Friday, February 03, 2006
Something is Rotten
Last September, when Danish daily Jyllands-Posten commissioned and published a series of 12 cartoons on Prophet Mohammed, it probably did not realise that it would bring Europe's free speech advocates almost to the brink of war with conservative Muslims.
Masked gunmen took over an office used by the European Union to protest the publication of cartoons deemed insulting to Islam. About five gunmen stormed the building, closing the office down, while 10 other armed men stood watch outside. One of the militants said they were protesting the drawings, one of which depicted Islam's Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb.
While the Danish newspaper has not apologized for printing the cartoons, it has issued a statement acknowledging that the cartoons "offended many Muslims, which we would like to apologize for."
Paul Belien at The Brussels Journal singles out the courage of Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who has refused to capitulate to the bullies:
"He is one of the very few European politicians with guts. If anyone deserves a prize for his valiant defence of freedom of speech and freedom of the press, it is certainly Mr Rasmussen. He did not give in to pressure from Muslim fanatics, nor from the appeasers at the UN, the European Commission and the Council of Europe. In the past weeks Denmark has shown that all is not yet lost in Europe. If something is rotten now it is not in Denmark."
But an editorial in yesterday's (2nd Feb 2006) edition of France-Soir staunchly defended the decision to publish, asking: "Islam forbids any representation of the Prophet ... The question is, are all those who are not Muslims obliged to honour that prohibition? Can you imagine a society that added up all the prohibitions of the different religions? What would remain of the freedom to think, to speak, or even to come and go freely?" it asked.
In Singapore Madam Zuraimah's letter to the press about her aversion to pet dogs landed two young men in jail. Where is the rot?
Other examples of how Islamic fanatics react to perceived slights on their religious practices:
# 1988 Ayatollah Khomeini issues fatwa against Salman Rushdie after publication of his book "The Satanic Verses"
# 2001 The author Khalid Duran faces mass condemnation from Muslims for his book which sought to explain Islam to Jews, culminating in alleged death threats for his apostasy
# 2002 Fatwa issued against the Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel after she suggested that Muhammad might approve of the Miss World contest
# 2004 Extremist kills the Dutch director Theo Van Gogh after he made "Submission", a ten-minute film about the abuse of Muslim women featuring Koranic verses written on female bodies
# 2005 Swedish museum is forced to remove a painting depicting a couple making love while covered in verses from the Koran
Singapore Foreign Minister George Yeo made this revealing remark at the 4th Asia-Pacific Roundtable meeting:
"When Salman Rushdie's book "Satanic Verses" was published some years ago, Singapore banned it because we knew it will cause trouble. In contrast, we did not ban "The Last Temptation of Christ" because the Christian ground and the Muslim ground are different.