Wednesday, February 01, 2006

The cartoons (and liberty) spread

There has been a growing row between Denmark and parts of the Muslim world over a set of cartoons depicting Muhammad that were published in September by a Danish newspaper. The Brussels Journal has been assiduously following the story (see the links at the end of this article).
Now the French have entered the fray, with France Soir publishing the cartoons:
A French newspaper has reproduced a set of caricatures depicting the Prophet Muhammad that have caused outrage in the Muslim world. France Soir said it had published the cartoons to show that "religious dogma" had no place in a secular society. Their original publication in a Danish paper last September has led to boycotts and protests against Denmark in several Arab nations.
Islamic tradition bans depictions of the Prophet Muhammad or Allah. Under the headline "Yes, we have the right to caricature God", the paper ran a front page cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods floating on a cloud. It shows the Christian deity saying: "Don't complain, Muhammad, we've all been caricatured here." The full set of Danish drawings, some of which depict the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist, were printed on the inside pages.
Though I don’t agree with the sentiments some of these cartoons express, I absolutely think people should have the right to publish such satire, as long as they don’t directly incite violence. Ironically, I feel that the boorish and even violent reactions of parts of the Muslim world to this episode give credence to the cartoons’ message.
Every religion under the sun has been satirized and insulted and has learned to live with it (sometimes more slowly than one would wish) and I don’t see why this should be such a big deal. Don’t papers in Islamic countries routinely run much more offensive and despicable cartoons about Jews? Has anyone heard of an even remotely comparable reaction?
I think the publication of these cartoons will encourage many elements of Islam to move into the modern world by bringing home the fact that having rights also means not infringing on those of others. It also underlines to the West the unacceptable principles that these fundamentalists are seeking to impose on the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, following the defeat of the most vile aspects of the "Religious Hatred" bill in the UK, the papers here can also print the cartoons without fear. I wonder if they were published in every Western nation whether we would all be subject to boycotts and what not.

Post Scriptum:
It gets better and better:
Newspapers across Europe have reprinted caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to show support for a Danish paper whose cartoons have sparked Muslim outrage. Seven publications in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain all carried some of the drawings. Their release in Denmark has led to protests in Arab nations, diplomatic sanctions and death threats.
By the way, I can't find the cartoons on the BBC News website (and I'm not the only one), but they can be seen here (scroll down). Can you imagine how many fewer people would have seen the cartoons if there hadn't been all this fuss?

1 comment:

TomZ_Am said...

I 100& agree with every word you say.