Tuesday, February 07, 2006

I haven't really watched TV since last year: the TV set's in the other room, and if I want noise, I can always wake Marta up and then refuse to feed her. So I'm only aware of the Danish cartoons scandal thanks to the media headlines and blogs. Reading beyond headlines is something I often choose to skip; as for my reading of the blogs, I read them selectively, and the ones I do read often supply me with a distorted view of the world: right now, it appears as if there are only sane people on both sides of the controversy.

Below is what my world sounds like, sort of. (I don't want reality checks, so I often skip comment sections, if I don't like what's there.)

Haroon Moghul of avari/nameh in the United States:

sour danish

[...] The cartoons that are being celebrated by a certain segment of Europe go to the heart of a cultural and social clash: European secularists of a certain variety want Muslims to accept that their religion can be insulted; until Muslims accept what is sacred about Europe... which is the right to insult what is sacred about Islam... You see, I think, the dilemma.

Let us also not forget that tens of thousands of Muslims were butchered in Bosnia about a dozen years ago, and that many of the European nations that chastise the United States for its double standards, failed to act to try to contain the violence; indeed, some European leaders even associated then-President of Bosnia, Alija Izetbegovic, with fundamentalism, which is egregiously wrong, but also egregiously immoral: That doesn't justify permitting genocide to happen under one's nose. So, while I agree that Muslims certainly should not turn to violence, threats of violence, and the like, in their protesting these caricatures, one must also keep in mind that many Muslims probably feel like there is a great European double-standard when it comes to the lives and values of Muslims, and here is just one more instance of Muslim values being stepped on.

BBCD of British Born Confused Desi in Britain:

Danish bullshit

This whole thing with the Danish paper, *sigh* being a Muslim I get that side of the argument, I understand why Muslims are deeply offended as the man we believe to be our Prophet and messenger of God had been depicted in a disgusting and degrading way. What I don’t understand is why non Muslims want to do that? So apparently its about freedom of press..umm ok, with you so far…. And what? Freedom of press for what purpose? What are you achieving or trying to ascertain by printing something like that? Freedom of press is a feeble excuse to hide behind. Ok so we live in a democracy (ish).. but surely the point of a democracy is not to use it to subjugate others to mental torment and suffering. Isn’t that what dictators do, create an environment which is highly basis and unwelcoming to “others”. [...]

Allison Kaplan Sommer of An Unsealed Room in Israel:

Hand the Israelis a Danish

Following Danish cartoon flap -- and with so many European countries reprinting them to show solidarity -- let us remember that there is one western democracy which has a solid legal record of keeping Mohammed's image sacred.

So if offended Moslems want a country that truly understands them -- they should come to Israel.

Does anyone remember Tatiana Soskin? She went to jail for drawing an offensive cartoon depicting the prophet (and posting it on the door of an Arab's shop)

In 1997, Tatiana Soskin was convicted by the Jerusalem District Court of offending religious sensitivities and sentenced to two years in jail and a one-year suspended sentence. Soskin was apprehended in Hebron while carrying a flyer depicting a pig wrapped in a kaffiyeh treading on an open book. The word, "Mohammed," was written on the pig and "Koran" was written on the book.

Supreme Court Justice Theodor Or rejected Soskin's appeal despite the ostensible blow to freedom of expression, ruling that "a position whereby every expression that has the potential to offend religious sensitivities will be considered a crime according to this law undermines the basic right to freedom of expression."

Or decided to apply the section banning offending religious sensitivities, but limited it. He ruled that not every serious offense is to be considered prohibited, rather only one that causes damage to the "interests of the members of that particular religion as a whole, as opposed to damage to the religious sensitivities of a given individual or another."


The excerpt above comes from an article in Ha'aretz that is very interesting to read over in wake of the whole Denmark controversy.

It is a summary of a session at a Comics, Caricatures and Animation Festival that was held in Tel Aviv. The session was called "God on the Line" and participants discussed whether and to what extent cartoonists should take on religion.

After the Soskin incident, there were no calls for an Arab boycott of Israel.

Oops, that's because there already was.

Well, it's a good thing that Moslem countries don't have a record of publishing offensive cartoons.

Oops again.


Now Here's An Appropriate Response

What's the appropriate response when someone publishes cartoons that offend you?

Why, by publishing cartoons that offend someone else!

That'll show 'em, right?

A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization posted anti-Jewish cartoons on its website in response to the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that appeared in Danish papers last year and offended many Muslims.

The cartoons were posted on the Arab European League's site on Saturday. It was not working Sunday morning because of exceeded bandwidth.

The site carried a disclaimer saying the images were 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 displayed an image of famed Dutch Holocaust victim Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler, and another questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred.


The point? To decry what they see as a double standard, where denying the Holocaust is illegal under most European hate speech laws, but that everyone is defending and reprinting the Danish cartoons. Never mind that the hate speech laws are very rarely enforced. It's not as if people are getting sent to jail every year for Holocaust denial.

It's not very surprising that the Jews are getting dragged into it, despite the decision of the Israeli Foreign Ministry to stay neutral on the issue.

The Israeli Foreign Ministry, which over the years has often protested anti-Semitic political cartoons in the Islamic world, stayed true to its policy regarding the Danish newspaper cartoon controversy and refused to issue a response.

One ministry official said that the "cartoon wars" were not Israel's battle, and that it did not want to get dragged into it. If Israel would react to the whole controversy, the official said, the Islamic world would eventually blame Israel for being behind the whole incident.


As if they won't figure out a way to blame us anyway....

