Friday, February 03, 2006

Liberty and Freedom in the 21st Century or cartoons & weapons of mass destruction

The Dannish Issue ....had some trouble with Blogger so could not put up the post ( I guess they have been overwhelmed by traffic) + I also have to sleep you know ;) anyway thanks for your patience and here is the update.

This is the update on my previous post about the Danish cartoons ; for those who did not get it, basically I said that the newspaper should not have run these carton because apart from hurting the image of a religious icon, they are racist. I also said that although free speech should not be questioned, there is nothing called 'total' freedom , because with freedom comes responsibility. Moreover, on the basis that free speech and human rights are for all, the Muslims should not be blamed for exercising this freedom to be offended- even if that is the only thing they every will do in their respective countries. So the Danes are free to criticise and so are we - that's fair right ?
Undeniably there is repression in the ME but that does not mean they have no rights to also feel about this subject and act on it civilly and peaceful (I expressly mentioned that they should emulate the West in their approach to these matters especially that now religion seems to have no place in the West but only civil society.
I quote "we should definitely mount a suitable campaign and civil action to prevent this kind of offense from ever recurring again but we have to play the game the Western way".) - but alas not everybody can hold their temper that is a human trait present on both sides. I won't quote from the Bible as many of you seem to find it irrelevant in this debate. I have always been under the impression that boycott is a civilized way to express disagreement.

Consequently hate speech by Muslims, death threats, and violence are not acceptable. I also do not think that diplomatic measures by states are a good idea either as they escalate the situation, or give international exposure. Still that is not a crime but only a method, albeit faulty. Calling Muslims retards and moronic ( by some Muslims) in order bow to pressure perpetuates bad sentiments also because it shows only one thing fear of a threat from the West, which is illogical because the ME is always under some kind of threat from the West if it does not concede to their demands ( that may be a flawed arguments but that is how many envision it).

Every one on the blogs is getting excited about the Jews, while this time should be about the Muslims. Funnily enough no one picked on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights as Craig said either. What kept happening was what we call in Arabic '7adith torshan' a conversation of the deaf, with many people wishing to impose their own standards on others ( both sides) without stopping to think whether this might be the chance to reach out and actually talk WITH each other not AT each in order to reach a civil compromise that would satisfy all parties involved so that none of them believes they are wronged and perhaps also redress some historical wrongs in this regard similarly to what happened with the Jews.

In this regard I would like to point out that the persona of the Prophet Muhammad has been attacked and defamed viciously throughout the centuries by the West and Europe specifically ( Dante , Voltaire , the Church and countless others and others come to mind - thanks Eya).

On this same vein it is worth noting (thank you Eya again for reminding us)
that “Roger Du Pasquier points out:

In general one must unhappily concur with an Orientalist like Montgomery Watt when he writes that 'of all the great men of the world, no-one has had as many detractors as Muhammad.' Having engaged in a lengthy study of the life and work of the Prophet, the British Arabist add that 'it is hard to understand why this has been the case', finding the only plausible explanation in the fact that for centuries Christianity treated Islam as its worst enemy. And although Europeans today look at Islam and its founder in a somewhat more objective light, 'many ancient prejudices still remain.' (From Unveiling Islam, by Roger Du Pasquier, page 47 - quoting from W M Watt's Muhammad at Medina, Oxford University Press)”.

So neither Muhammad nor God need us to defend them, but yes we feel emotional about it.

A quote comes to mind which Egyptian Sally has graciously provided:

'French theologian Sohaib Bencheikh said, "One must find the borders between freedom of expression and freedom to protect the sacred.... Unfortunately, the West has lost its sense of the sacred."If only it were just the West'.

Is it not ironic that the US government found a cartoon in the Washington post OFFENSIVE ? (brilliant Hannibal).

The Danish Muslims it seems have accepted the paper's apology ( hattip Hannibal).Though many think it is incomplete check below MMM from subzeroblue :

"A bit earlier, I read that the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons has apologized for offending Muslims around the world, not for publishing the cartoons, but for offending Muslims."We apologize for the fact that the cartoons undeniably have offended many Muslims,"' Carsten Juste, editor-in-chief of Jyllands-Posten, wrote late yesterday in a letter on the paper's Web site. He said Jyllands-Posten wasn't sorry for running the cartoons though. As for Vebjoern Selbekk, the editor of Norwegian Magazinet, the paper that republished the caricatures, he too said that he "regrets if the drawings were offensive to Muslims.."

Still a good step forward to defuse the situation.

What did some Muslim leaderships in Arab countries do? they reply in civilized steps to also reign in the burning sentiments and call for civilized action, here is the announcement of the World Islamic Peaple’s Leadership (Arabic) for example. Or the essay on ceilings of freedom.

Compare it to the hysteria which has gripped the European press, by republishing the cartoons to make a point almost out of strife it seems, they solve nothing but only unwillingly or willingly demonstrate the extent of racism and hatred as Muslims suspected. It does not show any spirit of secularism or civil society or humanism yet they keep preaching to us about it.

