03 February, 2006

Do you smell Danish?

Now that BD mentioned it, I have written a small post about the Muslim Cartoon Fiasco on BuJ Al-Arab. I have cross-posted it below.

What's exactly happening between the Muslims and the Danes? It's not right to disrespect anyone else's religion even if they have received quite a bad press in the recent years. Afterall not all Muslims are terrorists, not all Jews settlers, and not all Christians crusaders.

Having said that, is it right that we overkill the objective of this so called embargo? Is there an objective or are Muslims worldwide venting their anger and frustration at their lack of power on a worldly scale even though we're 20% of the world population on the tiny country of Denmark instead of say the USA or perhaps Israel?

Perhaps we need to take two steps back and look at things with some perspective. There's no need to punish a country for the sake of one newspaper.

I guess if Hamas could convince the Muslim world that Israel is their Yllands-Posten perhaps the middle east problem would be solved for good.

Your thoughts?


John B. Chilton said...

Very sensible. The outrage is misdirected.

Where I come from we don't call this venting. Or this.

An opportunity for teaching the world why the cartoon is offensive is being squandered as long as the silent majority stands by and let's these sorts of protests reinforce the stereotypes depicted in the cartoons. It's called playing into the hand of provocateurs.

BD said...

I also agree. Isn't there a way to lodge one's objections toward the one's responsible for the act--i.e. the newspaper(s) in question. To argue to ban Danish products--I really don't see the connection.

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately, and I hope I'm wrong, but I think many muslim "extremist" take this as a good opportunity to show that they exist, like the masked men with guns at the EU compound in Palestine. What sense does it make to threaten the whole EU? None at all, I think.

Also unfortunately, I think the actions of many muslims in this whole affair has just played into the hands of those in the west that want to portray all muslims as terrorists (which they obviously are not of course).

These actions against Denmar, Normway, EU etc. do not help the cause of Islam in the world, I think. Rather it's detrimental. So at the very time muslims want to enforce their rights and culture, they are deepening the divide, which is not good for either side.

All that said, I also think there is a lot of ignorance in the west about Islam and muslims. What it is, what they believe in, what the values are, etc.

There is a huge educational effort needed on both parties here, and we need to figure out how we're going to do it. If we don't I'm afraid we'll end up with crusades again, but this time fought with cruise missiles and bombers, not swords and lances.

John B. Chilton said...

Misused apostrophe alert - I used let's when it should have been lets.

BD said...

The Right to Ridicule

One problem I see in this controversy is that people are suggesting that religion or religious beliefs cannot be ridiculed. If this is the position that is taken then you lose the notion of secular government. In Denmark and other parts of Europe you have in deed secular governments which have a duty to allow their citizens to criticize and ridicule what they will, even relgious values.

Where you do not have a secular government, as in this country, one will not have the protection of the courts or other institutions for leveling such criticism or ridicule. But what people should understand is that in countries ruled by secular goverments, such criticism is within the rights of the populace.

So, I say people should lighten up. The Danes have a right, within their own country, within their own media, etc. to satire, criticize and riducule whatever they like, even other's religious views.

Keefieboy said...

OK, I gave in, here's my post...

BD said...

I guess I'm the culprit, for pushing Keefieboy out of the closet (not the proverbial closet). Your conclusion is succinct and I guess it sums up the gist of the problem. But I suspect the Western/Eastern divide is not as wide as it appears. As your well presented argument states, there were people in high places who did rather whip things up. If left up to the average working, studying, whatever-doing Muslim, the whole episode would have probably just been ignored--just as you say most Westerness would react if the tables were turned. So what we have here is not so much an East/West, Muslim/secular crises, but the same old story of troublemakers acting up to serve their own selfish interests.

Keefieboy said...

BD: Yes, I've read lots of regional blogs on this (KSA, Jordan, Oman etc) and the general feeling is 'the Danes were a bit silly, we'll get over it'. But the stuff going down on the street is completely different. Whipped-up or not, it's still happening. Who's going to say 'ok, stop the boycott now'?

Anonymous said...

"DEAR readers, the French publisher has lost no time in firing an editor who reprinted the reprehensible cartoons that appeared in Denmark some time ago, about which protests are now raging around the world. That’s how a good nation responds to sensitive issues.

France has the largest population of Muslims in relation to other European nations and has always been understanding and accommodative of their problems. Paris has good relations with the Muslim and Arab world for long years, and its quick response to the cartoon issue only reaffirms the strength of this relationship."


This shows what exactly is wrong with the Muslim response.

