to build mosques and are subjected to pervasive racism.


With emotions about the cartoons mounting, Qaradawi, the real brains of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international network and a key opinion maker in the Middle East thanks to his weekly show on al Jazeera, attacked Denmark directly, warning that an apology would not be sufficient, and that “a firm stance” should have be taken by the Danish government. As Prime Minister Rasmussen refused to intervene, referring to the cherished tradition of freedom of the press in his country, Qaradawi and his ilk unleashed their propagandistic war against Denmark. Abu Laban, from his mosque in the Copenhagen suburb of Nørrebro, is now happily reaping the fruits of his hard work. But, in a quintessential exercise in taqiya (double-speak), Abu Laban has tried to hide his satisfaction to the Danes. Speaking on Danish television, Abu Laban has wept crocodile tears, condemning the boycott of Danish goods and the other consequences of his actions. Yet, interviewed by al Jazeera, the imam has said just the opposite, praising the outrage of the Muslim world at his adoptive country.


So just who is Abu Laban? The Danes are slowly getting a fuller portrait. Friday night, Danish state television DR broadcasted a long report on him and Danes have begun to understand more about the self-proclaimed voice of Islam in Denmark. According to DR, Intelligence documents reveal that Abu Laban has been in close contact for years with members of various terrorist organizations, and in particular with leaders of the Egyptian Gamaa Islamiya. In the beginning of the 1990s, in fact, several leaders of the Gamaa escaped the long arm of the Egyptian mukhabarat and relocated to Europe. Copenhagen became the new hometown of two of the group’s leaders, Ayman al Zawahiri, currently serving as Osama bin Laden’s right-hand man, and Talaat Fouad Qassimy. From the quiet of the Scandinavian capital, the men published Al Murabitoun, the Gamaa’s official publication. Abu Laban worked as a translator and distributor of the publication, which glorified the killing of Western tourists in Egypt and urged the annihilation of Jews in Palestine. Then Abu Laban worked closely with Said Mansour, a Moroccan man currently charged in Denmark for running a publishing house that distributed jihadi material.


All of this is not news to Danish security officials, but now Danes are slowly becoming aware of the facts. And Abu Laban’s celebrated celeb status is about history in Denmark. Danes have no more patience for those who preach love in one language and war in another, those who publicly play the role of the victim, demand tolerance and then secretly incite hatred. While much of Europe has been asleep at the wheel, oblivious to the monumental threat radical Islam poses to its future, at least one country is increasing awake. Denmark’s first battle is domestic, unmasking the enemy’s fifth column inside its borders. As embassies burn, the rest might want to catch on, too.


— Lorenzo Vidino is a senior terrorism analyst at the Investigative Project and author of the book Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad.




“Religion of Peace” or Riots: Cartoon chaos. (National Review Online, 060206)


Uproars over criticism of radical Islam almost always follow the same ironic trajectory. First, someone makes an observation about the violent character of Mohammed or Islam. Then what follows? Violent protests and rioting, which serve to illustrate and confirm vividly the criticism that occasioned them.


Only radical Muslims would consider rioting a rational rebuttal to descriptions of Islam as violent. What other religious group riots or issues death threats after it is criticized? It is precisely because Christianity is so tame that Western liberals often feel safe to lampoon its history as violent. They wouldn’t dare level similarly harsh criticism of Islam.


One of the unstated reasons for hesitating before calling radical Islam violent — the reason the fog of political correctness thickens around it — is that it does contain elements of violence. Western society falls silent lest its criticism of Islam result in an explosion of anger validating the criticism.


Still, here and there, a few politically incorrect nonconformists do blurt out the obvious, and then chaos ensues, not to mention the usual fatuous and fashionable outrage, which invariably comes from journalists who report the maverick’s criticism as “inflammatory” and then make sure that Muslims are properly inflamed by broadcasting to the ends of the earth the criticism under the most unfavorable and polemical light.


In recent years, Brigitte Bardot and Orianna Fallaci, among others, have been the targets of intense backlash by Muslims for daring to call Islam intolerant. Yet as the press reported these controversies, usually hot with anger at this “western insensitivity,” it never occurred to these journalists that the backlash they were dousing — Muslim clerics called for Bardot and Fallaci to be imprisoned — simply added evidence to Bardot’s and Fallaci’s case.


Now this disturbingly ironic spectacle is on display in Scandinavia. In early January, Magazinet, an obscure evangelical Christian newspaper in Norway, reprinted cartoons depicting Muhammed as a dangerous man of arms. Even before embassies burned this weekend, one could have just looked at the picture above last week’s Washington Post story about the controversy to figure Magazinet had a good point: Palestinian militants were screaming and burning a Danish flag, all because of a cartoon in a Scandinavian journal few people have seen. According to the Post’s story, the editor of the newspaper, Vebjoern Selbekk, had by then received “15 death threats and more than 1,000 hate letters.” Boy, how could he have ever thought that Islam is a religion that spread by force of arms?


By liberalism’s standards, Islam, as it is understood by some of its chief clerics, is easily the most illiberal religion on earth. But most European liberals manage to overlook this stark incongruity, even as they cast Christianity, which looks soft in comparison to Islam, in a malign light. The doctrines of Islam are often interpreted by liberals in the most generous manner possible while their own historic religion enjoys no such benign interpretation from them.


But it is notable that Scandinavia, the most liberal of regions, is producing at least a few liberals who are able to see the plain truth: that radical Islam is fundamentally incompatible with their cherished secular humanism. Italian journalist Orianna Fallaci, an old-style liberal, has been banging on this drum for quite some time. Most European liberals, however, have studiously ignored her. Perhaps Denmark, with a reported 200,000 Muslims who have shown little to no interest in integrating into its liberal society, has grown weary of sustaining the illusion that radical Islam poses no threat to liberalism.


Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen has so far refused to apologize for the cartoon, according to the press, and has commented pointedly that “freedom of speech is absolute. It is not negotiable.”


Carsten Juste, the editor of the Danish daily that originally published the cartoons of Mohammad (from which Magazinet reprinted them), is showing some fight too. He says the cartoons were “within the constitution, the Danish penal code and international convention....It is not a dictatorship like Saudi Arabia that is going to dictate our editorial line here in Denmark.”


Meanwhile, Saudi supermarkets are banning Danish products. Arla Foods, a Danish company, told the Washington Post that its sales have come to a “standstill.” But will Islamic fury at these cartoons mean that Muslim immigration into Scandinavia may come to a standstill? Whether or not radical Muslims are that upset remains to be seen.


Yes, crude caricatures of Islam are improper. Yes, multitudes of Muslims are peace-loving and decent. But it is hard not to notice that Islamic protests whipped up by militants such as this one are more opportunistic than sincere, and that they are designed to stifle legitimate criticism of radical Islam’s undeniably violent history and designs — criticism that receives fresh evidence from the wildly intemperate anger it stokes.


— George Neumayr is a writer living in the Washington, D.C. area.




Not Ready for Prime Time: Riots and John Kenneth Galbraith’s cat. (National Review Online, 060206)


Headlines were made in 1963 when it was revealed that U.S. Ambassador to India John Kenneth Galbraith had named his family cat “Ahmed,” which is one of the forms of the name “Mohammed.” Protest meetings were held in several cities in Pakistan, and Muslims charged Galbraith with deliberately insulting their faith. The deputy speaker of Pakistan’s national assembly said that if the charge were true it was “much more serious than American arms aid to India.” As it turned out, the pet was named Ahmedabad, after the city in which the cat was presented to the ambassador’s children. To stifle the controversy the Galbraiths renamed the feline “Gujurat.” International crisis was averted.


A quaint tale of diplomacy amongst prickly people four decades ago. Yet look at today; because of some editorial cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed, embassies burn in the Middle East, demonstrators march in Europe praising terrorism, and cartoonists go into hiding to avoid sharing the fate of slain director Theo van Gogh — or Salman Rushdie, still living but, alas, still writing.


People have a right to be upset when they feel their sensibilities have been insulted. Editorial cartoons, which thrive on caricature, frequently press boundaries of taste and temper. Drawings that are clearly ethnic slurs — of the type that are commonplace in the Middle Eastern press, usually featuring outrageous and insulting stereotypes of Jews and occasionally Africans — ought rightly to be denounced. The cartoonist has his right freely to express his biases, and those he has offended have a similar right to voice vigorous criticism, albeit through peaceful means. When the Washington Post recently published an unsavory cartoon exploiting the image of those wounded in war, the joint chiefs of staff made their objections known in a strongly worded letter rather than, for example, launching an air strike on the paper.


But why is it that when the Muslim community is involved riots break out, threats are made, fatwas are issued, and helpless flags are visited with myriad indignities from stompings to burnings? Is this the impression they want to make on the world, that they are a backward, violet, emotional people, not ready for prime time on the global stage? Clearly not everyone approved. The Saudi grand mufti called for calm. A prominent cleric in Qatar asked Muslims to “show their fury in a logical and controlled manner.” Yet many others in the region lectured the West that freedom brings responsibility, and if people are driven to violent outrage by these cartoons the fault lies with those who incited the unrest, not with the pious rioters.


I cannot say I was pleased with the State Department’s response to the controversy, saying that the cartoons were “incitement,” in effect agreeing with the rioters’ justification. (Note to Foggy Bottom: Osama bin Laden uses the same rationalization for his actions, as do most terrorists. Wake up.) And the less said about former President Bill Clinton’s moral relativism between this and the Holocaust the better. I was also disappointed to see a representative of the Polish government call on the media to apologize, saying the press has a “duty to apologize to those who felt offended.” If such a duty actually existed, editors and reporters would have time for nothing but acts of contrition.


It is not up to the press or liberal societies in general to issue apologies under threat of violence for the products of free expression. Nor should we be swayed by the views of a violent minority — it will only encourage them. Those who truly incite should be treated accordingly. Democracy is not a suicide pact; no free state is obligated to give sanctuary to those who seek to destroy it. One wonders why the masked cowards who paraded in London praising the July 7 subway bombers and 9/11 hijackers while promising more to come have not been arrested and deported to a country that better appreciates their subversive sentiments.


Meanwhile in his weekly sermon, Iranian cleric (and former president) Akbar Hashemi-Rafsanjani explicitly linked the publication of the cartoons with the effort to deny Iran nuclear capabilities, saying they are just another move in line with an overall anti-Muslim plan. “What else do they wish to communicate when they depict the Prophet’s turban as a bomb?” he said. “They are currently depicting the Muslims as terrorists and intolerant. By doing so, they intend to justify the decisions that they are going to take against us [in the United Nations].” On cue, protests erupted across the country. While it is silly to suggest that Danish caricatures published months ago are somehow part of a coordinated plot to test Iranian resolve, the turbulent response to them does raise a pertinent question: Do we really want people who are this mercurial to get their hands on nuclear weapons? If they get this upset over some silly drawings, imagine their response to something serious, like John Kenneth Galbraith’s cat?


— James S. Robbins is author of the forthcoming Last in Their Class: Custer, Picket and the Goats of West Point and an NRO Contributor.




Drawing Fire: Opportunity knocked down in the case of the prophetic Danish cartoon. (National Review Online, 060206)


Andrew Stuttaford


It says something for the cowardice, duplicity, and wishful thinking of too many of the West’s politicians (and much of its media) that one of the most striking illustrations of the crisis in its relations with the Islamic world has come from twelve mediocre cartoons.


Prophetic Beginnings

The broad outlines of this saga ought to be familiar, wearily, painfully familiar, but they are still worth tracing back to the beginning, both to clear up some of the distortions that have grown up around it, and to see what the very nature of the controversy itself can tell us. The whole thing began when the Danish children’s writer, Kåre Bluitgen, complained last autumn that he was unable to find anyone willing to illustrate his forthcoming book about the Prophet Mohammed. He had, he said, been turned down by a number of artists frightened by the prospect of reprisal if they ignored the traditional Muslim prohibition on pictorial depiction of Islam’s founder. Twenty or thirty years ago, such fears would have been no more than paranoia, but that was before Denmark, like elsewhere in Europe, found itself with a large, and incompletely integrated, Muslim population. Back then Salman Rushdie had not yet been driven underground by an Ayatollah’s death warrant. Back then Theo Van Gogh was still alive.


Self-censorship is tyranny’s sorry, trembling little helper, and so it’s to its credit that the right-of-center (which, in Denmark, is not very right at all) Jyllands-Posten, one of the country’s major newspapers, picked up Bluitgen’s story. What it did with it was ornery, well-intentioned and somewhat naïve. Forty cartoonists were invited to give their own interpretation of the prophet. Twelve, a little more than a third, accepted, for 800 Danish crowns (roughly $125) apiece. As we now know, the result was a storm of protest in the Muslim world, and in recent days, pushback in the West. The cartoons have been republished all over Europe and the twelve cartoonists are now, like Geert Wilders, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and Salman Rushdie before them, learning what it is to live in hiding. They have reportedly opposed the republication of their work. It’s difficult to blame them. They have been given a terrible demonstration of what it takes to survive in an era rapidly tumbling back into the pre-modern.


The Veto Power of Thin-Skinned Fanatics

As for the cartoons themselves, they come from all perspectives. One satirizes Jyllands-Posten, another Mr. Bluitgen. None are very funny, or, by Western standards, remarkable. It’s telling that the delegation of Danish Muslims who visited a number of Middle Eastern countries to stir up trouble over the cartoons, had to boost their dossier of grievance with three additional (and genuinely disgusting) pictures that Jyllands-Posten had never even seen and whose provenance remains, let’s be polite, unclear. To try and compare the actions of Jyllands-Posten, as Bill Clinton effectively did, with the race-baiting traditions of Der Sturmer is to reveal an ignorance of history and a disdain for free speech that disgraces the office he once held. Even the most notorious of the cartoons, the one that shows Mohammed with a bomb decorated with Islamic text in his turban, can be seen not as an insult, but as a challenge to Muslims to demonstrate that (as is indeed certainly the case) there is far more to their faith than the atrocities that have recently defaced it. Harsh? Maybe, but it was also in the Western tradition of vigorous, free discussion. And as such it should be defended.


Ideally, the publication of these cartoons would have prompted Muslims to ask themselves why Islam, one of the world’s great religions, could come to be seen in such a bad light. It hasn’t worked out that way. Protests have been followed by boycotts, bluster and, now, violence. The protests and the boycotts are fine. They are all part of the debate. Violence, and the threat of violence, is something else, and, as many more moderate Muslims understand, it is doing far more damage to the reputation of Islam than a few feeble caricatures.


Needless to say, the theocracies, kleptocracies, and autocracies of the Middle East, always anxious for something, anything, to distract attention from their own corruption, uselessness, and thuggery, have played their own, typically malign, part in whipping up anger. Ambassadors have been recalled. Denunciations thunder down. Angry resolutions are passed. But amid all these calls for “respect” is there any acknowledgement that many Islamic countries could do more, much more, to respect the rights of those of different faiths to their own? To take just one example, Egypt’s ambassador to Copenhagen is recommending that diplomatic action against Denmark should continue, but her own country’s persecuted Christian minority would be grateful indeed if their troubles were confined to a few cartoons. Respect, it seems, is a one-way street.


But that’s what too many in the Muslim world have been taught to believe, by multiculturalism as much as the mosque. In the cowed, cowering Europe of recent years the idea that religious minorities have a right not to be “offended,” a nonsense notion that gives veto power to the fanatic with the thinnest skin, has increasingly been allowed to trump the far more fundamental right of others to speak their mind. Writers have been prosecuted, plays have been tampered with, and works of art withdrawn. Last week, the British House of Commons came within one vote of passing a law that would almost certainly have made U.K. publication of the Danish cartoons a criminal offense. It is a sign of how far matters have been allowed to degenerate that the initial blunt refusal of Denmark’s prime minister to even hold a meeting with a number of ambassadors from Islamic countries over the incident (“I will not meet with is so crystal clear what principles Danish democracy is built upon that there is no reason to do so...As prime minister, I have no power whatsoever to limit the press — nor do I want such power.”) was seen as shocking as it was.


Needless to say, there were others who did their best to ensure that normal servility was resumed. While most Danes backed the prime minister, a former foreign minister, a once-respected figure who has long since become a flack for the Brussels establishment, donned Neville Chamberlain’s black jacket and pinstripes to denounce the cartoons “as a pubescent demonstration of freedom of expression.” The U.N.’s High Commissioner for Human Rights wrote to the Organization of Islamic Conferences (which, as it was perfectly entitled to do, had complained about the cartoons) saying that she understood the OIC’s concerns, if not, it appeared, the right of free speech, and she was far from being the only senior international bureaucrat to do so (and, yes, naughty Kofi made sure to throw in a few weasel words of his own). Closer to home, the EU’s commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice denounced the cartoons as “inappropriate,” an adjective as Orwellian as his job description, an adjective that can only have encouraged those out to bully the Danes.


In the end, it was left to other newspapers to rally round. With the republication of the cartoons in the Christian journal, Magazinet, the Norwegians were the first to support the Danes, a gesture understandable in a country where the local publisher of Rushdie’s Satanic Verses had been fortunate to survive an assassination attempt in 1993, but which was bound to inflame matters still further. And when it did, other newspapers across Europe, in France, in Germany, in the Netherlands, in Spain and elsewhere joined in, either republishing the offending cartoons or, notably in the case of France’s left-of-center Le Monde, adding more of their own.


Going Forward. Or Backward

So, what now? Like it or not, the cozy, consensual, homogenous Denmark of half a century ago has vanished, never to return, and, like it or not, the old Europe shaped by Christianity, the Reformation, the Renaissance and the Enlightenment now plays host to a large and growing population with a very different intellectual and spiritual tradition. And, in an age of global communication, the idea that these problems of coexistence can be confined to one continent is an illusion. An insult in Århus can reverberate in Damascus and Amman, and for that matter, Kabul, Basra, and Baghdad too. It’s this that explains why the Bush administration, with hearts, minds and a war to win, condemned the cartoons, and it’s this, far less forgivably, that explains why Turkey’s (supposedly moderate) Islamist prime minister feels that he has the right to tell the Danish press what it may or may not publish.


Of course the publication of those cartoons was (quite explicitly) a provocation, but the furor that followed shows that it was an acceptable thing to do. The editors of Jylland-Posten wanted to draw attention to the fact that fears for the freedom of expression were both real and realistic. They have succeeded on both counts. Europeans realize now, if they were dim enough not to understand before, that they are faced with two very different ways ahead. The first, and better, alternative is to recognize that, to many, freedom of speech is a value as important as religious belief may be to the faithful, and to give it the protection it deserves. Reestablishing this badly eroded principle will not be easy, but to fail to do so will be to empower the fanatic to legislate for all.


The second alternative is, broadly speaking, for Europe to attempt to buy social peace by muddling along as it does now, muzzling a little speech here, rooting out a little liberty there. But this approach isn’t working now. There’s no reason to think that doing more of the same will prove any more effective in the future. Besides, at its heart, this is a policy of surrender, submission and despair. It is a refusal to accept that people can agree to disagree, and it is a refusal to confront those who cannot. It foreshadows an era of neutered debate, anodyne controversy, and intellectual stagnation. It will lead, inevitably, to societies irrevocably divided into immovable blocs of ethnicity and creed, carving up the spoils, waiting to take offense and thirsting for the fight, which will one day come.


Despite some of the stirring statements in favor of free speech that have been made over the last week the best bet is that Europe will continue to slide into that second, dismal, alternative. The warning signs are already there to see. Tony Blair’s Labour government (again, due partly to the presence of British troops in Iraq and Afghanistan but, doubtless, due also to the presence of Muslim voters in many key parliamentary constituencies) has been at pains to condemn the cartoons, and Norway’s governing left-wing coalition wasted no time in distancing itself from Magazinet. Even Magazinet’s editor has now stumbled down the same sad route: “If I had dreamt of something like this happening I would not have done it. It’s out of control.” Meanwhile, a number of the newspapers that have chosen not to run the cartoons have done so explicitly on grounds of self-censorship, or, rather, they claim, “restraint,” or maybe “respect”: Choose your own alibi.


Even more ominously, at the prompting of our old friend, the EU’s commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice, Brussels bureaucrats are arranging a meeting for “experts” and “community leaders” (to be held no later than the end of April) that will discuss some of the issues arising out of this controversy. It is reported that, “proposals to counter race and religious hatred [may be] dusted off.” We can guess where that might lead.


And as for where it all started, Jyllands-Posten has now announced that it regrets having published the cartoons: “If we had known that it would end with death threats and that the lives of Danish people could be put at risk, we would have naturally not have published the drawings.” The paper apologized only for having underestimated the extent to which Muslims revere their prophet, but then it added this, “fundamentalist powers have prevailed over the freedom of speech...Danish media will now be careful about expressing attitudes that fundamentalists can misuse to create hate and bitterness.”


Whip cracked. Lesson learned.




Blogs on National Review (National Review Online, 060206)


Where Are the Cartoons?


The gutless American media refuse to publish the 12 cartoons that are supposedly causing rioting in certain parts of the world. Are those cartoons not news? Besides, they’re all over the Internet. As best as I can tell, but for the Philadelphia Inquirer, the American media, which claim to believe in a free press, have done nothing to show solidarity with their European colleagues, who’ve shown far more principle and guts and are under assault. The New York Times happily publishes NSA secrets for the enemy and the rest of the world to read, but won’t run the cartoons. The Washington Post publishes a cartoon (showing a soldier without limbs) demeaning to American soldiers but also won’t run the other cartoons. The Big Media in this country like to talk about a free press, the need for shield laws, and so forth. But when put to the test, as they are today, they cower. They self-censor because they don’t want to be criticized by the PC crowd, despite the fact that the cartoons are being used by hate-mongers to encourage violence. The Big Media have done a lousy job reporting what’s really going on here, but they can’t run enough photos and footage of flag- and embassy- burnings without real context.


Where Were the Riots?

Below are some cartoons that have appeared in Arab newspapers. The source: Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs. (Go here.) Keep in mind, that there is much more of this — not just in government run Arab newspapers, but in their textbooks and other parts of their society.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida, the official Palestinian Authority journal


March 22, 2000


The Pope exclaimed ‘Peace on Earth’ while the Satanic-looking Jew calls out ‘Colonies on Earth.’


— — — — — — — — -


“In the Lebanese Daily Star in 2000, four consecutive drawings show how Sharon, with a Star of David on his lapel, becomes Hitler with a moustache, and on his lapel, a swastika. The cartoonist Jabra Stavro, born in Beirut, has won many prizes.”


— — — — — — — — — — — — — -


“Blood-drinking Jews are frequently shown by Al Ahram, one of Egypt’s leading dailies. On 21 April 2001, it printed a cartoon showing an Arab being put into a flatting mill by two soldiers wearing helmets with Stars of David. The Arab’s blood pours out and two Jews with kippot and Stars of David on their shirts drink the blood laughingly.”




‘Inquirer’ One of Few U.S. Papers to Publish ‘Muhammad’ Cartoon (Editor & Publisher, 060203)


NEW YORK As a collection of controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad circulates online and through some European publications, prompting numerous acts of violence abroad, nearly all U.S. newspapers have chosen not to publish the cartoons.


Although most American papers have covered the issue, with many running Page One stories, most contend the cartoons are too offensive to run, and can be properly reported through descriptions. While some have linked to the images on the Web, others are considering publishing one or more of them next week.


Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer, day after complaining that The Associated Press should at least distribute the images and allow members papers to make the call, decided to publish one of the drawings on Saturday.


The cartoon was being published “discreetly” with a note explaining the rationale, said Amanda Bennett, The Inquirer’s editor.


“This is the kind of work that newspapers are in business to do,” Bennett told the AP. “We’re running this in order to give people a perspective of what the controversy’s about, not to titillate, and we have done that with a whole wide range of images throughout our history...You run it because there’s a news reason to run it,” Bennett said. “The controversy does not appear to have died down. It’s still a news issue.”


But the vast majority of other top editors seemed to disagree, for now.


“They wouldn’t meet our standards for what we publish in the paper,” said Leonard Downie, Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post, which ran a front-page story on the issue Friday, but has not published the cartoons. “We have standards about language, religious sensitivity, racial sensitivity and general good taste.”


Downie, who said the images also had not been placed on the Post Web site, compared the decision to similar choices not to run offensive photos of dead bodies or offensive language. “We described them,” he said of such images. “Just like in the case of covering the hurricanes in New Orleans or terrorist attacks in Iraq. We will describe horrific scenes.”


At USA Today, deputy foreign editor Jim Michaels offered a similar explanation. “At this point, I’m not sure there would be a point to it,” he said about publishing the cartoons. “We have described them, but I am not sure running it would advance the story.” Although he acknowledged that the cartoons have news value, he said the offensive nature overshadows that.


“It has been made clear that it is offensive,” Michaels said when asked if the paper was afraid of sparking violence or other kinds of backlash. “I don’t know if fear is the right word. But we came down on the side that we could serve readers well without a depiction that is offensive.”


The Los Angeles Times sent this statement to E&P this afternoon: “Our newsroom and op-ed page editors, independently of each other, determined that the caricatures could be deemed offensive to some readers and the there were effective ways to cover the controversy without running the images themselves.”


The cartoons, which include one of the Muslim prophet wearing a turban fashioned into a bomb, have been reprinted in papers in Norway, France, Germany and Jordan after first running in a Danish paper last September. The drawings were published again recently after some Muslims decried them as insulting to their prophet, AP reported, adding that Dutch-language newspapers in Belgium and two Italian “right-wing” papers reprinted the drawings Friday.


Islamic law, according to most clerics’ interpretations of the Quran, forbids depictions of Muhammad and other major religious figures — even positive images.


Tens of thousands of angry Muslims marched through Palestinian cities, burning the Danish flag and calling for vengeance Friday against European countries where the caricatures were published. In Washington, the State Department criticized the drawings, calling them “offensive to the beliefs of Muslims.”


Still, most American newspapers are not publishing the cartoons, sticking mostly to the view that they constitute offensive images. “You want to make sure that you are sensitive to the cultural sensitivities,” said Mike Days, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, which may run the images next week, but remains cautious. “I think you want to do it in a way that makes sense. I am not so sure the average American understands what the controversy is about, the use of the images of Muhammad.”


Days said the paper might run the cartoons along with comments from experts in Muslim law so that the reasons behind the controversy are clear. It appears the New York Sun is the only American daily to run the images, according to The Washington Times.


Anne Gordon, Philadelpia Inquirer managing editor, criticized the Associated Press for not distributing images of the cartoons to member newspapers. Although Gordon understands the concerns about sensitivity, she said AP should allow each paper to make up its own mind.


“It is not AP’s role to withhold information from news cooperative members,” Gordon said. “They are a co-op and we believe they overstepped their bounds to independently withhold the cartoon. It is not their decision to make independently.”


Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, said the news cooperative has long withheld images it deemed offensive, such as photos and video of beheadings. “We have a very longstanding policy of not distributing material that is found to be offensive,” she said, adding that the Inquirer was the only newspaper she knew of that had specifically requested the images from AP. “These images have not met that standard.”


But Carroll also agreed with some other editors who said the cartoons did not add to the news coverage in a major way. “If people want to find them, they are easily found,” she said.


Doug Clifton, editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, agreed that the offensive nature precluded running the cartoons. “It has become a part of great angst and I don’t see any reason to run it, you can just describe it,” he said of the cartoon images. “I don’t see a need to insert ourselves in that fight.”


Clifton recalled his time at the Charlotte [N.C.] Observer years ago, when the paper ran an image of a controversial piece of artwork, in which a crucifix was placed in a glass of urine. “You knew you would get an outpouring of anger,” he recalled. “If I thought there were very good editorial reasons for running it, we’d run it. But I don’t think there are.”


But Clifton said his paper will likely place a link to the images from another site when it runs an editorial on the issue Saturday or Sunday. “They will have the option to see it if they choose,” he said about the Web readers. “The [print] newspaper reaches a much, much broader audience.”




Outrage Spreads, Escalates Over Muhammad Cartoons (Christian Post, 060205)


The Muslim world has erupted in anger, protests, and threats against European media over the controversial caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad.


On Sunday thousands of Muslims rampaged in Beirut, setting fire to the Danish Embassy, burning Danish flags and lobbing stones at a Maronite Catholic church as violent protests spread in response to the recent republishing of caricatures of Muhammad that linked the prophet to terrorism. The drawings were first published last September by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, but the controversy was low-keyed according to CBS News.


The French newspaper, France Soir, reprinted the caricatures on Wednesday alongside its own cartoons of Muhammad with Christian, Jewish and Buddhist religious figures. In the cartoon, “the Christian God” said to Muhammad, “Don’t complain, Muhammad, we’re all being caricatured here,” reported the L.A. Times.


Tunisia and Morocco have banned copies of France Soir.


Muslims consider any depiction of God and the prophets to be blasphemy. In one of the twelve caricatures, Muhammad has a bomb as a turban while another shows the prophet standing on a cloud as he tells a group of suicide bombers that paradise has run out of virgins said to await martyrs upon their death.


The caricatures led to confrontation and violence in the Gaza Strip on Thursday as masked Palestinians fired weapons in the air and surrounded an office of the European Union and a French Cultural center, according to reports. In addition, two Palestinian militant groups threatened to kidnap European citizens and target churches and European offices in response to the French newspaper.


Thousands staged demonstrations in Iraq after mosque prayer services on Friday. About 4,500 people rallied in Basra and hundreds at a Baghdad mosque. Danish flags were burned at both demonstrations.


In Pakistan, hundreds of students reportedly set fire to French and Danish flags in protest. According to, Pakistani Islamic students where chanting “Death to Denmark” and “Death to France.” Insulting the prophet is punishable by death in Pakistan.


Pakistan’s parliament unanimously passed a resolution condemning the caricatures, calling it “blasphemous.” The resolution called for “economic and political actions to prevent “uncivilized behavior by the European media that printed the drawings,” the Associated Press reported.


Prominent members and leaders of the Islamic council of Norway, the Christian Council of Norway and the Church of Norway, meeting in Oslo on Friday also denounced the publication of caricatures of Mohammed as well as the violent reactions they have caused.


“It is an extremely positive that religious leaders in Norway have come together to condemn the publication of the controversial sketches of the Prophet Mohammed, and underline the fact that we jointly reject all forms of violence or threats of violence,” said Norwegian Church Aid General Secretary Atle Sommerfeldt in a released statement.


Ole Christian Kvarme, Bishop of Oslo, in addition said, “It is extremely important that we stand together on this issue.”


“A violation of one religion is a violation of other religions,” he stated. “I am deeply upset that the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet, a publication that calls itself ‘Christian,’ has chosen to publish these images. Magazinet’s actions demonstrate a lack of both judgment and sense. Its editorial team must have known that they would offend the faith of others, and I apologize for this.”


Kvarme underlined the fact that Magazinet is in no way connected to the Church of Norway.


Meanwhile, anger and protests against the cartoons spread to Asia, where many of the world’s largest Muslim populated countries lie.


In Indonesia – the world’s most populous Muslim nation – 150 Muslim demonstrators pelted the building housing the Danish Embassy with rotten eggs and burned the Danish flag on Friday morning to protest the caricatures, according to reports.


Disorderly demonstrations occurred in Bangladesh and Malaysia, where crowds chanted “Destroy our Enemies!” AP reported. In Bangladesh, there were about 500 Muslim protestors.


Likewise, Singapore and Afghanistan has also criticized the drawings.


In addition, the event has raised a debate over whether priority should be given to protect freedom of expression or to respect religious sensitivities.


Many world leaders have expressed reservation in their comments on the event, calling for balance between freedom of expression and religious sensitivity.


U.N. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday that U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan “believes that the freedom of the press should always be exercised in a way that fully respects the religious beliefs and tenets of all religions,” according to the L.A. Times


The U.S. State Department on Friday criticized the cartoons, calling them “offensive to the beliefs of Muslims.” The department recognized the important of freedom of the press and expression but said these rights must be partnered with press responsibility.


“Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable,” Janelle Hironimus, department press officer, said according to an AP report on Friday. “We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices.”


France’s Chief Rabbi, Joseph Sitruk, said to the European Jewish Press on Feb. 2, “I share the anger of Muslims following this publication.”


“I understand the hostility in the Arab world. One does not achieve anything by humiliating religion. It’s a dishonest lack of respect,” Sitruk stressed.


He added that he was a long-time opponent of those who mock Christianity and Islam.


“You don’t get anywhere by insulting religion,” he said.


On the other hand, others have expressed their support of freedom of expression over religious sensitivity.


Patrick Chappatte, a cartoonist quoted in the Swiss newspaper Le Temps, said, “The reaction in Muslim countries shocks me because it confirms the weight that radical Islam has acquired.”


“A real totalitarianism is at work in the world and wants to impose its views not only on Arab Muslims, but on the West,” he stated. “The same way that they veil women, Islamic radicals want to veil cartoons in the press.”


French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy, who expressed the need to defend freedom of expression, said “… if I had to choose, I prefer the excess of caricatures over the excess of censure.”


In Germany, the newspaper Die Welt asked readers whether “cartoons should be published which might hurt religious feelings.” Among almost 20,000 participants, 56 percent voted for “should be published” and 42.1 percent disagreed, the L.A. Times reported. Fewer than two percent said they had no opinion.


Some have pointed out that the event exposes the difficulties Europe is facing in absorbing the rapidly growing Muslim population. Islam is now the second-largest religion in France, with about five million adherents.


Moreover, the controversies over the cartoons show the large difference between views on relationship between state, religion and media. Arab leaders are demanding that the European government sanction the journalists. However, leaders in Denmark and other countries say that censorship is “unacceptable and that the government cannot be held responsible for what appears in the media,” according to the L.A. Times.


Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen on Thursday called foreign diplomats to a meeting that day aimed at calming the tension. More than 70 ambassadors attended, including those from predominantly Muslim Egypt, Turkey, Iran and Lebanon.


However, Egypt’s ambassador said that Rasmussen’s response has been inadequate and that the country should do more to “appease the whole Muslim world,” according to AP. She also said she will urge diplomatic protests against the country to continue.


The caricatures have appeared recently in newspaper in France, Germany, Italy, Spain, the Netherlands and even Jordan according to reports.


Muslims have responded by boycotting Danish products in the Middle East, issuing death threats and burning flags.




Censorship by firing squad (, 060206)


by John Leo


One of the first things I wrote after getting this job as a columnist was a defense of Muslim sensibilities in the Salman Rushdie case. That was in 1989. Rushdie, already a prominent novelist, had just published a devastating send-up of Islam in “The Satanic Verses”. The Ayatollah Khomeini issued a fatwa calling for Rushdie’s murder. The author has been in hiding ever since. Like everyone else, I was outraged and pointed out the obvious: in the west we don’t censor books or order hits on authors we don’t like.


Still, I thought a few words should be said for restraint when dealing with other people’s deep religious beliefs. I still believe that. So in the current uproar over the cartoons of Mohammed, printed in a Danish newspaper, and eventually in other European papers, I have some sympathy for Muslims, who believe it is blasphemous to create images of Mohammed. In one of the twelve cartoons, Mohammed tells dead suicide bombers he has run out of virgins to give them as their reward. Another showed him in a bomb-shaped turban. But the political barbs are almost beside the point. Even positive images of Mohammed are offensive to Muslims as too close to idolatry. It is not just extremists and street crazies who are complaining about these cartoons. Muslim moderates and professionals are upset too.