The standoff between the Muslim peoples and the West hence continues and according to the media and to the blogs it’s like WWIII out there, but in reality it is not. The only looser in this embroglio are the Danish companies.

The Arab streets are not ablaze with boycotters and demonstrators who want to ‘defend the faith’ ( thanks Loulou) , that is simply not true. This is despite the calls by Fatah and Hizbollah for marching ( according the Sandmonkey ). The ME, NA and the rest of the Muslim world is a huge space and I don’t see 1.3 billion people reacting crazily ( not even one thousand- so far)– so please stop the media hype and exaggerations.

Certainly in Libya nothing is happening apart for some official statements here , here and here the Cen-Sad Union of Jurists issued a statement which states:

"[...]those cartoons stem from hostility, anti- beliefs and offending shrines, and igniting the spirit of extremism from which the world suffers a lot, as well as enlarging the gap between civilizations, and severing cooperation and solidarity among the peoples, transcending the professional journalistic values, and denying cultural plurality contradicting all international charters and covenants.

The Jurists Union of the Cen-Sad Community urged in its statement the need for the intervention of the international community, represented in the UN regarding this racist offense, as well as taking all necessary legal measures, according to the requirement of international charters and covenants, against those who committed such heinous behavior, by all courts, councils, and competent international organizations, and regard such request an official initiation of the law suit presented by the secretariat of the union.

The Union also asked in its statement the need for the Danish authorities to apologize to Muslims about that offense, punish the concerned newspaper and the author Viliming Russ.[sic] [this part I know is impossible and does not work the same way as in our world]"

Even the Libyan blogosphere is not interested apart from smokeyspice here.

I have said earlier that Libya had closed it's embassy, well my mistake it has not YET closed I should have looked at my own local press not blogs and foreign press, the statement issued by the governement is the following "going to close" is different then CLOSED ( which is a fait accomplit) .

Moreover, unlike is some other countries there is no frenzy of mobile text messages and only one lone email so far ( and believe me I’m very popular in real life ;) ).

However there is a popular movement by ordinary folks in the world and if they don’t want to eat Danish then it’s up to them. Danish products are still available in our markets in Libya for sale(I checked myself) and no one is preventing access to them so far, but they are labelled as Danish products. Plus anyway they have been paid for in advance to the Danish food company.

I will leave you with a rendering from Eman at Aquacool which encapsulated the whole thing please read it as it is very telling and go check her other posts on the matter also her comment section is full :)

"Today isn’t just my day. I’m sick, exhausted and working my head off to meet deadlines that have been given to me in a very short notice! Anyway, few minutes after I’ve got back from my lunch break, a client (a foreigner, doesn’t matter what nationality) is at the company door. He came to meet the boss, who was out. So I asked him to wait in my office till my boss arrives.
After a quick chitchat I got back to my work and he just looked through the window. Suddenly he strikes me with this question.
Client: You must be feeling ashamed of what your people are doing!
Eman: Sorry! (what the hell is he talking about)
Client: You know, the Danish cartoonist and the whole fuss Muslims did about that, come on, boycotting Denmark, asking for a punishment… this is quite silly I must say. (laughs)
Eman: Aha, that’s what you’re talking about then!
Client: I mean no offence to you, you’re different, you’re open-minded, not like those backward conservatives! are you even 100% Arab?

Eman: Well, I am 100% Arab, and I’m open-minded, and I am totally with the stand of “my people” on this… if that interests you!
Client: What!
Eman: Listen. I’m fed up of people calling us different kinds of things just because we stand for what we believe in, just because we stick to our principles. And you know what bothers me the most? It’s when people from within us: Muslims, and Arabs feel embarrassed because some of us spoke up!
Client: I’m shocked! You! I thought you were different and tolerant!
Eman: I am tolerant, you are NOT. I am open-minded, you are Not!
You lecture us about how we should live, how we should act, what we should say, and how we should react, but you free yourselves from every restriction in the name of democracy, and if we speak up you ask us to mind our own business?
Client: So now you are the civilized, democratic ones!
Eman: No, we still have a long way to go. But there’s a very fine line between democracy and racism; between freedom of expression and disrespect.
I might not totally agree with punishing the Cartoonist himself, but I am definitely with drawing lines to the relationship with any country that humiliates our religion.
You’re free to express, and so are we!
Client: But it was just a cartoon for God’s sake!
Eman: We -as human beings- have the right to object and protest. In your country, you have the right to sue someone if they used your name or picture without your permission, let alone use it in a racist, humiliating way!
Client: But…
Eman: But what? If I start drawing silly cartoons of your mother and humiliate her worldwide, would you still be friends with me?
Client: but it’s different, it was just a dead prophet!
Eman: To you, may be, to us he’s someone we look up to, someone we refer to, someone who’s always alive in every verse of Quran we read, in every school we go to, in every home we live… insulting him, is insulting me and “my people”, we’re not asking you to believe in him, but why humiliate him? If you insist to insult, go ahead, but you can’t force me to ignore the whole thing and act as if it didn’t happen, I’m free to feel disgusted, offended, and hurt!
Client: Hurt! What about terrorism!
Eman: What about it? You think you are the only ones suffering from it, we don’t?
Client: So you’re victims now!
Eman: No, and neither are you, we all have victims and criminals, we as Arabs have people who are such a disgrace, and so do you. The important thing is that we respect our differences and cultures.
Client: You’re right, but still I believe we’re free to choose the means of expressing ourselves!
Eman: You’re right, but still I believe we’re also free to choose the means of expressing ourselves equally!
(moment of silence)
Client: Now that I think of it, your people’s reaction does not sound so weird! That doesn’t mean I’m condemning the cartoonist.
Eman: I’m not asking you to, and thanks for listening to me.
Client: Thank you for explaining.

