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Cartoon Issue: Is it a freedom of Expression?

21 February, 2006

By Tanveer Jafri


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These days, more than twenty countries, where Muslim population is in Majority, are facing demonstrations organized by the Muslim community. There are some countries where violent demonstrations have become a part of daily routine. It is well known that a daily paper of Denmark published an objectionable cartoon of the founder of Islam religion Prophet Hazrat Mohammad. In this undesirable cartoon, Prophet Mohammad was shown as a suicide terrorist, having tied a bomb on his head. The Muslim of Denmark immediately showed their disapproval against that newspaper & its editor but in the beginning government of Denmark didn`t take it seriously. After that there started a series of demonstration opposing it. To tell the said cause of these demonstrations, some newspapers of the western countries, again published this objectionable cartoon of Prophet Mohammad. This added fuel to the fire. As a result of it, most of the Muslims were forced to think that it is not a matter of only one newspaper of Denmark but a well planned plot of western countries to link Islam religion & terrorism

Although the editors of the newspapers of many countries publishing the undesirable cartoons including Denmark accepted their mistake and apologized, yet these demonstrations are showing no end. Instead these are spreading, and at many places they are taking violent turn.

It is not so that the Muslim community is divided and apart on the issue of publication of objectionable cartoon of prophet Hazrat Mohammad (SAS).This publication is being condemned not only by the Muslims but other people of the world also.  The Secretary General of United Nations Kofi Annan has strongly condemned these publications of cartoons. He has requested the Muslims of the world to remain peaceful and patient. Some of the western countries are considering this deformed freedom of expression as perilous for the world. American former President Bill Clinton is in favor of giving severe punishment to the editors of all the newspapers, who have published these cartoons. The chief of Arab league, Umar Moosa has condemned this incident and has appealed the Muslims to avoid these violent demonstrations. But the anger of the Muslim world is showing no end of it in spite of all these requests and entreaties.

There has been a strong debate on this issue in European parliament. Representative of Denmark in European parliament Yen Peter Bond told the reason of the anger of the Muslim as such, `this demonstration is the result of step behavior & double standard behavior being given to the Muslims in the all world. This anger has busted because the rights of the Muslims in the world are being ignored`. Bond said, `The western countries had made the Muslim countries their colonies and did not let them develop. France and Britain are mainly responsible for it. During a debate on the issue of objectionable cartoon of Prophet Mohammad (sas) parliamentarian Bond said -"The main causes of tension in the Middle East are the favor being done to Israel by America. Palestine is not being given their own country. And the Muslim countries are not being allowed to sell their agriculture produce in the western countries etc. These are the main problems and now their reaction is coming in the fore-front".

Undoubtedly the freedom of expression is an important mean of exposing the reality of a society, but it should not mean that in the guise of expression any religious leader is belittled or tried to be insulted or jested. But unfortunately, this publication of objectionable cartoons is not the first incident in the papers of Denmark or the western countries. Before this, these cartoons were published in last September. By chance, there didn`t arise any particular controversy on the basis of the publication of these pictures. The present controversy got oxygen when these pictures were published in the newspaper in Italy, Australia, hungry, South Africa & many other countries. Sometimes, on the bottles of liquors, on undergarments, on napkins or on tissue papers or sometimes on foot wears. 

Blasphemy is really condemnable. Usually it is seen that a person who has faith in one religion respects & is fully denoted to his own prophets, gods & goddesses or religious leaders but he has no attachment to the gods or goddesses or guides of other religions. It is understandable that a man may not agree with the others & may not give his regards to the gods & goddesses of the others religions. But any person believing in one religion has no right to criticize jest or belittle the gods or the goddesses of other religions. If a person has a devil-dare to criticize or raise a finger on his own religion, the people of his own religion can`t put up with this insult. There are hard proofs showing that there in some countries hard punishments are given for blasphemy as in the case of "a death fatwa" by Iran against Salman Rushdi.

