Needing to wake up, West just closes its eyes

A lot of folks are, to put it at its mildest, indifferent to Jews. In 2003, a survey by the European Commission found that 59 percent of Europeans regard Israel as the "greatest menace to world peace." Only 59 percent? What the hell's wrong with the rest of 'em? Well, don't worry: In Germany, it was 65 percent; Austria, 69 percent; the Netherlands, 74 percent. Since then, Iran has sportingly offered to solve the problem of the Israeli threat to world peace by wiping the Zionist Entity off the face of the map. But what a tragedy that those peace-loving Iranians have been provoked into launching nuclear armageddon by those pushy Jews. As Paul Oestreicher, Anglican chaplain of the University of Sussex, wrote in the Guardian the other day, "I cannot listen calmly when an Iranian president talks of wiping out Israel. Jewish fears go deep. They are not irrational. But I cannot listen calmly either when a great many citizens of Israel think and speak of Palestinians in the way a great many Germans thought and spoke about Jews when I was one of them and had to flee."

It's not surprising when you're as heavily invested as the European establishment is in an absurd equivalence between a nuclear madman who thinks he's the warm-up act for the Twelfth Imam and the fellows building the Israeli security fence that you lose all sense of proportion when it comes to your own backyard, too. "Radical young Jewish men" are no threat to "Arab-run groceries." But radical young Muslim men are changing the realities of daily life for Jews and gays and women in Paris, Brussels, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Oslo and beyond. If you don't care for the Yids, big deal; look out for yourself. The Jews are playing their traditional role of the canaries in history's coal mine.

Something very remarkable is happening around the globe and, if you want the short version, a Muslim demonstrator in Toronto the other day put it very well:

''We won't stop the protests until the world obeys Islamic law.''

Stated that baldly it sounds ridiculous. But, simply as a matter of fact, every year more and more of the world lives under Islamic law: Pakistan adopted Islamic law in 1977, Iran in 1979, Sudan in 1984. Four decades ago, Nigeria lived under English common law; now, half of it's in the grip of sharia, and the other half's feeling the squeeze, as the death toll from the cartoon jihad indicates. But just as telling is how swiftly the developed world has internalized an essentially Islamic perspective. In their pitiful coverage of the low-level intifada that's been going on in France for five years, the European press has been barely any less loopy than the Middle Eastern media.

What, in the end, are all these supposedly unconnected matters from Danish cartoons to the murder of a Dutch filmmaker to gender-segregated swimming sessions in French municipal pools about? Answer: sovereignty. Islam claims universal jurisdiction and always has. The only difference is that they're now acting upon it. The signature act of the new age was the seizure of the U.S. Embassy in Tehran: Even hostile states generally respect the convention that diplomatic missions are the sovereign territory of their respective countries. Tehran then advanced to claiming jurisdiction over the citizens of sovereign states and killing them -- as it did to Salman Rushdie's translators and publishers. Now in the cartoon jihad and other episodes, the restraints of Islamic law are being extended piecemeal to the advanced world, by intimidation and violence but also by the usual cooing promotion of a spurious multicultural "respect" by Bill Clinton, the United Church of Canada, European foreign ministers, etc.

The I'd-like-to-teach-the-world-to-sing-in-perfect-harmonee crowd have always spoken favorably of one-worldism. From the op-ed pages of Jutland newspapers to les banlieues of Paris, the Pan-Islamists are getting on with it.

Source: Chicago Sun Times (English)

Vatican calls for talks on Crusades

VATICAN CITY, Feb. 17 -- Amid global anger over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the Vatican's top mediator with Islam is pushing to heal long-festering wounds of history -- the Christian Crusades and the Muslim conquests of medieval Europe.

"It is a question that needs to be addressed. How do we read history? Can we read history together and come to some common understanding?" Archbishop Michael Fitzgerald, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, said in an interview Thursday (Feb. 16).

Fitzgerald, who is slated to leave his current position soon to become Pope Benedict XVI's ambassador to Egypt and the Arab League, also rejected a recent call from an Italian lawmaker for the Vatican to lead a showdown with Islam. Instead, Fitzgerald called for Vatican and Muslim scholars to examine the legacy of Christian-Muslim conflict to build historical consensus.

Addressing the theme of "Christianity and Islam, Yesterday and Today," Monsignor Walter Brandmuller, a top Vatican historian, said the true nature of the historical conflict had to be addressed for candid dialogue to begin.

Asked about his comments during an interview in January, Brandmuller said the two religions should avoid "political correctness" and address their differences out in the open.

"Dialogue cannot mean that I am looking for a middle ground between Islam and Christianity. I cannot question whether two plus two equals four or five." The goal of Christian-Muslim dialogue, he said, is not so much to reach consensus, but "to understand the issues so we can coexist peacefully."

Source: Beliefnet (English)

No protestors in Brussels protest

An anti Mohammed cartoons protest in Brussels fizzled out Sunday when no protesters showed up. The protest was not granted permission and the only person who showed up was the organizer as well as police.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Judaism as role model for integration (or assimilation?)

interesting article by H.D.S. Greenway in the Boston Globe. I bring highlights below:

After 9/11, and especially after the van Gogh murder, some Dutchmen began to say harsh things about their Muslim neighbors. Some mosques were vandalized. One of the first to defend the Muslims of Holland was Awraham Soetendorp, 63-year-old rabbi and founder of Holland's Jewish Institute for Human Values, who has done as much to reach out to Muslims as any cleric in Europe.

