Saturday, February 11, 2006

Here's from today's New York Times, a piece on the Danish prime minister:

Mr. Rasmussen argued that the cartoon crisis had been hijacked by Middle Eastern interests using the caricatures for domestic ends.

He said Iran, isolated over its nuclear program, was using the cartoons to generate support in the Muslim world, while Syria, under investigation for the assassination of the former Lebanese prime minister, Rafik Hariri, was trying to cause a distraction. The Palestinian Authority, divided over the recent election of Hamas, was exploiting the cartoon crisis to unite its disparate elements, he said.

It's interesting.

In Russia, the cartoon scandal seems to have allowed Ramzan Kadyrov to take the current backlash against NGOs to the local level.

In Ukraine, Mustafa Jemilev, the Crimean Tatar leader and candidate from Our Ukraine Bloc, said that the owners of the Ukrainian paper that had printed the cartoons had ties with Victor Yanukovych's "Party of the Regions" and intended to destabilize the situation in Ukraine (according to, in Russian).


I'm linking to the piece I've mentioned above here because, ironically, it contains one of the cartoons.

Newspaper Segodnya reproduced two cartoons. Also, there's a piece on the protests; a tiny item about a Ukrainian cartoonist who did draw Buddha and Jesus; another tiny item on the reaction of Olga Rustamova, deputy head of a Ukrainian Muslim women's organization "Maryam" (who seemed to be speaking for all Ukrainian Muslims, somehow); and quotes from the press secretary of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church-Kyiv Patriarchy (yes, not Moscow Patriarchy, which would've been logical given Mustafa Jemilev's statement about the paper's owners' political affiliation), the Chief Rabbi of Ukraine, and the head of a Ukrainian Buddhist order.

Olga Rustamova said that even though Ukrainian Muslims feel safe and are respected in Ukraine, they ("we" in the text, must be Rustamova's organization) have sent a letter to the EU, demanding an apology from the Danish government.

The Orthodox priest, among other things, said that "it's sad when religious symbols that the believers consider sacred, become subject for ridicule."

The rabbi said that every religion should be treated with tolerance, but "when Palestinian terrorists carried out a pogrom of the Prophet Joseph's tomb in Shechem, burning Torah scrolls, no one was burning down Palestinian missions afterwards."

The Buddhist representative called the protests "overly hysterical." He also said that "there are plenty of Buddha cartoons in the Buddhist countries. No matter what people think of them, there's freedom of speech. When the Talibs were destroying Buddha statues in Afghanistan, no one was persecuting Afghans or Muslims all over the world."


Mustafa Jemilev said this (in Ukrainian): "It's more an issue of journalists' ethics and tactfulness. That's why I think that the reaction in certain countries was inadequate: the cartoons are unpleasant and mean, but it was counterproductive to respond with pogroms."

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