(the boss’ face appears on my security camera, I open the door, by the way… my boss is Arab and Muslim)
Boss: Sorry for the wait!
Client: Actually, I thank you for the wait, we had quite a discussion on the cartoonist issue.
Boss: What cartoonist? Ah right, the poor guy!
Client: Poor guy? (looks at me in shock)
Boss: He just drew few cartoons and boom attacks come from everywhere, I feel so embarrassed, really! You must think we are all backward bastards.
Eman: (I roll my eyes)
Client: (stands up, puts his hand on the boss’ shoulders) In fact, I believe as tolerant people, we should respect each other’s races and religions. You totally have the right to feel humiliated.
Boss: well… hmm…
Client: I mean, would you stand still if the cartoonist drew your dad the same way
Boss: (walking away from my office) I will kill him if he just thinks of it, anyway….
Client: (looking back at me) I was right, you are different! (smiles) "

Now from Highlander enough said this is very bad timing on a last note, why don't we ponder on this little incident of freedom "Take, for example, when Prince Harry dressed up in a Nazi outfit. The discussion was not about freedom of speech but what is considered offensive". (from BBC)


AlanK said...

looking forward to it highlander

you seem to have stirred quite a debate on this issue

Kjartan said...

Great post, I agree with much of what you write, and the parts I disagree with I can at least understand your position.

Hope this blows over soon.

Twosret said...

Excellent post Highlander. Let us hope that we all learned a lesson from this .

Thanks for all your efforts to pull together such an informative post.


Non-Blogging Anonymous said...

Referring here to this chain and especially the older one.


You have the right to say that the cartoons are offending but I don't buy your claim that they're racist. Cartoons depict people like that, GWB looks intentionally like a monkey (and in the real world he does, IMHO) and if you read, let's say, Asterix you'll find that different European peoples there are really depicted in an overtly stereotypical way. Why shouldn't an Arab then be portrayed like that? Here, if talking about racism, it makes no difference whether the person portrayed is a holy prophet or just a man on the street. Besides you claimed earlier that Islam is multicultural. How can you be in one picture racist towards several "races" (in brackets because modern anthropology doesn't accept anymore that there are races)? Also, I think it's strange that there are people out there claiming (I think you are not one of them, thank God/Allah/nobody) that one billion Muslims are offended by the pics. We don't know how many are and generally I hate expressions such as "we all...", "all Muslims/Europeans", "everybody thinks...". Have to repeat that the most intelligent and smartest reactions to all this mess have been by Muslims and therefore it's a shame that these clever people are not as loud as the rioters and bomb threatening maniacs.

As what comes to Baha'i and generally the freedom of religion in Arab countries (could enlarge the topic to Islamic countries as well, but let's keep it now more limited), the picture isn't quite as rosy as you think. KSA is of course an extreme example but persecution, legal obstacles and discrimination exist practically in every Arab country, and here I'm now talking about official discrimination, not public opinion. I'm not a fan of the US State Department but some things they do are good indeed. Check for their reports on religious freedom and you'll find out among others:

- prohibitions of non-Muslim men to marry a Muslim girl (sad, I'm fond of Arab girls ;-))
- prohibition of missionary activities by other religions
- prohibition of proselytizing
- conversion from Islam to another religion leading to a prison sentence according to the law
- states not recognizing some Muslim sects, Christian churches, Baha'i faith etc.
- generally a favourable atmosphere towards Islam and practise of other religions in private homes etc.
- although not there as far as I could check, I remember having read that even pseudoliberal (in GCC standards) countries such as the UAE only granting citizenship to Muslims.

All the above are just some examples from other countries than Saudi Arabia. No such things as religion being an obstacle to receiving citizenship, getting married, conversion leading to jail, forbidden proselytizing (of course in Islamic countries proselytizing to people of other faiths is permitted) exist in ANY European or North American country. Religious freedom is more than just letting minority, often expat faiths operate within certain limits.

Summa summarum, why I don't like the whole mess is that I hate hypocrisy and am insulted that those countries and those people who now demand tolerance and respect for their values are those who are the least likely to tolarete the Other themselves. Calling for a boycott in my opinion is a moral issue and anyone calling for one should imply high moral standards in his/her own behaviour and be consistent: if you boycott A because of X, you have to boycott B because of X as well, otherwise you're a hypocrite.

Referring to Austria (and this is something whch I've only seen myself commenting anywhere), my point was that I simply hate small quotes, innocent cartoons and other very marginal issues turning into international propaganda warfare and now to violence and threats.