The KT editor is under the impression that France as a country punished the editor, whereas it was just his publisher who did it. Until we remove our hypocrisy (refusing to treat France and Denmark equally), teh West wont take this issue seriously.

Most Muslims are supporting france and condemning denmark only because they dont want to boycott french goods, while they can easily live withut Lurpak.

Slagothor said...

The publisher of the French paper that fired the editor is an Egyptian.

John B. Chilton said...

Lakah, the publsher of the French paper, is Coptic. He knows that his livelihood was on the line - he also owns an airline (Star Airline) that flies to the Middle East,
Star Airlines : Our Company : Introduction (his name is under "legal informations").

Anonymous said...

Check out


For many images of Mohammad going back a long time. I guess what westerns find hard to understand is that if muslims themselves depicted the prophet, what's so bad about what the Danish cartoonist did?

Tim Newman said...

I guess what westerns find hard to understand is that if muslims themselves depicted the prophet, what's so bad about what the Danish cartoonist did?

We're also a bit confused as to why certain Arabic publications see fit to publish dozens of cartoons depicting Jews as devils, baby-killers, nazis, etc. but get upset when somebody draws a cartoon depicting mohammed as, erm, mohammed.

BuJ said...


Perhaps it would be a good idea to have a look at the cartoons.

The Prophet Mohamad was depicted not as just Mohamad but as a terrorist.

Anonymous said...

Well "buj", I am not the Danish cartoonist but isn't there something that needs to be discussed much more than it is, especially in the muslim world, that much terrorism and violence today is carried out in the name of Allah?

I don't understand why there are no protests on the streets against muslims burning down Danish embassies (as well as a Chilean and a Swedish embassy I might add). I also don't understand why there is not an outcry among muslims when gunmen surround the EU compound in Gaza threatening the people.

As a devoted Christian I can laugh at "Life of Brian". As a muslim apparently I have to burn down embassies if someone draws a cartoon of Mohammed even though throughout history there have been many depictions of Mohammed, even by Muslims.

Anonymous said...

In the western world, cartoons and charicatures are published all the time that portray leaders and other famous people (including religious ones) in not the most flattering way, to say the least. But that's accepted and even supported.

Would it be acceptable in the UAE to draw a cartoon of, let's say the UAE President, and saying something less than flattering?

Keefieboy said...

Anon @ 2002

No, of course it would not be. But in countries that have constitutionally/legally-protected freedom of speech (can I think of one off the top of my head? Begins with D) then it is not a problem. And this is what all of this stuff is about. The Danes who did this were legally entitled to do so. Don't you understand that?

Nobody here is saying that such a thing could or should be done here.

BD said...

I would like to add to this discussion more on the topic of "satire." This is a very common and often used technique in the media of the West, particularly satire by cartoons. Nearly every single newspaper published every single day in the West will include satire in the form of a cartoon. If anyone were up to doing the research they'd probably find that this was not the first time Mohammed or Islam has been satarized and certainly every other important religion, leader, gov't institution, etc. has had its day to be satarized.

It's interesting when in their defense Muslims will say what if we criticised Jesus, your president, your mother, etc. in such a way, wouldn't you... As others have already stated, the honest-to-God reaction of most Westerners to any such ridicule would be, "So, what!" Is there no "sticks and stones can break my bones..." type of expression in Muslim tradition?

This big uproar is so shocking to some people in the West because it is an attack against what is in fact a very commonly used form of free expression in our societies. Creating satircal cartoons is, you might say, the job of a news media illustrator. It's what they do on a daily basis. Furthermore, the subject or topic of their illustration is so common in the news today, that it would and in fact hardly got any notice until leaders of the Muslim community in Denmark decided to publicize them in a way that would stir up emotions.

But how could they (the newspaper publisher or illustrators) have been so insensitive as to offend the followers of Islam in such a way? The more politically correct American and British media are at least sensitive enough not to do that. Well, that's BS. Again, if looked at in context, what was published was not so out of the ordinary and again I would expect that it has already happened even in America and Britain, but no one with the hidden agenda that the Danish clerics appear to have had, had ever come across them.

What I'm saying is, that which has created such a big controversy was not so much the cartoons, which within their context were nothing so out of the ordinary, but the actions of those religious leaders in Denmark who were determined to engender an outcry. Apparently, they have succeeded even beyond their own intentions--from which I hope they have learned a lesson.

I would also add that no matter how offended any Westerner might be at the virulent attacks taking place now against their rights to free press and free speech, they would not even think to act in kind by perpetrating violence against those they feel offended by. Somehow in their dark, uninspired, cursed belief in humanity, they are restrained from acting with such raw, unchecked emotion.

Tim Newman said...
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