If millions of people think their faith is compromised by illustrations of a particular religious figure why not just drop the illustrations? Columnist Charles Krauthammer once wrote that in America “pluralism works because of a certain deference that sects accord each other. In a pluralistic society, it is a civic responsibility to take great care when talking publicly about things sacred to millions of fellow citizens.” Defending free speech in the 1989 Rushdie case, Leon Wieseltier of the New Republic took a different and harder line.  He said,  “It was blasphemy that made us free. Two cheers today for blasphemy.” That was a voice of the secular intelligentia that doesn’t hold much sacred, dismissing the concern of supposedly backward people who do.

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This is why the cartoon controversy has some people talking about Andre Serrano’s alleged artwork, Piss Christ. In general, I support any artist’s attempt to turn his own urine into profitable commerce. But if it had been a different image in there-Martin Luther King Jr. or Anne Frank, let’s say, instead of Jesus- I think we might have heard less about free expression and more about pointless provocation.


The cartoon controversy is an ugly one-Muslim boycotts of Danish goods, death threats against publications that ran the cartoon and against a number of Christians and westerners in Arab countries. The editor of the Danish newspaper issued an apology, and the managing editor of a French paper that ran the images was fired.


My civility argument, I think, is weakened by two problems. First, it is one thing to call for civility and restraint in a nation that has a First Amendment and lots of people willing to defend it. It is something else in Europe where civility often has the power of the state behind it, i.e. hate speech laws.  Some European nations are as eager to punish speech as any American university. In France charges against Italian journalist Oriana Fallaci for anti-Muslim prose were dropped. In June, she is scheduled to go on trial in Italy on similar charges. A Protestant minister in Sweden was convicted of making anti-homosexual remarks in church. He was unexpectedly cleared by the Swedish Supreme Court.


Second, pressure to avoid publishing things that offend Muslims has been rising, particularly when death threats are made or expected. Fallaci, the target of many such threats, is said to be in hiding in New York. Nobody knows how many death threats have arisen from the cartoon dispute. Under the circumstances, civility might emerge as less important than standing up now to the danger of censorship through fear.




We are all Danes now (, 060206)


by Jeff Jacoby


Hindus consider it sacrilegious to eat meat from cows, so when a Danish supermarket ran a sale on beef and veal last fall, Hindus everywhere reacted with outrage. India recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen, and Danish flags were burned in Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi. A Hindu mob in Sri Lanka severely beat two employees of a Danish-owned firm, and demonstrators in Nepal chanted: “War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!” In many places, shops selling Dansk china or Lego toys were attacked by rioters, and two Danish embassies were firebombed.


It didn’t happen, of course. Hindus may consider it odious to use cows as food, but they do not resort to boycotts, threats, and violence when non-Hindus eat hamburger or steak. They do not demand that everyone abide by the strictures of Hinduism and avoid words and deeds that Hindus might find upsetting. The same is true of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons: They don’t lash out in violence when their religious sensibilities are offended. They certainly don’t expect their beliefs to be immune from criticism, mockery, or dissent.


But radical Muslims do.


The current uproar over cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper illustrates yet again the fascist intolerance that is at the heart of radical Islam. Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s largest daily, commissioned the cartoons to make a point about freedom of speech. It was protesting the climate of intimidation that had made it impossible for a Danish author to find an illustrator for his children’s book about Mohammed. Muslims regard any depiction of the prophet as sacrilegious, and no artist would agree to illustrate the book for fear of being harmed by Muslim extremists. Appalled by this self-censorship, Jyllands-Posten invited Danish artists to submit drawings of Mohammed, and published the 12 it received.


Most of the pictures are tame to the point of dullness, especially compared to the biting editorial cartoons that routinely appear in US and European newspapers. A few of them link Mohammed to Islamist terrorism — one depicts him with a bomb in his turban, while a second shows him in Heaven, pleading with newly arrived suicide terrorists: “Stop, stop! We have run out of virgins!” Others focus on the threat to free speech: In one, a sweating artist sits at his drawing board, nervously sketching Mohammed, while glancing over his shoulder to make sure he’s not being watched. Some make no point at all — one simply portrays a man walking with his donkey in the desert.


That anything so mild could trigger a reaction so crazed — riots, death threats, kidnappings, flag-burnings — speaks volumes about the chasm that separates the values of the civilized world from those in too much of the Islamic world. Freedom of the press, the marketplace of ideas, the right to skewer sacred cows, the ability to disagree with what you say while firmly defending your right to say it: Militant Islam knows none of this. And if the jihadis get their way, it will be swept aside everywhere by the censorship and intolerance of sharia.


Here and there, some brave Muslim voices have cried out against the book-burners. The Jordanian newspaper Shihan published three of the cartoons. “Muslims of the world, be reasonable,” implored Shihan’s editor, Jihad al-Momani, in an editorial. “What brings more prejudice against Islam — these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?” But within hours Momani was out of a job, fired by the paper’s owners after the Jordanian government threatened legal action.


He wasn’t the only editor sacked last week. In Paris, Jacques LeFranc of the daily France Soir was also fired after running the Mohammed cartoons. The paper’s owner, an Egyptian Copt named Raymond Lakah, issued a craven and Orwellian statement expressing “regrets to the Muslim community” and offering LeFranc’s head as a gesture of “respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual.” But the France Soir staff defended their decision to publish the drawings in a stalwart editorial. “The best way to fight against censorship is to prevent censorship from happening,” they wrote. “A fundamental principle guaranteeing democracy and secular society is under threat. To say nothing is to retreat.”


Across the continent, nearly two dozen other newspapers have joined in defending that principle. While Islamist clerics proclaim an “international day of anger” or declare that “the war has begun,” leading publications in Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have reprinted the Danish cartoons. But there has been no comparable show of backbone in America, where (as of Friday) only the New York Sun has had the fortitude to the run some of the drawings.


Make no mistake: This story is not going away, and neither is the Islamofascist threat. The freedom of speech we take for granted is under attack, and it will vanish if it is not bravely defended. Today the censors may be coming for some unfunny Mohammed cartoons, but tomorrow it is your words and ideas they will silence. Like it or not, we are all Danes now.




Monsters of the Arab street: Pay attention to Muslims gone wild (, 060206)


by Steve Muscatello


An irrational fear of evangelical Christians deprives secular America of a true understanding of the dangers posed by radical Islam. But those who fret over an imagined American “theocracy” run by Christian zealots should take note that it’s not Bobby from Birmingham or Wally from Wichita that’s burning down embassies, raiding buildings, threatening executions and otherwise behaving like animals on the streets of (to name a few) Damascus, Gaza City, Jakarta and Baghdad.


By now you know the story. Last October, a Danish newspaper printed twelve cartoons depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad in various postures: walking through a field; in front of a classroom chalkboard; and even with a bomb tucked in his turban.


The initial reaction was tepid. But then an Austrian newspaper reprinted the cartoons in January, followed by French, German, Italian and Spanish newspapers this month. The reprints set off a firestorm (Islamic law forbids depictions of Muhammad to prevent idol worship). Violent protests have raged since, reaching a head Saturday as Syrian mobs burned down much of the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus.


If the outbursts were small, isolated incidents in two or three countries it would be easier to write them off—just the work of a vocal—and exceptionally radical—minority, we’d say. But the demonstrations have been large and widespread. Indeed, if airborne disease spread through the Muslim world as fast as outrage, a simple case of the flu might afflict millions in minutes. Things get contagious.


If only Muslims had a better public relations strategist they might have avoided this brouhaha. Instead of letting the little-noticed drawings drift into oblivion, Muslim protests lit the fires of Western curiosity. What do these cartoons look like? Then the media swarm came and suddenly newspapers on the other side of the world were printing editorials titled “The freedom to blaspheme” and galvanizing armies of free speech advocates.


Nevertheless, there are two reasons why it’s better for the West (but not the Danish and Norwegian embassies) that it happened this way.


First, the timing is perfect. The latest issue of Rolling Stone depicts rapper Kanye West as a Christ-like figure in a crown of thorns with the title: “The Passion of Kanye West.” The cover shot is a disgusting affront to Christians, and certainly as blasphemous as the cartoons were to Muslims.


As a result, no one was surprised when Christians firebombed Rolling Stone headquarters in New York.


Oh wait, didn’t happen.


Okay, well no one was surprised when Christians threatened to firebomb the building.


Nope, didn’t happen either.


Rarely does history provide such a perfect point of comparison, and the contrasting responses could hardly be more telling: When faced with a nearly identical situation, one faith resorted to violence, threats and rage like unruly savages; the other was civil, responding (if at all) with letters to the editor, calls for a boycott and many public denunciations.


Second, the rage of the Muslim world again lays bare radicalism for all the world to see. A similar fervor was set off in 2005 in response to purported Koran desecration at Guantanamo Bay. People died then, many of them Muslims. But it didn’t matter. The rage is as overwhelming as it is contagious.


Victor Davis Hanson has called this the “lunacy principle,” that is, “these people are capable of doing anything at anytime.”


That’s what makes Iran so scary. When President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad denies the Holocaust and says “Israel must be wiped off the map” he really means it. And if his nuclear program continues unabated, he might just wake-up one morning and do it.


And that’s the thing, for all their shrewd and secret plots, most radical Muslims are remarkably forthcoming: they seek the destruction of Western civilization, beginning with Israel, in order to establish a world-wide caliphate.


That blueprint should scare secular America more than, say, a well-organized group of pro-life activists. But in many cases, it doesn’t. Trace it to comfort or laziness: it’s easier to create a paper tiger out of the “Religious Right” and to rail against their “bigoted” and “intolerant” policies than to acknowledge the true threats posed by radical Islam.


It’s early yet, but the cartoon protests may go a long way in changing this mentality, in expanding horizons beyond the water’s edge. President John Quincy Adams once said that America should not go “abroad in search of monsters to destroy.” Well, he might have added that America should not create monsters at home over relatively tame ideological differences. After all, these days we don’t have to search very far for monsters. They’re already in the streets, calling our name.




Protester dies in Afghan cartoons unrest (Times Online, 060206)


A protester died in Afghanistan today as the controversy over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad became increasingly violent.


One demonstrator was killed and four people, including two policemen, were injured after protesters opened fire and threw knives at security forces in the central city of Mihtarlam, a spokesman for the Afghan Interior Ministry told the Associated Press.


In Kabul, a crowd of 300 descended on the Danish Embassy, which was protected by around 100 NATO peacekeepers. The protesters threw stones, set fire to a Danish flag and shouted: “Death to Denmark. Death to Norway. Death to America. Death to Bush.” One banner read: “We cannot tolerate any insult to our religion.”


Yesterday 4,000 people protested in Afghanistan. The most serious disturbances yet to erupt over the images took place in Beirut yesterday, when a crowd of 20,000 surrounded the Danish Embassy to Lebanon and set fire to it. At least one protester died after jumping from the burning building, and 30 people were injured as the mob marauded through a Christian district of the city.


Last night, the Interior Minister, Hassan Sabei, submitted his resignation after police and security forces in Beirut lost control of the mob, allowing it break through a barrier of riot police to storm the building. The government has blamed the riot on hardline Syrian protesters, saying 76 of the 200 people detained were Syrians.


“Things got out of hand when elements that had infiltrated into the ranks of the demonstrators broke through security shields,” Mr Sabei told reporters. “The one remaining option was an order to shoot, but I was not prepared to order the troops to shoot Lebanese citizens.”


Ghazi Aridi, the Information Minister, said this morning that the Lebanese Cabinet unanimously “rejected and condemned the acts of riots... that harmed Lebanon’s reputation and its civilized image and the noble aim of the demonstration.”


“The Cabinet apologizes to Denmark,” he said.


Mr Sabei’s account of the disturbance was supported by Grand Mufti Mohammed Rashid Kabbani, the spiritual leader of Lebanon’s Sunni Muslims, who said that Islamic extremists had catalysed the violence. America has blamed Syria for the riot.


Sheikh Omar Bakri Mohammed, an extremist cleric who fled Britain to Lebanon this summer, did little to calm tensions today, telling the BBC that whoever was responsible for the cartoons should be killed.


“In Islam, God said, and the messenger Mohammed said, whoever insults a prophet, he must be punished and executed,” Sheikh Bakri Mohammed told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme. “This man should be put on trial and if it is proven to be executed.”


In Britain, police are under pressure from politicians and Muslim leaders to explain why no one was arrested at two demonstrations outside the Danish Embassy in London. Crowds held banners calling for the beheading of the authors of the cartoons and one demonstrator provoked hundreds of complaints from the public after being photographed dressed as a suicide bomber.


The Northern Ireland Secretary, Peter Hain, said today that police were examining CCTV footage and evidence gathered on Friday and Saturday before deciding whether any prosecutions would be brought.


“It is very worrying, in the sense that the demonstrators on the streets over the weekend were doing things and saying things that are completely unacceptable and intolerable,” he said.


“Incitement to terror, incitement to suicide bombing - all of those are clear infringements of the law. And where there is evidence to back that up, then prosecutions will obviously follow and the police are investigating that now,” he told Today.


Thousands of Muslims took to the streets in Srinigar, the capital of Kashmir today, to burn Danish flags and express their outrage at the publication of cartoons of Muhammad in several European newspapers.


Crowds in three cities in Indonesia also staged protests today, stoning the Danish Consulate in Surabaya, the country’s second largest city, witnesses said.


In Australia, Muslim leaders called on the Courier-Mail, a Brisbane-based newspaper owned by News International, the parent company of The Times, to apologise after reprinting one of the images on Saturday. Newspapers across the world have published the cartoons to support Jyllands-Posten, the Danish broadsheet that commissioned the drawings last September.




Copenhagen rues its lost tolerance (Times Online, 060206)


THE mood was tense yesterday in Noerrebro, the multi-cultural district of Copenhagen where the Cartoon War began. As TV pictures showed Danes fleeing the Middle East, Jan Smolarczyk complained about how his once-gentle adopted country had been turned upside down.


“Suddenly everyone is asking themselves: are we bad people?”, the 60-year-old Polish-born academic said.


For years, Danes thought tolerance and free thinking would also make them popular; now they see their red and white flag being trampled into the dust. Opinion polls reflected the popular confusion. There has been a surge of support for the right-wing People’s Party, which has been hostile to immigration. The Left Party, which still has some stake in preserving a multicultural society, has also seen a boost in the polls.


Mr Smolarczyk lives only a few blocks away from Kare Bluitgen, the writer whose book The Koran and the life of the Prophet lit the fuse. Mr Bluitgen was no Islamophobe, Mr Smolarczyk said.


He was a typical Danish resident of Noerrebro, which is 80 per cent Muslim. He helped to train the local football team, full of Moroccans and Turks.


“That world — socialist, internationalist Danes helping out foreigners — has been disappearing and it was only last week that we caught up with reality and realised it had disappeared almost completely,” Mr Smolarczyk said. “When I came here, the Danes were open but cold. Now they are closed and very edgy indeed.”


There are 200,000 Muslims in Denmark and the State has been subsidising many of their schools. Islam, in the view of right-wing Danes, secured a privileged position in Denmark and is trying to use it to engineer further change.


Imam Abu Laban was probably the most unpopular man in the Danish capital yesterday. In the Danish media he criticised the Arabic economic boycott of Danish goods. But, according to Danish investigations, he has been expressing joy about the Muslim actions in interviews to Arab media.


Left-wing Danes see the Cartoon War as a bill being paid for an immigration policy that has made the country into one of the most hostile societies for refugees. “The cartoons were simply an extension of jokes or smears that you could hear in pubs for a while now,” Mr Smolarcyzk said.




Timeline: the Muhammad cartoons (Times Online, 060206)


September 17, 2005: Politiken, a Danish newspaper, reports that Kaare Bluitgen, a writer, cannot find an illustrator for a book about the life of Muhammad, because artists fear reprisals from Islamic extremists


September 30: In response, Jyllands-Posten, a right of centre newspaper, asks artists to draw Muhammad as they imagine him and publishes 12 cartoons of the prophet


October 14: Up to 5,000 people stage a protest outside the offices of Jyllands-Posten.


October 19: Ambassadors from ten Muslim countries request a meeting with Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, over the cartoons. He refuses to meet them


November-December: A delegation from Danish Islamic groups visit the Middle East to spread publicity about the cartoons. Rumours circulate and additional images, not originally published in Jyllands-Posten, are attributed to the newspaper


January 10, 2006: Cartoons reprinted by Magazinet, a Norwegian Christian newspaper


January 26: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador and initiates boycott of Danish goods


January 27: Thousands denounce the cartoons during Friday prayers in Iraq


January 28: The Denmark-based Arla Dairy Group places adverts in Middle Eastern newspapers to try to stop boycott of its produce


January 29: Jyllands-Posten prints a statement in Arabic saying the drawings were published in line with freedom of expression and not a campaign against Islam. Palestinians burn Danish flags and Libya announces it will close its embassy in Denmark. Danes told to be vigilant in the Middle East


January 30: EU says it will take World Trade Organisation action if the boycott persists. Masked gunmen in storm EU office in Gaza


January 31: Danish imams accept statements from Jyllands-Posten and the Prime Minister, and say are surprised at the extent of the protests. Saudi hospitals refuse to buy Danish insulin


February 1: Newspapers in Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands publish one or more of the cartoons. France Soir publishes all 12 and a new cartoon of its own. The editor is fired by the newspaper’s French-Egyptian owner. Syria withdraws ambassador to Denmark


February 2: Gunmen repeat protests in Gaza. Mr Rasmussen appears on Al-Arabiya, a Saudi news network, to try and calm situation. The Jordanian newspaper Al-Shihan prints the drawings - the editor is sacked, and ordered to apologise. Peter Mandelson, the EU Trade Commissioner, says the boycott must end


February 3: The International Association of Muslim Scholars calls for a “day of anger” across the world. 50,000 protest in Gaza. Muslims outside the Danish Embassy in London call for execution of those who insult Islam. El Pais, Spain’s leading newspaper, reprints a drawing, which shows the prophet made of words saying: “I must not draw Muhummad”


February 4: Mobs in Damascus attack the Norwegian, Danish, Swedish and French embassies but are beaten off by riot police. Protesters, including a man dressed as a suicide bomber, gather for a second day in London


February 5: Demonstrators set fire to the Danish Embassy in Beirut, overwhelming Lebanese security forces. A protester dies. America and Lebanon blame Syrians for the riot. The Lebanese Interior Minister offers his resignation. Around 4,000 protest in Aghanistan. Iran withdraws its ambassador from Copenhagen


February 6: Protester killed in Afghanistan as demonstrations take place in Kabul and the city of Mihtarlam. Crowds gather in Srinigar, the capital of Kashmir, and three cities in Indonesia. Pressure mounts in London to prosecute protesters for inciting violence.




Protests Over Muhammad Caricatures Continue; Four Killed (Foxnews, 060206)


KABUL, Afghanistan — Afghan troops opened fire on demonstrators Monday, leaving at least four people dead, while Iranian police used tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters hurling stones and firebombs at the Danish Embassy in Tehran as anger mounted over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad.


Police had encircled the walled brick villa housing the Danish mission in the Iranian capital, but the crowd of about 400 protesters ignored orders to break up, only running into a nearby park after tear gas was fired. Earlier in the day, 200 student demonstrators threw stones at the Austrian Embassy, breaking some windows and starting small fires.


The worst of the violence in Afghanistan was outside Bagram, the main U.S. base, with Afghan police firing on some 2,000 protesters as they tried to break into the heavily guarded facility, said Kabir Ahmed, the local government chief.


Two demonstrators were killed and 13 people, including eight police, were injured, he said. No U.S. troops were involved in the clashes, the military said.


Afghan police also fired on protesters in the central city of Mihtarlam after a man in the crowd shot at them and others threw stones and knives, Interior Ministry spokesman Dad Mohammed Rasa said. Two protesters were killed, and three other people were wounded, including two police, officials said. The demonstrators burned tires and threw stones at government offices.


The unrest spread to East Africa as police in Somalia fired in the air to disperse stone-throwing protesters, triggering a stampede in which a teenager was killed and raising to six the number of deaths in protests related to the publication of the series of cartoons satirizing Islam’s most revered figure.


At least nine people were injured in the melee outside the Danish Embassy in Iran, which lasted about an hour.


Two trees inside the compound — which was believed to have been evacuated earlier — were set on fire by the firebombs. The embassy gate was burned as was a police booth along the wall protecting the building. The mob, which included about 100 women, burned a Danish flag and chanted “God is great,” but they failed to breach the police cordon.


Also Monday, 200 members of Iran’s parliament issued a statement warning that those who published the cartoons should remember the case of Salman Rushdie — the British author against whom the late Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini issued a death warrant for his novel “The Satanic Verses.”


Lebanon, meanwhile, apologized to Denmark a day after thousands of rampaging Muslim demonstrators set fire to the building housing the Danish mission in Beirut to protest the caricatures. At least one person died, 30 were injured and about 200 people were detained in Sunday’s violence, including Syrians, Palestinians and Lebanese, officials said.


The Beirut violence came a day after violent protests in neighboring Syria, including the burning of the Danish and Norwegian missions. The United States accused the Syrian government of backing the protests in Lebanon and Syria, an accusation also made by anti-Syrian Lebanese politicians.


Washington condemned the violence and urged governments to take steps to cool tensions over the 12 caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad that were first published in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten in September and recently reprinted in European and other media.


The drawings — including one depicting the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse — have touched a raw nerve in part because Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.


“We understand fully why people, why Muslims, find the cartoons offensive,” White House spokesman Scott McClellan said. “Those who disagree with the views that were expressed, certainly have the right to condemn them but they should be peaceful.”


U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan, as he entered the opening session a three-day U.N. Environment Program in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, implied publication of the caricatures had been a matter of poor judgment, but added: “In don’t think that it justifies the attacks on innocents. I would appeal to all concerned, all people of authority and influence, to engage in dialogue and bring this to an end.”


The European Union issued stern reminders to 18 Muslim countries that they are obliged under the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations to protect foreign embassies, and Austria said it had expressed concern for the safety of diplomatic missions to the Organization of the Islamic Conference.


The prime ministers of Spain and Turkey issued a Christian-Muslim appeal for calm, saying “we shall all be the losers if we fail to immediately defuse this situation.”


But Turkey’s Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul said media freedoms cannot be limitless and that hostility against Muslims was replacing anti-Semitism in the West.


The protesters in Afghanistan threw stones at the U.S. base and smashed a guard post. Some of those in the crowd then shot at the base with assault rifles, prompting the police to return fire, Ahmed said.


U.S. military spokesman, Lt. Mike Cody, said American troops did not fire on the crowd and security was left to the Afghan police.


About 200 protesters also tried to break down the gate of a the Danish government’s diplomatic mission office in the capital, Kabul, but failed, said police who were guarding the building.


The protesters then threw stones at the mission and beat some officers guarding it, as well as some guards at a nearby house used by Belgian diplomats.


Police wielding batons and rifle butts dispersed demonstrators walking toward the presidential palace. An Associated Press reporter saw at least three protesters bleeding from injuries, and at least seven more who were arrested and driven away in a police vehicle.


“Long live Islam! We are Muslims! We don’t let anyone insult our prophet!” chanted the demonstrators, many of whom appeared to be teenagers. They also chanted, “Down with America!” and slogans against the Afghan and U.S. presidents.


Some protesters moved toward the main American base in city and threw stones that smashed windows of a guard house. Police watched but did not intervene.


U.S. soldiers later arrested two photographers outside the base and checked the memory discs of an AP photographer, but did not arrest him. Cody said he had no details about the matter.


Thousands of other Afghans demonstrated peacefully in at least five other cities.


Several thousand Iraqis rallied in the southern city of Kut, burning Danish, German and Israeli flags, as well as an effigy of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, to demand diplomatic and economic ties be severed with countries in which the caricatures were published.


Protesters called for the death of anyone who insults Muhammad and demanded withdrawal of 530-member Danish military contingent operating under British control.


Danish Capt. Philip Ulrichsen said Danish troops were shot at and targeted by stone-throwing youths on Sunday and a roadside bomb was defused, but no soldiers were wounded.


In Somalia, hundreds of protesters threw stones at police and aid workers after a peaceful rally in the northern port city of Bossaso, sparking the stampede in which a teenage boy was killed, said businessman Mohamed Ahmed, a witness. Officials could not be reached for comment.


Melees also broke out during protests in New Delhi and Gaza City, while several thousand students massed peacefully in Cairo on the campus of al-Azhar University, the oldest and most important seat of Sunni Muslim learning in the world, to protest the drawings.


German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said his country would try to use its contacts with Arab countries to cool the violence. “We cannot allow this argument to become a battle between cultures,” Steinmeier said.




NATO Troops Open Fire on Afghan Demonstrators (Foxnews, 060207)


KABUL, Afghanistan — NATO peacekeepers exchanged fire with protesters who attacked their base Tuesday in a second straight day of deadly demonstrations in Afghanistan over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, officials said. Three demonstrators were killed and dozens wounded.


In neighboring Pakistan, 5,000 people chanting “Hang the man who insulted the prophet” burned effigies of one cartoonist and Denmark’s prime minister. Citizens from Denmark — where the images were first published — were advised to leave Indonesia, the world’s most populous Islamic nation, because of safety fears.


A prominent Iranian newspaper said it was going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust in reaction to European newspapers publishing the prophet drawings, and Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, said the publication of the cartoons was an Israeli conspiracy motivated by anger over the victory of the militant Hamas group in the Palestinian elections last month.


The European Union, in turn, warned Iran that attempts to boycott Danish goods or cancel trade contracts with European countries would lead to a further deterioration in relations.


The drawings — including one depicting the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb — have touched a raw nerve in part because Islam is interpreted to forbid any illustrations of the Prophet Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry.


The most violent demonstrations were in Afghanistan, where thousands of rioters clashed with police and NATO peacekeepers across the country.


About 250 protesters armed with assault rifles and grenades attacked the NATO base in the northwestern town of Maymana, burning an armored vehicle, a U.N. car and guard posts, said a doctor at Maymana Hospital.


Some in the crowd fired light weapons and threw stones and hand grenades, and the Norwegian troops responded with tear gas, rubber bullets and warning shots, said Sverre Diesen, commander of Norwegian forces.


Three protesters were shot to death and 25 others were wounded, while some 50 others were hurt by tear gas the peacekeepers used to disperse the demonstrators, said Sayed Aslam Ziaratia, the provincial deputy police chief.


It wasn’t clear who killed the protesters.


Two Norwegian and two Finnish soldiers were slightly hurt, Diesen told reporters in Oslo.


The United Nations pulled its staff out of Maymana, near Afghanistan’s border with Turkmenistan, and NATO peacekeepers rushed reinforcements to the remote town.


In the capital, Kabul, police used batons to beat stone-throwing protesters outside the Danish diplomatic mission office and near the offices of the World Bank. An Associated Press reporter saw police arrest several people, many of them injured.


More than 3,000 protesters threw stones at government buildings and an Italian peacekeeping base in the western city of Herat, but no one was injured, said a witness, Faridoon Pooyaa.


About 5,000 people clashed with police in the town of Pulikhumri, north of Kabul, and the windows of several buildings and cars were smashed, said Sayed Afandi, a police commander.


Four people died and 19 were injured Monday in demonstrations in Afghanistan.


Muslim anger has been directed at Denmark, where the cartoons were first printed in a newspaper in September. Danish missions have been attacked and boycotts of Danish products launched in many Muslim countries.


The cartoons have since been reprinted by media outlets in other European countries, the United States and elsewhere — sometimes to illustrate stories about the controversy but also by some who say they were supporting free speech.


In India’s portion of the disputed region of Kashmir, police fired tear gas to disperse hundreds of protesters. At least six protesters and two police were injured in the clash, a police said.


The protest in the northwestern Pakistani city of Peshawar was the largest to date in that Muslim country against the prophet drawings. There were no reports of violence.


Chief Minister Akram Durrani, the province’s top elected official who led the rally, demanded the cartoonists “be punished like a terrorist.”


“Islam is a religion of peace. It insists that all other religions and faiths should be respected,” he told the crowd. “Nobody has the right to insult Islam and hurt the feelings of Muslims.”


Danish citizens were also advised to leave Indonesia, where rowdy protests were held in at least four cities Tuesday. Danish missions, which have been repeatedly targeted by protesters, have been shut because of security concerns, said Niels Erik Anderson, the country’s ambassador to Indonesia.


Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said his government had temporarily closed diplomatic missions in Palestinian territories — where it shares a building with the Danish mission. He warned his citizens to be wary if traveling to the Middle East.

The Iranian newspaper Hamshahri invited foreign cartoonists to enter its Holocaust cartoon competition, which it said would be launched Monday. The newspaper is owned by the Tehran Municipality, which is dominated by allies of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who is well known for his opposition to Israel.


Last year, Ahmadinejad provoked outcries when he said on separate occasions that Israel should be “wiped off the map” and the Holocaust was a “myth.”


Elsewhere, China criticized newspapers for publishing the cartoons and appealed for calm among outraged Muslims. Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Kong Quan said publishing the cartoons “runs counter to the principle that different religions and civilizations should respect each other and live together in peace and harmony.”


The European Union’s executive office warned Iran Tuesday that attempts to boycott Danish goods or cancel trade contracts with European countries would lead to a further cooling of relations.


EU spokesman Johannes Laitenberger said the EU was trying to confirm comments made by Iran’s president that the country should boycott Danish products in protest of the publishing of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.


“A boycott of Danish goods is by definition a boycott of European goods,” Laitenberger said. “A boycott hurts the economic interests of all parties.”


Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Saturday ordered his commerce minister to study scrapping all trade contacts with European countries whose newspapers published the caricatures, Iranian media reported.




Denmark, Damascus, and Beirut: Are the Muslims in Lebanon and Syria angrier than others in the Middle East? (Weekly Standard, 060207)


MUSLIMS all over the world are so angry about a series of cartoons poking fun at the Messenger of God that by now pretty much every Danish and Norwegian flag in the Muslim world has met its fiery end. And yet only in Damascus and Beirut have institutions—embassies or consulates—representing Denmark and Norway been attacked. Are Lebanese and Syrian Muslims angrier than other Muslims? Or, what’s going on here?


First of all, it’s important to remember that Syria is an authoritarian state where nothing happens on the street unless the regime permits it to happen. Actually, that’s something of an understatement—the government almost always determines and drives public actions. So, many of the Damascus protestors venting their pious outrage likely either work for Syrian security services or are rent-a-mobs being paid to riot.


In Lebanon, it is only slightly different. It appears that the Internal Security Forces were incapable or unwilling to protect the Danish consulate from protestors, many of whom were apparently shipped in from Syria and Lebanese Palestinian refugee camps in Lebanon (where Syrian influence and arms are extensive). Indeed, Damascus’ Lebanese intelligence networks are still active, even after Syrian troops left the country last April in compliance with U.N. Security Council Resolution 1559. And of course Syria has lots of Lebanese allies, including Islamist groups such as the Al-Ahbash and Hezbollah, whose General Secretary Hassan Nasrallah asked—maybe not so rhetorically—if someone blowing themselves up in the middle of Denmark constituted “an expression of freedom.”


IT WOULD BE INTERESTING to know precisely the level of involvement of the Syrian mukhabarat, but President Bashar al-Asad does not want to be held accountable for what is practically an act of war. For that matter, neither Denmark nor Norway would want to know the answer and then be forced with having to respond as such. Americans might enjoy some schadenfreude in watching flags other than theirs getting torched, but why is Syria so hostile to a Europe that is by comparison much more accommodating? There are at least three possible reasons: (1) To prevent the international community from bringing down Syria’s ruling regime; (2) To raise money for Hamas; (3) To warn against interfering with the Iranian nuclear program.


(1) Syria has been under the international spotlight now for nearly a year, following the assassination of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq al-Hariri. In a remarkable show of multilateral concord, the United States and European Union have been working together to put pressure on the regime in Damascus. In fact, it is France that has led the way.


Even before the murder of Hariri, Jacques Chirac suggested to George Bush at the 60th anniversary of the Normandy invasion that this was a project they might work on together. The White House was cross with Syria for supporting the insurgency in Iraq and Chirac was angry because, among many other reasons, Syria had handed out oil contracts to non-French firms and squandered money the French president had raised at the Paris II talks in November 2002 earmarked for political and economic reform in Lebanon.


Bush and Chirac used Lebanon as a platform to fight Syria, and the regime in Damascus has been fighting back in every way possible, including the continued destabilization of Lebanon and attempts to block the U.N. investigation into the Hariri murder. The Muhammad cartoons provided yet another opportunity for Syria to scare away meddlers. After the Danish consulate was burned, protestors started to stone a Maronite church, a gesture that comports nicely with a series of bombings in Christian areas and assassinations of Christian figures designed to incite sectarian violence in Lebanon.


(2) For years, Syria has served as center of operations for a number of Palestinian rejectionist groups, including Hamas. For instance, Hamas political and military chief Khaled Mashaal makes his home just a quick cab ride away from the presidential palace in Damascus. The United States and the European Union have explained that they are not going to give any more money to the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority until it recognizes Israel’s right to exist and disowns violence. However, like many political bodies in the Arab world, Hamas only knows how to express itself through violence. But Hamas has a problem: the battleground that they typically availed themselves of in the past is much less accessible now that Israel has built a fence and has stopped an overwhelming percentage of suicide bombers. So, what are Hamas’ options?


In the ‘70s and ‘80s Yasser Arafat’s PLO found an especially attractive venue in Europe. The continent was light on security and fat in the wallet. Recall the most spectacular act of Palestinian terrorism, commemorated now in Steven Spielberg’s Munich, when the Black September group kidnapped and killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Munich Olympiad? Arafat said he had nothing, absolutely nothing, to do with radicals such as Black September. But, he said, the only way for him to gain control in the political arena was to build his prestige. The best way to do that, he argued, was by helping him enhance his patronage networks, i.e. by giving him more money so he could put more armed gunmen on salary who would, of course, eventually run operations, like those in Europe, which Arafat disclaimed.


Europeans would be wise to remember what Arafat’s shell game cost them because right now, leaders all over Europe are being reminded of what can happen when you try to de-fund Palestinian terrorists. The argument will look something like this: The “moderate” and responsible wing of Hamas that wants to “fix potholes” needs to be empowered to take on its radical members who only want to kill nice Europeans. It’s a protection racket. Damascus and Beirut are serving as rehearsal spaces for what might happen if the European Union stops signing checks.


(3) Iran is Syria’s only ally in the world, but Tehran has a price for siding with a virtual pariah state. They want a nuclear program and Syria can help. The United States was frustrated when Europe decided it wanted to negotiate with Iran: After all, the good-cop bad-cop routine only goes so far when what’s really called for is joint action. The United States initially believed that even after the Europeans had failed at negotiations their pride would never allow them to admit they were wrong. In fact, the opposite happened. It was only once the Europeans started to deal with the Iranians in depth that they really saw how bad the Iranians were. Now, the Europeans and the United States see eye to eye: It is doubtful that anyone in the international community, except Syria and Hezbollah, is willing to accept an Iranian nuclear bomb. Syria is lobbying for the program and, again, making its case to Europe. Remember that Damascus burned the very same day Iran was reported to the U.N. Security Council.