Regarding Western hypocrisy, you're right and like Kjartan, feel you stole my ideas ;-). I hate Western countries keping silent about China and boycotting Taiwan (which is more or less a democracy), downplaying the massacre in Chechnya and stuff like that because of some illusionary economic interests. I would be ready to lower GDP for the sake of being proud of my country willing to criticize abuses of human rights. And I hate Chinese hypocrisy as well. Remember the quite recent demonstrations, riots and boycotts there against Japan? How on Earth can a government responsible for the deaths of dozens of millions of its own people only talk about Japan's crimes in World War II and forget its sins after that?

And I hate petty people who think the biggest issues are things like a prince in a Nazi uniform (hey, why is that so offensive when Red Army uniforms and insignia are not and the Red Army was even more inhumane and part of one of the most repressive systems in the 20th century?). Too many times when any issue arises around Islam or Israel, we always have on both sides really petty people willing to be offended by half sentences. All this energy should be put to use elsewhere - what about demanding sentences for those officials and shipping lines whose lack of care and control has new lead to the deaths of perhaps a thousand Muslims? Here's something we should protest.

Now that the Holocaust is an issue here, good-minded people shouldn't forget something I heard about it years ago and which I think is valid:

Saying "Holocaust didn't happen" is stupidity. Saying "I'm sad Holocaust didn't happen" is a crime. There is a distinction between the two. I'm not offended if someone says there was never a man on the Moon, Colombo never went to America, the Earth is flat, and you can argue how many Indians settlers to America killed, how many victims there were in the Ukrainian famine in the 30s, in the Chinese Great Leap Forward and whatever you want. Being ignorant is not a crime as such, it's just a sad fact.

Kjartan, you pointed out something I've not seen anhywhere and which I believe is important. What actually happened with the court case against the cartoons? Any details? It seems that the whole thing escalated because Danish Muslims were not satisfied that the cartoons were not deemed illegal and resorted to propaganda visits abroad, calls for boycott and so on. Utterly disgusting - I mean, that was a court rule and if you're not happy with it, the actions they took are not the solution. And now maniacs demand that the Danish government should punish them.

Last but not least, has anybody else paid attention to something very interesting. Even Western media and politicians are nowadays talking about Prophet Muhammad, not just Muhammad. But isn't it really so that prophet is not a title akin pope, bishop, imam, rabbi, whatever but calling someone implies you believe he was a messenger of God? I'm not saying here the messenger because I think Baha'i also calls him a prophet, just not the prophet. Never heard a Muslim talk about Jesus Christ, just Jesus, Prophet Isa (PBUH) etc.

Non-Blogging Anonymous (really should change this stupid nickname, anybody has good ideas for one?)

Kjartan said...

The Prince Harry example is a really bad one

1) Because there are much stricter limits on what the royal family can do or say, than on regular people - the danish queen doesn't go around publishing satirical cartoons either.

2) Because the protesting etc. was largely an internal british matter - as far as I know anyway.

3) Because there were no threats of violence. The widespread - and very real - threats of violence from muslims are really important for understanding the european response.

Mad Canuck said...

Hey Highlander, I wrote a post on this topic myself last night.

The Prince Harry analogy is a good one, but there is one major difference. Prince Harry's costume was simply in poor taste: he didn't deliberately set out to insult Jews by wearing it. The cartoons were commissioned and printed as a deliberate and calculated insult.

I do think some of the backlash in the Middle East has gone too far (particularly calls for violence), but I can easily understand why people are angry about this issue.

Muslim said...

As Muslims we are required to respect all religions, be it people who are Christians, Jewish, Hindu

So i’m really surprised at the pictures published in the newspaper, and also of their false nature. Maybe people should read about Prophet Muhummmad peace be upon him, and realise that he was a mercy to all mankind.

Attacking the prophet peace be upon him by drawing such pictures is attacking Muslims directly.

We dont draw pictures of other prophets like Abraham, Moses, Jesus, infact we respect them, and would never think to do such drawings.

programmer craig said...

Cen we agree at least (now that the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria have been destoyed) that we are beyond boycotts?

Embassies are (by law) sovereign territory of the country that maintains them. Syria has committed overt acts of war againt Denmark and Norway. Not sure what the backlash will be, but I expect there WILL be a backlash.

The US still has no diplomatic realations with Iran, 26 years after Iranians seized our embassy in Tehran.

I suppose what Denmark and Norway do depends upon whether they choose to believe that the Syrian government had no abilty no control those violent demonstrations. I do NOT believe that, myself.

Excellent post, by the way, Highlander. I disagree with you on a couple minor points but in general I don't have a problem with your position.

Kjartan said...


If you are required to respect all religions, why is it that of all the nations in the world, muslim states have clearly, CLEARLY, the worst record on freedom of religion ?

Is there practising muslims in India ? Yes, Practising hindus in Pakistan ? I suspect they're few and far between. Is there practising muslims in Israel ? Yes. Practising jews in muslim countries ? Basically no. Is there practising muslims in Europe and the US ? Yes, Practising christians in muslim countries ? Yes, but they certainly are not doing too well everywhere. Is it dangerous to convert to Islam as an american or european ? No. Is it dangerous for a citizen of your average muslim country to convert to christiany ? - well... quite possibly. It can even be a dangerous thing for muslims in Europe to do.

