Muslim Backlash Over Cartoons

Some of you may be familiar with the brouhaha that has developed in the Muslim world. Personally I am disgusted by the behavior that some of these people are exhibiting. I'll touch upon that in a moment. First here is a short blurb from the New York Times.
PARIS, Feb. 2 — An international dispute over European newspaper cartoons deemed blasphemous by some Muslims gained momentum today as gunmen threatened the European Union offices in the Gaza Strip and more European papers pointedly published the drawings as an affirmation of their freedom of speech.

The masked gunmen, enraged by cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, stayed about 45 minutes.

A newly elected legislator from Hamas, the radical Islamic group that swept the Palestinian elections last week, said large rallies were planned in Gaza in the next few days to protest the cartoons.

"We are angry — very, very, very angry," said Jamila Al Shanty, one of six women elected to represent Hamas in the Palestinian Parliament. "No one can say a bad word about our prophet."

The cartoons — which include a drawing of the prophet who founded Islam wearing a turban shaped like a bomb — first appeared in a Danish newspaper in September and have since been reprinted in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Spain and Norway. BBC televised them today.

France-Soir, the only French daily to reprint the cartoons, fired its managing editor late Wednesday as "a strong sign of respect for the beliefs and intimate convictions of every individual," according to a statement from its owner, Raymond Lakah, an Egyptian-born French businessman. Nevertheless, the newspaper defended its right to print the cartoons.

The incident is causing diplomatic strains as well as threats to citizens of countries where the cartoons have been printed.

Saudi Arabia and Syria have recalled their ambassadors to Denmark, and the Danish government has summoned foreign envoys in Copenhagen to talks on Friday over the issue, having already explained that it does not control the press.

The Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told the Copenhagen daily Politiken, "We are talking about an issue with fundamental significance to how democracies work."

Many European commentators concede that the cartoons were provocative, even insensitive, but argue that the conservative Muslim world must learn to accept Western standards of free speech and pluralism."

As a Jew I am very well versed in cartoons that are drawn in bad taste and are considered to be offensive to Jews. I have read and seen a multitude of things that offend me. Sometimes I have been upset enough to write a letter or to cancel a subscription, but never to take the steps that some Muslims have taken.

I think that it is important to be sensitive and that some actions call for an apology but this really goes too far.

The Muslim American Society has an interesting story here.

"Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak warned that the insistence of European newspapers on printing the cartoons of Prophet Mohammed (pbuh) risked provoking a terrorist backlash, as protests escalate from a trade embargo by consumers, reports Agence France-Presse (AFP)."
Are you kidding me. Has the Egyptian head of state really said that these cartoons are cause for terrorism. Do you realize how significant that statement is.

These are the actions of children and immaturity. I understand a demand for an apology. I understand a boycott. But I cannot understand nor accept violence. And I certainly cannot accept nor tolerate statements from political leaders that make it sound like they give permission to engage in violence and or act as if they are powerless to prevent it.

Update: If you want to see samples of some of the cartoons within the Muslim world click here. Hypocrisy is not in their vocabulary.


Jack Steiner said...


Infantile narcissism, I like it.


You and me both.

Topwomen said...

I thought the French newspaper's latest cartoon seemed apropos where all the deities and leaders of all major religions were sitting on a cloud trying to console Mohammed by telling him they'd all been through it before. Unfortunately the artist and editor (one and same?notsure) were sacked immediately.

Pragmatician said...

This world is becoming increasingly frightening.
Now they have the power to have editors fired in Europe and important newspapers revising their whole situation, it's scary too scary.

JJ said...

I agree with you 120%, Jack. What the heck is this world coming to, anyway?

stc said...

I agree with the heart of your argument, Jack, but I also think the newspapers were unnecessarily provocative.

The heart of your argument, as I understand it, is that we, in the West, settle our disputes via words (including cartoons) and not by violence. If you don't like something I've said, rebut it — don't threaten to blow up a bus.

I completely agree. But …

For Muslims, it is blasphemous even to draw a picture of Muhammed. So the European press wants to make a statement in favour of freedom of speech? Let them publish a drawing of Muhammed that shows him in a perfectly respectable light. They've already taken a step beyond what is approved by Muslims, but they haven't given unnecessary provocation.

Honestly, how did you expect Muslims to respond to a picture of Muhammed wearing a bomb-shaped turban? If Muslims do retaliate by blowing up a bus, for example, the European media will be partly responsible: because they're virtually daring the Muslim world to commit acts of terrorism.

It is highly irresponsible of them, in my view. As if relations are not already strained to the breaking point!

dorothy rothschild said...

This is the sort of issue that makes me suspect that I may be a closet libertarian.

49erDweet said...

I suppose it's too much to hope the majority of western muslims will understand the 'principle' being presented. And I admit to taking offense when my own faith and Savior are publicly held to ridicule, so intellectually I understand the emotion behind the reaction of Muslim's adherants. My hope is that from this they would learn to distrust the very media moguls who have previously claimed to speak for their interests. Today's media would seem to prefer flaunting their own "rights" over respecting another's beliefs.

I would feel better, though, if muslim's would learn to practice self-restraint vis-a-vis enjoying the mocking of judeo-christian values by the creators of modern writings and cartoons, but I suppose that may be too fine a point to expect from a supposedly superior and spiritually enlightened culture, such as theirs.

There is another point, though, out of which is required further explanation. The prohibition against presenting "likenesses" of their leader is a 'catch 22', of sorts. How do they know the cartoons in question were supposed to represent "their" Mohammad? Or is the written prohibition against graphics of ALL 'Mohammads'? Tell me, huh?

Jack Steiner said...


I read about that. It sounded like they were trying to make the situation less rancorous than it already is. But it is too late now.


There are some real problems that need to be addressed. I am not pleased with what I see.

Qatar Cat,

Until you mentioned it I wasn't familiar with Lurpak. It sounds tasty.


The world is always changing. The question is it improving.


I agree that the European papers didn't have to throw gas on the fire to make a point. It could have been handled differently.

But at the same time I think that is prudent, fair and responsible to be firm in our response that terrorist threats are unacceptable.

Now before anyone goes off halfcocked, I don't think that all Muslims are terrorists. And I don't think that it is necessary for people to intentionally be offensive either.

But I think that we should be clear that responding to things we disagree with by using threats of violence is unacceptable.

And given the Muslim press and their cartoons I find this to be the height of hypocrisy.




You present good questions.

Bravecat said...

Lurpak = the best butter in the world!

Needless to say, it's also Danish.


Jack Steiner said...


I am intrigued. I'll have to see if I can find some Lurpak here in LA.

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