Sunday, January 15, 2006

The Jyllands-Posten Affair: It's about More than Cartoons

According to the European blog Brussels Journal, two Norwegian newspapers have now run the controversial series of 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed that were originally published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten:

„We are ourselves a nation that has been exposed to increasing Muslim violence against freedom of expression,“ said Vebjørn K. Selbekk, the editor of Magazinet, and referred to the 1993 murder attempt on Willam Nygaard, the Norwegian publisher of Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses. Consequently, Selbekk said, Norway has a special responsibility to confront this problem. He said that Norwegian illustrators were tending towards the same self-censorship as their colleagues in Denmark. They do not dare to depict Muhammad for fear of a violent Muslim reaction.

Drawing cartoons of Muslim religious leaders suffices to become the target of threats and even death threats, as Morten M. Kristiansen, illustrator at the Norwegian newspaper Verdens Gang, has experienced. He says he often received remarks from Christians when he depicted Jesus Christ and from Muslims when depicting their religious leaders, but in recent years the Muslim remarks have turned into threats.

“We cannot tolerate this in a democratic society,” said Selbekk. Asked if he was himself afraid of reprisals he said: “We have gone astray if we begin to concede on this issue out of fear. Many have already done much to prevent this problem from being hushed up. We hope that by publishing the cartoons we can do our bit.”

Unfortunately, the two Norwegian papers are now facing the same onslaught of threats that the editors of Jyllands-Posten have confronted. Sadly, as Brussels Journal noted on Saturday, this time it has produced results:

Now Magazinet has received threats via e-mail from around the world. One of these, sent anonymously through a popular e-mail service in the Middle East, was mailed to the editor, Vebjørn Selbekk, simply stating: “You’re a dead man!” Other staff members have also received threats. Selbekk said it looked as if the newspaper’s e-mail addresses were being distributed in an organized campaign. One of the e-mails Selbekk received contains a couple of pictures showing a burnt body, sent through an e-mail address in France.

Giving in to the threats, Magazinet decided today to remove the cartoons from its webiste. “The e-mail with the pictures of the burnt body is the most frightening. But I am not afraid. This is of course unpleasant, especially for a family man. But I cannot go around being afraid,” Selbekk told the Norwegian daily Dagbladet which also published the cartoons on its website last Tuesday. However, a number of other Norwegian newspaper editors have said they do not intend to follow the two newspapers’ example, claiming it to be an unnecessary provocation. Arab newspapers around the world have also reacted sharply to the publication of the cartoons. Selbekk, however, said the purpose for his decision was not to provoke anyone, but to highlight the status of freedom of expression in Norway.

Magazinet also interviewed two leading Norwegian cartoonists: Finn Graff and Morten M. Kristiansen. Graff, who was known in the 1960s and ’70s for his satirical drawings of Jesus Christ, said that he does not draw pictures mocking Muhammad. He does so out of fear for Muslims, and also “out of respect.” Muslims, he said, are very sensitive about their religion and their prophet, which is something one has to take into account and one has to respect. Kristiansen said he had received many protest letters in the past whenever he mocked Christ. The same applies to cartoons about Muhammad, but lately the protest letters from Muslims had increasingly become threats, including death threats in e-mails from places such as Iran. Unlike Graff, Kristiansen said he will not change his behaviour because of these threats because it is important to defend the right to freedom of expression.

Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands Posten, the Danish paper which published the cartoons first, told Magazinet that he does not regret that decision. “We cannot regret it. We live in a country where freedom of expression is recognized and we live and work in Denmark under Danish laws. The nature of the reactions has shown how necessary this debate is.” Juste said.

Asked if Jyllands-Posten had received any support from the Danish media after the decision to publish the cartoons Juste said at first there was not much support. Most of them believed this was something Jyllands-Posten did just to provoke. But after all the arbitrary demands that the newspaper apologize for the publication their attitude began to change. “Fortunately most people now realize this is an important issue about freedom of expression and, as a consequence, we have been getting more and more support.” He added that support has come from all over the world, but, unfortunately, threats, too.

The Danish cartoon controversy is about far more than a few offensive drawings: it is yet another battle in the effort by radical Islamists to export their murderous suppression of intellectual freedom from the Middle East to Europe. In a January 10th piece for FrontPage Magazine, Daryl Cagle laid out what is at stake:

Muslim countries expect the press in Denmark to suppress cartoons that would be offensive to them, but they don't extend the same cartoon courtesy to others that they demand for themselves. Cartoons in the Arab press are typically so ugly and racist that American audiences have never seen anything like them. Middle Eastern cartoon venom is targeted toward Israel, often depicting Jews with hooked noses and orthodox garb, sometimes with fangs and bloody teeth, often in the roles of Nazis. The Jews are sometimes shown crucifying Arabs in a "Jews killed Jesus" scenario, or enacting their own concentration camp Holocausts on their neighbors, along with their henchmen, the Americans. The cartoons are designed to be as offensive to Jews as possible, and are seen as nothing out of the ordinary by Middle Eastern newspaper readers.