Except for Northern Ireland, which has been peaceful for a while, every SINGLE religious conflict in the world involves muslims on one side. Kashmir, Palestine, Indonesia, Philippines and the list goes on.

No Muslim; many, many muslims are merely taught to respect other religions as long as the practicioners of these religions accept the preeminence of Islam, and accept a status as second-class citizens.

As for your deference to other prophets, see my comments on Highlanders previous post. You respect Moses, Jesus etc ONLY because YOUR holy book tells you to, NOT out of respect for the believers in other religions.

To Mad Canuck: No, the cartoons were not a deliberate and calculated insult. That they were taken as this insulting has evidently come as a surprise and the newspaper has several times apologised for the offense. However there's obviously a limit to how far they can decently back down in the face of WIDESPREAD threats of violence.

Georg said...

By the way, I'm the guy from Austria who posted under Anonymous on the other thread.

Many different arguments have already been exchanged, but some things remain unclear for me...although I really appreciate the exchange here, already having learned some interesting things about your views.

1. Which feelings exactly do the muslims protesting on the streets have about the caricatures ? Are their feelings HURT because they see the image of their loved prophet distorted - in which case one way for them not to hurt their feelings would be not to open the Jyllad Posten newspaper ? Or are they ANGRY because the rules of the Quran about not depicting Mohammed should be applied globally to every individual on earth - in which case I would feel threatened ? Or are they ANGRY because for them, Mohammed is a symbol for the whole Muslim population, and anyone who insults Mohammed insults 1,3 billion people worldwide ?

2. How would the protesting Muslims react to the following compromise: European countries make laws against insulting Islam, and in exchange for that, Muslim countries will create legal equality between their Muslim, Christian, Jewish and Atheist cizizens.

3. For the future: which other behavior from the West would be likely to cause massive protests from the Muslim world ? This is purely for information, as I would be interested in knowing which obstacles are on the way towards peace and understanding.

QUOTE: Twosret (from other Thread)
Disagree with you, following your logic, Freedom of speech means freedom of speech, anyone can say whatever they want including insulting a prophet.

I agree with you...Freedom of speech isn't absolute anywhere. However, I think that having the right to criticise religions by satire is pretty important and useful, seeing as satire and jokes have contributed to the decline of the Catholic Church over the last decades, and knowing the harmful influence this church has had over Europe in the past.

And finally...yes, denying Holocaust is forbidden in Austria. The reason is that the diffusion of National Socialist thought, or glorifying National Socialism, is forbidden generally here (understandably so), and denying the Holocaust is an extremly sure sign of glorifying National Socialism. The law makes sense, but has been under public debate the last decade, and maybe will be taken back in the next decade.

Twosret said...

Blogger has been down and I have few comments to post. I can't speak on behalf of Highlander when it comes to Islamic questions although I relate very much to her feelings, I'm sure she can handle them pretty well.

I regret very much seeing the Embassy burning (Shame Shame Shame), this is an act of violence that is uncalled for. I denounce this action and strongly disaprove the signs that carries death threats.

There were many protests all over the world over the racist, insulting cartoons and few violent incidents to report. I happened to view 223 photos on Yahoo of the protests and I was glad to see only few were unacceptable.

The gap between the two cultures is huge and hopefully this blows over soon.

Later with more

Mad Canuck said...

Hi Craig,

The torching of the embassies wasn't an official act by the Syrian government, it was an act by the protesters. That makes it a crime, but not an act of war.

And, it wouldn't be the first time an embassy or consulate got trashed by protesters.

When I was living in Toronto in 1999, there was a violent protest in front of the US Consulate by a about 2,000 Serbs protesting the NATO action in Yugoslavia (that Canada was participating in too). They trashed the place: throwing rocks, rotten eggs, garbage, and burning flares through the windows into the building, and the police and security forces were too outnumbered to stop them. And, of course, that didn't cause a diplomatic incident with Canada.

programmer craig said...

Hi MC,

"The torching of the embassies wasn't an official act by the Syrian government, it was an act by the protesters."

That's the same excuse the Iranians tried when they seized the US embassy in Tehran in 1979, and held the diplomatic staff hostage for over a year. Nothing to do with the government. It was the students, who the government had no control over!

We didn't buy it, and we've been in a state of undeclared war with Iran ever since. No idea what the Danes will do, or what they'll believe. If the US embassy in Syria was destroyed, I'd consider that the United States was at war with Syria. I believe that would be the stance of my government as well.

"That makes it a crime, but not an act of war."

That's for the Danes and the Norwegians to decide. Not the Syrians, and not you or me. NATO recognizes an armed attack on an embassy an act of war, and so does the United Nations.

"And, it wouldn't be the first time an embassy or consulate got trashed by protesters."

The embassies were not trashed. They were destroyed.

