Recently Norwegian TV station TV2 broadcast a documentary about the Mohammed cartoons. TV2 wavered quite a lot before actually showing the cartoons in question. They did not want to start off riots across the Muslim world.
I've been having a dicussion on the Norwegian News blog about whether this documentary will actually cause riots. My position is that the cartoons are yesterday's news and that they will not cause any Muslim to step out into the streets shouting "Death to Norway".
More importantly, the cartoons were not the reason behind the riots to begin with. Most Muslims who protested and rioted have never seen the cartoons. They were not insulted because of those cartoons, they were insulted because they've been whipped up into a frenzy and told that they must protect their religion from the infidels.
Muslim riots do not arise whenever anybody anywhere around the world dares insult Islam in any way. Most Muslims are not aware of what is being shown on TV in Denmark or Norway or what the Pope said in his last speech. Riots arise when the people who are interested in riots decide that it's time for them and when they feel they have a good enough excuse to get people all excited. The farmer in Egypt or Pakistan does not read the news on the net and then goes off to kill a Jew or Christian because of it. At the most, he reads his local newspaper, and he goes to the mosque on Friday to get a sermon pointing him in the right direction.
After the Pope's comments, everybody feared the Muslim backlash. There were several incidents: a nun was killed in Somalia and churches were torched in Gaza and the West Bank. The expected riots, however, did not come. Where these incidents really a result of the Pope's speech? Nuns have been killed in Somalia long before the current Pope was appointed, and Christians have been persecuted in the Palestinian territories for at least as long. The YMCA building was torched in Qalquilya long before the Pope made his speech.
Why did the Muslims not use the Pope's comments to start off a world war? I have no idea. At the same time churches were burned in Nigeria, without any connection to the Pope. There are enough insults to Islam to go around.
There are many cases that don't even appear on the news. Who here has heard of the book "Oh, Maria", which was written by an Algerian Muslim and purports to insult Islam?
The West tends to expect cause and effect. The recent Reuters article on the Muslim terror plot in the Czech Republic brings this into even sharper focus. After giving us the information about the terror plot and the Czech gov't response, Reuters brings us another important fact: the Czech Republic has forces in Afghanistan.
Ah! Everything falls into place. This wasn't a random act of terror perpetuated by peopel whose sole mission is to throw fear into the hearts of men and to eradicate all non-believers from this Earth. This was a response to the (unprovoked?) attacks by Czech forces on the peaceful Afghani people. Our minds can be set at ease.
By giving the expected reason for this attack, Reuters is, in effect, encouraging Muslim violence.
While the Norwegians are waiting for the Muslim world to react, the Danes have gone ahead with their newest insult. The reaction was immediate. Danish Muslims condemned the video, while claiming they won't be provoked. Apparently, they also notified other Muslim organizations that they should also not be provoked, since the Organization of the Islamic Conference is demanding explanations from the Danish government and the Muslim brotherhood is calling for a boycot of Denmark and all other countries which support such insults.
The Norwegians were insulted. How could it be that they showed the Mohammed cartoons on TV and the Muslim world did not break out in riots while the Danes show something on TV and everybody reacts? Could it be that the Danes have more influence in the Arab world?
The Norwegian press therefore called up Mohammad Mahdi Akkef, the general secretary of the Muslim brotherhood in Egypt, and asked whether Norway was included in this new threat. Akkef thought about it for a millisecond and replied "yes". Norway breathed a sigh of relief.
Why do the Danes cause more of a commotion in the Arab world?
There are several things the Danes have that the Norwegians don't:
1. A prime minister who knows he's facing a war between two different cultures and that he must give his culture preference.
2. A Muslim community led by imam Abu Laban, a Palestinian who has proven before he's willing to harm his adoptive country
3. Belief in the freedom of speech. They did not contemplate and did not think too much. They had news and they showed it. If the Muslims want to react, that's their problem.
Will there be riots? Only the future will tell. When the Muslim world does go out in arms, the stated reason will only be an excuse.
I would think the Norwegians have already learnt that lesson. Their embassy in Damascus has already been torched, their businesses threatened and their flag burned all because of the flimsy excuse that a Norwegian magazine dared print the Mohammed cartoons.
The sooner the West realizes this, the quicker it will be able to find a solution to the real problem.