The Muhammad cartoon conflict, as silly as it sounds, is about our war for freedom and liberty and our way of life. Unlike the peoples who live under authoritarian regimes, the citizens of liberal democracies don’t have to observe redlines, subjects that are too controversial to touch, whether they’re about the state or religion. We can talk about anything, pursue ideas anywhere they take us, even into blasphemy. But the response to the cartoons is also about the real war, the one that involves, among others, Syria, Iran and Palestinian terrorist organizations.


Lee Smith is a visiting fellow at the Hudson Institute and based in Beirut.




Muslims challenged to address all ‘hate speech’: White House points out anti-Semitic, anti-Christian sentiment in Arab world (WorldNetDaily, 060207)


Muslims violently protesting newspaper cartoons of Muhammad should consider their silence toward the frequent slander of other religions in Arab media, the White House suggested yesterday.


“We would also urge people who are criticizing these cartoons to speak out forcefully against all forms of hate speech, including cartoons and articles throughout parts of the Arab world, which frequently espouse anti-Semitic and anti-Christian views,” said White House spokesman Scott McClellan.


With protests over the cartoons escalating — a total of five people were killed yesterday — the Israel-based monitor Palestinian Media Watch continues to document cartoons published regularly in Arab media that depict Jews as blood-thirsty, hook-nosed oppressors seeking world domination.


Cartoon published Jan. 7 in Palestinian daily Al-Hayat Al-Jadida


The Muslim cartoon controversy erupted a week ago over satirical drawings of Muhammad published in September by Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten. The paper said it wanted to make a point about media self-censoring criticisms of Islamic terrorism. Many Muslims consider images of Muhammad, especially caricatures, to be blasphemous.


The Muhammad cartoons have been reprinted in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Jordan, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.


One of the cartoons published in a Danish newspaper that touched off worldwide Muslim protest


Protesters in Turkey marched outside the Danish consulate, terror groups in the West Bank threatened Danish and European interests, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – an offshoot of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party – briefly kidnapped a German and thousands of Muslim demonstrators in Beirut clashed with police Sunday, storming the city’s Danish consulate and setting it ablaze. A nearby Maronite Catholic church also was attacked, prompting fears the protests could turn into a sectarian clash.


Saturday in Damascus, the evacuated Danish and Norwegian embassies were burned during protests that also damaged the Swedish embassy. Rioters trying to storm the city’s French mission were held off by police.


In a 2004 interview, Joe Kotek, an analyst for Jerusalem Center for Public Affairs, pointed out Arab cartoons commonly use images of “the devilish Jew” to depict Israel.


“This image conveys the idea that Jews behave like Nazis, kill children and love blood,” he said.


Published in 2001, this cartoon from the Egyptian daily Al Ahram depicts an Arab being flattened as two Jews drink the blood.


Kotek said the major theme in Arab cartoons of the blood-loving or blood-thirsty Jew originates in Christian anti-Semitism. This libel, he said, alleged Jews needed Christian blood for their Passover service.


“Its claim is that the Jew is evil, as his religion forces him to drink blood,” Kotek said. “In today’s Arab world this image of unbridled hatred has mutated into the alleged quest for Palestinian blood.”


In April 2001, the Egyptian daily Al Ahram published a cartoon showing an Arab being flattened in a mill by two Israeli soldiers as blood pours out and two Jews, laughing, drink the blood.


The anti-Semitic cartoons haven’t been confined to the Arab world, however. In 2003, a cartoon that won first prize in Britain depicted Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon eating the head of a Palestinian baby with a burning city in the background.


Ariel Sharon depicted devouring a Palestinian baby in British prize-winning cartoon


Published in the Independent newspaper of London, it was one of 35 entries in the British Political Cartoon Society’s annual competition.


The prize-winner depicts Sharon saying: “What’s wrong? Have you never seen a politician kissing a baby?”


Shuli Davidovich, press secretary for the Israeli embassy in Britian, wrote in protest to the British paper: “As Britain commemorates National Holocaust Day, I am shocked that The Independent has chosen to evoke an ancient Jewish stereotype which would not have looked out of place in ‘Der Sturmer’, and which can unfortunately still be found in many Arabic newspapers.”


Palestinian daily depicts Ariel Sharon as devourer of Palestinian babies


As WorldNetDaily also reported in 2003a political cartoon depicting the Palestinians and Iraqis as victims of crucifixion by the United States was published in the Palestinian Authority’s largest daily, Al Quds.


The PA often uses imagery comparing Palestinians to Jesus, according to Palestinian Media Watch.


From PA’s largest daily, Al Quds


The figures are nailed to a cross back to back, with the Palestinian bearing the thought, “Brother from Iraq,” and the Iraqi, “Relative from Palestine.”


In another cartoon published at the same time in response to the deaths of Saddam Hussein’s two sons, the official Palestinian daily Al Hayat Al Jadida published an anti-American political cartoon portraying the United States as a shark-toothed octopus.


Published yesterday in Palestinian daily Al Hayat Al Jadida


The cartoon showed the obviously delighted creature removing Saddam’s arms, symbolic of the death of his sons Uday and Qusay, who were killed in a firefight with U.S. troops.




U.S. Supreme Court depicts Muhammad: Protesters of cartoons insist Islam forbids any image of prophet (WorldNetDaily, 060207)


Frieze depicts Muhammad among 18 “lawgivers” on wall above Supreme Court justices’ bench

While Muslims engaged in violent protests worldwide over caricatures of Muhammad have insisted any image of their prophet is considered blasphemous, a prominent frieze in the U.S. Supreme Court portrays the Islamic leader wielding a sword.


The stone sculptures of 18 lawgivers, from Hammurabi to John Marshall, are meant to signify the law’s foundation in a stable society. Included is Moses with the Ten Commandments.



The artwork, which is high above the justice’s mahogany bench, was designed by sculptor Adolph A. Weinman for the building, which opened in the 1930s. Muhammad is between Charlemagne and Justinian.


The Muslim cartoon controversy erupted in violence a week ago over satirical drawings of Muhammad published in September by Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten. The paper said it wanted to make a point about media self-censoring criticisms of Islamic terrorism.


Omar Bakri Mohammed, the radical British Muslim cleric, told BBC Radio 4 yesterday the cartoonists should be tried and executed under Islamic law.


In 1997, the Council on American-Islamic Relations, or CAIR, protested the Supreme Court’s Muhammad sculpture, saying, according to its annual report for that year, “While appreciating the fact that Muhammad (p.b.u.h.) was included in the court’s pantheon of 18 prominent lawgivers of history, CAIR noted that Islam discouraged its followers from portraying any prophet in paintings, sculptures or other artistic representations.”


CAIR also said it was concerned that Muhammad “was shown with the Quran, Islam’s Holy Book, in one hand and a sword in the other, reinforcing long-held stereotypes of Muslims as intolerant conquerors.”


Responding to the complaint, then-Chief Justice William Rehnquist told CAIR the image could not be changed and explained that swords also were used throughout the court’s architecture as symbols of justice.


“Altering the depiction of Muhammad would impair the artistic integrity of the whole,” Rehnquist wrote. “Additionally, it is unlawful (under the U. S. Code) to remove or in any way injure an architectural feature in the Supreme Court.”


But the federal government revised tourist literature at the court to show more respect for Islamic beliefs. Text that called Muhammad the “founder” of Islam was changed to say Muslims believe “the divine word of God ... was revealed to Muhammad.”


The literature also added, “The figure is a well-intentioned attempt by the sculptor to honor Muhammad, and it bears no resemblance to Muhammad. Muslims generally have a strong aversion to sculptured or pictured representations of their Prophet.”


The Muhammad cartoons at the center of the current controversy have been reprinted in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Jordan, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.


In response, protesters in Turkey marched outside the Danish consulate, terror groups in the West Bank threatened Danish and European interests, the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades – an offshoot of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah Party – briefly kidnapped a German and thousands of Muslim demonstrators in Beirut clashed with police Sunday, storming the city’s Danish consulate and setting it ablaze. A nearby Maronite Catholic church also was attacked, prompting fears the protests could turn into a sectarian clash.


Saturday in Damascus, the evacuated Danish and Norwegian embassies were burned during protests that also damaged the Swedish embassy. Rioters reportedly tried to storm the city’s French mission but were held off by police.




Iran presents: Holocaust cartoon contest (WorldNetDaily, 060206)


Leading newspaper presents contest in response to cartoons disparaging Muhammad

Roee Nahmias


Iran’s most popular daily newspaper, Hamshahri, is set to initiate a Holocaust cartoon contest in what it says is a response to cartoons disparaging Islam’s prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper.


“This will be an international cartoon competition on the topic of the Holocaust,” said Farid Mortazawi, the paper’s graphic editor.


The editor added the newspaper intends to fight back by claiming the publication of Holocaust cartoons is done in the name of freedom of expression.


“Western newspapers published these caricatures, which constitute desecration, under the pretense of freedom of expression,” he said. “Let’s see if they mean what they say once we publish Holocaust caricatures.”


Meanwhile, Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, a leading Muslim Brotherhood cleric, has condemned the harsh reactions to the cartoons among Muslim

communities around the world.


Speaking on al-Jazeera’s Sharia program, Qaradawi said: “The acts of destruction carried out by a minority of people in capitals around the world are unacceptable as a response to what European newspaper published. We never called on people to burn cars. We call on you to show the fury in an intelligent way as to avoid unthinkable damage.”


“We condemn those who are attacking us when we do not attack them. We are bound by the laws of Allah and to his instructions,” said Qaradawi, who has a major influence on the Arab Muslim community and on Muslim communities in the West


Qaradawi attacks freedom of speech


Responding to a question about churches damaged in Beirut by rioting masses, Qaradawi said: “This is unacceptable. We have seen Muslim imams preventing people from doing this, but it seems there are those who will exploit the rage of the people to pour fuel on the fire.”


Qaradawi has called for “sanctions on countries that published the cartoons in their newspapers. We demand an international law forbidding religions from being humiliated, and we held a rally as a response to these injuries. These are the ways to respond.”


Qaradawi also condemned freedom of speech, saying: “No one has this freedom. When you drive in a car, you can’t swerve right and left because there are other people on the road with you. You must drive according to traffic laws.”


Meanwhile, 400 Iranian protesters threw rocks and Molotov cocktails at the Danish Embassy in Teheran. Earlier, the Austrian Embassy in the Iranian capital was attacked.




Poll shows voters believe press is right not to publish cartoons (Times Online, 060207)

[KH: wrong title, biased, most of the article is about a poll among Muslims]


THE alienation of many Muslims from British society remains startling: ranging from attitudes towards Israel to suicide bombing. This has been highlighted by the furore over the publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Muhammad.


According to a new Populus poll for The Times, two thirds of voters think Muslims must accept the principle of freedom of speech and the right of papers to publish such cartoons. But, true to liberal principles, they do not think that editors should publish them, out of respect for the Muslim community. [KH: no data quoted, probably hiding some important information.]


The nearly 1.6 million Muslims in Britain (more than three times the number of Jews) are a diverse group. Attitudes vary between those of Pakistani, Bangladeshi, Ugandan and Kenyan Asian origins, as well as recent refugees, often not used to being politically involved. It is hard to capture the nuances of such differences.


But a variety of polls exists about Muslim views. Populus was commissioned by a coalition of Jewish community groups to undertake a poll of 500 British Muslims between December 9 and 19 (of whom 30 per cent were in London and 55 per cent were aged between 18 and 34). The results have now been made available to The Times.


With caveats about sample size, the trends are clear. There is no single, agreed voice for Muslim opinion. More Muslims trust what they hear about what is going on in the Middle East from English-language Muslim channels (68 per cent) than from the BBC (58 per cent). As many people are likely to listen to the clerics at their local mosque to find out about the Middle East as tune in to the BBC. More are likely to turn to the English-language Muslim press (49 per cent) as to national newspapers (42 per cent).


A majority regard the Jewish community and its links to Israel with suspicion. More than half both think that it is right to boycott Holocaust Memorial Day and believe that the Jewish community has no interest in the plight of the Palestinians and has too much influence over British foreign policy.


Nearly two fifths (37 per cent) believe that the Jewish community in Britain is a legitimate target “as part of the ongoing struggle for justice in the Middle East”. Moreover, only 52 per cent think that the state of Israel has the right to exist, with 30 per cent disagreeing, a big minority. One in six of all Muslims questioned thinks suicide bombings can sometimes be justified in Israel, though many fewer (7 per cent) say the same about Britain. This is broadly comparable to the number justifying suicide attacks in ICM and YouGov polls of British Muslims after the July 7 attacks.


The YouGov poll revealed that a majority of Muslims do not believe that they are treated equally or fairly by British political leaders.


However, according to Populus, 12 per cent of 18 to 24-year-old Muslims believe that suicide bombings can be justified here, and 21 per cent in Israel. A fifth of all Muslims, and a quarter of men, say suicide attacks against the military can be justified, though only 7 per cent say this about civilians.


Supporters of violence remain a small minority, but a wide gulf remains over the fundamentals of freedom of speech and democracy.




Cartoon wars (, 060207)


by Cal Thomas


New York - At the National Black Fine Art Show, a painting by Harlem artist “Tafa” depicts an upside down “Christ-like” figure with a face that resembles Osama bin Laden. No Christians have threatened the artist, or bombed the building where it is displayed, or attacked the city government.


Throughout the Middle East, state-controlled newspapers regularly depict Jews and Israeli leaders in despicable, stereotypical and anti-Semitic caricatures. These cartoons show Jews with hooked noses; Stars of David morphing into swastikas; Palestinian and Arab blood drips from Jewish hands and Jews are blamed for creating AIDS. Neither those newspapers, nor Arab embassies have been attacked by Jewish mobs.


When a Danish newspaper publishes several political cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, riots ensue and the artists and newspaper receive death threats. When newspapers in France and Germany courageously (and unexpectedly) reprint the cartoons as a demonstration of their right to free speech, further demonstrations occur and threats are made against those newspapers.


Occasionally moral clarity comes with something quite simple, like political cartoons. These riots impress upon us an objective truth: the “clash of civilizations” is more than a conflict between peoples; it is between the 21st and the 7th centuries; between a God who has “commissioned” his followers to exact judgment on the world, according to their narrow interpretation, and a God who offers man grace, along with the freedom to choose or reject it, reserving judgment for Himself on another day.


Many American newspapers and some television networks have declined to publish the “offending” cartoons, thereby playing into the hands of the rioters. CBS News has reported on the rioting, but says it will not show the cartoons because they cross a line. That CBS has a line will surprise some.


Leonard Downie Jr., executive editor of the Washington Post, told Editor and Publisher magazine, “(The cartoons) wouldn’t meet our standards for what we publish in the paper.” The Post’s standards apparently were met when it published a Tom Toles cartoon Jan. 29, depicting an American soldier without arms or legs. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld stands beside his bed declaring, “I’m listing your condition as ‘battle hardened.’” Some critics contend the cartoon slanders the military.


A free press is so critical to freedom itself that America’s founders wrote it into the First Amendment as one of our fundamental rights. If intimidation limits press freedom, our other freedoms are in jeopardy.


The Danish cartoons and the violent reaction to them is not the first attempt by “Islamofascists” to censor free speech in their pursuit of subjugating us all to their intolerant way of thinking.


The world-renowned cartoonist, Ranan Lurie, tells me of a meeting he had on Feb. 27, 1997 with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak. Mubarak introduced Lurie to the publisher of Al-Ahram, the most widely read newspaper in the Arab world. Lurie signed a contract to provide his cartoons to the newspaper. He compares the publication of his cartoons in Al-Ahram to an American conservative cartoonist getting a front-page spot in the Soviet newspaper Pravda during the Cold War.


Within days of the publication of his first cartoon in Al-Ahram, a “jealous Egyptian cartoonist” published a story about him in Ruz-al-Yusuf magazine. He wrote, “Do you know this guy is a Jew and not only a Jew, but a soldier and not only a solider, but an officer and not only an officer, but a paratrooper?” The magazine printed a full-page cartoon of Lurie descending on the Egyptian pyramids and destroying them. It also published Lurie’s picture with an orange Star of David on his face. There were riots in Cairo. Al-Ahram canceled Lurie’s contract after just 11 days.


Lurie says it won’t stop with cartoon censorship, but will advance to “telling us what to wear and Islam will be insulted if your wife or girlfriend doesn’t wear a head scarf.” Will free societies give in to threats, intimidation, murder and riots? If we don’t stand now against this fundamentalist intolerance, there may not be enough of us left standing for the next and subsequent battles.


In a speech to the National Press Club last week, Secretary Rumsfeld said of Islamic terrorists, “they will either succeed in changing our way of life, or we will succeed in changing theirs.”


It’s going to be a long war.




The centre must hold: Moderates of the world, unite (Times Online, 060207)


History is shaped by vast, impersonal forces. It also turns on highly personal acts of improvisation, and both have conspired to turn the reaction to a dozen ill-judged Danish drawings into an international conflagration. From Gaza to Indonesia, Muslims have taken to the streets to attack European embassies and demand bloody vengeance against anyone perceived to have insulted Islam. For weeks, this simmering war had been, perhaps remarkably, one of threats, slogans and even ideas. Yesterday that changed. A 14-year-old boy was shot dead by police attempting to control demonstrations in Somalia, and at least four people died in violent protests in Afghanistan, where crowds denounced not individuals or unbelievers, but entire countries.


The Jyllands-Posten cartoons are not, of course, the first focus of a dangerous, globalised sense of grievance among some Muslims toward the secular West, and they will not be the last. But some good may yet come of the irrational fury that they have triggered. This chance was embodied yesterday in Omar Khayam, the Bedford building student who marched through Knightsbridge on Friday in a fake suicide bomber’s waistcoat. Chastened by national outrage at his crass insensitivity, Mr Khayam, flanked by his MP and the chairman of his local mosque, yesterday offered an unreserved public apology.


He may yet face criminal charges. Police left little doubt that video and other evidence gathered at weekend demonstrations in the capital, now being analysed by a hastily established squad at Scotland Yard, would be passed to the Crown Prosecution Service. There was doubtless an element of calculation in the young student’s penitence; it will now be even harder than it would otherwise have been to prove intent on his part to incite violence. But his apology still reflected the crash course he has undergone since Friday in the responsibilities that membership of a free and diverse society entails.


More apologies are now in order. It has become depressingly routine for moderate Muslims, rightly endorsed by Government, to denounce the excesses of extremists as un-Islamic — but to limited effect. These excesses are indeed unrepresentative of Islam or of the moderate majority of Muslims. A Populus poll of British Muslims confirms this. But it also reveals that the extremist minority is more than a statistical blip: 7 per cent of those polled believed suicide bombings could be justified in Britain and 16 per cent endorsed their use, in principle, in Israel. Almost as alarming, 30 per cent denied Israel’s right to exist, and nearly half believed that Britain’s Jewish community conspired with Freemasons to control the media and politics.


A poll conducted for The Times reveals that a healthy majority of Britons uphold the right in principle of newspapers to publish offensive material, but believe that in practice they should refrain from publication. This is not appeasement. It is a thoughtful response to free speech, the worth of which must be championed by more Muslims. Until July 7 moderates could be forgiven for hoping radical Islamists would not enact their worst threats, at least on British soil. No more.


As police wrestle with the challenge of whether and how to deal with the likes of Mr Khayam, they deserve the unstinting help of moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike.




Rage Against the Western Machine: We’re at war. But only one side seems to get that. (National Review Online, 060208)


“Rage over cartoons” has been the gist of many a headline over the past week describing the violence with which masked gunmen and arsonist mobs in the Islamic world have been protesting the publication in Denmark five months ago of political cartoons caricaturing Mohammed.


Rage, yes. But let’s please get over the idea that this latest violence has anything much to do with the cartoons.


“Religion of Peace,” Love & Understanding

This is more of the same rage that for years — decades, actually — has brought us parades of masked gunmen, along with bombings, beheadings, the murder of aid workers, tourists, and journalists, the assaults on resorts in Kenya and Bali, on the trains and subways of Madrid and London, on the weddings, funerals, and religious ceremonies of Israel and post-Baathist Iraq. This is more of the same rage — inspired one may presume by factors other than Danish political satire — that produced that act of war known as September 11.


With each step, we have looked for ways to defuse the anger by understanding the grievances. Bookshops have filled with volumes on the history of Islam, the wounded pride, the regional distinctions, the contending forces within Islam itself. Our political leaders, who have relatively little to say — and just as well — about Buddhism, Hinduism, or for that matter Animism, have taken to celebrating the end of Ramadan, invited Islamic moderates to their state dinner tables and told us over and over that Islam is a religion of peace. We have debated whether to describe those who deviate from this serene vision as Islamic radicals, Islamo-fascists, militant Islamists, or plain old evil-doers, terrorists, fascists, and thugs who happen to be Muslims.


And as the Danish drawings have made world headlines in recent days, our statesman have given every sign of being more disturbed by the contents of the cartoons than by the grotesque and bullying violence of the response. From many quarters, we have been warned that we must above all exercise that Christian virtue of turning the other cheek — if not positively feeling the rioters’ pain. United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan, self-described chief diplomat of the world, has stepped into the cartoon fray, taking the time — while accepting a $500,000 environmental prize in the United Arab Emirates — to say he shares the “anguish” of Muslims over the cartoons, but urges them to “forgive the wrong they have suffered.” Bill Clinton has condemned the cartoons as “totally outrageous.” The Bush White House has agreed with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen that all sides should move ahead “through dialogue and tolerance, not violence” — as if all sides had committed acts of equal gravity. The State Department has trotted out a spokesman to pronounce the cartoons “offensive” and a spokeswoman to scold that “Inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable” — a reprimand presumably meant not for the gunmen and arsonists but for the press that dared publish the cartoons.


The press, which these days includes the Internet, has been struggling over whether to run the cartoons or not — a debate salted with allusions to Hamlet’s “To be or not to be,” to print or not to print. Two editors in Jordan who bravely reprinted the cartoons — reportedly on the theory that people should at least know what they are rioting about — have been arrested. Newspapers in Germany, Norway, France, Spain, Mexico, Iceland, and Hungary have run the cartoons. Many in the U.S. have given them a pass. The Times of London ran an editorial on the matter with links to the cartoons, explaining this was meant to underscore that the viewing of them is a matter of choice. And some Western newspapers and blogs have been prompted to review the vast archive of grossly Anti-American anti-western, and above all anti-Semitic cartoons published daily in the state-controlled press in the most dictatorial countries of the Muslim world. They will soon have plenty more to review. An Iranian state newspaper is holding a Holocaust cartoon contest.


But all this might be chalked up as merely a sort of jarring cultural or religious misunderstanding, needing mainly a big dose of the patience, tolerance, and dialogue so many world statesmen have been urging — were it not for the violence, and the credible threats of violence. Palestinian gunmen have stormed the European Union offices in Gaza and threatened to kidnap Scandinavians and Germans. Mobs have attacked and torched the Danish embassies in Beirut, Damascus, and Tehran, with assaults for good measure on the embassies of Norway. The Danish cartoonist, his newspaper, and others who have published the cartoons have been getting bomb threats and death threats. Iran’s Holocaust contest is no joke not simply because it is sick — which it is — but because it is accompanied by Iran’s building of nuclear bombs, teaching and funding of terror, and officially announced plans to annihilate Israel.


A Pain That We’re Used to

These things cross a line that separates “dialogue” from acts of terrorism and war. Whatever the offense, or lack of it, the real question for the free world is where we draw the line over threats and violent acts meant to control or kill us. Are there any grounds on which it is all right for Palestinians, swimming for decades in Western aid, to storm the EU offices in Gaza? Are there any grounds on which it is acceptable for embassies to go up in smoke because the authorities of Syria, or Lebanon, or Iran, do not protect them? Are there any grounds on which it is appropriate for a secretary general of the U.N. to treat such attacks as mere breaches of etiquette, pronouncing himself “alarmed” apparently in equal measure by cartoonists and gunmen?


What’s noteworthy about the latest violence is not that it is unusual — but how very ordinary in so many ways it has become. Yes, of course, the grimly whimsical surprise is that this time the lightning rod has turned out to be not the famous London underground, or the grand train stations of Madrid, or the twin towers of New York, but a set of cartoons out of Copenhagen. The Danish drawings did not trigger some previously nonexistent fury. They have simply become the latest litmus test of how very much the worst thugs of the Islamic world believe they are entitled to get away with, whatever the pretext.


As for the cartoons, what ought to jump out here is that it is not, in fact, common for the Western press to caricature Mohammed, or even to run pointed cartoons about Islam. One has to wonder if the organizers of the gunmen, arsonists and death-threat-deliverers (and it takes a fair amount of organization to get hold of Danish flags in Gaza, or burn an embassy in the police-state of Syria) had to scour the ample outpourings of the Western press looking for something, anything, over which to take offense, and — faced with reams of material trying to understand their pain — had to fall back as a last resort on the cartoons of Denmark. To what extent is the Western press already afraid to risk offending those who even before the recent protests had racked up a record of death threats and murder?


If statehood, citizenship, and civilization itself are to mean anything, we are all in the end accountable for our own actions. When people riot and brutalize and burn, there are individuals in the crowds who are responsible. And in the places where this is happening, if the governments will not call these individuals to account, we need to hold those governments themselves responsible. Cartoons alone, to quote another line from Hamlet, are in a class with nothing more than “words, words, words,” and those are grounds on which newspapers, nations, and religions may have their disagreements and their dialogues. But when violence enters the picture, that is a matter for governments to settle, and in the free world the job of government and politicians is not to opine upon cartoons, but to lay down the law that no one may with impunity threaten our liberty and lives.


— Claudia Rosett is a journalist in residence at the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.




No Joke: This isn’t about cartoons. (National Review Online, 060208)


Enough with the cartoons. It’s not about cartoons.


The riots and demonstrations across the Middle East and Western Europe (though not yet playing here) over some cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed have set off a parallel intellectual riot in the West over the nature of free speech and free expression. Many pundits and editorialists have worked feverishly to keep this a debate about the propriety of running cartoons. Some news outlets are updating their procedures so as not to offend “religious” sensibilities in the future.


The quotation marks around the word “religious” should say it all. We’re not talking about “religion.” We’re talking about a specific religion — Islam. Does anyone truly think that the burning of Danish embassies and calls for the “slaughter” of those responsible by Muslim protestors have really taught the BBC or the New York Times to be more polite to evangelical Christians or Orthodox Jews? Does anyone really think that Arabic newspapers — often state-owned — are going to stop recycling Nazi-era images of Jews as baby killers and hook-nosed conspirators because they’ve become enlightened to the notion that words can hurt? Considering that an Iranian newspaper just announced a contest for the best Holocaust cartoon, the odds seem slim. Besides, why belittle the Holocaust in response to something a Danish newspaper did? (Partial credit given for the answer: “It’s always useful to pick on the Jews.”)


Personally, I didn’t think the cartoons were particularly good. They also seemed to be published out of a desire to offend Muslims. The editors, and many defenders of the Jyllands-Posten newspaper, claim otherwise, saying that they needed to prove there was a climate of fear in Denmark generated by Muslims. So they offended Muslims, and effectively proved, at the least, that there were Muslims eager to generate a climate of fear.


But the issue of “offense” is a distraction too. Let’s assume that the publication of the cartoons was motivated entirely by a desire to offend Muslims — or at least some Muslims. How does that change the way we should view events now? If I needlessly offend my neighbor, shame on me. If, in response, he burns down my house and threatens to murder my entire family, who cares what I said in the first place? There has been a call for a worldwide Islamic boycott of Danish products because of what an independent newspaper did in a free society. (The boycott shouldn’t hurt sales of Danish hams, thank goodness.)


Overreactions are usually about something bigger. The whole point of the “last straw” metaphor is that small things can set off disproportionate reactions. One Muslim protestor in Britain held up a sign saying “Freedom Go To Hell!” Do we really think that a handful of cartoons in Denmark transformed him from a Jeffersonian democrat into a jihadi? Was the holder of the sign “Behead Those Who Insult Islam” a pacifist until recently?


Maybe, just maybe, these guys brought some issues to the table long before they ever heard of these cartoons.


It seems obvious, to me at least, that this is clang and clatter that comes with a clash of civilizations. Last year the (false) Newsweek story that American interrogators were flushing Korans down the toilet caused lethal riots in Afghanistan. In Paris, Muslims riot or threaten to riot about everything from schoolgirls without headscarves to the lack of halal Brie. Around the world, Muslims suffer from a mixture of legitimate grievances and an enormous inferiority complex. Muslim, and particularly Arab, governments have a vested interest in stirring up this sort of thing because it distracts from their own corrupt regimes. And the Muslim “street” seems to fall for it every time.


And so does much of the Western press. Sure, this is about freedom of expression, but it’s also about so much more. Journalists just love to talk about freedom of the press. But they don’t like to talk about that enormous chip on the shoulder of the Muslim world, and they really hate to say anything offensive to “oppressed” peoples.


Denouncing the State Department for criticizing these cartoons only makes sense if you look at this situation through a very narrow prism. The U.S. government is fighting a conventional war in two Muslim countries and a clandestine and diplomatic “global war on terror” that involves the entire global Muslim community. I don’t like the U.S. picking on little Denmark either, but we should at least recognize that the Bush administration has in mind a bigger picture than those who think this is just about some cartoons.




‘Muhammad cartoon’ proved fake: Imam added 3 especially provocative images to fuel outrage (WorldNetDaily, 060208)


Faxed photo, top, and original AP image


One of three especially inflammatory but undocumented Muhammad images distributed by a Danish imam as an example of an “anti-Muslim environment” in the European country turns out to be a poorly reproduced copy of an Associated Press photo taken at a French pig-squealing contest.


The weblog NeanderNews pointed out the image used by Imam Ahmad Abu Laban was a faxed copy of AP’s Aug. 15 photo of Jacques Barrot competing at the annual French Pig-Squealing Championships in Trie-sur-Baise.


Since last week, Muslims throughout the world have engaged in protests and deadly riots in response to 12 cartoons caricaturing Islam’s prophet Muhammad published in September by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and three much more provocative images that Muslim leaders have been unable to document.


One of those images of mysterious origin, which never were published, is from the AP photo. Another depicts Muhammad as a pedophile demon and a third has a praying Muslim being raped by a dog, according to the weblog Gateway Pundit.


Three undocumented images Danish imams used as examples of anti-Muslim hostility (courtesy Gateway Pundit)


Abu Laban, leader of the Islamic Society of Denmark, took the images on a tour of the Middle East in December to rally support for his protest against the newspaper and Danish government. Tour spokesman Akhmad Akkari explained the three drawings had been added to “give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims.”


Akkari claimed he didn’t know the origin of the three images, saying they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. But he rejected a request by the Danish newspaper Ekstra Bladet to speak with the people who supposedly received them.


In a television interview, Abu Laban told Fox News the cartoons came from threatening letters, but he has not replied to the network’s request to provide copies of the letters.


A profile of Abu Laban Friday night on Danish television documented his close ties to the Egyptian terrorist group Gamaa Islamiya.


Click to learn more...


Another program the same evening showed him speaking in English on Danish television in condemnation of the boycott of Danish goods, then, in an interview with the Middle East news channel al-Jazeera, happily remarking in Arabic about how well the boycott was going.


Walid Phares, senior fellow with the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies in Washington, asked in an article published on Counterterrorism blog, “Why did it take five months for what Western media dubbed ‘instant reactions to the insult’ to materialize?”


Leaders of the Muslim community in Denmark said they attempted to resolve the matter locally by asking the newspaper or government to apologize.


But some analysts, Phares said, “see more of a greater agenda: taking advantage of the harm made by the pictures to impose a new political order in that Scandinavian country, and beyond.”


Abu Laban seemed to affirm that in the interview with Fox News, which was noted by Gateway Pundit.


The Muslim cleric told reporter Jonathan Hunt of his demand that Danish leaders “within their abilities and competence and within the concept of dynamism of liberalism to create … a new set of rules. … “


Hunt: So, you want a new set of rules for the way Western Europe lives?


Abu Laban: Yes.




Iranian fingerprints on cartoon-rage riots? Lebanese leader accuses Tehran of plotting torchings with Syria (WorldNetDaily, 060208)


The ongoing riots throughout the Middle East and the burnings this past weekend of Danish government offices in Damascus and Beirut in protest of newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad bear the fingerprints of “Iranian and Syrian plotting,” Lebanese leader Walid Jumblatt charged during an exclusive interview.


He warned Syria and Iran might use the cartoon riots as a pretense to attack American and European troops in Iraq.


“It seems the Syrian regime and the Iranians are not allowing us to have independence. I think they are behind these attacks [of Danish offices]. In Lebanon, we are squeezed by this kind of alliance between the Syrian regime and the Iranian regime,” said Jumblatt, speaking from Beirut to WND Jerusalem bureau chief Aaron Klein and ABC Radio’s John Batchelor on Batchelor’s national program for which Klein serves as a co-host. (Listen to an audio file of the Jumblatt interview.)


Jumblatt, Druze leader and head of Lebanon’s Progressive Socialist Party, yesterday told WND the Danish office burnings were directed by the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in part using undercover soldiers acting as rioters.


Later, during the radio interview, Jumblatt clarified he thinks Syria worked together with Iran to orchestrate the riots.


“All over the Islamic world there were civilized protests except in Lebanon and Syria,” said Jumblatt. “I suggest the Syrian government and regime with their allies were behind these attacks.”


This past Sunday, thousands of Muslim demonstrators in Beirut clashed with police, storming the city’s Danish consulate and setting it ablaze over cartoons in Danish and other European newspapers that mocked Muhammad. A nearby Maronite Catholic church was also attacked, prompting fears the protests could turn into a sectarian clash.


In Damascus on Saturday the evacuated Danish and Norwegian embassies were burned during protests that also damaged the Swedish embassy. Rioters reportedly tried to storm the city’s French mission but were held off by police.


Jumblatt highlighted the timing of the burnings, which came just two weeks after Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad met in Damascus with Assad and Lebanese terrorist Imad Mugniyah, who reportedly was involved in the riots.


Some have been comparing the weekend’s Syrian and Lebanese attacks on European government buildings to the Iranian assault on the American embassy in 1979. Ahmadinejad is accused of being one of the perpetrators of the 1979 attack.


Jumblatt told WND Iran and Syria have a “military alliance and overall cooperation. They are both under mounting international pressure and have plenty of reason to foment violence as a tool against the West. They are working together.”


He contended Assad used the protests to stir regional passions alongside the continuing probe into the assassination last February of former Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri, for which Damascus has been widely blamed. The United States and some European countries are calling for United Nations sanctions against Syria.


Jumblatt noted Iran is looking to escape sanctions for its alleged nuclear ambitions.


The Lebanese leader accused Syria of using plainclothes soldiers to torch Beirut’s Danish consulate.