Unless we defend our funny little drawings with the same zeal that we see from the victims of our irreverence, we'll continue to see our freedoms constricted by the loud voices of those we offend.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have posted a copy of the comics here and I recommend that everyone else do the same.

11:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom is more important than a non-sensical dogma. Humor is the best antidote to fanaticism.

2:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please repost the cartoons.....i really wanna see it

6:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is a load of comparison, Christians recieve much, much more critism than Muslims do! There are hundreds of thousands of Christians slain every year simply because of their religion and have been for a long while now and you don't see most (there are a few) of us running around being violently aggressive everyone in sight who doesn't agree with us. You'd think the Muslims could handle one little critisism of their religion without going ballistic and doing things peacefully for once. I do, however, recognize that this doesn't go for all Muslims, but I'm beginning to wonder.

10:04 PM  
Anonymous Phil Ochs said...

One patriot from the American revolution whose name I cannot remember once said either we all hang together or we will all hang separately. How can we in America start a Buy Danish movement to show are support for the brave Danes.
Phil Ochs, Bethesda, Md. USA

11:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mad men cannot be allowed to run the asylum!
Quoting from the above link:
"While religious tolerance is surely better than religious war, tolerance is not without its liabilities. Our fear of provoking religious hatred has rendered us incapable of criticizing ideas that are now patently absurd and increasingly maladaptive. It has also obliged us to lie to ourselves — repeatedly and at the highest levels — about the compatibility between religious faith and scientific rationality."

Let's roll...

1:24 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I lived in Denmark for several years and speak fluent Danish, and I can't help but be amused by the Danes FINALLY being caught out for their inherent racism. God knows I sure had to defend America while I was there during the civil rights and Vietnam days -- who are the racists now, beskeden lille Danmark? Stop hiding behind "freedom of speech" and admit it! YOU are the problem, not the "darker races."

3:14 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"There are hundreds of thousands of Christians slain every year simply because of their religion and have been for a long while now and you don't see most (there are a few) of us running around being violently aggressive everyone in sight who doesn't agree with us."

"..hundreds of thousands.."???? Can you direct us to a source for those numbers? The idea here seems to be these, shall we say, un-Godly numbers of dead are thus only because of their Christian beliefs? Please, give us some more info on this little-reported fact of yours. Thanks

7:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not surprising from an "animalistic" society like Denmark: When it comes from so low it never reachs the top.
And BTW the man in the cartoon does not even come close to resembling the prophet of islam (whose features are well documented in the history of Islam) peace and blessing be upon him.
As a matter of curiosity, please someone tell us how many illegitimate children are there in Denmark per year?

12:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Freedom of speech is important. This is a right that protects not only opinions we like, but also opinions we dislike or even think is sick. This is why a danish newspaper can post the drawings of Muhammad. But why, then, doesn't the freedom of speech kick in for the danish imams? Now right wing politicians want the muslim imams kicked out of the country for saying things that may harm Denmark. What ever happened to freedom of speech? Or does this principle only weigh heavy when it protecs us and not the others?

1:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's not dance around the point. The world would be well rid of all Muslims and the Islamic "religion". I plan to post the cartoons in my car window, and make T-shirt with the cartoons. I support Denmark and hope they do not apologize. Where are the Crusaders???

4:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well lemme clear few things ...
watever has happend is becaus of muslim fanatics...
BUT this doesnt mean that one has to hurt whole muslim body ... and that too in sarcastic manner... believe it most of the muslims dont know that ... once they get to know that it wil provoke many of the aloof muslims as well...
and the one calling for crusaders... U must not add to it for provoking... Muslims love thier prophet more ... its like attack on sleeping giant...
every one should avoid such acts ... this is as opposed to secularism as to islam

3:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So can we say that the Holocaust never happned. Can the pagans of Denmark say that or ........

3:10 PM  
Anonymous moderate said...

I do not understand as why the Western Media has made it its first mission to demonise Islam.I think there are a few better discoyrse than libel satire and mockery.We are not short of anti-human weapons.
The one who wants to paste the cartoon on his car's window must do because his insanity otherwise envelope the whole neighbourhood.

A muslim would never denigrate either Christ or Moses.Well' the christines slain every year are as innocent as millions of muslims being butcherd by the the Fanatics like George Bush and Sharon.
Let us develope respect for each otehr dogma and belief.The West claims to be civilized.Prove it.

11:07 PM  

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