Undoubtedly, the Muslim world is passing through a period of great sorrow & anger. But the Muslim community needs to work intelligently under the present atmosphere of a difficulty test. A common Muslim can`t deny the fact that it may be due to any reason but a class of the Muslims is responsible for the linking of the Islam & the terrorism. It shouldn`t be that in the guise of the insult of Prophet Mohammad, this unity of simple & the true Muslims may be exploited by unsocial & terrorist groups which may lead to such wrong actions that may bring discredit to the entire Muslim world. As blasphemy may be of any religious leader, is objectionable, condemnable & punishable & it shouldn`t be. Similarly violence has no place in any religion. The crowd gathered for religion or religious feelings shouldn`t become an uncontrollable mob. This is the time when the Muslims of the world should keep their eyes open & should remain watchful.

End.

Reader Comments:

Hypocritical Society

It's amazing to me that so many Muslims will jump to the streets to protest a picture they claim is defacing Muhammad and equating terrorism to Islam. But, when terrorists in the name of Muhammad fly aircraft into buildings no such demonstrations take place. There were no such protests during Sangla Hill. Oh, and these individuals who in your eyes are perverting islam (al-qaeda) still live among you. It seems to me, if the Muslim world were truely intent on being a peaceful nation cartoons would be on the bottom of the list of things to protest about.

Freedom of speech is a right in which you truely can't come to fully appreciate until you have had the priviledge of using it yourself. You get to question leaders, ridicule wrong-doers and voice your opinion on anything and everything out there. Yes...with that freedom comes responsibility. However, this responsibility does not lie completely on the publishers' hands. The readers must have enough common sense to say "hey, I think this guy is wrong," and leave it at that. Mass riots to me seem to be the worst course of action the Muslim world could take to prove it is a peaceful society.

I mentioned Sangla Hill again to hopefully open your eyes. You claim the "Western World" is against islam, however you cannot responsibly make such a claim when Christians within your societies face persecution daily. This leads to my last point. Freedom of speech will always be limited if one does not recognize freedom of religon. Currently, if a young man evengilzes to another in Pakistan, he can be severly reprimanded. Maybe not by the government but by a mob. If a muslim does the same in the west, no such rebuke takes place. Why is that, could it be that Islam is a hypocritical society? You want to be acknowledged as peaceful, however your actions prove the opposite.

Tom B Dassogault, United Kingdom - 22 February, 2006

This is misleading

This article presents a very confused and misleading impression. While some public figures in the West have showed cowardice and irresolution in the face of the mayhem caused by Muslim street mobs, the majority of ordinary people in Western societies stand strongly by our free speech rights and have no intention of being intimidated by threats and violence. Muslims can best promulgate respect for Muhammed in non-Muslin societies by behaving in ways that reflect well on their prophet and faith.

Chris Brostrup-Jensen, United Kingdom - 22 February, 2006

Banana Peel !

What takes place cannot be reversed.Otherwise we would be able to rectify our past years.However we can prevent accident or inflammable type of incidents by not throwing banana peels and running over them.

Khalid Rahim, Canada - 22 February, 2006

What about sensitivities of Non_Muslims

All the Muslims of the world are up in arms about few cartoons in Denmark , published a few months back. Danes are being beaten up, their products are boycotted (they are losing millions of dollars daily), ambassadors are being called back, embassies are being closed, rewards are being offered to kill the cartoonists, death threats are coming daily to the publishing newspaper and millions of Muslims are on the streets protesting.

I bet very few of them have even seen the cartoons. They say it does not matter what the cartoons say, just drawing picture of Mohammed is blasphemy and hurts the sensitivities of Muslims. The punishment of blasphemy is death in Islamic sharia. They demand punishment for the blasphemers and apologies from their superiors.

Yet every Muslim blasphemes daily against Christ and Christianity, Judaism and all other religions by recitation of Quran. Quranic verses blaspheming against Christianity and Judaism and calling these and all other religions false and corrupted are read on air waves and printed in newspapers throughout the world. But no Muslim is ever punished for it or ever apologizes for it.