"When I was living in Toronto in 1999, there was a violent protest in front of the US Consulate by a about 2,000 Serbs protesting the NATO action in Yugoslavia (that Canada was participating in too). They trashed the place: throwing rocks, rotten eggs, garbage, and burning flares through the windows into the building, and the police and security forces were too outnumbered to stop them. And, of course, that didn't cause a diplomatic incident with Canada."

That's because we forgave you. The Syrians may be forgiven their transgressions as well. We'll see.

Curt from Houston said...

If you really want to start feeling the peace of Islam just go here.

Gee! I wonder how we the people of the West could start coming to the conclusion that Islam might just be an insane death cult?

Curt from Houston said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
programmer craig said...

Highlander, please delete this comment above mine. The link was good enough for anybody who wanted to read that list. That's like 20 pages of spam people have to scroll past now!

Just saw breaking news that the Danish embassy in Lebanon is on fire.

Highlander said...

Curt from Houston, any comment which adds to debate is welcome, but not spamming( that is why I have removed your comment of 11:57). The link you provided earlier is enough to prove your point or if someone whishes to challenge you. Please don't abuse my hospitality, instead why don't you show me and the readers how convincing and civilised you could be without being angry. Isn't that what this whole problem is about? Thank you for your cooperation.

Curt from Houston said...

"Curt from Houston, any comment which adds to debate is welcome, but not spamming( that is why I have removed your comment of 11:57).

Sorry about that Highlander. I was out of line. Its just that I visit that site regularly and it makes my blood boil.

Curt from Houston said...

..."instead why don't you show me and the readers how convincing and civilised you could be without being angry. Isn't that what this whole problem is about?"

Sorry Highlander, I can't help you out here. I am angry. I'm angry because most of the people on that list were not soldiers. They were innocent people going about their daily lives until some piece of dirt murdered them in the name of Islam. The really sad part is that a large percentage of the victims were themselves Muslim. Just not Muslim enough for the Muslim fundimentalists. You guys got a serious problem that the rest of the civilised world will not put up with for much longer. Its your religion. Fix it or face the consequences.

Anonymous said...

QUOTE: Curt from Houston
You guys got a serious problem that the rest of the civilised world will not put up with for much longer. Its your religion. Fix it or face the consequences.

I REALLY don't want to start a competition of who killed more innocents here, but since your comments about Islam seem just a tad arrogant to me: The Alliance which invaded Iraq, and which consists mainly of the US Army, has killed
30,000 to 100,000 civilians, depending on the sources that do the counting. Once again, by this I don't want to state that the US is X times "worse" than others because they killed X civilians more, but rather that maybe religion isn't the only problem here.

And to also spread the blame towards other countries, consider the big atrocities of the 20th century.
World War I was started by my home country Austria, World War II by Germany, Communist state terrorism was all over Russia, China and Cambodia, the Vietnam war by the US and Vietnam...none of these wars were because of religion. So, maybe being non-Muslim doesn't already make us the good guys ?

Curt from Houston said...

"I REALLY don't want to start a competition of who killed more innocents here, but since your comments about Islam seem just a tad arrogant to me: The Alliance which invaded Iraq, and which consists mainly of the US Army, has killed 30,000 to 100,000 civilians,..."

Nor do I. While I believe that your 30,000 to 100,000 figure may be a little off the deep end; I realize that there were many innocent civilians killed in the primarily US led invasion of Iraq. I however don't believe for a second that any of them were intentional. Thats just the nature of war.

The Muslim suicide artists are on the other hand are quite intentional about killing civilians.

Please trust me in this folks. I am not trying to be arrogant here. I'm just saying that I know my countrymen. They are not even close to what you see in the Hollywierd movies. We are not all cowboys and Rambos. But we are also not all weak, stupid and hedonistic. The Japanese made that mistake in 1941. I have a really bad feeling about what's going down in Iran right now and there seems to be a similar sentiment growing across Europe.

The last thing I want to see is the nut salads in Tehran getting their insane little fingers on nuclear weapons that can strike not only Israel but Europe as well.

I think you all know they won't hesitate to use them either directly or through a surrogate like Al Quida.

And you know what? I can already see the hand writing on the wall. My country is going to get stuck with the job of stopping these idiots.

Your European leaders will secretly breath a huge sigh of relief while all the rest of you people will have a great time hammering us for being the big mean bullies in the whole sorry affair.

In the long run I suppose it just doesn't matter as long as the job gets done.

Anonymous said...


In your previous post you dismissed the dismissed these crazed rioting fanatics as "hoodlums". Then you linked to an article that found a few negative depictions of Muslims in make-believe Hollywood. Ironically, the article you linked to was dated Sept 1, 2001. Remember what happened 10 days later?

You have nerve. Anyone can go to and see the hate-filled depictions of Jews on Arab TV. The West is slowly starting to see your "other side".

Then in this post you claim the cartoons are racist. Huh? Are you looking for a career in race-baiting? I understand it pays Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton well.

Artists in the west have dropped the Crucifix in urine and smeared Madonna with elephant dung. Christians got upset but no one burnt down embassies and vowed to behead the artists.

