Do you remember the contretemps in Denmark this past October regarding the cartoon drawings of Mohammed? Well, it certainly has gotten interesting in the weeks since the first story went to press.
The whole thing started when a Danish author complained that he couldn’t find anyone to render a cartoon illustration of Mohammed for his book about the prophet. A Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, concerned about the resounding silence to the writer’s request for an illustrator, decided to ask twelve artists to render their cartoon versions of Mohammed.
|Carsten Juste, the paper’s editor, said the cartoons were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark.|
As it turns out, Islamic terrorism has certainly made its fury felt; it looks as though freedom of expression is a thing of the past in Denmark. Or rather, what has passed is the likelihood of living to tell about it if you are ever foolish enough to consider yourself to have freedom of speech where Islam is concerned. The newspaper is now under guard and several of the twelve cartoonists have gone into hiding since the publication of their work. Here’s a sample from one of them: and it has brought down the wrath of Islam’s fundamentalists, not just on the newspaper but upon all of Denmark.
First Danish Muslims took to the streets in protest and it deteriorated from there:
|The publication led to outrage among the Muslim immigrants living in Denmark. Five thousand of them took to the streets to protest. Muslim organisations have demanded an apology, but Juste rejects this idea: “We live in a democracy. That’s why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures,” he said. The Danish imam Raed Hlayhel reacted with the statement: “This type of democracy is worthless for Muslims. Muslims will never accept this kind of humiliation. The article has insulted every Muslim in the world.”|
|Flemming Rose, the cultural editor at the newspaper, denied that the purpose had been to provoke Muslims. It was simply a reaction to the rising number of situations where artists and writers censored themselves out of fear of radical Islamists, he said. “Religious feelings cannot demand special treatment in a secular society,” he added. “In a democracy one must from time to time accept criticism or becoming a laughingstock.”|
Right. Notice the key phrase there: “In a democracy…” But Islamist fundamentalists don’t live in democracies. They live in parallel to the rest of the world, in utopian fantasies of a mythological glorious past, and based on paranoid beliefs about the sins of the infidels.
Thus, within a matter of days, the Muslim world was making an international incident out of cartoons:
|Eleven Muslim ambassadors to Copenhagen, who had protested to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen demanding apologies from the newspaper, decided to take the matter to international Muslim organisations, such as the Arab League and the Organisation of the Islamic Conference.|
|One of the eleven ambassadors is the ambassador of Turkey. She has received full support of the Turkish Foreign Ministry in asking Rasmussen to call Jyllands-Posten to account for “abusing Islam in the name of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.” According to Muslims it is blasphemy to depict the Prophet Muhammad.|
|Last week [in mid-October], the ambassadors sent a protest letter to Rasmussen, but the Danish Prime Minister, stressing that Denmark recognized freedom of expression, refused to discuss the matter. On Tuesday the Egyptian ambassador said on Danish television that the group of ambassadors planned to meet Danish politicians to put pressure on the PM, but after a meeting of the group yesterday it was announced that the Organisation of the Islamic Conference would take the matter into its hands. The Organisation, representing 56 member states, has already sent a letter of protest to the Danish government. “Now it is moving up to the international level. Therefore, we will not try to contact Denmark’s political leaders,” the Egyptian ambassador said. She added that also “the Arab League will weigh in soon.”|
How about those Danes, hmm? None of them caved. Consider what might have happened in, say, Britain, had there been such an incident. Prince Charles would have been on bended knee in front of any imam willing to take his apology.
Now, two months later, the Danish government has issued warnings to its citizens regarding travel to Pakistan:
|A bounty of DKK 50,000 had been put on the head the cartoonist responsible for the drawings, daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende reported on Friday. The Pakistani group offering the reward mistakenly believes that the 12 cartoons were created by just one person.|
|Danish Ambassador to Pakistan Bent Wigotski said the bounty had been promised by religious party Jamaat-e-Islami and its youth organisation, which had also demanded Danish representatives expelled from the country.|
|Danish authorities immediately informed the Pakistani government about the death threats and bounty promised by the party, which is described as nationalistic and fundamentalist.|
|Ever since the demonstrators marched through the streets of Islamabad, the party has been spreading its message through the media and flyers.|
|Wigotski said he had no plans to leave Pakistan, despite hundreds of angry protest letters from Muslims around the world.|
|‘But the situation is of course serious,’ he said. ‘They might want to get to the Danish illustrators, but if they can’t reach them, they could make do with a scapegoat.’|
|That scapegoat could be anybody, the embassy warned, and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has issued a new travel advisory for Pakistan warning Danes not to visit the country, given that the Jyllands-Posten cartoons were ‘seen by many Muslims as derogatory and blasphemous’.|
Good idea. All those Danes look alike anyway. Doesn’t matter which one you kill, really. They’re all infidels anyway.
A tiny Muslim voice of reason was heard in Denmark, however, emanating from the Pakistani Ambassador, Javed Qureshi:
|‘No Pakistani government would ever support such a thing, I’m sure that the current government will take action in the case. I can’t imagine that a bounty like that doesn’t violate Pakistani legislation,’ said Qureshi|
Now that gives you hope, doesn’t it? Except this guy was also one of the eleven Muslim ambassadors in Denmark who signed the haughty letter to the Danish Prime Minister.
Oh, by the way, in case you wondered if this pathological sensitivity is reciprocal, it’s not:
|Meanwhile in Brussels a young Muslim immigrant published a poster depicting the Virgin Mary with naked breasts. Though the picture has drawn some protest from Catholics (though not from Western embassies, nor from the bishops), this artist need not fear being murdered in the street. On the contrary, he is being subsidised by the Ministry for Culture.|
The illustrator of this lovely Madonnna is being paid to present his ideas to school children in Belgium.
|Chokri Ben Chikha is a young Tunisian author, actor and singer. Ben Chikha was born and raised in Flanders, the Dutch-speaking north of Belgium. He has written a play and dance act about cultural differences to draw attention to the difficulties of young immigrants who are discriminated against by the natives.|
Mr. Chikha feels that Belgians need to know that anti-Semitism is not only common among his fellow Belgian-Tunisians, any anti-Semitic feeling is proper and deserved. Why even his Polish step-mother hates them.
I hope there are some Knights of Columbus in Ohio or some such place scraping the rust off their swords and sharpening the edges. Looks like we’re in for a long siege, folks.
Either hide your rosary or get it out of mothballs, depending on your temperament. Those Danes are probably hauling them out and putting them on their rearview mirrors.
Hat tip: Paul Belien at Brussels Journal has provided the meat for this story. I highly recommend Brussels Journal.