Some of the quranic verses blaspheming other religions are as follows:

Gods of all other religions shall be the fuel of Hell (21:98-100)

All Gods except Allah are created, dead and false, they all lead to hell (16:20-21, 25:17-19, 29:41-42,37:22-25)

Jesus was a Muslim and a slave/servant of Allah, and not his son (3:52, 4:171-172,4:172, 5:115-117, 5:111-112)

Crucification of Jesus is a lie (4:157)

Doctrine of trinity is infidelity and disbelief, a painful doom awaits for those disbelievers who believe in trinity (5:73)

Christians corrupted the true message (5:14, 15)

People of the book (Jews and Christians) are evil doers, some of whom were converted into apes and swines for their disbelief (5:59-60)

Jews say Ezra is son of God and Christians say Jesus is son of God, they are liars and perverts, May Allah destroy them (9:30)

Mohammed was sent by Allah as a gift to Christians to correct their corruption and misunderstanding of true religion Islam (57:28,4:47)

Why don't the Muslims care about everybody else's sensitivities? Why have they to be pampered by the very people their Quran calls evil (2:99), diseased (2.10), cursed (2:88), evil (5:59), losers(5:53), liars (16:39), worst beasts (8:55) , lowest creatures (58.20), deaf dumb and blind (2.171), descendants of apes and swines (5.60) and perverts (9:30), and who are considered dirty (9:28) like urine, feces, pigs and dogs touching of whom defiles a Muslim and requires ablution?

allen smith, Pakistan - 22 February, 2006

Tom B Dassogault comments .. thought provoking

Tom, your thoughts are well defined and you are quite right in highlighting the basic fundamental error of muslim societies by calling them Hypocritical. It's absolutely true, that till today, muslims have not even understood the basic principles of Islam and yet they want to be projected as a peaceful nation.

However, I would also humbly request you to fathom the notion of freedom of expression that is being practiced in the western world. I can tell for sure that it's much better than what being practiced in the muslim world, nevertheless, if you believe that the projection of western states as champions of freedom of expression is withouth the element of Hypocrisy, then I am afraid, you are also living in fools paradise. If freedom of expression is not based on the principles of Justice, then it can't be considered freedom, instead it's controlled manipulation under the disguise of freedom.

Freedom should not have any limits, yet it should be goverened on the principles of "Justice."


Agha, Pakistan - 22 February, 2006

allah the superpower has created the soul and minutes which is governed by allah on there activites

* ALLAH THE ONE IS GOD AND SUPERPOWER ALLAH IS INITIAL PROPHET MOHAMMED IS ALLAHS IDENTITY IN WORLD . OF ALL THE SOUL ALLAH HAS CREATED IS HAVING SAME VALUE BUT DIFFERENT IMPORTANCE AS IBLIS THE TOP WORSHIPER OF ALLAH DUE TO HIS INJUSTICE TURN TO DEVIL ADAM THE TRUE FOLLOWER OF ALLAH TURNED DISOBEDIENT ITS ALL THE FACTOR OF GOOD AND BAD ALLAH HAS GOVERNED ISLAM THE TRUE RELIGON QURAN THE TRUE BOOK MOHAMMED THE TRUE PROPHET OF THE CREATION OF ALLAH THOSE WHO FOLLOW ARE TRUE THOSE WHO NOT ARE FALSE ITS FOR EVERY SOUL ITS NOW THE BEGINING OF END OF UNIVERSE AYENGE HUM IS DUNIYA MEIN MASIHA BANKAR BHOOLA KAR ANDHERA YE CHAMAKTA SITARA BANKAR THODI KHUSHI THODA GAM HOGA HUMARE BAAD IS MEHPHIL MEIN PHASANE SUNAYE JAYENGE BAHARE HUM KOO DHUNDEGI HUM NA JAANE KAHA HONGE *

asil, Hungary - 22 February, 2006

Cursed to Denmark Genalists

Dear ,
How to Condem? Please Convey my Comments to the cursed Journalist who have done a below standard try to hert the muslims. God may burn him in hottest Fire.

