If it weren’t for the Brussels Journal, Europe would not be now growing a spine. Or at least some of the continent appears to be walking upright. In Germany, for instance, Die Welt and Berliner Zeitung finally showed some solidarity with Denmark’s principled stand on freedom of the press by printing the twelve Mohammed cartoons.
France Soir, on the other hand, saw its editor fired for doing the same thing. As the Brussels Journal reported:
French Muslim leaders had announced their intention to sue the paper for the cartoons. They said the publication was a “provocation.” Raymond Lakah, a Franco-Egyptian businessman, is the owner of Angel Gate, a holding company that also owns the airline companies Air Horizons and Star Airlines. The only adequate response to Mr Lakah’s decision is a consumer boycott of France Soir. While Mr Lakah has a right to sack Mr Lefranch, French readers have the right to boycott his paper.
Meanwhile, the frenzy in the Middle East continues. In addition to the Saudi boycott of Danish goods, and the various flag burnings across the area, the Brussels Journal reported hysteria in Gaza on Monday:
…armed Palestinians stormed the European Union office in Gaza City, threatening Danes and Norwegians and demanding that they leave. Two Norwegian aid workers are on their way out of the region. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has warned Norwegian citizens against travelling to Gaza. The Danish Foreign Ministry warned Danes to be extremely cautious while travelling in the Middle East and North Africa. Yesterday the Danish national flag was burned in the West Bank…
Shall we call it stupidity or ignorance? Perhaps Carib Pundit puts it best:
Newspapers across Europe have reprinted caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad to show support for a Danish paper whose cartoons have sparked Muslim outrage.
Seven publications in France, Germany, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain all carried some of the drawings.
Their publication in Denmark led Arab nations to protest. Islamic tradition bans depictions of the Prophet.
Who knew Europeans had the balls?
Yeah. Who would have guessed? It only took them five months — while the Brussels Journal carried the ball alone — to finally decide to join hands with Denmark.
Meanwhile, Carib Pundit has two links that put things in perspective.
The first is a site by Tom Gross which has an exhibition of some of the Muslims’ cartoons about Israel. As you can imagine, they’re the bloody, creepy “humor” that we’ve come to expect from slashers. After all, the first person to die at the hands of Islam was the fellow who wandered by while they were praying and laughed to see all those rear ends in the air.
The second is the Mohammed Image Archive. Goes back centuries, folks. Yes, the old boy himself, in every medium you can imagine. This depiction was purchased from a street vendor in Iran in 1999, and taken back to Norway without a protest.
There’s something rotten here, and it’s not in Denmark. The ones who started this and kept it going have a strategy. As mentioned in an earlier post, The Astute Blogger has the scoop.
But these schemers who attempted to bully Denmark got more than they bargained for. This contretemps has served to galvanize Europe more than anything else has in the last few years. The Spanish trains, the London bombings, the car burnings in France: each incident seemed to send Europe sinking to her knees. So why now, why rally round Denmark for some cartoons?
Is this new courage born of the realization that this issue is about first principles, about the basics of free speech? Frankly, I’m surprised at this new-found energy, but it gives us all hope for Europe.
All of us, that is, but Bill Clinton — who is beginning to sound like Jimmy Carter.
And the BBC, ever the nosy spinster at the scene of the accident, is reported by the Brussels Journal to have asked Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten whether the paper would still publish the cartoons today, knowing all the consequences. Mr. Rose responded: “That is a hypothetical question. I would say that I do not regret having commissioned those cartoons and I think asking me that question is like asking a rape victim if she regrets wearing a short skirt Friday night at the discotheque.”
By the way, the BBC is not among the media who have had the courage to show the cartoons.