February 5, 2006
The Cartoon Jihad
By Melanie Phillips
escalating confrontation over the Danish cartoons dramatically
illustrates the now pathological reluctance of the leaders of
Britain and America to face up to the blindingly obvious and the
extent to which they have already run up the white flag in the
face of clerical fascism. With holy war declared openly upon the
west, with death threats being issued against cartoonists and
editors, with Danes, Scandinavians and other Europeans being hunted
for kidnap and in fear of their lives, with blood-curdling intimidation,
with mob demonstrations, calls to behead westerners and rallying
cries for ‘holy war’ by Islam against Europe, the
governments of Britain and America are busy prostrating themselves
before this terror, apologising for ‘causing offence’
and blaming the victims of this assault; while their intelligentsia
earnestly debates whether it is wrong to insult someone else’s
religion, for all the world as if this were a university ethics
seminar rather than a world war being waged by clerical fascism
against free societies and with people in hiding and in fear of
their lives for having exercised the right to protest at religious
violence and intimidation.
For two days
now, hundreds of Muslims have been demonstrating outside the Danish
Embassy in London. ‘Bomb bomb Denmark’ and ‘Nuke
nuke Denmark' they roared yesterday. Their placards screamed:
‘Exterminate those who slander Islam’, ‘Behead
those who insult Islam’, ‘Europe you’ll come
crawling when muhajideen come roaring’, ‘As Muslims
unite we are prepared to fight’, ‘Europe you will
pay, fantastic four are on their way’ ( a presumed reference
to last July’s suicide bombers in London).
outright and sustained incitement to violence and to murder. What
action was taken against the perpetrators? Nothing. Let’s
hear what Jack Straw said again, that freedom of speech carried
no obligation ‘to insult or to be gratuitously inflammatory’.
Now look at what happened when passers-by angered by yesterday’s
demonstration in London thought that what they were seeing went
far beyond Straw’s definition of what was intolerable. As
were sporadic clashes with passers-by over chants praising the
four British-born suicide bombers who killed 52 passengers on
three Underground trains and a London bus last July 7. People
who tried to snatch away what they regarded as offending placards
were held back by police. Several members of the public tackled
senior police officers guarding the protesters, demanding to
know why they allowed banners that praised the ‘Magnificent
19’ — the terrorists who hijacked the aircrafts
used on September 11, 2001 — and others threatening further
attacks on London. The officers said that their role was to
ensure public order and safety. Police had closed off main roads
to allow the procession a clear route. Protesters screamed:
‘UK, you must pray — 7/7 is on its way.’ Organisers
of the protest insisted that there would be more rallies over
the weekend and predicted that British Muslims would lead the
backlash against those mocking Islam.
they will – because Britain is leading the retreat. The
man of straw congratulated
the British media for their restraint in not republishing
the Danish cartoons, praising them for what he called their ‘considerable
responsibility and sensitivity’. A Foreign Secretary might
manage to keep a straight face when talking cobblers, but really!
The British media have hardly been overcome after all these years
by a sudden and wholly uncharacteristic outbreak of cultural sensibility.
The reason they didn’t republish the cartoons was because
they were terrified of provoking a violent reaction against themselves.
words, the intimidation has worked. The media are now craven.
Self-censorship over Islam has been the order of the day ever
since the Rushdie affair – and it was instructive to see
that yet more ‘moderate’ British Muslims have been
saying that the cartoons would never have been published had Rushdie
been killed. That’s the kind of comment that these days
doesn’t even merit any comment in dhimmi Britain. Now the
BBC faces the threat of violence, even though it did not even
show the cartoons properly but just wafted them across the screen.
Not craven enough, chaps! Memo to programme editors: must take
care to abase selves unequivocally in future.
culture of denial means that even now, the issue is being presented
as one of freedom of speech. But it is ever more obvious that
this is a war on the west, prosecuted in the name of Islam against
the west’s core values – and against those moderate
Muslims who are also alarmed by what is now so clearly erupting.
Let us remind
ourselves again – the cartoons were not an attack on Islam.