Muhammad Azam, Pakistan - 23 February, 2006

Free Speech

This forum is the closest I have seen allowing freedom of expression. If all the hotheads of the world learned to type instead of terrorising we could make headway. Unfortunately most of the world is blinded by Religion. When the mind is closed to any form of dissent, cartoon or written, then no amount of argument will sway opinions.
In this country, recently a Roman Catholic Archbishop
likened Atheists to Hitler. (He ignored Hitler was a Roman Catholic). I objected and got nowhere. He certainly wasn't worth starting a riot over. As for Hypocrisy. The Christians preach forgiveness and love thine enemies. The Muslims claim Islam is synonymous with Peace. The Jews preach Revenge. I see only one not practising hypocrisy. Remember violence never proved nor solved an argument. Tom Edgartomedgar@halenet.com.au

Tom Edgar, Aruba - 23 February, 2006

I Agree and Disagree :)

This is awesome, we live a half a world apart and we are having a dialogue...thanks Paktibune!

In my previous letter I did not present my definition of freedom very well, quite a big mistake regarding the importance of the issue. Freedom, I would define as the choice, or free will to decide a course of action, whether it being right or wrong. If we define justice, as honesty, fairness, truthfulness, and fairplay, then we must come to your conclusion, "Freedom should be governed on the principles of Justice." I totally agree. However, you said "should," which unfortunately is what freedom is all about. There is a right way we "should" go about our daily lives, and there is a wrong way. Freedom, allows people to make poor decisions. However, a "just" society, one that can openly acknowledge peoples' poor decisions in an appropriate manner requires freedom to do so. Let me use an example that is being played out in the U.S right now. I'm sure you may have heard of this movie "Brokeback Mountain." It is a story about two gay cowboys, one of which is married, who apparently fall in love, commit adultery and so forth. Hollywood has exercised its freedom of expression in this movie. For some reason Hollywood has the need to press a gay agenda, and they have the freedom to do so. However, it does not seem fair that Hollywood should be allowed to hijack our theaters to promote the idea that sexual immorality is okay. Does this movie go against my principles as a Christian, absolutely! So what about my course of action? What should I do? Riot in the streets, burn gay literature, or persecute gays in general? Justice will lead me away from all of these options. Instead, rather than going to the movies, I pick up a good book. Rather than hating gays, I preach to them. I have the freedom to do so.


Tom B Dossogault, United Kingdom - 23 February, 2006

allen smith - Deliberate Quran Quote

Quran Surah :http://www.usc.edu/dept/MSA/quran/
(Refer here for 3 different translation)

Allan Smith, I admire your knowledge...I would
Clarify yours in plain English to make people realize
what they are up against!

3-52 JESUS said who will be helper to Almighty God
some said We Will ,others walked away to Hell

9-30 5-17Jews Claim Ezra Son of God while Christian
claim Jesus. Quran claim God is no father- son -Hghost nor
food reach to God. God Is HE who created heaven
earth and in between .The Other day I gave live example
how trinity applies in different Format and alternative to
this is worshiping hinduism

5-14 -47 5-59 Jews Christian modified rephrased teaching
and try to recite with twisted tongue to get cursed.Say to them
do you envy us for reciting original surah which had been
memorized and passed on via Huffaz I Quran /via Khtm
Tarawii

4-157 Jesus was not killed or crucified even if appeard so.
(in fact came to do prayer at Alaqsa before miraj i.e.
jesus son of mary)

29-41,42 Other gods will be asked did you tell them to
worship you they will reply No they are self convinced
based on rishtas..their likeness is like spiders web linkage
(frailest)

37-22,23,25 people with wives priority they have designed
with reluctance to follow Islam or help each other.They will
be dealt with.Let them promote their own power wives
success story.