“Those involved, including more than 300 arrested, were found to be people working for Syria, including Syrian soldiers disguised as civilians,” said Jumblatt. “They were sent from remote areas in the south, a kind of orchestration. Even though clerics of al-Jamal Islaimya (an extremist Lebanese splinter faction) denounced violent protest, they couldn’t control the Syrian saboteurs.”


Asked if he thought pro-Syrian Lebanese President Amil Lahoud was involved in plotting the anti-Western riots, Jumblatt replied: “Lahoud is just a Syrian tool. We don’t have a Lebanese president. ... [Lahoud] is directed and ordered by the Syrian regime. That is our biggest problem.”


Jumblatt warned Syria might use the cartoon riots as pretense to attack U.S. and European interests in Iraq:


“Syria allows insurgents to cross into Iraq and out. They are sending agents there. These same agents are sabotaging the peace in Lebanon. I do think Syria could use the violence to attack U.S. troops and innocent Iraqis.”


The Muslim Middle East protests continued today from New Zealand to Afghanistan, where this morning protesters attacked a Norwegian military base. A 14-year-old boy was reportedly killed in clashes with police in Somalia.


In Iran, protesters reportedly hurled rocks and firebombs at the Danish embassy. An Iranian newspaper launched a competition asking readers to submit cartoons about the Holocaust.


The cartoon controversy erupted a week ago following a request by Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten in September for cartoonists to create satirical drawings of Muhammad. Muslims are prohibited from creating images of Muhammad. Some Muslims consider caricatures to be particularly blasphemous.


The Muhammad cartoons have been reprinted in Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Ireland, Jordan, Spain, Switzerland, Hungary, New Zealand, Norway and Poland.


Said Jumblatt: “Printing such cartoons I believe is a blasphemy against Islam under the guise of freedom of the press. But let’s keep the protests peaceful. No one wants to insult any religion.”




Muslim hackers blast Denmark in Net assault (WorldNetDaily, 060208)


Gangs of pro-Muslim computer hackers have unleashed a withering cyber attack on Danish and Western websites in the past week, escalating their defacement barrage to coincide with dozens of violent street-level demonstrations across the Arab world in protest at the publication of a cartoon depiction of the Prophet Mohammed.


The number of Danish websites alone - those carrying a ‘.dk’ suffix - knocked offline in the past week numbered 578 between 30 January and 6 February, according to, a cyber-crime observatory that tracks website defacements. Hundreds more websites of European, Israeli and American companies and private citizens have also been defaced during that period, with the vast majority occurring after the re-publication last week of the cartoons in European newspapers.


‘The number is nearly doubling every day,’ said Roberto Preatoni, the founder of A team of Zone-H technicians collect and verify reports of sabotaged Web sites from both victims and hackers. The number of attacked Web servers has been at record levels since the controversy reignited last week, Preatoni said.


‘This is the largest ever attack directed against a single country, bigger than the Intifada, the Chinese-U.S. spy plane incident, and even the war in Iraq.’


It has been common practice for spirited young hackers and defacers to express their anger with foreign governments or multi-national corporations by hijacking their Web sites and scrawling some political message, often in the form of an expletive-filled rant, across a series of Web pages.


This current hack attack, the most intense ever recorded by, is occurring as fierce anger erupted across the Arab and Islamic world over the weekend. Protesters set fire to the Danish Embassy in Beirut and at least five protesters died in violent demonstrations in Afghanistan. Muslims around the world have condemned a Danish newspaper for first publishing the satirical images of the Prophet Mohammed in September. As a show of support for press freedoms, the cartoons were re-printed last week in Italian, French and German newspapers, a move that has added to furore.


The victims of the cyber attacks ran the gamut of large and small websites, from estate agents in Essex to a Danish online gamer community called the 47th Royal Marines. As of Tuesday morning, the latter’s site was still defaced to read ‘Hacked by RedHackeR” with the following statement: “IM SORRY, STOP WAR, DON’T TOUCH ALL ISLAM COUNTRY! F[***] DENMARK, F[***] YOUR GOVERMENT!!!’


It was not immediately apparent if the hackers had successfully taken down any government or large corporate websites. A common message scrawled on the sites called for a boycott of Danish products, Preatoni said.


A worrying distinction of this attack is that it appears to be not just the work of angry script kiddies trying to earn respect among the hacker and defacer underground. ‘You have intelligent people who suspended defacing maybe a year ago who have taken it up again just to voice their opinion for this occasion,’ he added.




Moscow museum to exhibit Mohammed cartoons (UPI, 060208)


MOSCOW, Feb. 7 (UPI) — A Moscow museum has announced it will exhibit the entire series of cartoons of Mohammed that have caused riots throughout the Islamic world.


Yury Samodurov, director of the Sakharov Museum and Public Center, said on Russian television that the center was ready to organize a public exhibition of the cartoons satirizing the founder of Islam that originally were published in a Danish newspaper, reported Monday.


“We must show the whole world that Russia goes along with Europe, that the freedom of expression is much more important for us than the dogmas of religious fanatics,” Samodurov said.


The exhibition reportedly will open in March. Lawyer Yury Shmidt has said he will invite French philosopher Andre Glucksmann and French novelist Michel Houellebecq to the opening ceremony to read lectures about the threat of Islamic fundamentalism.


In 2003 the Sakharov Museum outraged many Russian Orthodox believers with the art exhibit “Be Careful — Religion,” which many felt was insulting to their beliefs.




Muhammad’s image subject of art in past (Washington Times, 060208)


Lost in the furor over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad is the fact that his likeness has long been portrayed in the collections of some of the world’s greatest museums and libraries without exciting alarm or comment.


While rare in the 1,400 years of Islamic art, depictions of Muhammad are found in the collections of such institutions as New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bibliotheque Nationale de France in Paris and the Edinburgh University library.


Muhammad has been portrayed in the work of revered Muslim artists and of such Western figures as William Blake, Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali — as well as the creators of the cable-TV cartoon series “South Park.”


None of those depictions aroused the anger seen in reaction to a set of satirical cartoons that appeared in Danish and other European newspapers — a violent response that continued to roil the Muslim world yesterday.


Three Afghans were killed and dozens wounded in a firefight with NATO peacekeepers in southern Afghanistan. Demonstrations also took place in Iran, India, Pakistan, Egypt, Nigeria, the Philippines and the Palestinian territories.


In Washington, President Bush called Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to express “solidarity and support.”


Alan A. Godlas, who teaches Islamic studies at the University of Georgia, said Islam has long frowned on depictions of the prophet out of a concern that any images of Muhammad or other religious figures could lead to idolatry and detract from worship of Allah.


But, he said, “The reason these cartoons sparked such a reaction has more to do with the tensions that were already there between the Islamic world and the West, and because in the age of the Internet, what goes on anywhere in the world is heard and seen everywhere.”


Many of the best-known Islamic portrayals of Muhammad are miniatures done in the 14th and 15th centuries by mystical Persian artists who argued that their small, imperfect efforts could never be taken for the actual prophet, and thus were not blasphemous.


The famous “Book of the Assumption of Muhammad,” thought to have been painted around 1436 in Herat, Afghanistan, shows Muhammad mounted on a human-headed horse being led by the Archangel Gabriel on a tour of Paradise and Hell. The original is in the collection of the French Bibliotheque Nationale.


Even more plentiful are miniatures showing scenes from the life of the prophet with his face and hands covered or his features purposely obscured.


“Nothing in the Koran is as categorical as the condemnation of imagery in the Hebrew Bible” found in Exodus and Deuteronomy, said French art scholar Alexandre Papadopoulo in his massive 1979 survey, “Islam and Muslim Art.”


But Islamic art scholars say the prohibition against portraying Muhammad has hardened over the centuries, based on sayings attributed to the prophet, on the absence of figurative religious art in the earliest mosques and on interpretations by Muslim theologians.


“One should not represent any religious image because it would ridicule the figure of God, and it would be idolatrous to depict the faces of the prophets and saints of Islam, particularly in mosques, where they ran the risk of becoming objects of veneration or prayer,” Mr. Papadopoulo wrote.


Mr. Godlas compared the Islamic opposition to portraying Muhammad to the reaction of many Protestant churches against the religious imagery and the worship of saints in the Catholic Church.


The great divide in Islam between Shi’ite and Sunni interpretations is reflected in attitudes toward art, said to Islamic scholar Ibrahim Moussawi in Beirut.


“For the most part, Shi’ite Islam has no problem portraying the prophet Muhammad in a respectful manner,” he said. “Much Shi’ite art depicts the revered Imams Hussein, Ali and others.”


But, he said, “More conservative strains of Sunni Islam prohibit idolatry in any form, including, in some cases, prohibitions of showing the human form at all.”


In Sunni-majority Egypt, television serials recounting the founding days of Islam will not show Muhammad or any of his closest companions.


“The ultimate problem here is that this [Danish] portrayal was a cartoon and was perceived as disrespectful,” Mr. Moussawi said.


• Mitchell Prothero in Beirut contributed to this report.




Cartoons, but not the funnies (Washington Times, 060208)


By Tony Blankley


In Czechoslovakia under communism it was common to see signs reading “Workers of the world, unite” in the windows of fruit and vegetable stores.


Vaclav Havel, in his book, “Living In Truth,” discerned the significance of those signs.


As elaborated by Stanley Hauerwas, professor of Theological Ethics at Duke School of Divinity, Mr. Havel believed the shopkeeper does not believe the sign. He puts it up because it was “delivered from the headquarters along with the onions.” The grocer thinks nothing is at stake because he understands that no one really believes the slogan. The real message, according to Mr. Havel, is “I’m behaving myself... I am obedient and therefore I have the right to be left in peace.”


But Mr. Havel shrewdly points out that even a modest shopkeeper would be ashamed to put up a sign that literally read “I am afraid and therefore unquestioningly obedient.” He is, after all, a human being with some sense of dignity. Mr. Havel concludes that the display of the sign “Workers of the world, unite” allows the green grocer “to conceal from himself the low foundations of his obedience, at the same time concealing the low foundations of power.” (As Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German Christian theologian hanged by the Nazis for conspiring to try to kill Hitler observed: The failure of the people to speak small truths leads to the victory of the big lie.)


I would argue that this Czechoslovakian parable of the self-deceiving green grocer goes a long way to explaining the decision of most American news outlets not to republish the Danish cartoons currently stirring up so much of Islam.


As of yesterday afternoon, the following is, I believe, a complete list of major U.S. daily newspapers that have republished any of those cartoons: the Philadelphia Inquirer.


There has been intense debate in the blogs and elsewhere about whether newspapers and television networks should republish or not. The quite plausible, expressed argument against republishing is that: 1) just because one has the right to speak doesn’t mean one must; 2) restraint is often exercised, particularly when being respectful of other religions or cultures; 3) tensions are particularly high among Muslims now; 4) only a madman, or, if there is a difference, those who want to instigate the “clash of civilizations” would pour gasoline on that already raging fire.


That argument would be not only plausible, but persuasive, if the cause of the violent Muslim reaction to the cartoons was merely a transitory phenomenon — a brief, spontaneous, bizarre overreaction.


In the same way, if Hitler’s demand for Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland in October 1938 had in fact been his last territorial demand, then Britain’s decision to appease that demand would have been sensible — if selfish. But of course, the appeasement did not buy peace; it only encouraged further Nazi aggression because Nazi demands were unlimited and non-negotiable.


Similarly, the reaction to the Danish cartoons is merely the latest predictable, intolerant response of radical Islam to any opposition to their view of man and God. (In fact I did predict a Muslim insurrection against blasphemous European art in the first chapter of my recent book, “The West’s Last Chance: Will We Win The Clash of Civilizations?”)


Those who argue for republication of the Danish cartoons are not “instigating” a clash of civilization. Nor are they pouring gasoline on a fire. Rather, they are defending against the already declared and engaged radical Islamist clash against the Christian, secular, Jewish, Hindu, Chinese world, by expressing solidarity with the firemen.


In this case the firemen, perhaps surprisingly to some, are the European press. French socialist newspapers, the BBC, and other major secular European media stand shoulder-to-shoulder with a right-wing Danish newspaper against what they correctly see is an unyielding demand by radical Islam that Europe begin to start living under sharia law.


The American media is proud of its alleged tradition of speaking truth to power and reporting without fear or favor. Every year journalists give awards to each other under those banners. But in truth, it doesn’t take much courage to criticize a president or corporation or Catholic priest or labor-union boss in America. A president is powerless to adversely effect a reporter or news organization that criticizes him.


But today the Danish cartoonists are in hiding. Many who have spoken out against radical Islam — Muslim and non-Muslim alike — are dead or in hiding.


Instant Muslim boycotts of Danish products already threaten Danish prosperity.


Hirsi Ali, the black, Muslim, female co-producer of assassinated Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh, talked about Western journalists to Der Spiegel this week, while in hiding: “They probably feel numb. On the one hand, a voice in their heads is encouraging them not to sell out their freedom of speech. At the same time, they’re experiencing the shocking sensation of what it’s like to lose your own personal freedom. One mustn’t forget that they’re part of the postwar generation, and that all they’ve experienced is peace and prosperity. And now they suddenly have to fight for their own human rights once again.”


“The [Islamists] call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they’re just exercising their freedom of speech... Islamists don’t allow their critics the same rights... After the West prostrates itself, the [Islamists] will be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless.”


Like the Czechoslovak green grocer, the mighty American media doesn’t want to think itself spineless. So they close their eyes, rationalize their fear and call it the responsible thing to do.


As Winston Churchill watched the British government sleep walk to disaster in the 1930s, he would sometimes recite: “Who is in charge of the clattering train? The axles creak and couplings strain, And the pace is hot, and the points are near, And sleep has deadened the driver’s ear; And the signals flash through the night in vain, For Death is in charge of the clattering train.”




Clash of the titans (Washington Times, 060208)


By Helle Dale


The interpretation of the outbreak of violence, demonstrations and mayhem in the Muslim world against the now famous 12 cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, inevitably has to be that it is the fulfillment of Samuel Huntington’s prediction of the coming clash of civilizations.


On the one hand, starkly stand the secular culture and liberal democracies of Europe, and in particular Scandinavia, where freedom of expression reigns, including the right to caricature religion — Christianity and Islam alike. Having experienced “art works” like Andres Seranno’s “Piss Christ,” Americans are not unfamiliar with the phenomenon of offense caused to religious sensibilities in the name of freedom of expression.


On the other hand, we have the Muslim world’s outrage at any insult to the prophet Muhammad, which has now been fanned by radical forces into a violent frenzy. Arab governments are boycotting Danish products. Iraq is boycotting Danish reconstruction aid. In Syria, the Norwegian and Danish embassies have been torched. Death, decapitation and mutilation are threatened against blasphemers, Danes in particular, by crowds from the Palestinian Authority to Syria to Indonesia.


This series of events could be the wakeup call that Europe has been waiting for since September 11, when Americans found that war had been declared on this country by al Qaeda and its ilk. And of course, that could be a silver lining we should perhaps be thankful for in the midst of all this mayhem. A cherished European principle and a fundamental aspect of liberal democracy are under attack, and Europeans have finally found a voice. “We are all Danes now,” a European newspaper in Brussels proclaimed. Good for them.


The various subtexts at once indicate, however, that the story is a little more complicated than this, and, yet also, that a real clash of civilizations is taking place on many levels. One has to applaud the stand taken by European media and governments like the Danish against the efforts to encroach on their constitutional freedoms. Yet, the cherished freedom of expression that has made numerous European papers republish the cartoons and that caused political leaders to speak out against the Muslim efforts to have them censor their media has been eroded grievously in Europe by the forces of political correctness in recent decades.


Other controversial subjects, such as homosexuality, gay marriage, women’s rights or abortion, are not accorded the same protection in terms of free speech, and are all but taboo in public discussion. In other words, the issues that Europe’s secular societies have come to hold dear are certainly not open to the same debate as is religion, a subject not held in terribly high regard by most in Europe today.


Interestingly also, Europe’s own Muslim populations, who perhaps are assimilating more than they realize, have not responded in the same way as the rioting mobs and embassy burners in the Middle East. They are after all enjoying the protection, living standards and freedoms guaranteed by European states. In Denmark, local Muslims have begun speaking out in solidarity with their adopted country. Many want their children to grow up as Danes, with all the prosperity and opportunity that affords.


Meanwhile, the riots in the Middle East coincided roughly with the elections in the Palestinian Authority, which brought to power the terrorist organization Hamas. Now, the six-month-old Danish cartoons seem to have been an occasion for radicalizing the population, and have certainly also been exploited that way by governments in other countries like Syria. In support of this idea is the fact that depictions of Mohammed have been around for centuries, in Islamic manuscripts and elsewhere. There is absolutely no reason why the reaction should be so violent to images published a faraway country in a newspaper most of the rioters have never seen — unless there is a political advantage to be had in whipping up wrath against the West.


In this clash of cultures, the United States has found it disappointingly hard to find a voice. This is despite the fact that Denmark has stood steadfastly with the United States and is one of the few allies in Iraq that has been there form the beginning, never once threatening to pull back its troops. The State Department’s immediate reaction was mealy-mouthed, “We fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression, but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious hatred in this manner is not acceptable.” This is not the way to stand by a good ally under fire.




Inflamed awakening (Washington Times, 060208)


The violence spreading across the Muslim world raises an important question: How did 12 caricatures of the prophet Muhammad, originally printed in an obscure Danish newspaper last September, suddenly inflame Muslim sensibilities four months later? Danish Muslims and Muslims in a handful of countries didn’t ignore the cartoons when they first appeared, but the controversy remained in the region. The spontaneous appearance over the past few days of dozens of Danish flags ready for the burning raises further questions about where the flags came from.


A lot of this “spontaneity” was clearly staged. The cartoons gained a wider audience when radical Danish clerics toured the Middle East last month, showing the offending cartoons to the heads of several of the major Islamist groups in the region. Just in case the originals weren’t offensive enough, the clerics also supplied a few of their own cartoons, ever more inflammatory, and said they sprang from the pens of the infidels. One of the clerics, Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Ladan, explained in an interview that the tour was meant to “internationalize this issue.” The clerics told their hosts that Muslims do not have the right to build mosques in Denmark, and repeated other ridiculous lies to foment discord and ridicule the Danish government.


The radical clerics in Denmark have succeeded, a fact pundits and analysts on both sides have largely missed. The focus has been on the assault on freedom of expression in the name of religious tolerance, as it should be, but that was not what Abu Ladan and his travelers had in mind when they toured the Middle East. They wanted to create a groundswell of discontent among Muslims in Europe, put pressure on Denmark — and other nations — to abide by sharia law and to build a sympathetic base for further terrorist attacks. The placards of British Muslims, demanding more “7/7s,” a reference to the London subway bombings on July 7, went straight to the point of the clerics’ Middle East tour. This was an exercise in agitprop to further the goals of Islamofascism, and it worked.


Unfortunately, the Bush administration bought the ruse, and now must make up for lost time. The initial equivocating at the White House and the State Department undermined the early European determination to confront the assault on Western civilization. Now, with platitudes about “press responsibility” and condolences to the Muslim community out of the way, Washington must play a more forceful role in bucking up the European governments bearing the brunt of the assault. An awakened Europe, after all, is exactly what the United States has been waiting for — reinforcements in the war against the terrorists.




Cartoon protests turn against UK and US (Times Online, 060208)


Police shot dead four protesters in Afghanistan as Islamic fury over the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad turned against America and Britain and Muslim leaders warned that extremists groups were fanning the violence.


The four were killed when police intervened to stop hundreds of demonstrators marching on a US military base in Qalat in southern Afghanistan.


At least 14 people have been killed so far in protests across the Islamic world over the cartoons, which were first published in a Danish newspaper in September and have been widely republished in Europe.


Some 200 demonstrators hurled stones at the British Embassy in Tehran, breaking windows in the building, in a dual protest over the Muhammad cartoons and Britain’s stand in Iran’s nuclear row with the West.


They chanted “Death to Britain” and “We are willing to sacrifice our lives for the Prophet Muhammad” - even though no UK newspaper has published the cartoons, although glimpses have been shown on BBC television.


“We are here to protest Britain’s role in sending us to the UN Security Council. We must defend our right to nuclear technology,” said protester Mohammad Ali, 32.


There were passionate protests elsewhere. Up to 700 people demonstrated against the drawings in Bosnia, walking from the Norwegian to the French and Danish embassies in Sarajevo and handing a written protest to embassy staff.


Riot police were deployed and barricades had been erected in front of the embassy buildings. In Dhaka, Bangladesh, Muslim protesters burned European flags and demanded a boycott of EU goods, but were turned back before they could reach the diplomatic enclave.


Dozens of international observers were forced to abandon the volatile West Bank city of Hebron after irate crowds smashed windows and tried to invade their headquarters, only to be beaten back by Palestinian police.


The 11 Danish members of the observer force, known as the Temporary International Presence in Hebron, left the city a week ago when the furore first erupted.


Officials in Afghanistan have suggested that al-Qaeda has played a role in fomenting popular anger over the cartoons, one of which portrays the Prophet as a terrorist figure with a bomb in his turban.


Two Pakistanis were arrested in today’s protest for allegedly firing at police and a local police chief said they were being interrogated to see whether they were linked to Osama bin Laden’s terror network.


The Indonesian Foreign Minister, Hassan Wirajuda, was another to suggest that extremist groups were taking advantage of the row to target Western interests. “The cartoons have hurt the Islamic community, so it has added to ammunition for radical groups to exploit the situation,” he said.


After a meeting at the White House with King Abdullah of Jordan, President Bush called for calm and urged government leaders to do what they could to end the protests.


“I call upon the governments around the world to stop the violence, to be respectful, to protect property, protect the lives of innocent diplomats who are serving their countries overseas,” he said. The Jordanian King criticised the cartoons but said that those wanting to protest should do so peacefully.


The caricatures were first published in the right-wing Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, whose culture editor, Flemming Rose, said today that he had no regrets over his decision to publish the cartoons. Rose told CNN that he came up with the idea after several cases of local “self-censorship” involving people fearing reprisals from Muslims.


“There was a story out there and we had to cover it,” Rose said. “We just chose to cover it in a different way, according to the principal: Don’t tell it, show it.”


Rose added: “I do not regret it. I think it is like asking a rape victim if she regrets wearing a short skirt at a discotheque Friday night. In that sense, in our culture, if you’re wearing a short skirt, that does not necessarily mean you invite everybody to have sex with you.


“As is the case with these cartoons, if you make a cartoon, make fun of religion, make fun of religious figures, that does not imply that you humiliate or denigrate or marginalise a religion.”


But British Muslim scholars who met in Birmingham to discuss the controversy did not agree and called for a change in the law to prevent the publication of insulting pictures of Muhammad.


Shaikh Faiz Saddiqi, a spokesman for the group, said that the scholars had also suggested modification of the Race Relations Act to give Muslims the same rights as Jews and Sikhs.


“Insulting the Prophet of Islam is worse than insulting your wife, children or sister,” he said. “It happens once, it happens twice but a third time you are going to take action. Enough is enough, we have to get back to being a civil society.”


A French satirical magazine became the latest publication to carry the 12 Danish cartoons. Charlie Hebdo, a left-wing weekly magazine named after Charlie Brown from the Peanuts cartoon strip, has placed several members of staff under police protection because of its decision to publish.


A court challenge from several French Muslim organisations against the publication was dismissed on a legal technicality yesterday and the magazine appeared this morning in newsagents, where it was kept off display and placed face down on the counter.


“This is good news to us all,” said Philippe Val, the magazine’s editor, after yesterday’s ruling. “We are defending the principle of the right for caricature and satire.”


The decision to publish was greeted angrily by President Chirac, who accused newspapers of “provocation” by continuing to print the cartoons.


“Anything that can hurt the convictions of another, particularly religious convictions, must be avoided. Freedom of expression must be exercised in a spirit of responsibility,” M Chirac told his Cabinet. “I condemn all manifest provocation that might dangerously fan passions.”


After newspapers in Croatia and Yemen reprinted some of the drawings yesterday, one or more of the cartoons has now appeared in 30 countries. Tit-for-tat images, including a Holocaust cartoon competition in Iran, have been commissioned in response.




Analysis: what next in the cartoons wars? (Times Online, 060208)


Anthony Browne, Europe Correspondent for The Times, says that the crisis over cartoon images of the Prophet Muhammad may have passed its worst


“There are cartainly hopes that the crisis is abating. The Danish Government said yesterday that it believes the worst of the protests have happened. And despite the news today that four people have been killed in Afghanistan, violent demonstrations across the Middle East are less numerous than they were last week.


“That said, there are plenty of signs that the economic boycott is holding firm and even gathering pace. Although Iran is the only government to have joined the boycott of Danish and, to a lesser extent, European exports, more and more businesses in the Middle East are signing up.


“Talking to Danes this week, many people told me that they fear this will be a long-running dispute and has tarnished the image of Denmark in the Middle East for years to come. And they say that there is very little the government can do.


“Watching the demonstrations across the Islamic world it has been clear that the dispute over the cartoons has been wrapped up in all sorts of domestic agendas. There are plenty of reasons why people in Afghanistan and Iraq and Pakistan are angry at symbols of the West, whether goaded by images of Muhammad or not.


“In the Palestinian Territories, the cartoons have been used by different factions for different reasons. It has been noticeable how Hamas, just elected as the new party of government, has acted with restraint, whereas Fatah, which has just lost power, has used the images to whip up opposition.


“It’s also worth pointing out that European newspapers have also adopted a slightly different attitude towards the cartoons than the British press. If you look at the publication of the 12 drawings in Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical magazine today, you can see that the press feels it has to keep publishing and reprinting the images to show it has not been intimidated.


“There is also a feeling that the press must keep printing the drawings of Muhammad until the Muslim world gets used to it, that’s the thinking anyway. Europeans have drawn comparisons with Salman Rusdie and the Satanic Verses. Despite the murder of one of the book’s publishers and its clear blasphemy, it is still available in shops and, as such, represents a victory for free speech.


“In terms of what can be done to defuse the row, imams across Europe have condemned the violence, as well as the cartoons. Tariq Ramadan, a Muslim scholar based in Switzerland who has a huge influence over Europe’s Muslim population, has said that the protests were excessive.


“At the national level, there is plenty of high level diplomacy happening as well. Yesterday, the EU warned 19 Middle Eastern countries of their responsibilities to protect European embassies, although only the governments of Syria and Iran are really seen as condoning the violence. Presumably the next step will be to ask governments to work even harder to calm the controversy.”




Fear Factor: Giving in to radical Islam won’t help moderate Muslims. (Weekly Standard, 060209)


THE MUSLIM WORLD has erupted in anger and indignation over the publication of a series of editorial cartoons in Denmark that criticize Islam and its prophet Mohammed. Protestors have burnt three consulates, two in Syria and one in Lebanon and many Muslims have gone into the streets demanding violent revenge for the insult to their faith . . . by editorial cartoonists.


Of course, religious believers in the West—namely Christians—have had their faith mocked by the relentlessly secular Western press for decades. In the arts, Western Christians have suffered through insults such as Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ”, a picture of a crucifix in a beaker of the artist’s urine. Playwright Terrence McNally was hailed as a hero for depicting Jesus Christ as a promiscuous homosexual in his Corpus Christi.


The differing reactions of Muslims and Christians to perceived slights is worth examining.


CNN, by way of example, has refused to reproduce any of the Danish cartoons while the demonstrations rage, declaring that they have self-censored their broadcasts and website “out of respect for Islam.” Yet when it came to covering the dispute over public funding and exhibition of Chris Ofili’s Holy Virgin Mary, for instance, which featured a Madonna image covered in elephant dung and surrounded by pictures of female genitalia, the organization did not feel a need to make any gesture of respect: CNN displayed the artwork along with the story so its readers could make up their own minds.


THEN THERE IS the curious website href=“” target=_blank>We Are Sorry, which appeared this week attempting to apologize on behalf of moderate Muslims for the violent response to the cartoons. The apology on the site not only sounds sincere, but gets to the heart of freedom of speech:


Anyone offended by the content of a publication has a vast choice of democratic and respectful methods of seeking redress. The most obvious are not buying the publication, writing letters to the editor or expressing their opinions in other venues. It is also possible to use one’s free choice in a democracy to conduct a boycott of the publication, and even a boycott of firms dealing with it. Yet an indiscriminate boycott of all the country’s firms is simply uncalled for and counter-productive. We would be allowing the extremists on both sides to prevail, while punishing the government and the whole population for the actions of an unrepresentative irresponsible few.


We apologize whole-heartedly to the people of Norway and Denmark for any offense this sorry episode may have caused, to any European who has been harassed or intimidated, to the staff of the Danish, Norwegian and Swedish Embassies in Syria whose workplace has been destroyed and for any distress this whole affair may have caused to anyone.


These are powerful words that would go a long way to healing the breach between the Muslims in the street and the Western world—if they truly represented the viewpoint of moderate Islam. Unfortunately, we cannot tell that, because the people behind We Are Sorry have remained anonymous. The site provides no information what individuals or groups initiated this curious message. The domain registration reveals nothing about the owner, except that its registration became official this week.


The effort could be a hoax, although that seems unlikely. The site has no requests for money, and the source code is straightforward; it doesn’t act as a Trojan horse for spreading a virus. A more likely explanation is that moderate Muslims wanted to make a statement supporting Western freedom and peaceful debate—but were too afraid to put their names to the effort for fear of reprisals.


In each of these cases, fear might well be the difference maker. Western artists can mock Christians with impunity, and so they do. Western new organizations don’t self-censor when it comes to non-Muslim faithful because they are not afraid of violent repercussions. And in the West, differing religious factions feel free to make their cases in broad daylight, comfortable in the knowledge that those of the opposite view will not issue fatwas against them.


The great hope is that moderate Islam will, over time, blunt the dangerous edge of the radical fringe. But if we ever expect those moderates to gain control over their fanatical brethren, we must now combat the fear factor radical Islam uses to beat moderate Muslims into submission. If we allow our fears to influence our decisions, then we have moved more than halfway towards surrender to the Islamists.


Edward Morrissey is a contributing writer to The Daily Standard and a contributor to the blog Captain’s Quarters.




Muslim newspaper ran cartoons 4 months ago: No outrage when Egyptian publication headlined drawings on Ramadan cover (WorldNetDaily, 060209)


Muhammad cartoon on Egypt’s al-Fagr newspaper cover in October 2005 (courtesy: Freedom for Egyptians)


While Muslims across the world have rioted in the past week against countries whose newspapers have published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, there was no uproar when the same caricatures were prominently displayed in an Islamic newspaper four months ago.


The images originating in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten in September were reportedly featured on the cover and inside pages of Egypt’s al-Fagr (the Dawn) in October, during the holy month of Ramadan.


According to the Freedom for Egyptians blog, al-Fagr included the cartoons on the front cover and page 17 of its edition dated Oct. 17. The headline, when translated, is said to read: “Continued Boldness. Mocking the Prophet and his wife by Caricature.”


Muhammad cartoons on page 17 of Egypt’s al-Fagr newspaper in October 2005 (courtesy: Egyptian Sandmonkey blog)


“The Egyptian paper criticized the bad taste of the cartoons but it did not incite hatred protests,” notes the blog. “It would have been better that this [current] holy war against Denmark be launched during the holy month of Ramadan as many Muslims believe that Jihad during Ramadan would have been more worthy. This irrelevant outrage timing is but a sign that this violent response to the cartoons is politically motivated by Muslim extremists in Europe and the so-called secular governments of the Middle East. I want also to mention that despite the fact that all editors who tried to reprint the cartoons in the Middle East nowadays were arrested, the Egyptian editors went unharmed.”


To date, at least 10 people have been killed in Afghanistan alone from Muslim riots in connection with the cartoons, though protests have been taking place in many countries throughout Europe and the Mideast. Some 4,000 angry Muslims took to the streets of the Egyptian capital of Cairo this week, though there were no protests when al-Fagr published the images during Ramadan in October.


Interestingly, an Associated Press story in the Khaleej Times of the United Arab Emirates reports al-Fagr reprinted copies of the cartoons this week, but published only “the upper half of some of the controversial cartoons, omitting any facial representations. Adel Hamoudah, editor of al-Fagr, said he took copies of the cartoons from the Internet for the Tuesday edition and published them as a means of emphasizing their ‘impudence.’ He did not explain, however, why he chose only to print the upper half of the caricatures.”


It’s not clear if the paper even mentioned it previously published the entire images on its cover and interior in October.


“This tells me one thing, at least, and that is the Egyptians who get this newspaper and who took to the streets are either incredibly stupid, hypocritical, or both,” said an anonymous poster on FFE’s blog. “They are stupid because they believe what they’re told by the Arab press in the previous week without checking for the facts. They are hypocritical if they protested the second time they saw the cartoons and not protested when it was first printed. Here, I’m going to go out on a limb and say ‘both.’”


Meanwhile in the U.S., the AP, the largest news-gathering organization in the world, is being attacked by a California newspaper editor over the wire service’s refusal to distribute the cartoons of Muhammad.


“But what is incredible is that the Associated Press, which distributes news stories and photos from across the globe, has decided that you shouldn’t see it,” writes editor Don Holland of the Daily Press in Victorville, Calif. “What is offensive is that AP fancies itself to be the guardian of good taste for thousands of American newspapers rather than letting individual newspapers make that decision.




Danish Courage: About “both sides.” (National Review Online, 060209)


As the riots spread through the Islamic world, the British Foreign Secretary, the U.S. State Department, the United Nations secretary general, various responsible Muslim organizations, many commentators in Europe and the U.S., including some distinguished conservative commentators, are calling for restraint on both sides.


What both sides would those be then? Well, one side has published a handful of cartoons, arguably blasphemous and certainly insulting to the Prophet Mohammed, and the other side has burned embassies, taken hostages, murdered three people suspected of being Christians and/or Danes, shot at Danish soldiers helping children in Iraq, marched through London with banners threatening further bomb attacks on the city, and attacked and beaten people whom they suspected of some vague connection with, well, with Europe or Christianity.


Suppose both sides listen to these calls for restraint. What would happen? I suppose that one side would stop burning embassies and murdering people and the other side would no longer publish cartoons to which the murderers might object. That would mean the murderers had obtained their objective and the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons had been defeated in its campaign against the unofficial Islamist censorship that in recent years has spread across Europe by murder and intimidation.


For, contrary to much “responsible” commentary, Jyllands-Posten, the small regional Danish newspaper that first published the caricatures of Mohammed, did not do so from trivial motives. This was not the kind of avant garde “shock” tactics on show in Piss Christ or in the Sensations exhibition in Brooklyn that included a painting of the Virgin Mary splattered with elephant dung. It was a serious and justified protest against the fact that Danish artists had been frightened out of illustrating a children’s book on Islam and Mohammed.


They feared for their lives — and their fear was reasonable. In Holland only last year the filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, was murdered by a radical Islamist for his semi-pornographic film criticizing Islam as hostile to women. His collaborator, the Somali-Dutch feminist MP, Ayaab Hirsi Ali, is now under permanent police protection since radical Islamist terrorists have threatened to kill her too. And murderous intimidation of this kind is now not uncommon in Western Europe.