Besides, I have seen many many shockingly hate-filled Jewish cartoons in the Arab media. It's not as easy for you to disguise your hate these days. One click on a link and we can see these hate-filled cartoons immediately.

As for Prince Harry--he is part of the Royal Family. He has restrictions on what he can do. Besides, the Euros are sensitive to the Holocaust because 6 million Jews were systematically exterminated on their continent a mere 60 years ago.

If this is really your mindset (the Danish cartoonists are at fault--then make a limp attempt to condemn the violence and arson of Muslims), then I am sad to say that things are going to come to a head....soon.

programmer craig said...

Anon, I think the cartoons are racist as well, and also they display religious bigotry.

Neither of which is illegal.

I'm not sure who you were directing this rant to, but it seems a bit over the top to me? By which I mean, I haven't seen anything on THIS blog that should be generating that much hostilty.

Anonymous said...

Programmer craig, no hostility just shock.

Your claim that these cartoons are racist is over-the-top rhetoric. There is nothing racist about this.

What is so "hostile" about exposing the near daily occurence of hate-filled cartoons against Jews in the Arab media?
Cartoons like this:

*WARNING (unless you are prejudiced against Jews)* Some of these cartoons are extremely hateful and offensive.

programmer craig said...

"Your claim that these cartoons are racist is over-the-top rhetoric. There is nothing racist about this."

Racism is a difficult charge to prove and I guess as somebody who'se been called a racist on this blog (unfairly in my opinion) I guess I can go along with your claim that the cartoons are not racist.

Can we at least agree they are an example of religious bigotry?

As far as your other arguments, lets keep it to the topic at hand, please? I mean, I've spent several hours trying to convince people on the other side of the argument that the Jews don't belong in this debate... now, you want to make Jews part of the debate!

Twosret, where are you? :D

Slater said...


Religious bigotry?
How can it be bigotry, when they treat Muslims and Islam the EXACT same way Danes would treat Christians and Christianity?

By publishing these cartoons, Jyllands-Posten was making the statement that Muslims are a welcome part of the Danish society, and they are treated the same as native Danes.

The bigotry only enters the picture when the Muslims demand to be treated differently (and better).

programmer craig said...

Hi Slater,

"Religious bigotry?"

You betcha!

"How can it be bigotry, when they treat Muslims and Islam the EXACT same way Danes would treat Christians and Christianity?"

It's religious bigotry when an atheits attacks Christianity to, you know.

You do know what bigotry means, right?

Bigotry is not illegal. But it *is* offensive.

"The bigotry only enters the picture when the Muslims demand to be treated differently (and better)."

I actually agree with you on this part... there's bigotry on both sides of this issue. And there's violence on only one side, which is why I'm condemning the muslim rioters, embassy burners, death-threateners, etc... and I'm not condemning that newspaper, which did something that was patently offensive, but was not illegal.

Slater said...


"It's religious bigotry when an atheits attacks Christianity to, you know."

Aye, you're completely right there. It just seems like everyone thinks Danes are Christians. Maybe I should rephrase:

How can it be bigotry, when they treat Muslims and Islam the EXACT same way Danes would treat accepted science, non-spiritual leaders and all other religions?

programmer craig said...

OK, answer to your "re-phrased" version then :)

Because there is a human and civil right called "Freedom of Religion."

Dsicriminating against people because of their religion is bigotry. Same as discrimating against them for any other reason. But as I've already said, bigotry is legal.

Slater said...


Okay, I looked it up, just to be absolutely sure I'm not just making a fool of myself, but all my dictionaries say about the same thing:

A bigot is:
"A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices"
"A prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own"

Now this is NOT what is happening with the cartoons. To the contrary, they were an attept to see things from more than one side, as Islamists generally claim sole rights at interpreting the Koran.

It is still my opinion that this is not bigotry.

programmer craig said...

Hey there, Slater :)

A bigot is:

A person obstinately or intolerantly devoted to his or her own opinions and prejudices"


"A prejudiced person who is intolerant of any opinions differing from his own"

That pretty much describes an athesit who displays contempt for other people's religious beliefs no?

Likewise, a religious person who displays contempt for another religion.

I really don't want to be in a position of defending muslim outrage here, Slater... a lot of RED LINES have been crossed by muslims on this free speech issue.

Can't we just acknowledge the bigotry, and then ackowledge that bigotry is also protected by Freedom of Expression laws, and then move on?

Slater said...

I don't totally disagree with you, Craig. I just think the word "bigot" is a bit too harsh here. As you say:

"That pretty much describes an atheist who displays contempt for other people's religious beliefs no?"

That's all true, but the newspaper did not show those drawings in a display of contempt. The accompanying article did not degrade Muslims and the cartoonists and journalists are not intolerant of Islam.

But let's just agree to disagree and move on. The main point is still, as you said it, that they had the right to do it, no matter if it was bigotry or not.

Mohamed said...