57-28 To be muslim make alliance recite Kalma #1 or assume
you will be judged for the trial tribulation and rejection after
acquiring job and prosperity and knowledge.Watch out biz
worshipping leaders with own Idols-Priest Abraham Dad demolished.
Example thoughts of Maotse Tung/Qadaffi/Sheiks/Emirs/ new world order
Quran Quote related…1.Blair said Quran and Muslims are wrong
who follow twisted teaching .Then he went above board and went
invaded Iraq without WMD and bragged oilbased economy ….Clinton
bombed killed bragged to get votes in his term while both did what they
did in Bosnia Kosovo Near Thailand E Taimoor etc.2.They helped each
other with RSS “Ram God was born In Ayodhya” “Jesus God Son of God
with holy Ghost born in Mideast”Buddha in Gaya , Goddesses of power
knowledge With multi discipline Hands or new Sai baba (live)Guru Nanak
was born there.. or Jesus Ahmed was born In Qadian or God Bhauallah was born
there…The People belonging to above faith – I fully respect
them Because they follow on own accord or based on Rishtas
Or inheritence like me Born in a Muslim FAMILY and
Follow Prophet Muhammed(PBUH) was born in MECCA


benz m Ispahani, India - 23 February, 2006

To all those that condone or codemn!

Those cartoons should have never been published, but I'm sure most of you don't even know that they were first published last year. When the news media gets ahold of crap like this, everyone gets up in arms. Even though this cartoon caricature was wrong, is that a reason to kill people and burn down buildings? I ask all of you! GOD is constantly testing us and we keep failing miserably. Everyone wants to stand up for their religion, whatever that religion is, but I don't know of any GOD that would want one to defend him by killing others. There are peaceful ways to accomplish this. Many people just want an excuse to create havoc in the world. Just think of all the innocent people that are losing their lives over something that should be ignored, since the idiots who drew the cartoons, and the publishers, are probably regretting ever doing it. Some people just don't have a brain!

Cindy Lees, United Kingdom - 23 February, 2006

Edgar, Study Up

Tom, have you ever seriously studied or asked for help in understanding Christianity? From your comments above you clearly haven't. You are right, some of the major tenets of Christianity are forgiveness and love. One who strives for these (even if at times failing) is a Christian. If one does not yearn to follow such tenets, then he is not a Christian. (Take note, Hitler was NOT a Christian) Christianity is a destination, a goal. A true Christian seeks to reach this goal through Jesus. Through spirituality, not religon. If you are going to claim Christianity as a hypocritical way of life, you need to present more than a few cases of fallen people who identify themselves as Christians.

I urge you to read C.S Lewis' "Mere Christianity"

Tom B Dossogault, United Kingdom - 23 February, 2006

Free Speech /Bombing/Invasion

The Enemy has freedom of expression or action…
White House said no to a woman president for USA
While iron Lady PM M Thatcher wined and dined
Actor Reagan . Economic System is On Via retention
of Kuwait Iraq Saudi gulf oil Emirs Sheiks with
wine brewing in Muslim Territory 3 hajj stampede ,
setting alight hajjis in tent city,building churches ,
passing anti- Islam law installing anti quran leaders
Election Designing ,Alqaedas look ,Muslim Gay
Lesbian Creation via Maanji or putting couple
of Female Rulers upfront.

In Many places Churches Temples are full.People
Bury their dead or mary according to their religion .
Why cheat Muslim for Oil greed ? Why By force
Changing religion of Islam Economy of ISLAM
Infrastructure of Islam ? There is no respect For
1500m Muslim leadership.Can anyone Deny these
Happening ?


bulue_zacaria, Georgia - 23 February, 2006

Thats No Freedom

Playing with some one believe is not the right thing to do.There for suitable actions must be taken against the ppl who are invovlved in this filthy act

Sufian, Aruba - 23 February, 2006

I don't have time to speak to people who have the intention to understand Allen smith .
21:98-100
Lo! ye (idolaters) and that which ye worship beside Allah are fuel of hell. Thereunto ye will come.


nouressine, Pakistan - 23 February, 2006

to Allen smith

21:98-100
Lo! ye (idolaters) and that which ye worship beside Allah are fuel of hell. Thereunto ye will come.