Nor were the Danish cartoons all as crude and pointless as some critics have alleged in their earnest search for reasons to hold “both sides” guilty. One cartoon shows the Prophet with his turban evolving into a bomb. Insulting? Maybe. Blasphemous? Perhaps. Or maybe a perfectly fair comment on the arguments of radical Islamists that their religion justifies the murder of innocent bystanders, on the subsidies that Muslim governments give to suicide bombers, and on the thousands of Muslims baying for blood (and occasionally obtaining it) in response to a caricature.


Three cartoons were, indeed, more harsh and insulting than the rest. But these had not been published originally in Jyllands-Posten. They were added by the radical Islamists who distributed the cartoons around the Muslim world. These men committed the very blasphemies that they now use as an excuse for attacks on Danes and Christians.


Vile though it is, this trickery by radical Islamists at least demonstrates the uselessness of appeasing their demands for censorship. If they are granted, our concessions will merely be the springboard for a further attack on Western liberty. And if we disobligingly refuse to furnish them with a pretext, the Islamists will manufacture one as Hitler used to manufacture border incidents in order to justify his planned aggressions. So we might as well fight in the first ditch rather than the last.


Naturally, not all Muslims are guilty of either terror or sympathy with terror. Some moderate Muslims have spoken out against it at risk to their own lives. Their courage should be recognized and applauded and their safety protected. But others have either timidly gone along with murderous extremism or qualified their condemnation of it with criticism of Western governments, U.S. foreign policy, racism, etc., etc. And it is this large middle ground of “moderate Muslims,” especially Muslim immigrants living in Western Europe and the U.S ., who are either welcomed or feared as potential recruits in an Islamist jihad.


Hence some of those adhering to the “both sides” analysis want to prohibit words and images that these millions might regard either as blasphemous or as insulting to minorities in a multicultural society. They see this as necessary to maintain social peace. (A British minister admitted last week that a proposed new law against religious insults would have banned the Danish cartoons.)


Any Christian who had to endure the poisonous sophistries emitted by the cultural establishment during the Piss Christ and Sensations debate (to justify taxpayer subsidies for blasphemies, no less) will have some sympathy with this argument. But there are powerful practical arguments against such a law.


It would have to prohibit whatever any sizeable religious group considered blasphemous. Given the number of religions in the modern West, that would prohibit a great deal. If it was applied in a sufficiently strict way to satisfy even moderate Muslims, it would intrude very considerably on free speech and artistic expression. So it would be applied in a haphazard and discriminatory fashion — appeasing the more unreasonable believers and ignoring peaceable ones — and it would bring the law into disrepute.


For a foretaste of this, look at the justified criticism of the British police for strictly enforcing vague laws on insulting behavior against harmless individual cranks while failing to prosecute Islamist mobs for what is plainly illegal incitement to murder. Such partial law enforcement would eventually cause more division in society than the widest definition of free speech. Curbing blasphemy is best left to social pressure and good manners. But these need to be shown by “both sides” and they need to leave room for honest vigorous and controversial debate.


The secondary argument that we must all censor ourselves to avoid offending others in a multicultural society is a highly ironic commentary on the liberals’ promise that multiculturalism meant a more lively, colorful, and argumentative society. We are now told that it means holding our tongues on sensitive issues and telling young women not to dress in ways that might provoke a pious Muslim to rape them.


If multiculturalism is incompatible with a free and lively society, as some implicitly now concede, then the sensible response is not to gradually chip away at Western freedom but to ensure that immigration from non-Western cultures proceeds at a rate that is assimilable culturally as well as economically. In other words Muslims coming to Europe or America would automatically adjust to the freedoms of a free society because they would lack the numbers to insist on everyone else changing to suit them — which is currently the Islamist demand.


That demand is, finally, the reason for applauding those French, German, Spanish and other European newspapers that have reproduced the cartoons as a gesture of sympathy with Jyllands-Posten and those politicians, such as France’s Nicholas Sarkozy, who have supported them. Even if the arguments for laws against blasphemy were valid — and they are not trivial — that would count as a secondary consideration alongside the need to resist and indeed defeat blackmail, intimidation and murder.


Those who take refuge in the false equivalence of the “both sides” argument are, in the end, guilty of cowardice. They are seeking excuses to avoid defending their own freedom and civilization against attack. They should seek courage — not “Dutch courage” but Danish courage — by ordering a glass of aquavit with a Carlsberg chaser.


— John O’Sullivan is a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and editor-at-large of National Review. He is currently writing a book on Reagan, Thatcher and Pope John Paul II.




Beirut riots aimed at chaos (Washington Times, 060209)


Lebanon came dangerously close to the precipice Sunday, and risked being pushed back into the chaos and madness of civil war when a protest of a published caricature of the prophet Muhammad turned ugly.


The Beirut riots followed a tense day of protests in the Syrian capital of Damascus. Saturday the Danish and Norwegian embassies were torched, and attempts to attack the United States and French embassies were thwarted.


“Syria is a country where protests don’t just occur. Protests like this don’t happen without the support of the government,” said U.S. State Department spokesman Sean McCormack.


History buffs may find it interesting that some instigators of Sunday’s troubles in Beirut belong to the same radical Palestinian faction that triggered the incident in 1975 that plunged Lebanon into its 16-year civil war. Lebanese judiciary and security forces say they have begun interrogating about 200 of 441 rioters arrested after Sunday’s disturbances. Among them are 77 Syrians, 42 Palestinians, believed members of the Damascus-based Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine-General Command, led by Ahmad Gebril; 25 stateless Arabs (Bedouins); and 38 Lebanese Sunni Muslims.


In April 1975, Palestinian gunmen belonging to the PFLP-GC, on their way back to the Tel el-Zaatar refugee camp from a military parade in Beirut, passed in front of a church in east Beirut being inaugurated by Christian Phalangist Party chief Pierre Gemayel. Moments earlier unidentified gunmen had opened fire on the church in a drive-by shooting.


When a bus carrying the PFLP-GC commandos and their families approached the church, Christian militiamen, fearing they were about to be attacked a second time, opened fire. They killed 27 Palestinians. The rest, as they say, is history. But it is a history still very fresh in the minds of many Lebanese.


Among Sunday’s melange of Syrians, Palestinians and others involved in the rioting, it appears some tried to instigate sectarian violence by attacking a Maronite Church in east Beirut, as well as the Danish legation.


Some of the demonstrators were reported to have fired their guns randomly at apartment buildings housing Christians. Fortunately, the provocations failed. The Christians avoided falling into the trap and did not respond to the gunfire, leaving that task to the Lebanese police and military.


Several eyewitnesses confirm it was by no means accidental the Beirut events came a day after similar happenings in Damascus. Demonstrators were directed and the event appeared well orchestrated. Many rioters were bused in from Syria and the north Lebanese port of Tripoli, eyewitnesses say.


So just who may be responsible for promoting anti-European sentiments in Syria and for trying to destabilize Lebanon?


Some people may brush it off as just another conspiracy theory, but as with the assassination of former Prime Minister Rafik Hariri, the Lebanese and the international community are pointing fingers at Damascus. Lebanese Christians and Muslims — politicians as well as religious leaders — accused the Syrians of “infiltrating plants” in the demonstration, which was initially meant to be peaceful. Druze leader Walid Jumblat accused Syria of responsibility for sending these “plants” to the demonstration to incite sectarian strife in Lebanon.


Thankfully, history did not repeat itself Sunday. The intent to create havoc and ignite sectarian violence failed. Some Lebanese say it had the reverse effect. In a meeting of the Lebanese Cabinet Monday, government ministers praised the Christians of Ashrafieh neighborhood, (where the rioting occurred) for responsible behavior and resisting provocation.


Eyewitnesses report the intervention by Muslim clerics, seen pushing back troublemakers who were throwing rocks and breaking windows, helped calm the Christians in east Beirut. As one resident of the Lebanese capital put it, the riots and violence were widely perceived as “another Syrian attempt to bring chaos back to Lebanon.”


Lebanon’s Muslim community came out in unison in condemning the riots and is pressing the government to act. Several observers in Beirut say this was an attempt by Damascus to alleviate the pressure on Syria brought about by the international investigation into the Hariri murder.


In a part of the world where everyone loves a good conspiracy theory, this one is as good as any.


Claude Salhani is international editor for United Press International.




Calvin and Hobbes — and Muhammad (, 060209)


by Ann Coulter


As my regular readers know, I’ve long been skeptical of the “Religion of Peace” moniker for Muslims — for at least 3,000 reasons right off the top of my head. I think the evidence is going my way this week.


The culture editor of a newspaper in Denmark suspected writers and cartoonists were engaging in self-censorship when it came to the Religion of Peace. It was subtle things, like a Danish comedian’s statement, paraphrased by The New York Times, “that he had no problem urinating on the Bible but that he would not dare do the same to the Quran.”


So, after verifying that his life insurance premiums were paid up, the editor expressly requested cartoons of Muhammad from every cartoonist with a Danish cartoon syndicate. Out of 40 cartoonists, only 10 accepted the invitation, most of them submitting utterly neutral drawings with no political content whatsoever.


But three cartoons made political points.


One showed Muhammad turning away suicide bombers from the gates of heaven, saying “Stop, stop — we ran out of virgins!” — which I believe was a commentary on Muslims’ predilection for violence. Another was a cartoon of Muhammad with horns, which I believe was a commentary on Muslims’ predilection for violence. The third showed Muhammad with a turban in the shape of a bomb, which I believe was an expression of post-industrial ennui in a secular — oops, no, wait: It was more of a commentary on Muslims’ predilection for violence.


In order to express their displeasure with the idea that Muslims are violent, thousands of Muslims around the world engaged in rioting, arson, mob savagery, flag-burning, murder and mayhem, among other peaceful acts of nonviolence.


Muslims are the only people who make feminists seem laid-back.


The little darlings brandish placards with typical Religion of Peace slogans, such as: “Behead Those Who Insult Islam,” “Europe, you will pay, extermination is on the way” and “Butcher those who mock Islam.” They warn Europe of their own impending 9/11 with signs that say: “Europe: Your 9/11 will come” — which is ironic, because they almost had me convinced the Jews were behind the 9/11 attack.


The rioting Muslims claim they are upset because Islam prohibits any depictions of Muhammad — though the text is ambiguous on beheadings, suicide bombings and flying planes into skyscrapers.


The belief that Islam forbids portrayals of Muhammad is recently acquired. Back when Muslims created things, rather than blowing them up, they made paintings, frescoes, miniatures and prints of Muhammad.


But apparently the Koran is like the Constitution: It’s a “living document,” capable of sprouting all-new provisions at will. Muslims ought to start claiming the Koran also prohibits indoor plumbing, to explain their lack of it.


Other interpretations of the Koran forbid images of humans or animals, which makes even a child’s coloring book blasphemous. That’s why the Taliban blew up those priceless Buddhist statues, bless their innocent, peace-loving little hearts.


Largely unnoticed in this spectacle is the blinding fact that one nation is missing from the long list of Muslim countries (by which I mean France and England) with hundreds of crazy Muslims experiencing bipolar rage over some cartoons: Iraq. Hey — maybe this democracy thing does work! The barbaric behavior of Europe’s Muslims suggests that the European welfare state may not be attracting your top-notch Muslims.


Making the rash assumption for purposes of discussion that Islam is a religion and not a car-burning cult, even a real religion can’t go bossing around other people like this.


Catholics aren’t short on rules, but they couldn’t care less if non-Catholics use birth control. Conservative Jews have no interest in forbidding other people from mixing meat and dairy. Protestants don’t make a peep about other people eating food off one another’s plates. (Just stay away from our plates — that’s disgusting.)


But Muslims think they can issue decrees about what images can appear in newspaper cartoons. Who do they think they are, liberals?




Mob Theology: Times decisions. (National Review Online, 060210)


Christians have long wondered how to get due regard for their religious sensibilities from the arbiters of our culture. Now they know the answer: mayhem.



The riots and protests around the Islamic world and in Muslim communities in the West regarding a dozen cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper have fostered a newfound sensitivity to religious offense in the more secular precincts of the West. The New York Times — the most important liberal organ in the country — chastised the Danish cartoonists and refused to reproduce the cartoons, instead bizarrely illustrating the controversy with a photo of a painting of the Virgin Mary festooned with elephant dung from a long-ago dispute at a Brooklyn museum.


The Times’s disdain for the cartoons is a departure. What happened to art for art’s sake? When was the last time the Times criticized any piece of art, no matter how jejune, outrageous or stupid? And what happened to shocking the bourgeoisie? Well, they are much more enjoyable to shock than Islamists because, once duly shocked, the bourgeoisie pack the kids into a minivan and head to a soccer game, rather than issue death threats and burn down embassies.


Fear stalks the cartoon debate. Understandably. Few editors want to potentially endanger their employees by reprinting the cartoons. The comedian Sarah Silverman has a riff in her offensively titled concert movie, “Jesus Is Magic,” in which she explains that she feels freest to insult groups that she’s not afraid of. So she lets loose on Asian-Americans, assuming they won’t threaten her. This logic is also why she would never title her film “Muhammad Is Magic,” and is clearly at play in the cartoon debate.


It helps account for the bend-over-backward attitude toward Islam from people who would never adopt the same posture toward Christianity. In this, they do no favors to Islam. The cartoon riots are a power play. They are an attempt to set limits on free speech in the West, and to give an advantage to those forces of backwardness — both religious and secular — that are resisting the modernization of the Middle East. It is notable that Ayatollah Sistani, the pro-democracy cleric in Iraq, denounced the cartoons, but reserved his harshest language for the Islamist provocateurs who are opportunistically fomenting violence over them.


Thuggish intimidation has often been a weapon in the battle of ideas. Christian bishops were known to use rampaging crowds of monks to buttress their doctrinal positions in what historian Paul Johnson calls “mob theology.” He writes, “A fanatical religious mob could be used to blackmail a council of frightened ecclesiastics or even to overturn an imperial decision which impinged on Church affairs.” Of course, that was 1,500 years ago.


A millennia and a half later, mob theology is still with us, and the question is whether it will be resisted. The old saw is that a liberal is someone who doesn’t take his own side in a fight. That, in fact, might be the entire basis of the ideology of multiculturalism. Its defenders say multiculturalism means taking many disparate cultural strands and treating them all equally. The truth is that it is a mask for a hostility to the foundations of Western culture, which plainly can be seen when the same people who defend forcing taxpayers to fund art that dips a Crucifix in urine, deplore privately published cartoons of Muhammad. True liberals should be appalled at the illiberalism of the rioters, but the old habit of finding moral equivalence between the West and its enemies is difficult to shake, so both cartoonists and people who commit criminal acts over cartoons are considered equally at fault.


No one has reason to fear organized mayhem from Christians anymore, thank God. The clash between civilizations and, more importantly, within Islamic civilization exemplified by the cartoon controversy is over whether the day will come when we don’t have to fear it from Muslims either.


— Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years.




Dreams & Realities: Cartoon problems. (National Review Online, 060210)


It seems the issue of cartoons is much in the news these days. As a devout moderate Muslim, I was just recently portrayed in the local Muslim newspaper, Arizona Muslim Voice, as a ravenous dog — on the leash of our state newspaper, and devouring an imam.



Despite the fact that being portrayed as a dog is profoundly offensive if not downright hateful in our Middle Eastern culture, there was hardly a ripple of outrage in the local Muslim community. It seems that in the local Muslim community it’s all right to make a vilifying cartoon of me, a former U.S. Navy Lieutenant Commander and medical officer, but certainly not one of bin Laden or al-Zawahiri. I have yet to see them publish one cartoon against the enemies of America in this so-called Muslim newspaper.


Only a few weeks after my caricature, the riots around the Danish cartoons erupted across the globe. True to form, the eruption came months after their printing, only after many so-called imams acting as warlords took the cartoons to the Muslim mimbars (pulpits) of the Middle East.


As many this week have said, this is not about cartoons. This all got me thinking about what drives people. I was born in America, raised a Muslim and a conservative. I have long struggled with what it is that makes my own reflexive passions, and my primary mission, so different from those of the mobs and even from so many of my Muslim neighbors in America. What is the fuse that, once ignited, turns normal people into a mob clamoring for Islam and often for blood?


This question leads me to the subject of our dreams. There are some in my faith who dream of a new Caliphate, a world ruled by and for Islam. It is a seductive call to many in my faith, as dreams always are. But it is anathema to me. I do not believe that we were meant to be one thing, because that, in itself, takes away our free will. My dream can only be real if it is only mine — if it is rooted in the individual success. Once the community or the so-called ummah takes it on as a communal success, it is no longer a dream but an imposition, a violation of freedom and liberty.


Dreams are a funny thing. For example, it is a dream for me that I may one day make the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. But the very thought of living there, makes me feel all hollow inside. Is that not a peculiar thing — that the holiest place for me to visit would not be a holy place for me to live.


That is because the hajj is a dream of mine, a pillar of my faith, but living there would be my reality. The difference between a dream that is fleeting and one that is real always comes down to the question of free will. If I would live there, I would not be free and no devotion that is coerced can ever be true.


That is why my first allegiance is to this country. Without its freedoms and protections, my faith would be something much smaller. That is also why my dream has always been one of a pluralistic, democratic society where all religions and people can feel welcome. Islamists, from the radical to the moderate, would argue that in their dream the will of the majority and the Islamic state become one. What instilled my intense love for the United States from a young age was that our democracy has a Bill of Rights that upholds minorities, prevents oppression by the majority, and keeps religious scripture out of government — the antithesis of Islamism.


The Muslim mobs we see inflamed are not al-Qaeda, but they are enraged Islamists driven by a fear of losing the ideological world war to the West. They fear the West, which honors the individual first and the community second — put another way, America first, and the ummah second. They fear more than anything having to compete in a non-theological legislature by the legal merit of the logic of their principles, rather than from behind the corrupt cloak of their theological monopoly on sharia.


The next question flowing from all this is, “How can we create a new dream for people so driven towards rage?” Dreams are the product of our imagination. If we can visualize something, then we can imagine it becoming a reality.


And that is why I am so enthusiastic about the liberation of Iraq.


If I were to live in the Middle East, all I would see around me in government would be thugs, despots, oil monarchies, and radical theocrats ruling the people in a sea of corruption. How would I be able to imagine freedom where there is none to be found? That is what we are doing in Iraq. We are giving people in that region a sense of what could be. Without a reality in which liberty can thrive, the vacuum is filled by corruption. The reality is replaced by false dreams of a world in which no freedom-loving Jeffersonian Muslim would ever want to live.


I would like to end with my own cartoon. In it, I see all the compassionless theocrats and obscenely rich despots on a ship named al-Titanic leaving the Middle East forever — and, on the shore, the Muslims, Jews, Christians, and all people of faith joyously dancing in victory for the advent of a new Middle Eastern pluralism. Now, that would be a cartoon worth getting excited about.


— M. Zuhdi Jasser is the chairman of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy based in Phoenix, Ariz.




Losing Civilization: Are we going to tolerate the downfall of Western ideals? (National Review Online, 060210)


The great wealth and leisure created by modern technology have confused some in the modern age into thinking that history is linear. We expect that each generation will inevitably improve upon the last, as if we, the blessed of the 21st century, would never chase out Anaxagoras or execute Socrates — or allow others to do so — in our modern polis.


Often such material and moral advancement proves true — look at the status of brain surgery now and 100 years ago, or the notion of equality under the law in 1860 and in 2006.


But just as often civilization can regress. Indeed, it can be nearly lost in a generation, especially so now, with technology acting as an afterburner of sorts which warps the rate of change, both good and bad.


Who would have thought, after the Enlightenment and the advance of humanism, that a 20th-century Holocaust would redefine the 500-year-old Inquisition as minor in comparison?


Did we envision that, little more than 60 years after Dachau, a head-of-state would boast openly about wiping out the remaining Jews? Or did we ever believe in the time of the United Nations and religious tolerance that radical Muslims would still be seriously promising to undo the Reconquista of the 15th century?


Did any sane observer dream, in the era of UNESCO and sophisticated global cultural heritage preservation, that the primitive Taliban would blow up and destroy, with impunity, the iconic Buddhist statues chiseled into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan that had survived 1,700 years of war, earthquakes, conquests, and weather?

Surely those who damned the inadvertent laxity of the Americans in not stopping others from looting the Baghdad museum should have expressed far greater outrage at the far greater, and intentional, destruction inflicted by the Taliban. Unless, that is, the issue of artistic freedom and preservation was never really the principle after all, but only the realistic calculation that, while George Bush’s immensely powerful military would not touch a finger of its loudest critic, a motley bunch of radical Islamic fascists might well blow someone up or lop off his head for a tasteless caricature in far off Denmark.


The latest Islamic outrage over the Danish cartoons represents an erosion in the very notion of Western tolerance. Years ago, the death sentence handed down to Salman Rushdie was the dead canary in the mine. It should have warned us that the Western idea of free and unbridled expression, so difficultly won, can be so easily lost.


While listening to the obfuscations of British Foreign Secretary Jack Straw about the Danish cartoons, I thought that next he was going to call for a bowdlerization of Dante’s Inferno, where Dante and Virgil in the eighth rung of Hell gaze on the mutilated specters of Mahomet and his son Ali, along with the other Sowers of Discord. I grew up reading the text with the gruesome illustrations of Gustave Doré. Can Straw now damn that artist’s judgment as well, when the next imam threatens global jihad, more terrorism, an oil cut-off, or to make things worse for Anglo-American troops who are trying to bring democracy to Iraq?


Surely he can apologize that the cross of the Union Jack offends British Muslims? Or perhaps the memory of what Lord Kitchener did in 1898 to the tomb of the Great Mahdi needs contemporary atonement — once one starts down the road of self-censorship, there is never an end to it.


Since Bill Clinton mentioned nothing about free speech and expression or the rights of a newspaper to be offensive and tasteless, but lectured only about cultural insensitivity and the responsibility of the media not to be mean to Muslims, why did he stop with the Danish cartoonists? Surely someone who has apologized for everyone from General Sherman to the Shah could have lamented the work of every Western artist, from Rodin to Dali, who has rendered the Prophet in a bad light.


Like the appeasement of the 1930s, we are in the great age now of ethical retrenchment. So much has been lost even since 1960; then the very idea that a Dutch cartoonist whose work had offended radical Muslims would be in hiding for fear of his life would have been dismissed as fanciful.


Insidiously, the censorship only accelerates. It is dressed up in multicultural gobbledygook about hurtfulness and insensitivity, when the real issue is whether we in the West are going to be blown up or beheaded if we dare come out and support the right of an artist or newspaper to be occasionally crass.


In the post-Osama bin Laden and suicide-belt world of our own, we shudder at these fanatical riots, convincing ourselves that perhaps the Salman Rushdies, Theo Van Goghs, and Danish cartoonists of the world had it coming. All the while, we think to ourselves about the fact thatwe do not threaten to kill Muslims when they promulgate daily streams of hate and racism in sermons and papers, and much less would we go about promising death to the creator of “Piss Christ” or the Da Vinci Code. How ironic that we now find politically-correct Westerners — those who formerly claimed they would defend to the last the right of an Andres Serrano or Dan Brown to offend Christians — turning on the far milder artists who rile Muslims. Y


The radical Islamists are our generation’s book burners who search for secular Galileos and Newtons. They are the new Nazi censors who sniff out anything favorable to the Jews. These fundamentalists are akin to the Soviet commissars who once decreed all art must serve political struggle — or else.


If we give in to these 8th-century clerics, shortly we will be living in an 8th century ourselves, where we may say, hear, and do nothing that might offend a fundamentalist Muslim — and, to assuage our treachery to freedom and liberalism, we’ll always be equipped with the new rationale of multiculturalism and cultural equivalence which so poorly cloaks our abject fear.


There are three final considerations. First, millions of brave reformers in the Muslim world are trying each day to create a tolerant culture and a consensual society. What those in Lebanon, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Egypt want from us is not appeasement that emboldens the radicals in their midst, but patient, careful, and firm explanations that freedom is precious and worth the struggle — even though its use can sometimes bother us. Surely the lesson from Eastern Europe applies: the oppressed there did not appreciate the realpolitik and appeasement of many in the West, but most often preferred a stalwart Reagan to an equivocating Carter.


Second, we, not the Islamists, are secure; our dependency on oil has masked a greater reality: that the Muslim Middle East, as in the days of the Ottomans, is parasitic on the West for advancements of all sorts, from heart surgery to computers. Most of the hatred expressed over the cartoons was beamed on television, through the Internet, or communicated over cell phones that would not exist in Pakistan, Syria, or Iran without imported technology.


The Islamists are also sad bullies, who hunt out causes for offense in the most obscure places, but would recoil at the first sign of Western defiance. Turkey may say little to the Islamists now, but they would say lots if the European Union decided to pass on its inclusion into the union. Local imams sound fiery, but if the West is too debauched a place for any pure Muslim to endure, why then do they not lead, Moses-like, an exodus of the devout away from the rising flood of decadence, and back to the paradise of a purer Syria or Algeria?


Third, the bogus notion of multiculturalism has blinded us to a simple truth: we in the West can live according to our own values and should not allow those radicals who embrace or condone polygamy, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, political autocracy, homosexual persecution, honor killings, female circumcision, and a host of other unmentionables to threaten our citizens within our own countries.


The deluded here might believe that the divide is a moral one, between a supposedly decadent secular West and a pious Middle East, rather than an existential one that is fueled by envy, jealousy, self-pity, and victimization. But to believe the cartoons represent the genuine anguish of an aggrieved puritanical society tainted by Western decadence, one would have to ignore that Turkey is the global nexus for the sex-slave market, that Afghanistan is the world’s opium farm, that the Saudi Royals have redefined casino junketeering, and that the repository of Hitlerian imagery is in the West Bank and Iran.


The entire controversy over the cartoons is ludicrous, but often in history the trivial and ludicrous can wake a people up before the significant and tragic follow.


— Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution. He is the author, most recently, of A War Like No Other. How the Athenians and Spartans Fought the Peloponnesian War.




How a meeting of leaders in Mecca set off the cartoon wars around the world (The Independent New, UK, 060210)


A summit of Muslim nations held in Mecca in December may have played a key role in stoking outraged protests across the Islamic world against a series of caricatures of the Prophet Mohamed.


A dossier of the cartoons, which was compiled by Danish Muslims, was handed around the sidelines of the meeting, attended by 57 Islamic nations including leaders such as Iran’s president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and the Saudi King, Abdullah.


The meeting in Islam’s holiest city appears to have been a catalyst for turning local anger at the images into a matter of public, and often violent, protest in Muslim nations. It also persuaded countries such as Syria and Iran to give media exposure to the cartoon controversy in their state-controlled press.


Muhammed El Sayed Said, the deputy director of the Al Ahram Centre for Political and Strategic Studies, an independent studies centre, said the Mecca meeting was a turning point in internationalising the cartoons issue. “Things started to get really bad once the Islamic conference picked it up,” he said. “Iran and Syria contributed to fomenting reaction. It came to the point where everyone had to score a point to be seen as championing the cause of Islam.”


The emergency summit of the Organisation of the Islamic conference (OIC) on 6 December was originally called to address terrorism and sectarian violence between Shia and Sunni Muslims, but came to be dominated by the cartoons, originally published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in September.


The OIC issued a condemnation of the cartoons: “[We express our] concern at rising hatred against Islam and Muslims and condemned the recent incident of desecration of the image of the Holy Prophet Mohamed.”


The communique went on to attack the practice of “using the freedom of expression as a pretext for defaming religions”.


After the expanded media coverage in Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and the Palestinian territories, the violent protests began. At least 10 people have been killed across the Islamic world as a result of these protests.


Sari Hanafi, an associate professor at the American University in Beirut, said the cartoons had provided Arab governments under pressure from the West for democratic reforms with an opportunity to hit back in the public opinion stakes.


“[Demonstrations] started as a visceral reaction - of course they were offended - and then you had regimes taking advantage saying, ‘Look this is the democracy they’re talking about’,” he told The New York Times.


Ahmed Akkari, a Lebanese-born Dane and spokesman for a group of Danish Muslims, said the Mecca summit had been the culmination of campaign to publicise the offending cartoons.


The group assembled a 43-page dossier that included several unpublished caricatures. However, Mr Akkari denies allegations that the second set of cartoons - which were faxed to Muslim groups by far-right extremists after they protested against the original images - were presented to Muslim leaders without distinction.


The published cartoons in the dossier were in colour and the unpublished ones were clearly marked and in black and white, Mr Akkari said.


After a number of failed attempts to highlight the issue to Muslim ambassadors in Denmark, Mr Akkari was part of a delegation that flew to Cairo in early December where they met the Grand Mufti and the Foreign Minister, Abdoul Gheit.


“We thought we would mobilise influential people so that they could give us their voice in Denmark,” he said.


Ahmed Abu Laban, a radical cleric and leading critic of the cartoons in Denmark, said the purpose of the delegation to the Middle East was to raise awareness, not to stoke anger.


“We have been addressing the issue with a cool head; we were trying to seek academic and religious help from the Middle East. We are not professional enough to know what would be the response of media, nor the interest of politicians there,” he said.


Mr Akkari said that the violent fallout was not their intention when they compiled the dossier. “We did not expect it to end up in such a situation, and with violence and for people to use it politically. This has now gone further than we had expected.”


Image that launched 1,000 protests


* 17 SEPTEMBER 2005: Danish newspaper Politiken reports a writer failed to find an artist for a book about Mohamed because of fear of reprisals.


* 30 SEPTEMBER: Twelve cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohamed are published in Jyllands-Posten as a protest against self-censorship.


* 2 OCTOBER: Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, hears complaints from 10 Arab ambassadors.


* 14 OCTOBER: 5,000 people march through Copenhagen to protest against the cartoons.


* 21 OCTOBER: Mr Fogh Rasmussen refuses to meet the 10 ambassadors, saying his government is unable to interfere with press freedom.


* 27 OCTOBER: Danish Muslim groups file a criminal complaint against Jyllands-Posten.


* DECEMBER 2005 - JANUARY 2006: The coalition of Danish Muslim groups travels to the Middle East. Delegates at the Islamic Conference in Mecca talk of boycotting Danish goods.


* 7 JANUARY: Prosecutors decide there is no case to answer against Jyllands-Posten.


* 10 JANUARY: Norwegian Christian magazine Magazinet reprints the cartoons.


*27 JANUARY: Saudi Arabia calls for a boycott of Danish goods and recalls ambassador.


* 28 JANUARY: Danish-Swedish dairy giant Arla places adverts in Middle Eastern papers to calm the row.


* 29 JANUARY: Libya recalls its envoy.Jyllands-Posten prints an Arabic editorial saying the cartoons were printed as a test of public expression.


* 30 JANUARY: Editor of Jyllands-Posten apologises as masked gunmen briefly storm the EU’s offices in Gaza.


* 31 JANUARY: Denmark advises its citizens not to travel to Saudi Arabia.


* 1 FEBRUARY: Seven newspapers across Europe republish the cartoons in solidarity with Jyllands-Posten.


* 2 FEBRUARY: Jordanian paper Shihan becomes the first in the Arab world to reprint the cartoons saying its decision was made to show their readers “the extent of the Danish offence”. The editor is fired.


* 3 FEBRUARY: As 50,000 people protest in Gaza, a small group of Muslim radicals hold a demonstration in London.


* 4 FEBRUARY: Violent protests spread to Damascus.


* 5 FEBRUARY: Danish embassy in Beirut set alight as Iran recalls its ambassador in Copenhagen.


* 6 FEBRUARY: Protests spread to Indonesia, Malaysia and Afghanistan.


* 7 FEBRUARY: Denmark’s embassy in Tehran is attacked.


* 8 FEBRUARY: George Bush accuses Iran and Syria of exploiting the cartoons.




The Cartoon Intifada (, 060209)


by Clifford D. May


Muslim demonstrators have been torching embassies, stoning churches and threatening mass murder – to protest cartoons characterizing Muslims as violent extremists.


They have been burning flags and stomping on crosses and Stars of David – to express their outrage at those who say they are intolerant.


The damage these demonstrators are doing to the image of Islam is incalculable, far beyond what any poison-penned cartoonist could accomplish. So why are they doing it?


Machiavelli provided the answer more than 500 years ago. For those who would rule, he said, it is better “to be feared than loved.”


By now, all but the most self-deluded among us recognize that Militant Islamists are waging a War Against the West, a deadly jihad against Christians, Jews, Hindus and moderate Muslims. These religiously inspired fascists have no interest in being loved by “infidels.” They do, however, want to inspire fear – and they do want to rule.


The international intifada that has erupted — ostensibly in response to 12 cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper in September — is merely the Militant Islamists’ latest tactic. The charge most frequently leveled against the protestors is hypocrisy. How can they be up in arms over a few cartoons lampooning Muslims when, in many Muslim societies, Jews and Christians are routinely characterized in the most vicious terms and images? But that misses the point.


The Militant Islamists are not demanding equality. They are demanding superiority. They are Muslim supremacists — ideological heirs to those who, in the 20th century, fought for Aryan supremacy and white supremacy.


Yousef Al-Qaradhawi — leader of the European Council for Fatwa and Research and president of the International Association of Muslim Scholars – is seen by some as the “hidden hand” behind the protests. He has candidly declared: “Islam will return to Europe as the conqueror.”


Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the al-Qaeda commander in Iraq, has elaborated:  “Killing the infidels is our religion, slaughtering them is our religion, until they convert to Islam or pay us tribute.”


And in fact, for years the West has paid tribute, not least to Saudi Arabia’s theocratic rulers. We have allowed mosques in America and Europe to be taken over by Saudi agents who see to it that their radical brand of Islam is both preached and practiced.


At the same time, we have meekly accepted that there can be not a single church or synagogue on Saudi soil. We accept, too, that while Americans and Europeans may convert to Islam, in Saudi Arabia abandoning the faith is a crime punishable by death.


The Saudis were the first to recall their ambassador from Copenhagen in response to the publication of cartoons in Danish newspapers. And here the plot thickens: It now appears that three faked cartoons – of a far more obviously offensive nature than those published in Denmark — also were distributed in the Middle East, to make sure the fabled “Muslim street” would rise up as instructed.


The mainstream media appears little interested in this alleged manipulation. Indeed, most Western news outlets are not even giving readers and viewers the opportunity to judge for themselves whether the cartoons that were published in Denmark do insult the Muslim faith — or whether they only ridicule the Militant Islamists who offer Heavenly virgins to those willing to suicide-bomb children.


News executives claim they want to avoid giving offense. But if they were practicing self-censorship out of fear would they admit it?


More than a few moderate Muslims understand what is really going on. A Jordanian editor published some of the Danish cartoons to show they are not as offensive as advertised. He was promptly fired and arrested.


Ayatollah Ali al-Sistanti, Iraq’s leading cleric, was scathing about those who “have exploited this …to spread their poison and revive the old hatreds with new methods.”


But, in the end, there is little that liberal Muslims can do. They don’t have the oil money. They don’t control the Middle East’s mosques, media or governments. And they, too, can be intimidated by the threat of violence.


Militant Islamism is least of all about religion. It’s mostly about power. The Cartoon Intifida has not been a spontaneous uprising in response to a gratuitous insult. It’s one front in an expanding war of arms and ideas being waged against the West.