On this particular issue I couldn't help but think that we have only ourselseves (the moslems) to blame.
When south park had an episode showing the prophets (including prophet Mohamed) of most religions as some kind of a clumsy fantastic four type, I was uneasy for maybe one second but I wasn't offended, first of all because it was an equal opportunity offender, and second and more important because as uncomfortable as some people might be with it, all of this was within a context. That's why when I first heard about the cartoon story, before seeing them, I thought that if history would teach us anything, the best action to take is to completely ignore the whole issue, because ultimately some people on both sides are going to blow the whole thing out of propportion. But after I saw the cartoons, I couldn't help but to reach one single conclusion, those cartoons were there for one and only one purpose, to offend, and better yet, to get the 100% guaranteed expected reaction from the moslems.
I'm not really a conspiracy theorist, but there's a growing tide in the west advocating and rooting for the so called "clash of cultures or civilizations", the one that's playing into the hands of bin laden (who wants this clash)or maybe he's playing into their hands, it doesn't matter, both want the same end game. And I think this newspaper belongs to the same camp, I'll give you my reason for this assumption at the end.
So if the newspaper is from the cultural clash camp, nothing would've disappointed it more than ignoring the whole thing and letting it go, even if no violence took place and the iranians didn't get overcreative in trying to prove the point of their detractors (seriously, this time, how are the jews and the holocaust even remotely related to the whole issue), they'd interpret any mild reaction as our intolerance and incompatability with the modern world (which by the way their cultural editor did last week,when it was just calls to boycott and demonstrations, before a single embassy attack took place).
But because we're so easy to predict that we never fail to play our intended role to vilify and defame ourselves, we get so easily toyed with and manipulated right and left, that I think the people who published those cartoons knew very well what useful idiots we're going to be to them.
As for the intentions of the paper, as I've said, I don't buy their freedom of speech excercise argument for a moment, as it turns out it's more an excercise in hypocracy, three years ago they refused to publish cartoons they thought it might be offensive to christians and the editor's reason for that was "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them.", interesting, you can check the whole article on the guardian,,1703501,00.html.
Also, the editor's article about our incompatability with the modern world before any violence took place, shows how he was willing to jump at the first chance and say I told you so.
As for the moslems, seriously, we have to think and analyze and take a deep breath before being punk'd over and over and over again.

Anonymous said...

Programmer Craig:

I mean, I've spent several hours trying to convince people on the other side of the argument that the Jews don't belong in this debate... now, you want to make Jews part of the debate!

Why do you consider this off limits?

And good for you on backing off on your "the Danish cartoons are racist" claim. Crying "racism" as if religious ideology is a biological given is intellectually dishonest.

programmer craig said...

Previous anon,

I don't consider a discussion of Jews and or Israel off-limits. I consider it irrelevant.

I've seen the hateful cartoons that the Arab press publishes about Jews, and I've seen the arguments arabs try to make that there is no such thing as free press because the western media does NOT print similar hateful cartoons. Both arguments take us into a discussion of the Arab press. There's no freedom of expression in any Arab country.

Discussion -> hijacked.

Anonymous said...


Sorry for giving you a home and assistance.
Sorry for giving you an education, free of charge.
Sorry for helping you economically.
Sorry for letting you exercise your religion freely in our Christian country.
Sorry for sending foreign aid to your home countries.
Sorry for not starting blood feuds over your murders of our countrymen.
Sorry for not wearing explosive belts and blowing ourselves up in public when our feelings are hurt.
Sorry for not following the requirements of your religion.

But an apology for speaking up in our own nation according to our own laws? That, you’ll never have.

Anonymous said...

Most of the Danish cartoons submitted were utterly neutral drawings with no political content whatsoever.

But 3 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 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.

Anonymous said...

"In your country, you have the right to sue someone if they used your name or picture without your permission, let alone use it in a racist, humiliating way!"

Unless there's a copyright on your picture or name, that only applies to the living. Not people who died over a 1000 years ago.

Anonymous said...


The number of civilians killed in Iraq by the invasion is about 10,000. Not more than that.

Wade said...

Hi Highland

I'm brand new to this Blog malarky and just stumbled on your blog via a search for Danish cartoons. I'm very impressed and uplifted to find such thoughtfulness from someone I presume to be relatively young.

You make some interesting points re the genesis of the Cartoons, maybe you're right, but my sense would be that it was more about finding out whether there really is de facto self sensorship going on in Europe as a response primarily to terrorist intimidation . I don't rea anything into the reluctance to publish anti-Christian stuff a few years earlier. The point is, yes they could have published anti Christian images, but there was no point as it would just have upset some Christians. However there was never any threat that Christians would issue death threats, economic boycotts etc etc, so there was no need to test the issue.

As an earlier muslim commentator, it is yet again the relatively moderate muslims who have been made fools of - yet again - The hard core Islamist agenda is to solidify the Islamic position - under their leadership. To do this they need to alienate the European muslim position from the host population and paper over the Sunni - Shia divide (at least temporarily). They've done this by establishing that no Western media outlet can publish anything which might risk the sort of backlash provoked by the Cartoons. Does this bring the moderate European muslims the respect that they crave? Of course not, it fosters the fear, resentment and them and us attitude that the hard core Islamists thrive on. Their only downside is that they have pushed the US and Europe together which is a key stategic own goal.