Qatar Cat of Life in Qatar, or When everything else fails... in Qatar:

Political post #2

I swear I was going to stay out of it. I said to myself that this is not my problem, not my call, not my issue. But I was drawn into it and now I just can't remain silent. Yes, it's about those infamous Danish cartoons. I am sure that “Danish cartoons” is a household expression now in many places around the world.

Now before I go any further, I want to declare for my personal safety and for my friends' peace of mind that I DO NOT SUPPORT those cartoons. Nor would I agree with anyone who uses the right of free speech to insult others in any way. Therefore I will not publish or link to them or any such material on my blog, ever. I am a very tolerant, understanding and willing to learn white western infidel if there ever was one. So please save the cheers of support and the death threats.

How come I am writing about it now?

Today I went shopping for groceries (a rather rare occurrence) and I discovered that Danish and Norwegian products are now banned from the shelves of a leading supermarket! I stood there dumbstruck. Why am I being punished? What have I done to be denied my favourite brands? And most importantly, what have the producers of these brands in Denmark and Norway done to be treated like that?

What happened to allocating the blame and punishment where appropriate? I am yet to hear the King of Saudi apologising for the actions of Saudi suicide bombers. I am yet to hear the apologies of Mr. Bush over there, and Mr. Osama over here. Why then would someone expect the Queen of Denmark to apologise for the actions of some cartoonists and one editor?? Aren't their (the cartoonists and the newspaper in general) apologies enough? And who is going to apologise to me personally for denying me my Royal Danish?

When 9/11 happened, I heard from many Muslim friends of mine that we shouldn't judge the whole religion and all the Islamic world for the actions of select few individuals. That Islam is the religion of tolerance and peace. So how come the whole nations of Denmark and Norway are now being judged for the actions of less than 20 people? Scores of these innocent people have already lost their jobs due to the products boycott in the Muslim countries. Some were assaulted and threatened. Is this the right approach? What do Muslims around the world expect to get in return? That the West acknowledges the mistake and learns the lesson? I somehow doubt it. I doubt it because the means to achieve it are wrong. You don't teach such a lesson by spreading death threats right, left and centre. Yes, the newspaper people might have apologised, but they did not necessarily understand your reasons why they were forced to do it in the first place. [...]

Mahmood Al Yousif of Mahmoud's Den in Bahrain:

Time to boycott France!

A French newspaper reprinted on Wednesday a series of 12 Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad that have sparked protests in the Muslim world and prompted Saudi Arabia to recall its ambassador from Denmark.

The France Soir daily said it had published the cartoons in the name of freedom of expression and to fight religious intolerance, saying a secular country like France could not be bound by the precepts of any religion.


Now what? You're going to boycott the F1 because Renault takes part in it? Stop buying French cars, technology, cheese? All of the above? Any one particular product? Wine boycott maybe?

Well, before you go jump off a cliff, I hope you realise that France Soir is owned by an Egyptian: Ramy Lakah, so we might as well boycott Egypt too! But as Egypt has no product to call its own, other than oil in the Sinai, reeds and some stones which belonged to the Kuffar of old, then I have no problem lumping it in the same pot as Norway, Denmark, and France.

So my prediction has come true! Don't play with fire guys, let it go, for goodness' sake let it go. This is not doing us as a nation any good at all. It just demonstrates our intolerance... but that's nothing new now is it.


This last one - just like the Russian-Ukrainian gas crisis - shows how interconnected everything is.


  1. I think this whole "controversy" is crazy beyond craziness... When I look at these "protesters" I am asking myself a question: what do they do with their lives? My mom asked herself a question: when do they go to the toilet? I am totally sure that there are other ways of making your point heard and understood--other than buring, smashing and calling for a murder with the eyes red of rage. Would Prophet Mohammed be happy of such followers? I hope not. I also hope he is not happy when thousands, millions of his followers don't show up in protests against hostage taking and their subsequent throat slaying. I think that is much more of a disgrace to Islam than some cartoons.
    Do "westerners" come out to smash Muslim-owned stores every time there's a hostage taken or, worse, killed in Iraq? No. Maybe because they have other things in life to worry about, but also because they know that's not a very good way to solve the problem.
    If Muslims insist "westerners" should respect their religious values I think "westerners" have all the right to demand some respect to theirs, as well. Human life being at the top of the list (if that still holds true.)

  2. Freedom of Speech means the right to offend. It is a right that is only as strong as the ability of the most repugnant voices freedom to speak. If you don't like what someone is saying, you do not have to listen; It is still their right to speak it.

    It is a good thing that all those Hindu people don't flip out about Westerners eating cows. I don't see Muslims showing any respect to Jewish or Christian religious practices and therefore I see no problem with the publishing of cartoons by a Danish or whatever newspaper.

    I expect this Iranian newspaper will be rather disappointed by the lack of response from Israel and the west, regarding Holocaust cartoons. You can go to any skin-head, neo-nazi website and find something similar. There won't be any burning of embassies over it.

  3. Hi Neeka. Dan here.

    What was oddest to me was listening to the furor on the radio on NPR, then changing to a music station and getting a "funny clip from the morning show".

    In the clip, one of the announcers says "So what is this critter that comes out February 2, hedgehog or something?" and his fellow announcers say, "No... a groundhog, hence the name. Duh. Hahaha. You know what [mr announcer] thought, folks? He thought what happened was that Jesus came out of his cave and saw his shadow."

    Then I turned on the tube and saw a Southpark ad on Comedy Central featuring a boxing match between Satan and Jesus.

    Why am I supposed to feel bad for Muslims again?