And it appears to be working. If, in the process, the reputation of Islam is muddied and bloodied, that’s a price the Militant Islamists are more than willing to pay.




The Islamofascists defy analysis (, 060210)


by Emmett Tyrrell


WASHINGTON — Contemplate this: A Danish newspaper in September publishes some cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. Four months later Muslims, mostly Arab, get wind of this event and riot, burning Danish flags and attacking embassies, mostly Danish, but thus far also an Austrian Embassy. Apparently geography is one of the many subjects not studied very attentively in Arab schools. At any rate, as the riots intensify local governments can apparently do nothing. Most of these governments, for instance the Syrian, are famously repressive. Yet in this instance they are impotent against the dirty-necked galoots burning flags and howling in the streets of their cities. Some of the governments issue diplomatic demands to the Danish government.


Now here is the kicker. From Tehran comes word that Iran’s best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, has announced a cartoon competition. The cartoon competition will endeavor to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust. You might well ask: How did the Holocaust become entoiled in this controversy? What do six-million murdered Jews have to do with Danish cartoonists depicting a Prophet who lived 1,400 years ago? Officials at the Iranian newspaper also dragged America and Israel into their rants. Are America and Israel the real powers behind Denmark?


Analysis of this irrational outburst will continue for weeks. Already the point has been made that there are depictions of the Prophet Mohammad in museums throughout the world and that many of the depictions were created by pious Muslims. So the claims that it is sacrilegious to depict the Prophet are nonsense. And the point has been made that throughout Islam’s long history Muslims have joked about religion. So the claims that it is sacrilegious to joke about Islam are nonsense.


Other earnest analysts will tussle with the chronology of these events, the persona involved, and their various explications of the cartoons, of the demonstrations, and, who knows, possibly of the attack on the Austrian Embassy. Back in Tehran, editors at Hamshahri might wonder aloud: “Did not the demonstrators know that the Austrian Embassy is sacred soil? Was not the late Adolf Hitler an Austrian before he met his 72 maidens?” But there is a larger matter to contend with as the mobs of young men rage through the streets, even trying to mount their protests in places such as London. That is that Islam, particularly Islam as practiced in Arab countries, embraces a vast number of very angry young men.


The Islamicist agitators have two sources of power: the lone terrorist willing to blow himself up and the mob of young men willing to riot. It is these two instrumentalities that the Islamicist leaders rely on to acquire influence and power. These two instrumentalities are alarming, but take heart. They are also the conditions of a decadent, dysfunctional culture. Death and destruction do not create civilizations or prosperous societies or even a conquering army. Frankly, though I am no theologian, I doubt they can create heaven on earth. They are the death rattle of a dead culture.


Why so many of the countries dominated by Islam are in such a heap is a good question. Economists claim that it is because Islam does not encourage entrepreneurship. Neoconservatives argue that these countries have been denied democracy because of the rule of tyrants. And there are sociologists who perceive a deeper cause, the ancient patriarchy of these countries.


In places such as Syria, which is mostly Arab, and Iran, which is not, old men rule their families and their clans. They keep women and girls in the background. They keep young men in inferior status, despite the young men’s talents and energies. The consequence is a lot of angry, frustrated young men. Such young men are available for riot at the drop of a … well, at the drop of a cartoon.


Whether the economists are right in their analysis or the Neocons or the sociologists, or any other gogues that might offer up an analysis, one thing is eminently clear. The peoples in such a rage over Danish cartoonists are a deeply troubled people. They are incapable of reason or even of governing themselves. They are the enemy of civilization, whether it be Western civilization or some civilized order that might emerge in the Middle East. I hope the Europeans who have been so critical of our military action in Iraq and Afghanistan take note. The Islamofascists are as great a danger as was Hitler, who left Europe in the kind of desolate chaos that the Islamofascists adumbrate.




God save us from the voices of reason (, 060210)


by Charles Krauthammer


WASHINGTON — As much of the Islamic world erupts in a studied frenzy over the Danish Muhammad cartoons, there are voices of reason being heard on both sides. Some Islamic leaders and organizations, while endorsing the demonstrators’ sense of grievance and sharing their outrage, speak out against using violence as a vehicle of expression. Their Western counterparts — intellectuals, including most of the major newspapers in the United States — are similarly balanced: While, of course, endorsing the principle of free expression, they criticize the Danish newspaper for abusing that right by publishing offensive cartoons, and declare themselves opposed, in the name of religious sensitivity, to doing the same.


God save us from the voices of reason.


What passes for moderation in the Islamic community — “I share your rage but don’t torch that embassy” — is nothing of the sort. It is simply a cynical way to endorse the goals of the mob without endorsing its means. It is fraudulent because, while pretending to uphold the principle of religious sensitivity, it is only interested in this instance of religious insensitivity.


Have any of these “moderates” ever protested the grotesque caricatures of Christians and, most especially, Jews that are broadcast throughout the Middle East on a daily basis? The sermons on Palestinian TV that refer to Jews as the sons of pigs and monkeys? The Syrian prime-time TV series that shows rabbis slaughtering a gentile boy in order to ritually consume his blood? The 41-part (!) series on Egyptian TV based on that anti-Semitic czarist forgery (and inspiration of the Nazis), “The Protocols of the Elders of Zion,” showing the Jews to be engaged in a century-old conspiracy to control the world?


A true Muslim moderate is one who protests desecrations of all faiths. Those who don’t are not moderates but hypocrites, opportunists and agents for the rioters, using merely different means to advance the same goal: to impose upon the West, with its traditions of freedom of speech, a set of taboos that is exclusive to the Islamic faith. These are not defenders of religion, but Muslim supremacists trying to force their dictates upon the liberal West.


And these “moderates” are aided and abetted by Western “moderates” who publish pictures of the Virgin Mary covered with elephant dung, and celebrate the “Piss Christ” (a crucifix sitting in a jar of urine) as art deserving public subsidy, but are seized with a sudden religious sensitivity when the subject is Muhammad.


Had they not been so hypocritical, one might defend their refusal to republish these cartoons on the grounds that news value can sometimes be trumped by good taste and sensitivity. After all, on grounds of basic decency, American newspapers generally — and correctly — do not publish the pictures of dead bodies, whatever their news value.


There is a “sensitivity” argument for not having published the cartoons in the first place, back in September when they first appeared in that Danish newspaper. But it is not September. It is February. The cartoons have been published, and the newspaper, the publishers and Denmark itself have come under savage attack. After multiple arsons, devastating boycotts and threats to cut off hands and heads, the issue is no longer news value, i.e., whether a newspaper needs to publish them to inform the audience about what is going on. The issue now is solidarity.


The mob is trying to dictate to Western newspapers, indeed Western governments, what is a legitimate subject for discussion and caricature. The cartoons do not begin to approach the artistic level of Salman Rushdie’s prose, but that’s not the point. The point is who decides what can be said and what can be drawn within the precincts of what we quaintly think of as the free world.


The mob has turned this into a test case for freedom of speech in the West. The German, French and Italian newspapers that republished these cartoons did so not to inform but to defy — to declare that they will not be intimidated by the mob.


What is at issue is fear. The unspoken reason many newspapers do not want to republish is not sensitivity but simple fear. They know what happened to Theo van Gogh, who made a film about the Islamic treatment of women and got a knife through the chest with an Islamist manifesto attached.


The worldwide riots and burnings are instruments of intimidation, reminders of van Gogh’s fate. The Islamic “moderates” are the mob’s agents and interpreters, warning us not to do this again. And the Western “moderates” are their terrified collaborators who say: Don’t worry, we won’t. It’s those Danes. We’re clean. Spare us. Please.




Pursuing mayhem (, 060210)


by Tony Snow


WASHINGTON, D.C. — Q: Why aren’t angry Muslims in the United States torching buildings owned by Danes, Norwegians, French, Spanish and other Cartoon Infidels whose newspapers have printed cartoons, first published in Denmark, bearing the likeness of the Prophet Muhammad?


A: Because American Muslims have better things to do.


Here lies an important fact, too little mentioned or explored. The recent outburst of righteous arson in the Muslim world has been described as a warning to the West, a sign that radical Islam has become a force of considerable sweep and power, an indicator that terrorists have mastered propaganda techniques capable of sending raging hordes into the streets in a matter of minutes.


But another explanation fits the facts. The mayhem has centered in four nations: Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan and Syria. Each has a double-digit unemployment rate, and poverty rates between 32 percent and 52 percent. All have large pools of idle men who can show up for a mob activity at a moment’s notice. In short, they’re havens for losers, uniquely equipped to stage such spectacles.


Even so, it took Danish Imam Abu Laban and a handful of other inciters five months to foment the riots. Laban began touring the Middle East last fall, bearing a dozen cartoons — many of which were sloppy and amateurish — first published in a Danish paper. They contained unflattering depictions of Muhammad.


Nobody cared.


So then Laban and company got creative. First, they grabbed a photograph taken at a French hog-calling contest, and claimed the fellow wearing a plastic snout and ears actually was posing as a porcine Prophet. They tossed in another bad drawing of a character saying, “I’m a pedophile,” along with a photo-shopped tableau of a dog having its way with a Muslim bent in prayer.


Then they put together a list of fake charges against the dastardly Danes. They accused Danish papers of publishing 120 anti-Muslim cartoons and photos. They warned Danes were planning a movie that mocked Muhammad. They charged the Danish government with burning, desecrating and banning the Quran, prohibiting the construction of mosques and outlawing Islam.


It took a lot of effort — aided and abetted by Syria, Iran and al Jazeera — but the lie-mongering finally worked. Mobs in Lebanon and Syria set fire to Danish embassies. Riots broke out elsewhere, claiming more than a dozen lives. Iran organized an international boycott of Denmark and renamed Danish pastries, “Muhammad pastries.”


The ringleader, Abu Laban, is affiliated with the Egyptian terror group the Islamic Brotherhood. He told Western reporters he never desired to see Denmark hurt, but then crowed in Arabic to al Jazeera that the boycott was working!


Yet, the central “crime” — the mere depiction of Muhammad — is neither a crime nor an anomaly. It has been commonplace in parts of the Muslim world for centuries. Indeed, a prominent Egyptian newspaper published the offending cartoons a week after their original appearance in Denmark. Nobody uttered of word of complaint at the time.


The episode reveals the weakness of hotheads who pursue mayhem in the name of Islam. Laban’s quest to conjure fire took months to produce results and managed mainly to make the rioters look foolish or, in selected cases, dead.


An enterprising shopkeep in Gaza told Reuters that he saw an opportunity for commercial geld the instant the story broke. He bought Danish flags from a Taiwanese vendor and sold them at a premium. He knew locals would want pennants to burn. The man counted on his neighbors to behave like emotional fools.


Equally telling has been the weakness of those who always capitulate pre-emptively when hotheads kvetch. Jordan fired and arrested two newspaper editors for publishing a couple of the controversial cartoons. A Dubai university fired American-born Professor Claudia Keyboars for showing students what the fuss was about. Virtually every newspaper in the United States declined to publish the cartoons for fear of giving “offense.”


Abu Laban is to Islam what David Duke is to Christianity: a bigoted joke. He appeals to the ignorant and dispossessed, and mistakes pointless rage for righteous passion.


And yet, his moment of “glory” teaches valuable lessons. Guys like him fail utterly in places where people have hope and prospects — like the United States.


Furthermore, the most reliable vaccine against idiotic rage is faith — the soulful conviction that the Creator is not the Destroyer; that religion directs us not toward the torch, but toward charity; and that God is not petty, vain, small-minded or humorless. He leaves that to the likes of Abu Laban.




Muslim, Arab voices urge calm over cartoon issue (National Post, 060210)


BEIRUT, Lebanon — Many Arab governments, Muslim religious leaders and newspapers have been calling for calm in the protests over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, fearing the violence of the past weeks has only reinforced Islam’s negative image in the West.

No major demonstrations took place in Mideast and North African cities Thursday, suggesting the fervour was easing. But it wasn’t clear whether the calm would last. A test may come after weekly Muslim prayers on Friday, when at least one large protest is planned, in Morocco.


The drawings, first published in a Danish newspaper then reprinted in other European publications, sparked outrage across the Islamic world. Protests turned violent in recent weeks in Iran, Syria, Lebanon and Afghanistan.


But many in the Middle East watched the stone-throwing, flag burnings and embassy attacks with sorrow. Some, including governments, religious leaders and newspaper writers, are trying to put on the brakes on the outrage, even if they feel Muslims are right to be angry.


“They committed a crime when they violated our prophet’s sanctity,” Mohammed Abdel-Qaddous, a prominent Egyptian writer on Islamic issues, said Wednesday at a forum organized by the fundamentalist Muslim Brotherhood in Cairo.


“But if we set their embassy on fire, as happened in Syria or Lebanon, we will then be responding to their crime with another crime,” he said.


Kuwait’s parliament has urged restraint, saying “irresponsible acts” make the outpouring of emotions Muslims have shown for their religion and prophet “look like aggressiveness and destructiveness.”


Iraq’s top Shiite political leader, Abdul Aziz al-Hakim, said only peaceful protests should be held. And the Saudi ambassador to Washington, Prince Turki al-Faisal, told The Associated Press in Dallas that the violence is “unhelpful and in many cases unnecessary.”


“Our prophet himself was insulted, violence was inflicted upon him when he preached his message to the idolators and nonbelievers, and he met that violence with forgiveness,” Turki said.


Some of those calling for calm said they have been put in the position of trying to balance out extremists who may be using the outrage as an opportunity to serve their own agendas. U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice on Wednesday accused Iran and Syria of fanning the violence to rally support amid their own political confrontations with the West.


While no major demonstrations were held over the drawings Thursday, Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah, speaking in Beirut at a religious ceremony for the Muslim celebration of Ashoura, urged Muslims to keep demonstrating until there is an apology.


“Defending the prophet should continue all over the world. Let Condoleezza Rice and Bush and all the tyrants shut up. We are an Islamic nation that cannot tolerate, be silent or be lax when they insult our prophet and sanctities,” said the leader of Hezbollah, which is backed by Iran and Syria.


Even moderates say Muslims had every right to feel outrage over the 12 drawings, which include an image of their revered prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.


But they fear the violent reaction in some quarters only worsens the clash of civilizations that many in the Mideast dread as much as the West.


“This time, Arabs and Muslims have entered a just war . . . but emerged from it with ruinous results that have led to a new distortion of Islam in the West,” Saleh al-Qallab, a former Jordanian minister, wrote in the Saudi daily Asharq al-Awsat.


“We should be brave enough to admit that attempts to deepen the gap between the Christian West and the Muslim East have led to an Arab and Muslim defeat in this round,” he added.


Ghassan Salame, a former Lebanese minister of culture, said the reaction was “disproportionate to the offence.”


“I’m not sure this episode has done good for those who have called for mutual understanding and respect and did not do much to help moderate Islam market itself all over the world,” he told The Associated Press.


It was a sentiment shared by many in the public.


“Those who use violence are overreacting,” said Saleh al-Igrazi, 35, an Iraqi dentist. “They give a bad impression of Muslims, who are shown to the world to be troublemakers and even terrorists.”


Some believe autocratic governments have kept the issue alive for political reasons: to redirect their citizens’ anger, to burnish governments’ Islamic credentials or to undermine reformists, whose quest for democracy is often identified with western calls for change.


“There’s also a clear attempt to exploit that anger for political purposes almost everywhere, either to legitimize authoritarian regimes or to delegitimize calls for democratization,” Salame said.


Samir Atallah, a Lebanese commentator, borrowed from Hamlet to express his rejection of the violence. “Five centuries ago, Shakespeare said: ‘Something is rotten in the state of Denmark,’ “ he said. “There’s something even more rotten in other states.”




Muslims Create Islamophobes, Then Want Islamophobes Punished (Brussels Journal, 060214)


Last Saturday’s riots in Antwerp, when Moroccan “youths” went on the rampage in Antwerp’s historical center, destroying cars and beating up reporters, has led to frustration among police officers because the authorities prevented them from stopping the violence. Officers complained in today’s papers that they had been given orders to watch passively while young, rowdy Muslims were allowed to take revenge over... drawings published more than four months ago in a Danish newspaper.


“We had to watch how they were ripping off car mirrors. We wanted to stop this vandalism but were ordered to withdraw,” an anonymous policeman says in today’s Flemish daily De Standaard. “An ambulance was told to switch off its siren because that might provoke the Moroccans.” Another anonymous officer told the press: “There you are watching this, while citizens can see that you are powerless.” According to an anonymous police chief the authorities decided, that “it was better to have a few cars vandalized than risk open war in the streets.” On Monday the city council, led by the Socialist mayor Patrick Janssens, decided that the city would compensate the damage to cars and property.


One of the victims of the violence was Fatima Bali, a city councillor of Moroccan origin. She was on a tram last Saturday evening around 6 pm, when the vehicle was attacked. “It was very frightening,” she said. “Stones were thrown at the tram. Passengers tried to hide under the seats. Everyone panicked. Windows were shattered, a stone hit a passenger’s head – a Moroccan by the way. I hope I will never have to go through something like that again.” As a result of their experience the non-Muslims on the tram, as well as the citizens who watched the police stand by while their cars were damaged, have probably all turned “Islamophobe” now. “Islamophobes”, however, soon risk being put in jail.


Today some 200 Islamic religious leaders demonstrated in Brussels’ European district. It was a peaceful demonstration, but the Muslims want Europe to adopt the religious taboos of Islam. They handed a letter to a representative of the European Commission condemning “the blasphemy and humiliation” caused by the Danish cartoons, demanding that the EU introduce legislation against “hatred and islamophobia” and that it ban “blasphemy and the showing of disrespect for all religions and their prophets” because “every excessive form of free speech stigmatizes people.”


After their meeting with the representative of the Commission the Muslim delegation was received by the Danish ambassador, Karsten Petersen. “He thanked us for our moderation that invites dialogue and calm,” said imam Said Dakkar, the chairman of the Union of Brussels Mosques. “We have told him that we disapprove of violent demonstrations,” imam Said Mdaoucki of the Antwerp Mosque Federation added, “but we want to know how far freedom of speech is allowed to go. Can you ridicule someone’s values and beliefs? Is that freedom of speech?”


Yesterday, during a visit to Saudi Arabia, EU Foreign Policy Coordinator Javier Solana promised that the EU will support a clause in an updated human rights charter of the United Nations to “protect the sanctity of religions and the prophets.” Earlier, in a joint statement, Mr Solana of the EU, UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan and Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, the Secretary-General of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference (OIC) wrote: “We understand the deep hurt and widespread indignation felt in the Muslim world. The freedom of the press, which entails responsibility and discretion, should respect the beliefs and tenets of all religions.”


On Dec. 16, 2005 the UN General Assembly adopted a strong resolution on defamation of religions. “This joint statement and the UN resolution provide the legal ground for condemnation of acts of European newspapers,” the OIC said during its meeting last week. “This is a very important achievement and we must seize the opportunity to preserve the momentum for joint action to prevent a recurrence of this despicable act. To combat Islamophobia in the West we must work toward the adoption of relevant legislations.”


However, the attempt to impose the Muslim taboo on depicting Muhammad and forbid the publishing of mild cartoons such as the twelve Danish ones (see them here, halfway down the page) is encountering resistance.


José Manuel Barroso, the President of the European Commission, says in an interview with Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that first published the cartoons, that freedom of expression is a “fundamental value” in Europe and that it is “better to publish too much than not to have freedom.”


In Paris, France’s leading left-wing paper Le Monde criticised the EU’s failure to act in response to the series of attacks on European embassies in the Middle East. In today’s leading editorial it writes that Europe (the paper mentions Mr Solana) is not adequately defending freedom of speech. Europe “seems crippled, intimidated” by the reaction to the cartoons in the Middle East and the paper argues that this “can only encourage regimes like Syria and Iran to continue to manipulate this affair for political ends.” Le Monde also criticizes French President Jacques Chirac who condemned the “offensive character” of the cartoons but not the attack on the French embassy in Teheran.


In another article Le Monde draws attention to the fact that only Denmark and Norway have protested against the attacks of their embassies, though these attacks constitute a violation of international law. The other European countries are keeping a low profile “out of fear of seeing the violence spread to other embassies or other countries.”


In Norway, meanwhile, Kåre Valebrokk, the president of the Norwegian private television channel TV2, deplores last week’s apology by Vebjørn Selbekk, the editor of Magazinet, for republishing the Danish cartoons. According to Mr Valebrokk the editor was coerced into apologizing by the Islamic Council of Norway and the Norwegian government. Mr Selbekk apologized during a press conference in the Norwegian ministry of Social Inclusion on Friday morning, immediately before the beginning of the Muslim’s Friday prayers.


Kåre Valebrokk, a former editor of the business paper Dagens Næringsliv, said that Mr Selbekk’s apologies affect the freedom of the Norwegian press: “ From now on journalists no longer decide independently about what the networks and the papers report. The Islamic Council decides as well. If Muslims object to what we show or write it suffices that they burn down a few embassies to have us give in. For a large part we have now renounced our editorial freedom to fundamentalists. I do not like this new role. It is now that freedom of speech needs all its friends.”


In Denmark today, Ahmad Akkari, the spokesman of the cheating radical Danish imams, who incited hatred by distributing false cartoons throughout the Muslim world, said that his group is prepared to accept “a third of the blame” for the escalated conflict on condition that Jyllands-Posten and the Danish Government accepts that the rest of the responsibility is theirs. Mr Akkari explained that this is an offer to resume dialogue. Is he perhaps following patterns of haggling used in primitive tribal societies?


Yesterday Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with a newly established group of moderate Muslims, while his government announced that it would not continue dialogue and cooperation with the lying imams, who until now had been recognized by the authorities as the official representatives of the Muslim community in Denmark.




Libyan Cartoon Protest Turns Deadly (Foxnews, 060217)


PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A Pakistani cleric announced a $1 million bounty for killing a cartoonist who drew the Prophet Muhammad. In Libya, a demonstration against the caricatures left the Italian consulate on fire and at least 9 people dead, according to an Italian diplomat.


Denmark, where a newspaper first published the cartoons, temporarily closed its embassy in Pakistan and advised its citizens to leave the country.


An Italian consular official, Antonio Simoes-Concalves, said nine protesters had been killed in the demonstration in the Libyan city of Bengazi as armed police fired bullets and tear gas on a crowd of more than 1,000 demonstrators.


Libyan security officials said 11 people had been killed or wounded, but gave no breakdown.


"They are still continually firing," he said late Friday, speaking by telephone from inside the consulate where he was holed up. "They haven't managed to block them."


The Italian Foreign Ministry confirmed that the first floor of the consulate had been set on fire after the crowd charged into the grounds late Friday.


Libyan state television showed firefighters trying to put out the fire, ambulances taking casualties away from the scene and five cars that were severely damaged in the riot.


Security officials said the demonstrators hurled stones and bottles at the consulate, and later entered the grounds and set fire to the building and a consular car.


Police fired shots to try to disperse the crowd, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity as they were not authorized to speak to the press.


No Italians inside the compound were injured, the Italian Foreign Ministry said.




Pakistani Cleric Issues Fatwa Over Cartoons (Foxnews, 060217)


PESHAWAR, Pakistan — A Pakistani cleric announced a $1 million bounty for killing a cartoonist who drew the Prophet Muhammad caricatures, as thousands rallied across the country Friday and authorities arrested scores of protesters.


Police put another Islamist leader under house detention amid fears religious radicals would incite more deadly demonstrations after Friday prayers. Five people have been killed in Pakistan this week during protests, but most demonstrations Friday were peaceful.


In Denmark, where the prophet drawings were first published in September, the government said Friday it had temporarily closed its embassy in Pakistan following the violent protests this week.


Pakistan recalled its ambassador to Denmark for "consultations" about the caricatures, a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman said.


Mohammed Yousaf Qureshi, prayer leader at the historic Mohabat Khan mosque in the conservative northwestern city of Peshawar, announced the mosque and the Jamia Ashrafia religious school he leads would give a $25,000 reward and a car for killing the cartoonist who drew the prophet caricatures — considered blasphemous by Muslims.


He also said a local jewelers' association would give $1 million but no representative of the association was available to confirm it had made the offer.


"This is a unanimous decision of by all imams (prayer leaders) of Islam that whoever insults the prophet deserves to be killed and whoever will take this insulting man to his end, will get this prize," Qureshi told about 1,000 people outside the mosque after Friday prayers.


Qureshi did not name any cartoonist in his announcement and did not appear to be aware that 12 different people had drawn the pictures. The crowd outside the mosque burned a Danish flag and an effigy of the Danish prime minister.


The Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten first printed the prophet drawings by 12 cartoonists in September. The newspaper has since apologized to Muslims for the drawings, one of them showing Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with an ignited fuse.


Other Western newspapers, mostly in Europe but also some in the United States, have reprinted the pictures, asserting their news value and the right to freedom of expression.


The publication of the drawings set off weeks of protests across the Muslim world in which at least 19 people have been killed, most of them in Afghanistan and Pakistan.


In Islamabad, former President Clinton criticized the drawings but said Muslims wasted an opportunity to build better ties with the West by mounting violent protests.


"I can tell you most people in the United States deeply respect Islam ... and most people in Europe do," he said.


Clerics at mosques across Pakistan condemned the caricatures at Friday prayers.


"Give enough power to the Muslim countries and enable them to take revenge," said Qari Saeed Ullah, a prayer leader in Islamabad.


Thousands of demonstrators defied a ban on rallies in Punjab, one of Pakistan's four provinces. Thousands of security forces were deployed across the country to prevent unrest.


Police arrested 125 protesters for violating the ban on rallies in eastern Pakistan and 70 others after firing tear gas to disperse protests in the southern city of Karachi.


In Peshawar, where violent protests Wednesday left two dead and scores injured, police fired tear gas to disperse more than 1,000 people trying to block a street. Four effigies representing Danish, German, French and Norwegian leaders were hanged from lampposts.


Police in eastern Punjab province were ordered to restrict the movement of all religious leaders who might address rallies and to round up religious activists who could threaten law and order.


In Multan, another city in Punjab, about 300 police detained 125 protesters, who gathered at a traffic circle, chanting, "We are slaves of the prophet," and trampling on a Danish flag, police official Sharif Zafar said.


Zafar said they had violated the ban on rallies in Punjab — declared after deadly riots in Lahore on Tuesday.


Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, chief of the radical group Jamaat al-Dawat, became the first religious leader detained by authorities since protests began in Pakistan early this month. He was due to make a speech in Faisalabad, about 75 miles away.


Intelligence officials have said scores of members of Jamaat al-Dawat and assorted militant groups joined the Lahore protest Tuesday and incited the violence in a bid to undermine President Gen. Pervez Musharraf's government, a close ally of the United States.


Witnesses said about 7,000 people protested in Rawalpindi, near the capital, while about 5,000 demonstrated in the southwestern city of Quetta. There were no immediate reports of violence. About 5,000 people protested in Karachi in small-scale rallies, and 70 were arrested, said Rauf Siddiqi, the regional home minister.


Denmark's decision to close its embassy comes after the government temporarily closed its embassies in Lebanon, Syria, Iran and Indonesia last week amid anti-Danish protests and threats against staff.


"We have decided to do so because of the general security situation in the country," Foreign Ministry spokesman Lars Thuesen said of the Pakistani closure. "Our staff are still in the country but not at the embassy in Islamabad."


In India, police used batons and tear gas to disperse several thousand angry Muslims worshippers who rioted over the drawings, police said. The protesters burned Danish flags, pelted police with stones, and looted shops after Friday prayers in Hyderabad, a city of 7 million people, nearly half of them Muslim.


Thousands of Hong Kong Muslims also marched Friday to condemn the caricatures.




Misrepresentations of Islam: Not all Muslims shun depictions of Mohammed. (National Review Online, 060213)


In the aftermath of Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons, as the Danish government and European media face death and mayhem designed to undercut freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of religion, we should rid ourselves of certain misconceptions. One is that Islam forbids any visual portrayal of Mohammed; another is that such depictions of Mohammed are extremely unusual.


There is a strong tradition within Islam that making portraits of Mohammed is wrong, but it is by no means universal. Some, especially Shiites, believe it is legitimate. Others believe that it is legitimate to portray him when he was young, before becoming a prophet.


Despite its rulers’ current fulminations, Iran itself is full of pictures of Mohammed. While devout Shiites more often wear a pendant bearing a picture of Ali, a Companion of the Prophet central to the development of Shiism, it is not uncommon for them to wear one bearing Mohammed’s face. Depictions of the Prophet also appear on major buildings, including mosques, and even on small kiosks selling cigarettes. For believers, they are certainly a real sign of devotion, but at the same time they are an implicit subversion of the regime. Like Stalin or Saddam Hussein have done, Iran’s dictators demand that those they rule subject themselves to the idolatrous image of the Supreme Leader, whether the Ayatollah Khomeini or current Ayatollah Khamenei, by putting their stern visages in their homes, offices, and shops. In the face of this repression, a picture of the Prophet is a rebuke to those who put themselves in his place.


You can also find numerous portrayals of Mohammed in medieval Afghan, Uzbek, Ottoman, and, especially, Persian Islamic art. In some of these, especially the Ottoman ones, Mohammed’s face is hidden or blank, but there are also many detailed, and often quite exquisite, full portraits illustrating his life. The University of Edinburgh has a miniature of “Mohammed re-dedicating the Black Stone at the Kaaba,” which is taken from the Jami Al-Tawarikh, “The Universal History,” written by Rashid Al-Din and illustrated c. 1315, as well as a “Birth of the Prophet Muhammad,” taken from the Jami’ al-tavarikh, “Compendium of Chronicles,” dated c. 1314-15 (Edinburgh University Library). France’s Bibliotheque Nationale has a “Mohammed meets the prophets Ismail, Is-hak and Lot in paradise” and a “Mohammed arrives on the shores of the White Sea,” both taken from the Apocalypse of Muhammad, written in 1436 in Herat, Afghanistan.


If you don’t want to travel so far, then visit the Metropolitan Museum of Art to see “The Night Journey of Muhammad on His Steed, Buraq,” a leaf from a copy of the Bustan of Sacdi, dated 1514, Bukhara, Uzbekistan, or “Muhammad’s Call to Prophecy and the First Revelation” and the “Journey of the Prophet Muhammad,” both leaves from the Majmac al-tawarikh, “Compendium of Histories,” from Herat, Afghanistan c 1425. Or you can look at them in the catalog (here and here).


Portrayals of Mohammed are also common in Western art, especially in book illustrations, especially in France. William Blake, Auguste Rodin, and Salvador Dali produced such paintings, and shocking ones at that, since they illustrate the most famous Western depiction of Mohammed, a literary one — the description in Dante’s Inferno XXVIII, 19-24, of Mohammed in the 8th circle of hell, with his entrails drawn out.


There are also media depictions. Time and Newsweek have both run pictures of Mohammed in recent years, for which they faced some demonstrations and had issues banned in some countries, but nothing on the scale of the Jyllands-Posten attacks. On July 4, 2001, South Park aired an episode, “Super Best Friends”, depicting Mohammed, along with other founders of major religions, as super heroes who join forces to fight evil (episode online here).


Further afield, many Shriners’ halls have such pictures, and, perhaps of most interest to Americans, the north frieze on the Supreme Court building in Washington, D.C., features a bas-relief where Mohammed is shown as a law-giver. He holds a book and a scimitar and stands between Charlemagne and Justinian, and along the way from Hugo Grotius, William Blackstone, and John Marshall (pdf of Supreme Court friezes here). (By the way, Michael Newdow, who had challenged the constitutionality of the phrase “Under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance also launched a lawsuit against the constitutionality of the friezes.)


Some media outlets, such as the Boston Globe and CNN, have hesitated to show the cartoons since they do in fact offend Muslims, while the BBC has apologized for the distant image it did show. Of course, these outlets are outstandingly hypocritical since, in the past, they have shown no qualms about displaying images offensive to Christians and others. But, hypocrisy aside, their current position is defensible. In itself, it is good not to offend others’ religious beliefs.


The situation we now face is a grave one. Remember that Jyllands-Posten first ran the cartoons to accompany an article asking “Do we still have press freedom?” after Danish children’s writer, Kåre Bluitgen, could not find an illustrator for a book on Mohammed of the type published countless times previously in the West. Authoritarian regimes such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, and Libya, as well as radical Islamists, are currently seeking by violence to impose their press restrictions on the rest of the world. The way the West responds will give our answer to Jyllands-Posten’s question.


If these countries succeed in exporting their repression on this issue, what will be the next step? Will governments be attacked if their media give internet links to cartoons of Mohammed, so that those who wish can see them? Will South Park be censored for the sake of international amity? Will there be attacks on publications featuring more positive images of Mohammed? Will U.S. embassies suffer violence if the Met continues to allow images of Mohammed in their catalog online? Will the Met be attacked if it shows those paintings? If Americans overseas are threatened or held hostage until the friezes on the Supreme Court are sandblasted, what will we do?


These questions sound outlandish even as I write them, but they are very real, they are not new, and they do follow an inexorable logic. The Danish cartoonists now live in hiding for fear of their lives, even as the threats against Salman Rushdie have been renewed. After Dutch director Theo Van Gogh was murdered for his documentary on women in Islam, other directors have backed off similar proposals. The Church of San Petronio, in Bologna, has an illustration of Mohammed in hell, drawing on Dante’s description. In August 2002, Italian police arrested one Italian and four Moroccans after reports that an al Qaeda linked network was planning to bomb the church.


If we yield now to pressures for censorship, Islamists and authoritarian regimes overseas will have learned that by undercutting our trade, attacking our embassies, and threatening our citizens, they can control our press, just as they do their own, and they will take those lessons to heart.


— Paul Marshall is senior fellow at Freedom House’s Center for Religious Freedom and the editor of, most recently, Radical Islam’s Rules: The Worldwide Spread of Extreme Shari’a Law.




Not All Is Lost in Europe: A continent awakens to a threat. (National Review Online, 060213)


Some are fond of saying that Munich’s spirit — the irresistible urge to appease dictators that brought catastrophe onto Europe in 1938 — is alive and well in Europe. And judging by the way so many pundits and officials are responding to the cartoon jihad, one is tempted to agree. Norwegian and Danish embassies were burnt and Arab countries have withdrawn their ambassadors from Denmark. European products are being boycotted. The highly effective and largely European police force enforcing a fragile Israeli-Palestinian agreement over the city of Hebron in the West Bank was sent packing last week — not because of the brutality of the Israeli army or the extremism of Israeli settlers, but because of the understandable rage of Muslims demonstrating peacefully to voice their hurt over their religious sensitivities.


Europe has not responded yet in any meaningful way. Instead, Franco Frattini, EU commissioner for Security, Liberty, and Justice, has expressed understanding for the feelings of “humiliation” of millions of Muslims in Europe and has suggested the adoption of EU legislation on a code of conduct for the media to avoid a future recurrence of the cartoons (translation from EU-speak: legislation directed at gagging the media when news and images may offend Muslim sensitivities). French President Jacques Chirac has condemned the publication of the cartoons in the French magazine, Charlie Hebdo, as a provocation. And U.K. Foreign Secretary Jack Straw similarly decried the publication and praised the wisdom of the British press for not going along with their continental colleagues. (One can understand Straw: Given the critical Muslim swing vote, his constituency would be lost to Labour if he took a different line. But a nation’s foreign policy cannot be dictated by the electoral balance of a politician’s constituency.) A Welsh student paper that tried to publish the cartoons was gagged this week by its university student union. Gair Rhydd, the Cardiff University student magazine, was withdrawn from stands and its editor, along with three journalists, was suspended. An investigation is under way. And while politicians call for sensitivity, Danish cartoonists have gone underground, not to fight for freedom, but to run for their lives.