They were instead a protest against the violent intimidation being
practised in its name after the author of a (totally inoffensive)
children’s book about Islam had difficulty in finding an
illustrator because artists feared they might be attacked. Since
then, the violence that has erupted across the world has more
than proved the cartoonists’ point. The problem is that
the perpetrators of aggression, suffering from a pathological
inferiority complex about the weakness of Islamic culture and
firmly believing the lies and libels with which they have been
indoctrinated about Jews and the west, invert their own aggression
as an attack upon Islam by their victims.
reported remarks by Liaqat Hussain, the secretary of the Bradford
Central Mosque, who although adding as a postscript that any protest
should be peaceful nevertheless turned the cartoons from a defence
against Islamist intimidation into evidence of a world-wide attack
of this protest deepens when one considers that the claim at its
heart, that pictorial representations of the Prophet are forbidden
in Islam, is not true. Like so much else, it is all a matter of
interpretation; but the fact remains that there have been many
representations of the Prophet in Islamic art over the centuries.
This website shows many
images of the Prophet in medieval Islamic paintings and illuminated
manuscripts, some showing his face in full, others with it blanked
In the Telegraph,
Moore makes an excellent point:
is no reason to doubt that Muslims worry very much about depictions
of Mohammed. Like many, chiefly Protestant, Christians, they
fear idolatry. But, as I write, I have beside me a learned book
about Islamic art and architecture which shows numerous Muslim
paintings from Turkey, Persia, Arabia and so on. These depict
the Prophet preaching, having visions, being fed by his wet
nurse, going on his Night-Journey to heaven, etc. The truth
is that in Islam, as in Christianity, not everyone agrees about
what is permissible. Some of these depictions are in Western
museums. What will the authorities do if the puritan factions
within Islam start calling for them to be removed from display
(this call has been made, by the way, about a medieval Christian
depiction of the Prophet in Bologna)? Will their feeling of
'offence' outweigh the rights of everyone else?
in the case of the Danish pictures, there was no danger of idolatry,
since the pictures were unflattering. The problem, rather, was
insult. But I am a bit confused about why someone like Qaradawi
thinks it is insulting to show the Prophet's turban turned into
a bomb, as one of the cartoons does. He never stops telling
us that Islam commands its followers to blow other people up.
asks a very pertinent question. Since the cartoons were actually
published last autumn and protests at the time were confined to
demonstrations in Denmark, why have they only now erupted across
if dismaying answer, which should receive more attention, is suggested
Conway on the Civitas website yesterday:
who wanted or caused the heat to become so turned up and why
at that this particular moment? The clue to the answers to this
second question lies in a second event almost certain to occur
to today, if it has not already happened by the time this blog
gets posted. This is the likely decision today in Vienna by
the International Atomic Energy Agency to report Iran to the
UN Security Council for continuing with its programme of nuclear
research. If that decision should occur, when the UN Security
Council gets round to considering what form of sanctions to
impose on Iran, guess to whom chairmanship of the Council will
have passed. You’ve got it... plucky little Denmark.
the pieces fall into shape. The rumpus suddenly escalated, complete
with fabricated offensive cartoons, to so enflame Muslim opinion
that Denmark could be intimidated directly through a threatened
Muslim boycott of its goods, or indirectly by the EU fearful
of a wider boycott, into voting in favour of Iran.
the Security Council eventually may decide over sanctions against
Iran, it is unlikely to deter that country from continuing to
develop the technology needed to manufacture nuclear weapons,
Prospect of its acquisition of them is likely to trigger a nuclear
arms race in the region, as well as, sooner or later, oblige
Israel or the US to make some pre-emptive strike against it
to prevent its programme from reaching completion.
best, such a strike will succeed, but not without precipitating
a conventional war in the Middle East the repercussions of which
will not escape Europe in the form of suicide bombings. At worst,
pre-emption will fail, Iran will acquire nuclear weapons, and,
with a President of that country as gung-ho as its current one,
we all receive tickets for a one-way trip to oblivion.
is not a thrilling prospect for sure. But that is all the more
reason why the West needs to remain strong, united, and resolved
to resist the challenge of militant Islam. If Europe has recently
been made more so than it has been of late, it has to thank
for that, paradoxically, the malicious militancy of the mullahs
and imams whose fabrication of the grounds of the current crisis
has given the West a second wake-up call to the true scale and
nature of the current danger that it faces to which all too
many Europeans failed to have become alerted by the first wake-up
call given on September 11th.
not Conway is right about this, the cartoon jihad has made one
thing crystal clear. No more alibis. The roots of global terror
do not lie in Iraq, nor in Israel/Palestine, nor in Chechnya,
Kashmir or any of the other iconic conflicts which are said to
be its cause. They lie instead in the Islamists’ rage that
their religious culture is not in power across the world, their
determination to subordinate that world to its tenets and their
truly pathological belief that it is they who are under attack
if their victims dare defend themselves. Twelve scribbled drawings
have lifted the veil -- on both the nature of the threat and the
disarray that greets it.