The Quran has been preserved because of people who give words their right .If you attack Islam do it with knowledge .
For the rest I don't have the time for people not willing to understand .

nouressine, Pakistan - 23 February, 2006

In this case Freedom of Speech was Hijacked to insult

You have to think that the American Media has chosen a more pro-active point not to publish the cartoon but it is not the cartoon that is the news, it is the aftermath that is receiving all the attention. Was it fear of a repeat of the demonstrations in Europe and in Muslim majority countries that they decided not to publish it? Was it government intervention or was it designed to provoke a violent response to discredit Muslims and Islam on a world wide basis? Probably it was a little of all, mostly of the latter but you also have to applaud the restraint the US and US media has demonstrated by not publishing the cartoon and shun them for covering the bitter reality of the rage in these demonstrations.

It is a bad reflection of the larger population that a small representation of Muslims have to resort to violence for this expression. However, then again that is only what the media seems to show interest for nowadays, misrepresentation for an entertainment value. Those images that are blasted over and over again are designed only to validate the misconception that Islam is not peaceful by those who have only hatred and contempt for Muslims and Islam. The truth is among millions of peaceful Muslims across the world who really stand for the moderate and peaceful expression of Islam do not support this violence as a defence of our religion. As a Muslim I am very angry that such disrespect has been perpetrated but I will not resort to violence. As Muslims we have to ask ourselves if the Prophet (PBUH) were alive today would he approve of the voilent protests? I cannot speculate but from my limited knowledge I do not see that it is consistant with his teachings and of course these are different times. The cartoons were produced by Flemming Rose, a known Zionist extremist who claims to be Jewish or maybe he is, intent on destroying Muslims worldwide. He is a hate monger notorius for his anti-arab, anti-islamic and anti-muslim, pro-Israeli stance. He has close ties to Danial Pipes another self proclaimed expert on terrorism and the middle east crisis who's life is guided by hatred, contempt and shares the same agenda as Flemming Rose. Both of these fools are regarded as hate mongers and they have been discredited.

As a matter of publishing the cartoon in the name of freedom of speech/press we can argue that to some point that it is a legitimate claim. However, when it comes to the source of the cartoon, Flemming Rose, Daniel Pipes et al, his agenda is clear. Stir up hatred and violence, film it and use it to discredit Islam. The use of "freedom of speech and freedom of the press" was in this case hijacked to cause that reacton. Flemming Rose wanted, to insult and provoke millions worldwide to validate his claim and anyone elses claim to associate Islam with violence. Flemming Rose and Daniel Pipes are both cowards and are enjoying it as we speak.

Flemming Rose used the Danish News paper for his own agenda. The Danish people are known for their humanitarian efforts and were against the "War of Terror in Iraq" or "Operation Iraqi Liberation" (OIL). We cannot fault them only a small few. As a Muslim I urge you are to think about that before you go to the next anti-Danish protest or gathering?

Dawud, United Kingdom - 23 February, 2006

Hypocrisy

I do so dislike it when this column is used to make personal observations and this in turn requires a response, it removes from the central theme that is "Freedom of speech and expression" However to digress even further. What is a Christian, or for that matter a Jew or Muslim? One who conforms to "My" beliefs or particular sect. Any deviant is not "Correct" I didn't say Hitler was a Christian, but he never renounced his Roman Catholicism either. A Southern Baptist would see the difference. I was married for forty six years to a very Quakerly Quaker who didn't believe Jesus was the son of a God, but was simply
a reliious leader. Quakers are allowed to believe that which they find believable. I don't know if that means she was no Christian, I do know she was one of the most "Christian" people you could meet on this earth. I would define in one word a true Christian. Loving. But I know that many Muslims would define a true Muslim with the one word Peaceable.Ah!! If this was only so in both cases