Violence pays, doesn’t it?


Not necessarily. While Chirac condemned the “provocation,” Charlie Hebdo reports a sudden jump in sales. And a cursory glance at newspapers’ websites across Europe shows a strength of response from readers that their politicians have long failed to detect. The land is seething with rage. Not Muslim rage at Euro-insensitive newspapers, but Euro rage at the inability of their politicians and pundits to show courage in the wake of intimidation.


Enter the European Foundation for Democracy, a Brussels-based nonprofit organization. EFD has just released a poll, taken during the run-up to the IAEA vote on Iran’s nuclear program, of European attitudes to Iran and its nuclear ambitions. The poll was taken in four countries — Austria, the current holder of the EU presidency and host to the IAEA in Vienna, France, Germany, and Great Britain, the members of the EU-3 team that negotiated with Iran over its nuclear program.


Some remarkable data emerge from the surveys. Most respondents are “somewhat worried” or “very worried” about Iran’s program: 51% in the U.K., 67% in Germany, 73% in Austria, and 83% in France. Most Europeans believe Iran’s intentions are not peaceful: 54% among French respondents say that Iran’s nuclear program aims at nuclear weapons as well as nuclear energy, with a further 24% assuming its main goal to be just nuclear weapons. In Germany the breakdown is 62% and 20%, in Austria it’s 71% and 14%, and in the U.K. it’s 43% and 9%. Even in Great Britain, home of the Guardian and the BBC, more than half of the public understands what the Iranians really want. The public feels that the Iranians’ goals should be “strongly prevented” or “somewhat prevented”: if one adds up the two categories, 76% of Austrians, 74% of Germans and French, and 56% of Britons wish the Iranian plans to be thwarted.


The knee-jerk European reaction to pursue such goals through diplomacy remains dominant, of course. Support for limited military strikes against Iran is in the single digit figures in all four countries, with overwhelming preference for continued diplomacy and only limited support for sanctions, or even for helping Iran’s opposition groups. But here’s the catch: in all four countries, if it emerges that Iran is on the brink of developing a nuclear weapon, more Europeans are ready to support limited NATO military strikes than those who wish to oppose strikes no matter what. Again, the data show a split in Germany (46% in favor, 45% against), but in the U.K., France, and Austria the public is clearly persuaded: 45% to 26% in the U.K., 51% to 40% in Austria, and 74% to 20% in France.


This is not a mandate for military strikes — not yet at least. The experience of the Iraq war teaches a lesson in caution for Europe. If military strikes become a distinct possibility, there will be a concerted effort by the usual suspects to question intelligence and call into doubt whether Iran is so close to the bomb after all. Europeans have little appetite for military action, and under violent pressure, their governments have not shown signs of resolve and commitment.


But the data are nevertheless encouraging: It is becoming clear is that there is a European constituency for a blunter, more self-assured foreign policy that believes in Western values and refuses to cave in to pressure and blackmail; and there is an awareness — even in the country of Jack Straw — that some of the threats that come from the East are real, not the sinister concoctions of the “neo-cons.”


Right now, apathy is the trademark of Europe’s silent majority. Intimidated by Islamic fanatics who call for the beheading of anyone who insults Islam, and scorned by their elected representatives who prefer to pander to radical Islam rather than take a principled stance, it is no wonder their views remain largely unexpressed. The only ones who clamour in the streets are Islamist fanatics. The PC brigade, largely stationed in the media world and in the public sector, is dominating the public sphere with its apologetic message. Those who care to express European outrage openly in the name of Western values and freedom are usually Fascists or from some other extremist group — hardly the standard bearers of freedom and democracy, and often indistinguishable in their message of hatred and intolerance from their Islamist foes. Still, it would be foolish to assume that there is no room for grassroots movements and political parties which can both uphold freedom and take the Islamists head on.


The EFD data show that the public is not easily fooled about the true motives and intentions of our Islamist adversaries. And their willingness to support military action if all else fails proves that even Europeans, if pushed against the wall, will wake up to the ugly reality that confronts us all. All that is needed now is to put a good argument forward and show that there is a truly democratic alternative to the current dominant views. People who endorse this message are out there, waiting for a wake up call. If shown the way, they will reclaim the public spaces of Europe. And for this to happen, all it would take is for a few good men (and women) to stand up and say loudly and with pride: We will not let freedom die.


— Emanuele Ottolenghi teaches Israel studies at Oxford University.




Muhammad Caricatured: Journalists and Wahhabis alike are distorting the Islamic tradition. (Weekly Standard, 060213)


THE UPROAR IN EUROPE AND some Muslim countries over cartoons of the prophet Muhammad published in a Danish newspaper last September has once again dramatized several dismal aspects of the conflict between radical Islam and the culture of the West. One is that the so-called Arab or Muslim street comprises little more than a rent-a-mob available to burn, loot, and kill whenever Muslim demagogues attack political institutions and media anywhere in the world. Another is the ignorance Western media bring to their reporting on the issues that disturb the global Muslim community.


Thus, reporters and commentators have established the claim that Islam strictly forbids artistic depiction of Muhammad, other prophets, and living beings in general, and that in publishing cartoons of the prophet the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten deeply offended all Muslims. Journalists have foisted this nonsense on the Western public by recycling the apologetics for radical Islam offered by Western academics enjoying the patronage of obscurantist, oil-rich Arabs.


In reality, portrayal of Muhammad is not universally banned in Islam. It is true that Islam was marked from the beginning by a horror of idol-worship, and representations of the prophet are never found in mosques, which instead are often and famously ornamented with intricate nonrepresentational designs known as arabesques and hung with works of calligraphy. But the Koran itself is silent on the matter of images, and the warnings against them contained in the hadith, sayings of the prophet recorded centuries after he lived, have been subject to various interpretation.


Depictions of the prophet were


once common, for instance, in Persian and Turkic Islamic art, although often in these pictures Muhammad’s face or figure is veiled or left blank. Even before the Mongol conquest of Baghdad in 1258, Islamic civilization came under the influence of Oriental art, with its rich tradition of human representation. And after the conquest, there was an explosion of painting and other imagery in Islam, including depictions of Muhammad.


So it is that the Arthur M. Sackler Gallery at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington contains a picture of the prophet seated with his companions. The work appears in Bal’ami’s Persian Version of Tabari’s Universal History, from the 14th century. Another image, this one of the birth of the prophet, is found in one of the great achievements of the Islamic book, the Jami’ al-tavarikh (Compendium of Chronicles), produced at Tabriz in Iran around 1314. The painting, in ink, color, and gold, draws on Christian imagery of Jesus’ birth.


A favorite subject of Islamic illustration is the Night Journey of Muhammad, an out-of-body ride on a supernatural horse and ascent into the heavens that is a key element of Islamic theology. The prophet is shown on the magical steed Buraq, flying over Mecca, in a 15th-century manuscript, now in the British Museum, of the Khamseh or Five-Poem Cycle by Nizami Ganjavi, a poet from Azerbaijan. An even richer illuminated image appears in a Persian miniature from about a hundred years later.


In the late 18th century, the rise of the purist and intolerant Wahhabi sect, allied with the al Saud family in eastern Arabia, ushered in a new wave of iconoclasm wherever Wahhabism appeared. It saw the destruction of many famous manuscripts, books, and artistic works, including pictures of the prophet, on the argument that any depiction of living beings was idolatry. The Wahhabi-Saudi conquest of Mecca and Medina beginning in 1924, and the consolidation of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932, soon enriched by oil wealth, empowered the Wahhabis to spread their extremist doctrine throughout the world of Sunni Islam.


Today, much Islamic opinion holds that representation of humans and animals is forbidden to Muslims. But no firm and universal rule on these issues has been enunciated. Shia Muslims often keep pictures in their homes of the prophet as well as Ali, the fourth caliph, or successor to Muhammad as leader of the faithful, and Hussein, the prophet’s grandson. The deaths of Ali and Hussein mark the beginning of the Shia tradition.


Islam, of course, is not alone in finding the depiction of living beings a matter for debate. Orthodox Judaism and some Christian sects understand the Bible to forbid images. The second of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:4) has been variously rendered in English, “Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth” (King James Version) and “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below” (New International Version)—to cite just two translations—clearly leaving room for differing views.


THE DANISH CARICATURES themselves were mainly innocuous. The only one that could be considered genuinely provocative showed the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a burning fuse. Once certain (emphasis on “certain”) Muslims claimed the work of the artists was offensive to all believers in the religion, a series of absurd and tragic events ensued. Danish Islamic clerics traveled to Muslim countries to organize a protest, taking with them not only the published cartoons but also gross images, including one of a man wearing a pig’s snout that they passed off as a derisive image of Muhammad. Some European newspapers republished the cartoons; but Jyllands-Posten apologized for offending any Muslim readers. The paper’s editor, Carsten Juste, concluded, “In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims, for which we apologize.” Riots were triggered in various Muslim countries, Danish and other diplomatic offices were attacked, and people have been killed.


But the Western habit of apology and self-abasement proved contagious, as even American politicians offered ridiculous comments on the matter. Bill Clinton, a guest at a business forum in the Gulf state of Qatar, attacked the cartoons as “appalling” and compared them to anti-Jewish propaganda. Bush administration spokesman Kurtis Cooper said, “These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims. We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.” But objectionable cartoons on religious and ethnic issues are protected expression in the United States, and are not incitement. Incitement means directly urging people to kill each other, not making fun of a religious figure. Anti-Semitic and anti-Christian images proliferate in media around the world, without exceptional comment by the U.S. authorities. Obnoxious anti-Jewish images are particularly common in Arab countries, whose leaders and street agitators have no moral standing to complain about anything said or printed in the West.


Christians and Jews in America have long objected to caricatures they find insulting to Jesus, the Virgin Mary, the pope and other Catholic clerics, prominent evangelical preachers, and Israeli leaders. But they have not rioted or threatened anybody with death. Muslims must learn that they do not have a special status in the West, exempt from common standards of law and conduct. If Muslims cannot stand expressions of criticism and even disrespect for Islam in the West, they should return to live in Muslim lands. This is a well-established principle in Islamic law, as enunciated by Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, the Iraqi Shia cleric, as well as by Sunni jurists. Sistani, let it be noted, has reacted to the cartoon dispute with exemplary calm, condemning the cartoons but also criticizing “misguided and oppressive” Muslims whose activities, he said, create “a distorted and dark image of the faith.”


Furthermore, even if there were Muslim unanimity banning depiction of living beings or even of the prophet, no normal Muslim believes that such rules apply to non-Muslims. Mainstream Muslims do not claim that the rules of their religion must be followed by those outside it. Otherwise, they would try to prevent Christians and Jews living in Muslim-majority societies from drinking wine (as do the Wahhabis). Muslims do believe their revelation is the final message offered by the creator to humanity, and extremists among them use this as a pretext to deprecate Judaism and Christianity. Radical Muslims have a right to such beliefs and expression of them in the West; but if non-Muslims cannot caricature Muhammad, how can Muslims demand protection for their right to deny that Jesus was the son of God? Radical Muslims ignore the obvious truth that banning criticism of any religion will affect them as negatively as it might others.


WHAT IS ALL this really about? Why did it take six months for Muslims to react to the cartoons? The stage-managed outburst of rage originates in two ideological issues, neither of which has any real foundation in Islam as a religion. The first is that the complaining Muslims are summoned to violence by representatives of the Saudi-financed Wahhabi sect, which hates all representation of living beings, just as it hates graveyards, historic mosques, and other objects it claims will induce Muslims to commit shirk, or idol-worship. The Saudis are currently engaged in extensive vandalism of ancient Islamic architecture on their own territory; recently they demolished five ancient mosques in Medina, including one built by Fatima, the prophet’s daughter.


The same destructive attitude was revealed in the destruction of the colossal pre-Islamic Buddha statues at Bamiyan, in Afghanistan, by the Taliban and al Qaeda in the spring of 2001. At that time, a variety of bought-off Western “experts” tried to explain away the vandalism by citing the alleged Islamic ban on images. But the governments of other Muslim countries—including the ultra-radical Shia regime in Iran—have never embarked on the destruction of their pre-Islamic architectural and artistic heritage. Can we imagine the Egyptian government devastating the treasures of Pharaonic art and monumental statuary on the grounds that they are un-Islamic? Will they blow up the Sphinx?


Although more sinister, the aim of intimidating Westerners into silence about any aspect of Islam by this outbreak of fanaticism and brutality is actually secondary. The third and worst piece of the puzzle is an obvious effort to maintain control over the most backward and marginal elements of the Islamic community, especially those living in the West, so that the benighted outlook of Saudi-financed Wahhabism will go unchallenged among those who represent the greatest threat to Islamic extremism: moderate Muslims.


The Wahhabis have, in great part, attained their goals in this scandalous affair. Western politicians and media have cowered, and Saudi-funded pressure groups like the Council on American-Islamic Relations may now congratulate themselves on administering a lesson in bogus sensitivity to non-Muslim media and governments. But those who defend the censorship on the basis of a false knowledge of Islam should be asked: Is the faith of more than a billion people really so weak that it is threatened by a few cartoons?


Stephen Schwartz is the author of The Two Faces of Islam.




Oh, the Anguish! The cartoon jihad is phony. (Weekly Standard, 060213)


“U.N., E.U. and Muslims link in call to curb protests,” read the Financial Times headline last week. A “U.N.-brokered statement,” the paper reported, was issued “in an effort to curb days of protests, some violent some peaceful, at the publication and republication of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. ‘The anguish in the Muslim world at the publication of the offensive caricatures is shared by all individuals and communities who recognise the sensitivity of deeply held religious belief,’” the statement said.


Oh, the anguish! And why not? You remember—don’t you?—the wave of bloody pogroms against Muslims living in Denmark following the Jyllands-Posten’s publication, on September 30, 2005, of 12 cartoons depicting (in most cases) the prophet Muhammad. (The newspaper was testing freedom of speech in Denmark, and challenging “the self-censorship which rules large parts of the Western world.”)


Then, on October 17, some of these Danish cartoons were reprinted on the front page of a major Egyptian paper, Al Fagr. And you surely must remember the anguish that provoked. Tens of millions of Egyptians were so tormented they could barely refrain from attacking Israel, slaughtering all foreign businessmen, and destroying the pagan Sphinx. So anguished was President Mubarak that he announced he would return his $2 billion in “infidel U.S. foreign aid.” For his part, the chief Islamist televangelist on Al Jazeera, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, was so anguished he repudiated the financing his branch of the Muslim Brotherhood receives from the “hatemongering European Union.” Meanwhile in Iran, the nuclear program ground to a halt, as


anguished engineers found they could no longer in good conscience consult technical manuals produced by Zionist and Crusader scientists.


None of these anguished reactions actually occurred, of course—no pogroms, no renunciation of U.S. and E.U. aid, no hiccup in the Iranian nuclear program. Because there was no real “anguish.” In truth, by December nothing much had happened because of the cartoons.


So a group of Danish imams took off for the Middle East to try to cause trouble. To do this, they added three cartoons to their roadshow that they seem to have ginned up—crude propaganda pieces that would be guaranteed to stir a mob, just in case the original illustrations didn’t produce the effect they were after.


The militants’ trip was a success. Various extremist groups and terror-connected Islamists decided to use the cartoons as yet another weapon in the radical Islamist attempt to intimidate the West, and various Arab dictatorships saw a political opportunity in starting some anti-European riots.


And you can understand their calculation. Since 9/11, the West has gone on offense against radical Islamists and Middle Eastern dictatorships. That assault has apparently been more threatening to them than many of us realized. From Iraq to Palestine to Iran, from Islamist enemies of liberty to dictatorial opponents of democracy, those who are threatened by our effort to help liberalize and civilize the Middle East are fighting back with whatever weapons are at hand, and with whatever invented excuses and propaganda ploys they can discover.


As Olivier Guitta reports elsewhere in these pages, “The actions of Islamist agitators and financiers have deliberately drummed up rage among far-flung extremists otherwise entirely ignorant of the Danish press. The usual suspects—the regimes in Saudi Arabia, Syria, and Iran—have profited from the spread of the disorders.”


This is a moment of truth in the global struggle against Islamic extremism. Will Hamas succeed in creating a terror state on the West Bank? Will a terror-sponsoring Iranian regime succeed in its quest for nuclear weapons? Will Danish imams succeed in intimidating Europe—or the free world as a whole?


With respect to Hamas, Iran, and the cartoons, the response of Western leaders hasn’t been particularly encouraging—with the notable exception of Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark. Robert Frost said of liberals that they’re incapable of taking their own side in a fight. We will see how deeply a degenerate form of liberalism has penetrated our souls. Will we anguish? Or will we fight?




Muslim Mob Targets Western Businesses in Pakistan (Foxnews, 060214)


LAHORE, Pakistan — Thousands of protesters rampaged through two cities Tuesday, storming into a diplomatic district and torching Western businesses and a provincial assembly in Pakistan’s worst violence against the Prophet Muhammad drawings, officials said. At least two people were killed and 11 injured.


Security forces fired into the air as they struggled to contain the unrest in the eastern city of Lahore, where protesters burned down four buildings housing a hotel, two banks, a KFC restaurant and the office of a Norwegian cell phone company, Telenor.


U.S. and British embassy staffers were confined to their compounds until police dispersed the protesters, some of whom chanted, “Death to America!”


Witnesses said rioters also damaged more than 200 cars, dozens of shops and a large portrait of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf. Vandals broke the windows of a Holiday Inn, Pizza Hut and McDonald’s.


Two movie theaters were torched, and clouds of tear gas and black smoke from burning vehicles drifted through streets in the city center.


A security guard shot and killed two protesters trying to force their way into a bank, Interior Minister Aftab Khan Sherpao said, adding that paramilitary forces were deployed to restore order.


Mohammed Tariq, a doctor at the state-run Mayo Hospital, said three people were being treated for serious bullet wounds, and eight more suffered injuries during clashes with police.


The protest was organized by a little-known religious group supported by local trade associations and one of the main Islamic schools in the city. Intelligence officials, however, suspected that members of outlawed Islamic radical groups may have incited the violence.


Raja Mohammed Basharat, law minister for Punjab province, of which Lahore is the capital, said the organizers promised Monday that the demonstration would be peaceful. No one has been arrested for the violence, but those responsible would be punished, he said.


The unrest began Tuesday in the nation’s capital, Islamabad, about 180 miles northwest of Lahore, when between 1,000 and 1,500 people, mostly students, marched into a fenced-off diplomatic enclave through the main gate, as about a dozen police looked on.


The stick-wielding crowd charged about a half-mile down the road to the British High Commission, or embassy, where the students rallied briefly until police fired tear gas.


Outside the enclave, protesters smashed street lights and burned tires while chanting “Death to America!” and other slogans. Police rounded up about 50 protesters and put them in pickup trucks.


Another protest in Islamabad drew about 4,000 people. Separately, about 50 lawmakers from religious and moderate parties marched from Parliament to the diplomatic enclave, where they stood silently for five minutes before dispersing.


Hard-line cleric Hafiz Hussain Ahmad, senior leader of an opposition coalition of six religious parties, said, “We have come to the doors of the embassies to take our voice to the ambassadors. There is anger in the Islamic world. If they do not listen, their problems will increase.”


People in this conservative Muslim nation have been enraged by the publications of the drawings, which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September. Papers in other countries, mostly Europe but including some in the United States, reprinted them.


One of the caricatures depicts Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with an ignited detonator string.


Islam widely holds that representations of Muhammad are banned for fear they could lead to idolatry.


There have been a series of mostly peaceful protests across Pakistan against the cartoons, and last week Parliament adopted resolutions condemning the drawing. Lawmakers also called for a nationwide strike on March 3.


But Aitzaz Ahsan, a lawmaker with the opposition Pakistan Peoples Party, said he will propose that the government call off the March 3 protest strike because of the prospect of further violence.


“It’s really gotten out of hand,” Ahsan said. “The violence is spiraling out of control.”




The Great Danes: A lonely voice for freedom of speech in a Europe of appeasers. (National Review Online, 06014)


Andrew Stuttaford


It’s been a rough, tough, dismaying week for those Europeans who like to believe that the pen is mightier than the scimitar. Yes, an additional number of publications reprinted those pesky cartoons, one selling out its print run when it did so, but these were brave, temporary gestures, as evanescent as the paper on which they were printed, as futile as fists waved in the face of a storm.


While the Danish prime minister was stubbornly sticking to the principles of free speech and a free press, principles which he had, perhaps naively, and certainly optimistically, thought would find support from governments across Europe, his words were nearly drowned out by hints, murmurings, and shouts of appeasement from the gray, shrunken statesmen of Brussels, Paris, London, Stockholm, and many other capitals — take your pick — of a continent that once saw itself as the home of Enlightenment.


Freedom Fighters, Both For and Against


Of course, there were exceptions to the dismal, despairing rule, and, naturally, one of them was the Somali-born Dutch MP, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, fearless and furious, , one of the few politicians in Europe who still says how things really are:


Shame on those papers and TV channels who lacked the courage to show their readers the caricatures in the cartoon affair. These intellectuals live off free speech but they accept censorship. They hide their mediocrity of mind behind noble-sounding terms such as “responsibility” and “ sensitivity. “ Shame on those politicians who stated that publishing and re-publishing the drawings was “ unnecessary, ““ insensitive, ““ disrespectful” and “ wrong.” I am of the opinion that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen of Denmark acted correctly when he refused to meet with representatives of tyrannical regimes who demanded from him that he limit the powers of the press. Today we should stand by him morally and materially. He is an example to all other European leaders. I wish my prime minister had Rasmussen’s guts... I do not seek to offend religious sentiment, but I will not submit to tyranny. Demanding that people who do not accept Mohammed’s teachings should refrain from drawing him is not a request for respect but a demand for submission.”


Indeed it is, and judging by the reaction of Dutch prime minister Balkenende, he’s ready to grovel. He didn’t, he sniffed, have “much use” for Hirsi Ali’s contribution, a view that would not have been shared by Theo van Gogh, the director with whom she worked on the movie, Submission. Of course, van Gogh is dead now, butchered by a Muslim extremist offended (ah, that word again) by his film. Interestingly, if one recent poll on a related matter is any indication, the Dutch people themselves are likely to take a very different line from their prime minister. Eighty-four%, apparently, believe that Hirsi Ali should make a sequel to Submission, even if many of them were far from being fans of the original movie. They are smart enough to understand that, if it is to mean anything, free speech must include freedom of speech about those with whom you disagree.


It was this freedom that van Gogh was testing, it was this freedom that Jyllands-Posten is testing, and it is this freedom that the Dutch foreign minister will be compromising when he travels this week to the Middle East alongside Javier Solana, the EU’s foreign policy chief, for talks aimed at reducing the tension over the cartoons, a pointless and humiliating exercise that can only reinforce the dangerous impression held by many of the region’s Muslims that Europe’s governments somehow control Europe’s newspapers and can thus be blamed for their contents.


The fact that such a mission is unlikely to take much account of the opinions of Dutch voters should surprise nobody. Europe’s leaders have long tended to prefer the top-down and the technocratic to the views of electorates they see as atavistic, irrational, and prone to disturbing nationalist enthusiasms. This is why they had the arrogance to prescribe multiculturalism as an appropriate response to mass immigration, an idea of remarkable stupidity that goes a long way toward explaining the predicament in which Europe now finds itself.


Ambiguous Capitulations


Of course, we don’t yet know what this delegation to the Middle East will be saying, but comments made in an interview with the London Daily Telegraph by the EU’s sinisterly named Commissioner for Freedom, Security and Justice reveal some clues. Saying that millions of Muslims felt “humiliated” by the cartoons, and referring to a supposed “real problem” faced by the EU in reconciling freedom of expression with freedom of religion (actually, there’s no “problem” at all, unless fanatics choose to make one), he suggested that the press should adopt a voluntary code of conduct. By agreeing to this “the press will give the Muslim world the message: we are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression, we can and we are ready to self-regulate that right.” Why the “Muslim world” outside Europe, much of which is represented by dictatorships, mullah-states and kleptocracies, should have any say in the contents of the continent’s supposedly free press was not discussed.


In fairness it should be mentioned that the commissioner, Franco Frattini, subsequently put out a vague, ambiguous, and confusing press release purportedly intended to clarify his remarks, but once you have cut through the waffle, checked out the full text of the original interview, and grasped the fact that he was already talking about some sort of code before the current crisis, the commissioner’s intentions become all too clear. One way or another, he wants the press muzzled.


And Frattini is not alone. The president of the EU’s “parliament,” and thus a man supposedly dedicated to the freedom of debate, could bring himself to defend free expression only “within the boundaries of respect for the religious beliefs and cultural sensitivities of others.” Javier Solana meanwhile, paved the way for his trip by telling Al-Arabiya television that “respect does not stop at countries’ borders and it includes all religions and specifically what concerns us here, our respect for the Islamic religion.” As so often in the last week, the idea that “respect,” if it is to mean anything other than capitulation, has to flow both ways, seems not to have merited a mention.


And not so ambiguous...


Of course, there is something more than a little disingenuous about the manner in which European politicians like to portray themselves as defenders of the right of free speech even as they reduce it to rubble. The Swedish government, at least, was being more straightforward when, just before the weekend, it arranged to shut down a website that had run one rather innocuous cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed. Tellingly, the website belonged to the newspaper of a political party of the hard right, yet another sign of how the establishment’s refusal to enter into any serious debate over multiculturalism has handed the issue over to Europe’s rougher fringe, who can only gain as a result. It’s telling too to read how the Swedish foreign minister reportedly excused her government’s actions: “We are already seeing reactions in certain countries who have responded to the Swedish Democrats [the political party in question] having these pictures on their website, and this could naturally have grave consequences for Swedish people and Swedish interests.” What, I wonder, is the Swedish for “submission”?


The Swedish authorities are unusual only in the directness of the measures that they have taken, and in the frankness with which they have explained the motives behind them. Other, more discreet, governments are probably content to let their laws take their course, something that will come as cold comfort to anyone who still believes in controversy, debate, and the free exchange of ideas. The development of Europe’s state-sponsored multiculturalism has gone hand-in-hand, as it had to, with the enactment of laws that chip away at free speech (and have gone further, far further, than understandable restrictions on direct incitements to violence), but which have, ironically, encouraged and inflamed those that they were meant to appease.


Jacques Chirac was quick to condemn the republication of the Danish cartoons in Charlie Hebdo, an iconoclastic French weekly, as an “overt provocation”, but was able to leave the dirty work to others. The French Council of Muslims, a body set up with official support, is reported to be organizing the prosecution of poor Charlie, quite for what remains unclear, but doubtless the Council’s lawyers will be able to find something useful in France’s laws against “hate speech” or any number of other offenses dreamt up by the enforcers of multiculturalism. The prosecution, like that of the author Michel Houellebecq may well end in failure, but any prosecution, successful or otherwise, comes with a cost in time, worry, and lawyers’ fees, a cost that will make other authors, editors, and publishers think twice before publishing anything that might irritate the imams. And France is by no means alone in this respect. Many European countries can boast, if that’s the word, similar laws on their own statute books, and even in Britain, traditionally a defender of free speech, the House of Commons recently came within one vote of passing a law that would almost certainly have made publishing the cartoons a criminal offense.


If the law doesn’t do the trick, perhaps intimidation will. The threat of violence, and sometimes more than the threat, has run through the hysteria and bombast of recent days, and it has involved far more than the torching of a few embassies, appalling though that was. Sometimes the threats, usually of trouble from Europe’s Muslim minorities, were explicit, and sometimes they were more subtle, a hint here, a comment there, that “provocations” such as the cartoons could further radicalize Islamic populations worldwide, further complicating the war on terror, and bringing the prospect of a terrifying “clash of civilizations” ever closer. If European governments are incapable of resisting such pressure, and, after the last week, it seems clear that they are, how many writers and artists can be expected to run the risk of Muslim wrath? Underlining that point, The Liberal, a small British political periodical, withdrew one of the Danish cartoons from its website after being warned by the police that they could not guarantee the safety of the magazine’s staff.


At least the magazine was able to acknowledge what had happened by leaving a blank space marked “censored” on its website. After the events of these last days, we can be sure that other acts of censorship or self-censorship will pass insidiously and in silence, unnoticed, un-mourned, or, at best, explained away as a gesture of that “respect” that Europe’s elites are now so eager to proclaim.


And as for the Danes, they must be feeling very, very alone. The notion of European solidarity has been revealed as the myth it always was. Denmark, and its tradition of free speech, has been left to twist in the wind, trashed, abused, and betrayed. An article published in Jyllands-Posten (yes, them again) on Friday revealed clear frustration over the way that the country is being treated. It’s in Danish only, but one phrase (“Ytringsfrihed er ytringsfrihed er ytringsfrihed. Der er intet men.”) stands out, and it deserves to be translated and repeated again, and again, and again: “Free speech is free speech is free speech. There is no but.”


Fine words. Is anyone listening?




American news media: little courage and little honesty (, 060214)


by Dennis Prager


American news media have suffered in recent years. Thanks to the Internet and talk radio, millions of Americans have ceased relying on The New York Times and CNN for their written and televised news.


But it is difficult to recall a greater blow to the credibility of American news media than their near-universal refusal to publish the Mohammed cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper that have brought about worldwide Muslim protests.


This loss of credibility owes to two factors: dishonesty and cowardice.


Everyone and his mother knows why the networks and the print journals haven’t shown the cartoons — they fear Muslims blowing up their buildings and stabbing their editors to death. The only people who deny this are the news media. They all claim that they won’t show the cartoons because of sensitivity to Muslim feelings.


Which brings us to the other reason for the latest blow to the news media’s credibility: They are lying to us. If some politicians were telling lies as blatantly as the news media are now, the media would be having a field day exposing those politicians and calling for their removal from office. But, alas, what TV news station will criticize another TV news station? And what newspaper or magazine will criticize another newspaper or magazine?


So, without anyone in the media holding them accountable, the news media continue to believe they can fool nearly all the people all the time when they say they are not publishing the cartoons out of respect for Muslim sensibilities.


Why is this false?


First, major papers in virtually every European country have published the cartoons. It is inconceivable that European papers are less concerned with Muslim sensibilities than American media are. If anything, in Europe they are more pro-Muslim given their anti-Israel and anti-American views and given that they live in countries with far greater numbers of Muslims than live in America.


Second, the reason to publish the cartoons is not to offend Muslims; it is to explain the most significant current news event in the world. How can anyone understand the Islamic riots without having seen the cartoons that triggered them? If millions of Christians rioted after cartoons were published in the Muslim world, does anyone doubt that the Western press would publish them, or that it had the obligation to do so?


The argument that people can see the cartoons on the Internet is specious. Anyone could see the photos of the abuse of Arab prisoners at Abu Ghraib prison on the Internet, yet the news media presented these photos day after day for weeks.


Third, the American press has routinely published cartoons and pictures that insult Christians and Jews. The Los Angeles Times published a cartoon depicting the stones of the Western Wall of the Jewish Temple, the holiest site to Jews, as spelling out the word “HATE” and showing a religious Jew bowing down before it. And what newspaper did not publish a photo of “Piss Christ,” the Andres Serrano work of “art” depicting a crucifix in the artist’s urine?


American newspapers “insult” every group whenever they feel like it, but no one riots, burns and kills because of it.


Fourth, the ban on depicting Mohammed applies to Muslims, not to non-Muslims. It is remarkable that American newspapers, so frightened of any breakdown between church and state, are suddenly guided by Muslim religious prohibitions.


Fifth, the argument that publishing the images would inflame Muslims’ passions is another coverup for cowardice. No American newspaper or TV news show exhibited the slightest concern with inflaming Muslim passions when they endlessly published and depicted Abu Ghraib abuse photos.


If the liberal news media in America — conservative Fox News and The Weekly Standard have shown the cartoons — admitted they feared being hurt if they showed the cartoons, one would have respect for their honesty, if not their courage. But the liberal news media’s lack of courage coupled with their dishonest justifications make for a devastating commentary on American news media.


One should not be surprised. A few years ago, New York Times foreign affairs reporter John Burns reported — to his great credit — that some of the most prestigious American news organizations had made a deal with Saddam Hussein not to report negatively about his regime in exchange for being allowed to have a Baghdad news bureau.


When it comes to taking on conservatives, Catholics, Evangelicals and the like, liberal news media are Supermen. When it comes to confronting real evil, however, the news media are Mickey Mouse.




Three Killed in Continued Cartoon Violence in Pakistan (Foxnews, 060215)


PESHAWAR, Pakistan  — Gunfire and rioting erupted Wednesday as tens of thousands of people took to the streets in several Pakistani cities during the country’s third consecutive day of violent protests over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons. Three people were killed, including an 8-year-old boy.


More than 70,000 people flooded the streets of the northwestern city of Peshawar, said Saeed Wazir, a senior police officer. The massive crowd went on a rampage, torching businesses and fighting police, who struck back with tear gas and batons. A bus terminal operated by South Korea’s Sammi Corp. was torched, police said.


Protesters burned a KFC restaurant, three movie theaters and the offices of the main mobile phone company in the country. A Norwegian mobile phone company’s offices were also ransacked. Gunfire was heard near the burning KFC, as police tried to clear people from a main street, witnesses said.


An 8-year-old boy died after being struck in the face by a bullet fired by a protester, police officer Shahid Khan said. A 25-year-old man was killed by an electric cable that was snapped by gunfire, said the man’s cousin, Jehangir Khan.


At least 45 people were being treated for injuries in Peshawar’s two state-run hospitals, Khan and witnesses said.


Paramilitary forces were deployed, and the government announced that schools and colleges would be closed in northwestern Pakistan for one week to protect students from violence. Authorities also announced a ban on rallies in eastern Pakistan for an indefinite period. Most shops, public transport and other businesses were also closed.


Demonstrations around Asia and the Middle East over the cartoons — which first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September and have been reprinted by other Western newspapers — have subsided in recent days, including in Afghanistan, where 11 people died in riots last week.


Many Muslims regard any depiction of the prophet as blasphemous. They reject the newspapers’ explanations that the cartoons have news value and represent free speech.


But the protests have gathered momentum in Pakistan this week. Islamic groups and traders’ associations have organized shutdowns and street rallies that have descended into violence.


Intelligence officials say members of outlawed Islamic militant groups have joined the protests, and may be inciting violence to undermine the pro-Western government of President Gen. Pervez Musharraf.


Hundreds of Afghan refugees joined the protest in Peshawar, the capital of the conservative North West Frontier Province. Many chanted “Death to Denmark!” and “Hang those who drew the insulting cartoons!” Others burned Danish flags and effigies of the Danish prime minister.


