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A Contrived Controversy

We keep learning more and more about the cartoon controversy.  Of course, most of the breaking news has been reported by the blogosphere.  For instance, Andrew Sullivan and the Belmont Club point to an Egyptian blog showing that the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were also published in October in a major Egyptian newspaper.  That's right, apparently the Danish cartoons were reprinted on the front page of Al Fager's October 17, 2005 edition.  Sullivan takes out his anger on the U.S. media, particularly the New York Times:

So it's official: the Egyptian state media is less deferential to Islamists than the New York Times. So where were the riots in Cairo? This whole affair is a contrived, manufactured attempt by extremist Muslims to move the goal-posts on Western freedom. They're saying: we determine what you can and cannot print; and there's a difference between what Muslims can print and what infidels can print. And, so far, much of the West has gone along. In this, well-meaning American editors have been played for fools and cowards. Maybe if they'd covered the murders of von Gogh and Fortuyn more aggressively they'd have a better idea of what's going on; and stared down this intimidation. The whole business reminds me of the NYT's coverage of the Nazis in the 1930s. They didn't get the threat then. They don't get it now.

Meanwhile Michelle Malkin has a post on "The Pig Snout Swindle."  This title refers to one of the three "extra-offensive" cartoons that Danish imams falsely attributed to the Jyllands-Posten in order to stoke violence.  According to Malkin:

One of the Danish TV network's reporters also aggressively interviewed Danish imam Ahmed Akkari, who was part of the traveling delegation that spread this pamphlet (via the Counterterrorism Blog and Ekstra Bladet) containing the 12 Jyllands-Posten cartoons and unrelated propaganda across the Middle East...

The Danish TV broadcaster refused to let the pig snout swindle go unchallenged and aggressively engaged Danish imam Ahmed Akkari.

She provides a transcript and video link of the encounter in her same post.

Finally, Amir Taheri has two pieces worth mentioning.  The first is a column in yesterday's Wall Street Journal.  Taheri busts the myth that it is against Islamic principles to make representations of Mohammed.  He puts it simply: "There is no Quranic injunction against images, whether of Muhammad or anyone else."  Rather, he says the issue has never been decided and is by no means absolute.  Muslim history helps to buttress his point, as he offers a long list of Mohammed portraits drawn by Muslim artists.

In today's New York Post, Taheri presses the issue further:

In December, a group of Danish Muslim militants filled their suitcases with photocopies of the cartoons and embarked on a tour of Muslim capitals.

The Muslim Brotherhood turned away the Danish group in Cairo, because it "was busy plotting election strategy and pretending to be a 'moderate' political party."  Hamas was trying to build support for their own Palestinian elections, so they too turned down the Danish group.  Both groups suggested that they hold off a few months.  According to Taheri:

The emissaries found a more sympathetic audience in Qatar — where the satellite-TV channel Al Jazeera (owned by the emir) specializes in inciting Muslims against the West and democracy in general. The channel's chief Islamist televangelist, Yussuf al-Qaradawi (an Egyptian preacher who is also a friend of Ken Livingstone, the mayor of London), was all too keen to issue a "fatwa" to light the fuse. He then mobilized his network of Muslim Brotherhood militants in Europe to attack the cartoons and claim, falsely, that images were not allowed in Islam and that the Danish paper had violated "an absolute principle of The Only True Faith."

In the rest of the column, Taheri explains how Iranian and Syrian leaders jumped on the bandwagon in order to tarnish Denmark's image in the eyes of Muslim faithful.  Why?  Because both Iran and Syria are under pressure from the United Nations, and Denmark is set to take over the rotating presidency of the U.N. Security Council.