Saturday, February 04, 2006

Muslim Cartoons

Moulton mentioned the political cartoons that are causing a stir around the world. I read a short AP article in todays Hearald Journal about it and searched for a little more info. The HJ article only talked about the tension in Denmark where the cartoons originated. An article in the NY Times,, tells more of what has happened.

The issue is of a dozon cartoons depicting those of the muslim faith and the prophet in particular in a way that many percieve to be offensive. The Danish press is adamant about their freedom of the press. Politicians in the US support the right to free speech, but consider the cartoons to be offensive.

This appears to be an interesting ethics dilema that poses a lot of questions for me - questions that I have not yet resolved in my mind:

Did the Danish newspaper have some poitical agenda in publishing the cartoons? I know that there is increasing tension in these european contries between the muslim community and the rest of them. There are increasing numbers of muslims moving into these countries, and they have large families compared to the rest of the europeans whose family sizes are declining. It is percieved by many people that the euorpean countries are a sweet deal for the muslims, because of socialism.

I'm sure that the newspaper disussed the chance that the cartoons may fuel racial problems, but chose to run them anyway. I wonder how that discussion went. The riots in France this fall should have been a good indicator of what could happen.

Is it wrong if the newspaper's drive for freedom of speech conflict with the muslims moral values? Should they have shown more respect or restraint?

Most of the US media has chosen to not publish the cartoons. Is this out of respect and not wanting to offend, or is it out of fear that offence may cause retaliation?

Finally, what if the cartoons depicted the prophet as one who is sad, distressed, and angry because of the disprespect that the nations and religions of the earth are showing to each other? Would they have made an equally strong political statement and what would the muslim reation have been?


Moulton said...

The Danish political cartoons were first published back in September, 2005.

The riots in France occured in November.

Nancy Williams said...

Democracy and the 'Muslim street'

EDITORIAL, Washington Times,
February 3, 2006

Despite recent elections, youth uprisings and a general antipathy
toward its authoritarian leaders, the Muslim world still has much to
learn about freedom. And who better to teach it than France? Seriously.
The proverbial "Muslim street" has been up in arms recently over
12 unsavory cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad which were
originally published in a Danish newspaper last September. On Monday,
Palestinian gunmen stormed the European Union office in Gaza, saying
their anger over the cartoons made them do it. Several Muslim nations
have withdrawn their ambassadors from Denmark, because, as the Syrian
state news agency said, publication of the cartoons "constitutes a
violation of the sacred principles of hundreds of millions of Arabs
and Muslims." Muslims everywhere were urged to boycott Danish products.
Then Europe fired back. Newspapers in France, Germany, Italy,
Norway, Spain and Switzerland showed their support for their Danish
colleagues by reprinting several of the offending cartoons. In Paris,
the front page of France Soir ran a banner headline declaring: "Yes,
We Have the Right to Caricature God." Provocative? To be sure. "No
religious dogma can impose its view on a democratic and secular
society," the newspaper said. True, too.
European defiance hasn't come without a price. Several cartoonists
were threatened with death. In Denmark, where in 2004 filmmaker Theo
Van Gogh was murdered for his critical film about Islamic societies'
treatment of women, this can't be taken lightly. The Egyptian owner of
France Soir sacked managing editor Jacques Lefranc yesterday for
publishing the cartoons. In the Middle East, radical Islamist groups
are threatening the lives of Danish tourists and diplomats unless the
Danish government apologizes. Norway closed its West Bank mission due
to mounting threats and yesterday Palestinian gunmen took over the EU
office in Gaza.
While all of this seems like a sad parody of cultural differences,
it is deadly serious. Refusing to apologize, Danish Prime Minister
Anders Fogh Rasmussen said, "I can't call a newspaper and tell them
what to put in it. That's not how our society works." For whatever
reason, the Muslim protesters, gunmen and governments don't understand
this fundamental element of Western civilization, even as their own
news outlets consistently portray Christian and Jewish icons in a
derogatory manner.
Freedom to say what you please, as long as the disrespect is
peaceful, is a freedom that must be defended without caveat or
footnote. The sooner the Muslim world appreciates this, the sooner
they'll be fully accepted in the community of civilized nations.

Here's the link

Nancy Williams said...

Cartoon protests 'global crisis'

Copenhagen - Denmark's prime minister on Tuesday called the protests over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons a global crisis and appealed for calm.

"We are now facing a growing global crisis," Anders Fogh Rasmussen told a news conference.

A Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, first published the caricatures that have sparked violent protests in Muslim countries.

"Now it has become an international political matter," he said. "I urge calm and steadiness."

Fogh Rasmussen said Denmark was not contemplating changes in its strategy for responding to the spiralling tensions.

"In Denmark we have a long tradition of solving disagreements through dialogue and that is what the government will do, enter a dialogue," he said.

"We must look ahead and everyone must contribute to a solution.

Outraged Muslim demonstrators, who have set fire to the Danish embassies in Syria and Lebanon and held chaotic protests elsewhere, have demanded the Danish government apologise for the cartoons, which Jyllands-Posten printed in September.

"It is a very unpleasant situation for Danes, we're not used to this," said Fogh Rasmussen, who reiterated that Denmark's press freedom culture means the government cannot apologise for what an independent newspaper does.

The newspaper has apologised for offence caused to Muslims, but has defended its printing the drawings as a legitimate exercise in freedom of expression.


"We appeal to Muslims around the world to look beyond the headlines and the rhetoric," foreign minister Per Stig Moeller said at the same news conference.

"We share with the Muslim world a common interest in calming down the situation," Fogh Rasmussen added.

Shortly before the news conference, US President George W Bush called Fogh Rasmussen.

"We agreed that the way ahead is dialogue and not violence," the prime minister said.

Earlier, the foreign ministry said the embassy in Jakarta, Indonesia, has been temporarily closed because of fears it would be stormed.

Niels Erik Andersen, Denmark's ambassador to Indonesia, said Muslims groups throughout Indonesia had been burning Danish flags and effigies of Fogh Rasmussen.

"A Muslim organisation said it was looking for Danes on the streets," Andersen said on Danish public radio.