Rioting also broke out Wednesday in the northwestern town of Tank, near the South Waziristan tribal region where security officials have said Al Qaeda-linked foreign fighters are hiding. Protesters set fire to 30 shops selling CDs, DVDs, and videos, said Attiq Wazir, a local police official. Suspected Islamic militants had warned music shops to close, witnesses said.


One policeman was injured when a protester opened fire to resist arrest.


In the eastern city of Lahore, fighting flared up for the second straight day. A 30-year-old man was shot dead in a clash with police as about 1,500 students staged a rally outside a university, hospital and police officials said.


On Tuesday, thousands of protesters went on a rampage in Lahore, burning Western businesses including McDonald’s, KFC and Pizza Hut restaurants. Two people died and police detained 125 people, a police official said on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.


Violent protests also erupted Tuesday in the capital, Islamabad. More than 1,000 students forced their way into a heavily guarded enclave housing foreign embassies. They damaged cars and a bank building, but were quickly expelled from the area with tear gas and water cannons.


Elsewhere in Asia, hundreds of Muslim protesters ripped apart and burned Danish flags Wednesday in a rally at the Danish honorary consulate in Manila, the Philippines.


In Muslim-majority Malaysia, the government ordered Guang Ming, the country’s third largest Chinese-language newspaper, to halt publication of its evening edition for two weeks as punishment for printing a photograph in which the cartoons were visible.


Indonesia’s importers association also announced a boycott of Danish goods until the Danish government apologizes for the cartoons.


Denmark’s government has refused to apologize, saying it has no influence over its independent media. Numerous countries in the Middle East have called for a boycott of Danish goods, costing Danish businesses more than $1 million a day, analysts and companies said last week.




Muslim bites dog (, 060215)


by Ann Coulter


The amazing part of the great Danish cartoon caper isn’t that Muslims immediately engage in acts of mob violence when things don’t go their way. That is de rigueur for the Religion of Peace. Their immediate response to all bad news is mass violence. That’s a “dog bites man” story and belongs on page B-34, next to the grade school hot lunch menu and the birth notices.


After an Egyptian ferry capsized recently, killing hundreds of passengers, a whole braying mob of passengers’ relatives staged an organized attack on the company, throwing furniture out the window and burning the building to the ground. Witnesses say it was the most violent ocean liner-related incident since Carnival Cruise Lines fired Kathie Lee Gifford.


The “offense to Islam” ruse is merely an excuse for Muslims to revert to their default mode: rioting and setting things on fire. These people have a serious anger management problem.


So it’s not exactly a scoop that Muslims are engaging in violence. A front-page story would be “Offended Muslims Remain Calm.”


What is stunning about this spectacle is that their violence is working. With a few exceptions, the media won’t show the cartoons that incited mass violence around the globe (see the full gallery: And yet, week after week, American patriots endure “The Boondocks” without complaint. Where’s the justice here?


Perhaps we could put aside our national, ongoing, post-9/11 Muslim butt-kissing contest and get on with the business at hand: Bombing Syria back to the stone age and then permanently disarming Iran.


The mass violence by Muslims over some cartoons reminds us why we have to worry when countries like Iran start talking about having nukes. Iran is led by a lunatic who makes a big point of denying the Holocaust. Indeed, in response to the Muhammad cartoons, one Iranian newspaper is soliciting cartoons about the Holocaust. (So far the only submissions have come from Ted Rall, Garry Trudeau and The New York Times.)


Iran is certainly implying that it has nukes. Maybe they do, maybe they don’t, but you can’t take chances with berserk psychotics. What if they start having one of these bipolar episodes with a nuclear bomb?


If you don’t want to get shot by the police, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, then don’t point a toy gun at them. Or, as I believe our motto should be after 9/11: Jihad monkey talks tough; jihad monkey takes the consequences. Sorry, I realize that’s offensive. How about “camel jockey”? What? Now what’d I say? Boy, you tent merchants sure are touchy. Grow up, would you?


In addition, I believe we are legally required to be bombing Syria right now. And unlike the Koran’s alleged prohibition on depictions of Muhammad, I’ve got documentation to back that up!


Muslims in Syria torched the Danish Embassy a few weeks ago, burning it to the ground. According to everyone, the Syrian government was behind the attack — the prime minister of Denmark, Condoleezza Rice and White House spokesman Scott McClellan. I think even the gals on “The View” have acknowledged that Damascus was behind this one.


McClellan said: “We will hold Syria responsible for such violent demonstrations since they do not take place in that country without government knowledge and support.”


We are signatories to a treaty that requires us to do more than “hold Syria responsible” for this attack. Syria has staged a state-sponsored attack on our NATO partner on Danish soil, the Danish embassy. According to the terms of the NATO treaty, the United States and most of Europe have an obligation to go to war with Syria.


Or is NATO — like the conventions of civilized behavior, personal hygiene and grooming — inapplicable when Muslims are involved? Liberals complain about “unilateral action,” but under the terms of a treaty created by Dean Acheson and the Democrats, France, Germany, Spain and Greece are all obliged to go to war with us against Syria. Why, it’s almost like a coalition! OK, Mr. Commie: Saddle up!




Cartoon Protestors Burn 15 Churches in Deadly Nigeria Muslim-Christian Clash (Christian Post, 060220)


Nigerian Muslims angry over the caricatures of the Muslim prophet Muhammad attacked Christians and burned churches during a protest on Saturday, killing at least 15 people in the deadliest confrontation yet over the drawings.


Mobs of Muslim protesters flooded the northeast city of Maiduguri with machetes, sticks and iron rods, reported an Associated Press journalist that witnessed the event. One group threw a tire around a man, poured gasoline on him and set him on fire.


Reports indicated that within three hours, thousands of rioters burned 15 churches in Maiduguri before security forces were able to restore order.


The violence marked the first major protest to occur in Africa’s most populous nation and one of many that have taken place in recent weeks after the controversial cartoons, first printed by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten last September, were reprinted in European media and elsewhere. One of the cartoons depicts Muhammad wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with an ignited fuse. Muslims consider any depiction of Allah and their prophets to be blasphemy.


In Nigeria, tension had been building between Christians and Muslims as thousands of deaths have resulted from conflicts in recent years.


Nigeria has a population of more than 130 million and is roughly divided between a predominantly Muslim north and a Christian south.


Chima Ezeoke, a Christian Maiduguri resident, said protestors in Saturday’s confrontation attacked and looted shop owned by minority Christians.


“Most of the dead were Christians beaten to death on the streets by the rioters,” Ezeoke told AP.


Witnesses said three children and a priest were among those killed.


The Associated Press estimates that at least 45 people have been killed in protests across the Muslim world counting Saturday’s death.




Violent Clashes Escalate in Nigeria Over Cartoons (Christian Post, 060222)


Christian and Muslim riots in two Nigerian cities left at least 24 people dead on Tuesday, only days after Muslim demonstrators attacked Christians and churches this past weekend in violent protests against cartoons of the prophet Muhammad.


Tuesday’s violence broke out in the mainly Muslim northern city of Bauchi, targeting Christians and killing 18 people, reported the Nigerian Red Cross to the Associated Press. Meanwhile, according to residents and witnesses, Christian mobs rioted in the southern and predominantly Christian city of Onitsha, burning two mosques and killing at least six Muslims in what appeared to be a reprisal for the anti-Christian violence Saturday.


According to the secretary of the Red Cross in Bauchi, mobs in the Christian-targeted violence Tuesday ran through the streets wielding machetes and sticks.


“I am just coming back from Gombe Road, where we carried two dead bodies, both badly mutilated, and just at Boni Haruna Street near the Specialist Hospital, two of my staff were attacked and are seriously wounded,” Adamu Abubakar told AP. “So, the situation is still delicate.”


In Onitsha, a resident and businessman told AP by telephone the situation in the southern and predominantly Christian city.


“The mosque at the main market has been burnt and I’ve counted at least six dead bodies on the streets,” said Izzy Uzor. “The whole town is in a frenzy and people are running in all directions.”


According to AP, the anti-Muslim violence in Onitsha appeared to be in retaliation to the attacks on Christians last Saturday in the mostly Muslim northern city of Maiduguri. This past weekend, thousands of Muslims protesting against the Muhammad cartoons attacked Christians and burned down 30 churches, killing at least 18 people, most of them Christians. The Christian Association of Nigeria said at least 50 people were killed in the riot.


The Muslim mobs were protesting caricatures of the prophet Muhammad that were first printed by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted in European media and elsewhere. Muslims consider any depiction of Allah and their prophets to be blasphemy.


Christian groups such as International Christian Concern (ICC) had earlier expressed concerns that as Muslim outrage grew against the publication of the cartoons, Christians would increasingly be targeted because of their assumed association with the Western world.


Nigeria – with a population of more than 130 million – is roughly divided between a predominantly Muslim north and a Christian south. In recent years tension has been building between Christians and Muslims and thousands of death has resulted from conflicts. Experts, however, point out that many past Muslim-Christian clashes in Nigeria were the result of competition between ethnic groups in which religion was used to ignite ethnic tensions and “manipulated” to mobilize large numbers of people.


Saturday’s attacks marked the first violent demonstration over the caricatures in Nigeria. Tuesday’s violence brings the death toll to 49 people killed in sectarian violence in Nigeria since then.




Pakistani Cartoon Protesters Chant Anti-American Slogans (Foxnews, 060221)


ISLAMABAD, Pakistan — About 2,000 people chanted “Death to America” and “Death to Denmark” as they rallied in a small town near the Afghan border to protest the Prophet Muhammad cartoons that have sparked violent demonstrations in Muslim countries.


The protesters in Barwand also burned flags of Denmark — where the caricatures were first printed — and torched effigies of the Danish prime minister and President Bush.


About 10,000 people also protested against the cartoons in the southern Iraqi city of Karbala, burning Danish flags and demanding Iraq sever ties with Denmark.


In Denmark, Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen said authorities have taken “all the necessary steps” to protect the cartoonists who made the prophet drawings. A Pakistani cleric last week offered a $1 million bounty for killing one of them.


Fogh Rasmussen also reiterated he regrets that Muslims worldwide have been offended by the drawings published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, but said his government cannot be held responsible for the actions of its independent press.


“I think it is evident for everyone that this crisis is no longer about the 12 drawings in Jyllands-Posten,” the Danish leader said. “It’s about everything else and different agendas in the Muslim world. It’s obvious that extremist circles exploit the situation.”


A Russian newspaper that reprinted the Prophet Muhammad drawings at the center of a wave of protests in the Islamic world has closed, its owner said.


The weekly Nash Region became the second Russian newspaper in a week to shut down amid heightened sensitivities about portrayals of Muhammad. The publications have triggered deadly protests worldwide.


“I shut it down so that it wouldn’t become a real instigation for religious strife,” owner Mikhail Smirnov told The Associated Press. The paper was based in Vologda, about 500 miles north of Moscow.


In Indonesia, police arrested a member of a hardline Muslim group for allegedly taking part in a violent protest at the U.S. Embassy in Jakarta, an official said.


Some 400 members of the Islam Defenders Front threw rocks and broke windows at the embassy over the weekend, claiming it wounded more than 100 others.


Somalia has been without an effective central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew the government and divided the country into rival, clan-based fiefdoms.


Islamists are increasingly projecting themselves as an alternative to the numerous armed groups running the patchwork of clan-based fiefdoms.


Former warlords who now hold Cabinet positions have described the Islamists as terrorists, accusing them of killing moderate intellectuals, Muslim scholars and former military officials in a string of unexplained murders.


“They set up Islamic courts and they want to terrorize our people under the cover of making peace,” Minister for National Security Mohamed Qanyare Afrah said Sunday.


Saturday’s fighting began when combatants loyal to the Islamic courts tried to set up a new base near the former military academy. The move was opposed by those loyal to the warlords and armed businessmen, who announced a new alliance to fight the Islamist supporters in this anarchic Horn of Africa nation.


Members of the alliance included Qanyare, Minister for Commerce Muse Sudi Yalahow, Minister for Justice and Religious Affairs Omar Filish, Minister for Rehabilitation of Militia Botan Isse and the businessmen Bashir Ragheh Shirar and Abdirishid Shire Ileqeyte.


They said in a statement they would “eradicate the extremists, terrorists and their supporters so as to pave the way for a peaceful country for the Somali children.”


Late Monday, Qanyare’s bitter rival — a powerful warlord controlling the temporary seat of government in Jowhar, 90 kilometers (56 miles) northwest of Mogadishu — announced his support for the new alliance.


“After my administration considered what is happening in Mogadishu, we have realized that foreigners are involved in the fighting,” Mohamed Dhere told journalists. “We decided to stop this and work against the extremist foreigners.”


“I am going to support the alliance that is fighting against the extremists,” Dhere said.




Constructive Provocation: Why The Harvard Salient published those Danish cartoons and doesn’t regret it. (National Review Online, 060223)


It could have been the embassies burning, or the pledges of decapitation for offending cartoonists, or the priest shot dead while praying in his church in Turkey.



About two weeks ago, it struck me and my fellow editors at The Harvard Salient that in observing the global reaction to the now famous Danish cartoons, we were witnessing an important aspect of Islamic political culture being laid bare.


To us, whatever the extenuating circumstances, an obvious and inescapable conclusion of the cartoon furor was that the Muslim world did not have as high a tolerance as the West for a full, free expression of ideas.


Not that anyone was saying something so impolitic around campus. In fact, nobody was saying anything at all.


Two weeks ago, if an observer looked at Harvard Yard’s poster boards or glanced at the e-mail lists where campus events are routinely publicized, he would have seen the following: a lecture by literary critic Elaine Scarry entitled “Undoing Democracy: Military Honor and the Rule of Law,” a law-school panel called “Detention, Rendition, and Torture: Waging America’s Global War on Terrorism outside the Rule of Law,” and (naturally) the recurring Noam Chomsky oration on the wickedness of America’s foreign policy.


The most significant event in world politics somehow couldn’t penetrate Harvard’s single-minded obsession with America’s imperial wrongdoing. Many students simply didn’t know what the Danish cartoons looked like. A number of them shared a misperception with rioters in Syria and the West Bank that the cartoons depicted Mohammed as a pig or in flagrante delicto.


So we at The Salient tried to start a jumpstart a conversation that needed to happen. We decided to publish the cartoons.


We trusted that Harvard students would not become violent. And we knew that Harvard ostensibly prides itself on providing a full, even risqué, climate of free speech. After all, this is the university which allows students to publish a pornographic magazine called H-Bomb — in fact, the student government funds it!


This is the same Harvard where a gay-advocacy group once handed out blank posters to its members with instructions to let their imaginations run wild. The resulting works were emblazoned with lines like “Saint Sebastian: The First Fag in the Military” and “I Worship the Lord with my Wet Quivering Clitoris.” These images were then plastered around the Yard.


And this is the same Harvard where a student dressed as the Virgin Mary was photographed masturbating, an oeuvre which was submitted as a final project for a class called “American Protest Literature from Tom Paine to Tupac.” That image was later posted on one of Harvard’s most heavily trafficked blogs.


These were blasphemies, but nobody at Harvard responded by burning down a building.


Alongside the four cartoons we republished, we ran an editorial explaining our decision: “Christianity has evolved as the West has evolved, and Christians have grown thick skin. It almost goes without saying that similar depictions of Christ, or the pope, or a crucifix would have hardly elicited a response save a handful of letters to the editor. In the 21st century, a violent response would, in any case, be unfathomable. We have no doubt that Islam will one day evolve as well, to be able to tolerate things its practitioners might find offensive or taboo. Part of this maturing process is not catering to a sensitivity borne of fear of death that has plagued many would-be critics of radical Islam.”


The Salient took a gamble. We knew the cartoons would offend Muslims on our campus. But we thought the risk was worth it because our decision would serve as a starting point for meaningful conversations.


And it has.


The Harvard Interfaith Council held a forum last week to discuss the cartoons; more than 100 people attended. Harvard’s Institute of Politics also held an event to analyze the controversy. Last week, I was honored to receive an invitation from a member of the Harvard Islamic Society to attend Friday prayers. Three hours of enlightening discussion followed. The cartoons have become a feature of campus conversation.


In so many ways, the reaction to The Salient’s publication of the cartoons has vindicated our reason for publishing them. It has proved beyond all doubt that politically incorrect pictures and language can beget a more fruitful conversation and get more minds thinking. Isn’t that what universities are meant for, anyways?


— Travis Kavulla is a senior at Harvard and editor of The Harvard Salient.




Nigeria Death Toll Rises to 96 in Cartoon-Sparked Violence (Christian Post, 060224)


After days of Christian-Muslim violence in Nigeria following violent protests last weekend over published cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad, the death toll rose to at least 96 on Wednesday.


“I’ve counted more than 20 people killed today,” said an Onitsha resident, Isotonu Achor, to the Associated Press.


Mobs of rioters with machetes and shotguns rampaged through the mainly Christian city in southern Nigeria on Wednesday, AP reported.


“Major streets are littered with bodies of people killed today, most of them northerners,” Achor said. Other witnesses also said they saw at least 20 dead.


Nigeria, Africa’s most populous nation with more than 130 million people, is roughly divided between a predominantly Muslim north and a Christian south. Since 2000, thousands of people have died in sectarian violence between Christian and Muslim conflicts. However, experts have pointed out that many of the past Muslim-Christian clashes in Nigeria were linked to ethnic, economic, and political conflicts with religious overtones.


The number of deaths of at least 96 was counted since Saturday’s violent protest that erupted over cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad that were first printed by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten in September and reprinted in European media and elsewhere. Muslims consider any depiction of Allah and their prophets to be blasphemy.


In Nigeria’s northern and predominantly Muslim city of Maiduguri, angry Muslims burned 30 churches and killed 18 people, mostly Christians. Similar protests occurred on Monday and Tuesday in the northern city of Bauchi, where 25 people were killed when Muslim mobs attacked Christians there.


“That an incident in far away Denmark which does not claim to be representing Christianity could elicit such an unfortunate reaction here in Nigeria, leading to the destruction of Christian Churches, is not only embarrassing, but also disturbing and unfortunate,” said Nigerian Archbishop Peter Akinola, president of Christian Association of Nigeria, in a statement on Tuesday.


“We have for a long time now watched helplessly the killing, maiming and destruction of Christians and their property by Muslim fanatics and fundamentalists at the slightest or no provocation at all,” Akinola added.


Violence also took place in Onitsha on Tuesday where Christian militants burned two mosques and at least 30 people were killed, most of them northern Muslims. Thousands of Muslims with northern origins afterwards took shelter in the military barracks of the city.




Cartoon Controversy Spills Over to U.S. Colleges (Christian Post, 060301)


The controversy over the reprinting of cartoons of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad continues to spread, spilling over to the campuses of colleges and universities in America.


As thousands of Muslims worldwide have protested, sometimes violently, against the drawings after they were published in a Danish newspaper in September and then in other papers in Europe more recently, some U.S. college campuses have also seen their share of cartoon publications and demonstrations.


Irvine, California


At the University of California in Irvine (UCI), hundreds of Muslim students, many wearing green armbands, placed mats on the barricaded street and said a prayer on Tuesday, as they protested against plans to show cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad wearing a bomb-laden turban.


“The agenda is to spread Islamophobia and create hysteria against Muslims similar to what happened to the Jews in Nazi Germany,” said Osman Umarji, former president of the Muslim Student Union at UCI, according to the Associated Press. “Freedom of speech has its limits.”


Organizers, however, said unveiling the cartoons was part of a larger debate on Islamic extremism sponsored by the College Republicans and The United American Committee, a fledgling group not affiliated with UCI.


Brock Hill, vice president of the College Republicans, told AP his group had a right to display the cartoons under the First Amendment and noted that the panel was to include a representative from the Free Muslims Coalition.


“We’re not going against Islam whatsoever,” he said. “This is about free speech and the free marketplace of ideas.”


The panel also was to discuss anti-Semitic and anti-Western drawings that have appeared in Middle Eastern newspapers and discuss Islamic militancy on U.S. college campuses, said Jesse Petrilla, 22, a Glendale Community College student and UAC founder.


Petrilla told AP that he believes Muslims overseas are using the prophet drawings as an excuse to commit violence against Western nations.


“We’re hoping to bring light to the subject and get people talking about it,” he said. “People don’t realize it’s not just the cartoons – there’s motivation behind it that’s rooted far deeper.”


Radford, Virginia


Meanwhile, in Radford, Va., online cartoons depicting Jesus that satirized televangelists, the commercialization of Christmas and other issues caused a stir among both Christian and non-Christian students and administrators at Radford University.


In his “Christ on Campus” comic strip on the Whim Internet Magazine, Christian Keesee featured Jesus being stabbed by Santa Claus, playing poker with other religious figures, including Muhammad, and punching a heckler who referred to him as a “glorified Easter bunny.”


Brian Erskine, chairman of Radford University’s College Republicans, said he would “fight tooth and nail” for Keesee’s right to publish his cartoon, although he described it as crude.


“I don’t understand how someone who claims to be a Christian ... could do something like this,” he said, according to AP.


Blake Fought, sports editor of Radford’s student newspaper, said he would like to see the cartoon stopped or at least vetted by a third party before being published to keep the rancor on campus from turning ugly.


He told AP that he understands the freedom of speech issue, but said a line needs to be drawn, especially when the media lampoons something as personal to people as religion.


Portland, Oregon


And in Oregon, Portland State University’s Daily Vanguard newspaper published a cartoon last Thursday by Alex Miel depicting Jesus with a bomb strapped around his waist with a caption reading, “How to start a riot (part II).”


In an opinion piece published on Monday, Vanguard Managing Editor Leathan Graves-Highsmith said that Editor-in-Chief Matt Petrie first approached him about the cartoon on the night of Feb. 22 as they began production on the Thursday paper.


“We were both immediately aware that the cartoon would likely offend or even anger some of our readers,” wrote Graves-Highsmith.


However, the managing editor said, “In the end we decided that the potential benefit to the community of initiating conversation and our duty to challenge our readers were more important than the fact that the cartoon would likely offend some of them.”


The editors’ hope, Graves-Highsmith had stated, was “that the cartoon’s publication could spark debate on issues of freedom of speech and the nature of offensive imagery.”


KOIN News 6, which is based in Portland, had run an article on the Vanguard cartoon along with a display of the cartoon.


The CBS-affiliate later took down the story, titled “Jesus-With-Bomb Cartoon Sparks Controversy,” from its website.




Cleric’s Lawyers: Death to Yemeni Publisher of Muhammad Cartoons (Foxnews, 060309)


CAIRO, Egypt — Lawyers for a cleric have urged a judge in Yemen to condemn to death a local editor who published the Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, the newspaper’s Web site said Thursday.


The editor of The Yemen Observer, Mohammed Al-Asadi, told The Associated Press he is being prosecuted by both the state and a prominent Islamic cleric, Sheik Abdulmajid al-Zindani, whom the United States has accused of supporting terrorism.


Editors of two other Yemeni papers that published the cartoons, Al-Ra’i al-Am and Al-Huriya, have also been charged with offending Islam. Their trials have not yet started.


It appeared unlikely that a court would hand down executions in any of these cases. Yemen, a poor, lawless, Arab country at the foot of the Arabian Peninsula, has a secular, U.S.-allied government that controls the judiciary.


But the case highlights once again the extent of the sensitivities over these cartoons throughout the Muslim world — even when, as in this case, they are displayed in a critical context.


The Yemen Observer published thumbnail copies of some of the cartoons in its Feb. 4 edition, but it covered them with a thick black cross to show its disapproval. In two accompanying articles, the paper condemned the cartoons and reported reactions from across the Muslim world.


When al-Asadi appeared in court on Wednesday, 21 lawyers representing al-Zindani demanded the death penalty for the editor by recounting how the Prophet Muhammad approved of the killing of a lady who had insulted him, the newspaper reported on its Web site.


“They said that they wanted the same punishment to be applied to those who abuse the prophet,” al-Asadi told the AP, “but the judge said there were many things missing from the prosecution team’s argument, and told them to complete their file.”


The lawyers also asked the court to close the newspaper and confiscate its assets.


The state prosecutor asked the court to impose the maximum sentence, but did not specify whether the editor should be charged under criminal law, which allows for the death penalty, or under the press law, which carries a maximum sentence of a year in prison, al-Asadi said.


Neither the state prosecutor nor al-Zindani could be reached Thursday because of the late hour.


Al-Asadi said the prosecutor left the choice of law to the judge before the trial, which was attended by representatives of Amnesty International, was adjourned to March 22.


“The judge is very understanding and he knows that the articles written about the cartoons made it clear that the newspaper condemned them and defended Islam and the prophet, but I cannot forecast the judge’s decision,” Al-Asadi said when the AP in Cairo called him at his home in the Yemeni capital, San’a.


The cartoons were first published in a Danish paper last September. They were reprinted in European papers in January and February, provoking a wave of protests and riots in Arab and Muslim countries. Demonstrators were killed in Libya and Afghanistan.


The mainstream Sunni sect of Islam, to which most Yemenis belong, bans any image of the prophet as likely to insult him or encourage idolatry.


Al-Zindani, who enjoys support in Islamic fundamentalist circles in Yemen, has been listed by the United Nations as a suspected financier of terrorism.


The official Saba News Agency reported last month that President Bush had written to Yemeni President Ali Abdullah Saleh calling for al-Zindani’s arrest. Saba reported that Yemen requested evidence of al-Zindani’s involvement in terror.


The government is a partner with the United States in the war on terrorism, but the U.S. was displeased when 23 Al Qaeda convicts escaped last month from a prison in Yemen.




The Cartoon Wars Are Over: We lost. (Weekly Standard, 060501)


“EVER SINCE THOSE CARTOONS in Denmark, the rules have changed. Nobody shows an image of Muhammad anymore.” When a character on the animated TV show South Park made that avowal a few weeks ago, he could easily have been speaking for media outlets across Europe and North America. This past winter’s Cartoon Jihad occasioned far fewer robust defenses of press freedom than it did craven surrenders to the threats of radicals. Now, even South Park, Comedy Central’s irreverent powerhouse, has felt the backlash.


Sometime in March, South Park creators Matt Stone and Trey Parker approached network executives with their idea for an episode satirizing the Danish cartoon spat. Could they depict the Muslim prophet Muhammad on screen? No way, came the immediate reply. True, Comedy Central had allowed South Park to broadcast a Muhammad character five years earlier, in the episode “Super Best Friends.” But that episode debuted on July 4, 2001—just before the 9/11 terrorist attacks. “A lot changed two months later,” one source close to the show told me, explaining the network’s decision. “It’s a vastly different world that we live in right now.” Yes: a world where terrorists apparently have veto power over American television.


Stone and Parker did not take Comedy Central’s censorship lightly. They made the two “Cartoon Wars” episodes an acerbic rebuke to the network. At the moment Muhammad is poised to appear, the screen goes black, and a brief message announces that Comedy Central “has refused to broadcast” the prophet’s image. When the censored episodes aired—on April 5 and April 12—the blogosphere erupted with scathing indictments of the network’s pusillanimity. Many conservatives also found a new reason to appreciate Stone and Parker’s talents. “I’m not a fan of South Park,” wrote Michelle Malkin after the April 5 show. “But the emails I’ve been getting all day from South Park viewers about last night’s episode just might change my mind.”


Part I of “Cartoon Wars” begins with Y2K-style pandemonium breaking loose, as South Park natives loot stores and hoard toilet paper before crowding into a community center. It turns out the Fox cartoon Family Guy is set to air an image of Muhammad, sparking riots across the Muslim world and leading a terrorist named al-Zawahri to vow swift retaliation. But at the last minute, Fox censors the Muhammad image, thus averting a showdown.


The four main South Park kids—Kyle, Stan, Kenny, and Cartman—trek to Kyle’s house to watch the episode on TiVo. When Kyle’s liberal parents catch them, his father smashes the TV with a baseball bat while his mother lectures them about “Muslim sensitivity training.” Then the boys get word that Family Guy will be broadcasting another episode with Muhammad—this time, uncensored. Terrorist kingpin Zawahri warns against it, promising a “massive” response.


At a town meeting, South Parkers hear from a university professor. “Our only hope,” he says, “is to make the Muslim extremists know that we had no part in the Muhammad episode: that even though the episode aired, we didn’t watch it, we didn’t hear it, and we didn’t talk about it.” How do they do that? Simple. “We bury our heads in sand.” By enlisting some two dozen dump trucks, the professor explains, they can stockpile enough sand for the whole town. “We can avoid looking like we’re responsible for any part of this at all.”


The heads-in-the-sand fad soon sweeps the nation. Meanwhile, Kyle and Cartman are racing for Hollywood. Cartman wants the Family Guy episode canned, in hopes that it will bring down the whole show. Kyle wants it to air and strike a blow for free speech. The White House press corps wants to know why President Bush hasn’t thrown the Family Guy writing staff in prison. (“Forgive me, Mr. President,” one reporter smirks, “but this ‘First Amendment’ sounds like a lot of bureaucratic gibberygoo.”)


Kyle and Cartman both wind up in the Fox president’s office just seconds before the episode is due to air. Brandishing a gun, Cartman demands it be cancelled. The Fox boss starts to comply.


“You can’t do what he wants just because he’s the one threatening you with violence,” squeals an exasperated Kyle.


“I can’t be responsible for people getting hurt, especially me,” grovels the Fox prez.


“Yes, people can get hurt,” Kyle admits. “That’s how terrorism works. But if you give in to that . . . you’re allowing terrorism to work. Do the right thing here.”


He’s still wavering.


“If you don’t show Muhammad,” Kyle adds, “then you’ve made a distinction between what is okay to poke fun at, and what isn’t. Either it’s all okay, or none of it is.”


Finally, the Fox prez agrees to broadcast the episode uncensored. Before Family Guy’s Muhammad comes on screen carrying a football helmet, a black slate flashes with word of Comedy Central’s prohibition. Then, when the show returns, we see the terrorists’ retaliation: a short production by Zawahri, Osama bin Laden, and “al Qaeda Films.” The movie shows Americans defecating on each other, and Jesus defecating on George W. Bush and the American flag.


The Catholic League’s William Donohue, a perennial South Park scourge, blasted Stone and Parker as “little whores” for the Jesus gag. “They’ll sit there and they’ll whine and they’ll take their shot at Jesus,” he told the AP. Donohue missed the point entirely: It wasn’t Jesus being mocked; it was Comedy Central. By highlighting the network’s double standard—okay to offend Christians, not okay to offend Muslims—South Park, which has averaged nearly 3.5 million viewers per episode this season, affirmed that free expression may at times lead to hurt feelings. But that’s no reason to capitulate, especially not when political correctness becomes physical intimidation.


On April 13, Comedy Central issued a statement defending its censorship. “In light of recent world events, we feel we made the right decision.” The Cartoon Jihad may be over. But when even South Park is stifled by “recent world events,” it becomes clearer than ever who won.


Duncan Currie is a reporter at The Weekly Standard.




**Iran Unveils Holocaust Cartoon Exhibit (Foxnews, 060814)


TEHRAN, Iran — An exhibition of more than 200 cartoons about the Holocaust opened Monday as Iran’s response to last year’s Muslim outrage over a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper.


The display, showing 204 entries from Iran and abroad, was strongly influenced by the views of Iran’s hard-line President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who drew widespread condemnation last year for calling the Holocaust a “myth” and saying Israel should be destroyed.


One cartoon by Indonesian Tony Thomdean shows the Statue of Liberty holding a book on the Holocaust in its left hand and giving a Nazi-style salute with the other.


Masoud Shojai, director of the host Caricature House, said a jury looked through 1,200 entries received after the contest was announced in February by the co-sponsor, the Iranian newspaper Hamshahri.


It came following worldwide protests by Muslims against the Muhammad cartoon published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Many Muslims considered the cartoon offensive and a violation of traditions prohibiting images of their prophet.


Hamshahri said it wanted to test the West’s tolerance for drawings about the Nazi killing of 6 million Jews in World War II. The entries on display came from nations including United States, Indonesia and Turkey.


About 50 people attended the exhibition’s opening.


“I came to learn more about the roots of the Holocaust and the basis of Israel’s emergence,” said 23-year-old Zahra Amoli.


The exhibition runs until Sept. 13 and the winner will receive US$12,000. The exhibition hall is next to the Palestinian Authority’s embassy, which was Israel’s diplomatic site in Iran before the 1979 Islamic Revolution.




Muslim groups’ suit over cartoons rejected (Washington Times, 061027)


COPENHAGEN — A Danish court rejected a lawsuit yesterday against the newspaper that first printed prophet Muhammad cartoons, some of which depicted Islam as a violent religion.


The City Court in Aarhus rejected claims by seven Danish Muslim groups that the 12 drawings printed in the Jyllands-Posten daily were meant to insult the prophet and make a mockery of Islam.


The court conceded that some Muslims saw the drawings as offensive, but found there was no basis to assume that “the purpose of the drawings was to present opinions that can belittle Muslims.”


Jyllands-Posten’s editor in chief hailed the court’s decision as a victory for freedom of speech.


“Everything but a pure acquittal would have been a disaster for press freedom and the media’s ability to fulfill its duties in a democratic society,” Editor in Chief Carsten Juste said.


The newspaper has apologized for offending Muslims, but stands by its decision to print the cartoons in September 2005 as a challenge to a perceived self-censorship among artists afraid to offend Muslims.


The caricatures were reprinted in European newspapers in January and February, fueling protests in the Islamic world. Some turned violent, with Danish outposts attacked and people killed in Libya and Afghanistan.


Muslims were outraged at the court decision.


“The dismissal of the lawsuit against the newspaper, which was expected, confirms the ongoing intention to harm our religion and our prophet,” said Mahmoud al-Kharabsheh, an independent legislator who heads the Jordanian parliament’s legal committee.


The plaintiffs plan to appeal the verdict, spokesman Kasem Ahmad told Danish radio, adding that he feared Muslims around the world would be upset by the ruling.


In Lebanon, where protesters set fire to the building housing the Danish consulate in February, Islamic studies professor Radwan el-Sayyed said yesterday’s verdict was a “misinterpretation of freedom of expression.”


He said he did not expect a repeat of February’s riots, however, saying people knew they were counterproductive.


“There will be anger, newspaper articles condemning the court decision, but I don’t expect there to be street protests,” Mr. el-Sayyed said.


In Syria, where a mob attacked and set fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in February, legislator Mohammed Habash, who heads the Islamic Studies Center in Damascus, said the ruling would “widen the gap between the Western and Islamic world.”


One of the cartoons showed the prophet wearing a turban shaped like a bomb with a burning fuse.


The court said some of the drawings could be perceived as linking Islam to terrorism, but added the purpose was to provide social commentary rather than to insult or ridicule Muslims.


Islamic law, which historically was not intended to apply in nations outside the Muslim world, forbids any depiction of the prophet.


The seven Danish Muslim groups filed the defamation suit in March, after Denmark’s top prosecutor declined to press criminal charges, saying the drawings did not violate laws against racism or blasphemy.


The plaintiffs, who claimed to have the backing of 20 more Islamic organizations in the Scandinavian country, had sought $16,860 in damages from Mr. Juste and Flemming Rose, the culture editor who supervised the cartoon project.