February 7, 2006
The War Behind the Cartoon War
War began innocently enough. Kare Bluitgen, a Danish writer of
childrens' books, complained he couldn't find anyone to illustrate
the book he was writing about the Prophet Mohammed. The Danish
newspaper Jyllands Posten invited cartoonists to offer
their own interpretations. A dozen accepted. Jyllands Posten
published their work last Sept. 30th.
sects, such as the Wahhabis of Saudi Arabia, regard any depiction
of Mohammed as blasphemy. (The Koran prohibits only "idolatry,"
and throughout the last millenium Muslim artists have painted
likenesses of the Prophet.) Radical Muslims in Denmark issued
death threats, and the cartoonists went into hiding. On Oct. 20th,
ambassadors from 11 Muslim countries asked for a meeting with
Danish Prime Minister Andres Rasmussen to complain about the caricatures.
Mr. Rasmussen said he was sorry the cartoons had given offense,
but refused to meet with the ambassadors because "as prime
minister I have no tool whatsoever to take actions against the
media, and I don't want that kind of tool."
rested until last month, when four Muslim clerics from Denmark,
led by Abu Laban, who has terrorist connections, toured the Middle
East. They had with them the 12 original cartoons, plus three
truly vile ones (one depicts Mohammed with a pig's snout; another
shows him as a pedophile) apparently of their own concoction.
29th, gunmen in Gaza took over the offices of the European Union.
In response, some newspapers in Norway, Germany and France published
the cartoons to show solidarity with their Danish colleagues.
This led to massive protests in the Middle East and among Muslims
of Jyllands Posten has apologized for publishing the
cartoons, and the leader of the largest Muslim association in
Denmark has accepted the apology. But it may be too late to put
the genie back into the bottle, because radical Muslims seek to
fan the flames.
want blood on the streets of England," said Muslim protestors
in London, though no British newspaper has yet published the offending
promoted the controversy to distract attention from the trampling
deaths of 345 pilgrims in Mecca Jan. 12th, said "The Religious
Policeman," a Saudi Web logger. The deaths attracted little
attention in the West, but were big news in the Arab world.
Most of the
anti-Western violence has taken place in Syria and Lebanon, where
the Danish and Norwegian embassies were burned down.
a dictatorship. A mob could not have burned the building where
the Danish and Norwegian embassies were located without the tacit
permission, if not the encouragement, of the regime.
retains considerable influence in Beirut, where the rioting was
not spontaneous. Syria would love to distract attention from the
UN probe into the assassination of Lebanese politician Rafik Hariri,
in which Syria is implicated.
been, after Saudi Arabia, the nation most active in promoting
the boycott. The International Atomic Energy Agency has referred
Iran to the UN Security Council for possible sanctions against
its nuclear weapons program. The nation that will chair the Security
Council when the IAEA recommendation is taken up, British Web
logger David Conway noted, is Denmark.
the pieces fall into shape," he said. "The rumpus suddenly
escalated, complete with fabricated offensive cartoons, to so
inflame Muslim opinion that Denmark could be intimidated...into
voting in favor of Iran."
Most of Europe's
political leaders would like to respond with more appeasement.
But ordinary Europeans wonder why they must accommodate the demands
of bullying immigrants who have swollen their crime rates and
to have their faith respected, wrote Tony Parsons in the left
wing British newspaper the Mirror.
when someone starts carrying placards in my city gloating about
9/11 and 7/7, when men with big mouths start promising death and
destruction, when you tell us that we will be massacred if we
offend you, then our tolerance is pushed to the breaking point,"
(the protestors) want a Muslim country, then perhaps they should
go and live in one," Mr. Parsons said.
member of the Danish parliament echoed that sentiment.
of the radical clerics who stirred up the cartoon controversy,
Naser Khader asked: "If these imams think it is so terrible
to live in Denmark, then why do they remain here?"