Not having any form of religion myself I find has advantages, I can see the stupidity of holding such beliefs but understand why people, with no supporting evidence, still hold to such beliefs, the disadvantages are that all religions combine in opposing my lack of beliefs.All I can see from Religion is the division caused by the philosophy that. "My religion is the true one and you are all wrong. My particular sect in my religion is right and you are to be condemned, and all who dissent should be put to the sword. Yes this is the extremists of the various religions. The Hill Billys of Tennessee and Afghanistan have a lot in common.What I would really like to see is that extremism should be replaced by a realisation that "You have a point of view at variance with mine, so be it, As an Atheist I can live equably in a religious community, why can't the Religious live peacably and lovingly acepting one another? tomedgar@halenet.com.au














Tom Edgar, Aruba - 24 February, 2006

Thanks

By quoting the verse you have proven my point just like people in muslims countries killing others and proving the point of cartoonist.



Allen Smith, Pakistan - 24 February, 2006

Some Historical Facts-1

Who would've though that a group of Danish cartoonists would strike the most crippling blow to the Islamist political jihad in Europe to date? Even more crippling than the murder of Theo van Gogh, the implications of which, for the most part, did not expand past Holland's borders, the explosion of Islamic rage surrounding these cartoons has forced the Islamists' hand far earlier than would've been prudent and many - not all - Europeans are starting to wonder whether Islam has any place in Western civilization.

In Van Gogh's case, the murder of this one man turned a nation of enlightened, open-minded, multicultural tolerance on its ear. Dutch artist Chris Ripke protested the murder by painting a mural of an angel and the date of Van Gogh's murder with the words Gij zult niet doden - thou shalt not kill. Apparently unaware of the concept of irony, a local imam complained to police that the mural was racist and offensive to Muslims. Amazingly, the police had the mural sandblasted.

During the proceeding two weeks after Van Gogh's death, more than twenty mosques were vandalized or set on fire. Legislators were placed under 'round-the-clock protection, and government buildings in the Hague resembled armed camps. The deputy Prime Minister, who had once called Pim Fortuyn dangerous because of harsh attacks on Islam, openly declared war on radical Islam. The Dutch Parliament now debates how to deal with the problem, with some on the right calling for the deportation of radical Muslim clerics and shutting down the mosques they operate out of, as well as closing the borders to non-Western immigrants. Earlier this month, plans were revealed for a test aimed at curbing Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands .

Again I can't help but stress that this is mostly due to the death of one man. If only the deaths of over 3,000 people could drive America to similar actions. Alas. But as dramatic as these turns of events have been, this is just the Netherlands .

The cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad have had widespread implications, and for the first time, at least to those of us not paying attention, which is, alas again, the vast majority of people, an emerging Clash of Civilizations has become evident.

To begin, it should be noted that it is not exactly established Islamic law that depictions of the prophet are forbidden. There is an extensive collection of Muslim depictions of Muhammad, none of which resulted in economic sanctions, protests, death threats, or burning of buildings.

Second, the furor over these cartoons is largely based on lies. The story behind these cartoons arose when Danish writer Kare Bluitgen began searching for someone to illustrate his children's book about the life of Muhammad. It soon became clear, however, that nobody wanted the job, and the fate of Van Gogh was certainly not far from the minds of those who turned him down. Bluitgen's trouble prompted several Danish newspapers, including the best-selling Jyllands-Posten (Jutland Post), to begin a debate: how far should Denmark go in self-censorship, and is freedom of _expression more important than catering to religious sensitivities? The results of that debate are now known, but what is not known is how the story was presented to the Muslim world in the first place.



John Adams, Ukraine - 24 February, 2006

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