Some Muslims I have talked to believe they have something to learn from Jews, who for the most part are better organized in their dealings with governments, national and local, and have been more successful in gaining official recognition and space for their religion than Muslims.

Apart from organizational skills, the Jews of Europe have something else to inspire Muslim immigrants.

For 2,000 years, Jews have stubbornly maintained their faith and their community under tremendous pressure to assimilate into the broader Christian world. For that they paid a terrible price. Over the centuries, frightful persecutions and pogroms have afflicted the Jews of Europe, culminating in the unparalleled horrors of the 20th century. Yet they have hung onto their faith and their traditions.

There is still anti-Semitism in Europe, some of it coming from Muslims agitated by the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. But organized state anti-Semitism is a thing of the past, and Muslims in Europe wish to emulate the status that Jews have achieved.

As Soetendorp says: "The Jewish community has been established in the Netherlands since the 17th century, and, although it has not always been easy, the Jews have shown, on the whole, that they can keep their identity but remain good and loyal citizens of our country. The stronger you are in your own identity, the more open you are to others."

This has resonance for European Muslims who want to keep their faith and traditions, and yet be loyal citizens, in the secular countries they now call home. For you can sense the pressure throughout Europe these days. Why don't these people assimilate? If they don't want to be like us, why do they come here?

This article refers to what Judaism has achieved through years of persecution, but it does not talk about what Judaism has given up to achieve that goal. Judaism has sacrificed its national aspects in order to assimilate into European culture. It did not only achieve recognition just by having Jews living on European soil. If Islam wants to achieve the same status, it will need to give up its national character as well. (See my previous article: Is Muslim Integration in Europe possible?).

Source: The Boston Globe (English)

Jyllands-Posten apology?

Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten has denied reports that it was behind an ad published in Arabic-language newspapers to apologize for cartoons lampooning the Prophet Mohammad that have sparked deadly protests around the world.

Earlier, news agencies reported Saudi Arabian newspapers printed an apology on behalf of the Danish newspaper.

The full-page advertisements appeared in al-Sharq al-Awsat, which is printed around the Arab world, as well as the local al-Riyadh and al-Jazira.

Source: Ynet (English)

Holland: Fear of Islam growing

According to a recent survey fear of Islam has only increased by the riots around the Danish cartoons with 44% feeling more fearful.

52% see Islam as intolerant, 70% feel it's a religion that is unfriendly to women, and 56% think it's a humorless religion. About 40% feel it's a violent religion.

54% think that Islam and democracy are incompatible.

About 10% feel that their life has already changed by the recent incidents

Source: (Dutch)

Why I Published Those Cartoons

Flemming Rose, Jyllands-Posten's cultural editor published an article explaining the story behind the Mohammed cartoons. I bring here selections from the article, the entire article can be read on the Jyllands-Posten site.

I agree that the freedom to publish things doesn't mean you publish everything. Jyllands-Posten would not publish pornographic images or graphic details of dead bodies; swear words rarely make it into our pages.

So we are not fundamentalists in our support for freedom of expression.

But the cartoon story is different.

Those examples have to do with exercising restraint because of ethical standards and taste; call it editing. By contrast, I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out. The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter

Finally, at the end of September, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with a group of imams, one of whom called on the prime minister to interfere with the press in order to get more positive coverage of Islam.

So, over two weeks we witnessed a half-dozen cases of self-censorship, pitting freedom of speech against the fear of confronting issues about Islam. This was a legitimate news story to cover, and Jyllands-Posten decided to do it by adopting the well-known journalistic principle: Show it, don't tell it. I wrote to members of the association of Danish cartoonists asking them "to draw Muhammad as you see him." We certainly did not ask them to make fun of the prophet. Twelve out of 25 active members responded.

We have a tradition of satire when dealing with the royal family and other public figures, and that was reflected in the cartoons. The cartoonists treated Islam the same way they treat Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. And by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims.

The cartoons do not in any way demonize or stereotype Muslims. In fact, they differ from one another both in the way they depict the prophet and in whom they target. One cartoon makes fun of Jyllands-Posten, portraying its cultural editors as a bunch of reactionary provocateurs.

On occasion, Jyllands-Posten has refused to print satirical cartoons of Jesus, but not because it applies a double standard. In fact, the same cartoonist who drew the image of Muhammed with a bomb in his turban drew a cartoon with Jesus on the cross having dollar notes in his eyes and another with the star of David attached to a bomb fuse. There were, however, no embassy burnings or death threats when we published those.

Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.

This is exactly why Karl Popper, in his seminal work "The Open Society and Its Enemies," insisted that one should not be tolerant with the intolerant. Nowhere do so many religions coexist peacefully as in a democracy where freedom of expression is a fundamental right. In Saudi Arabia, you can get arrested for wearing a cross or having a Bible in your suitcase, while Muslims in secular Denmark can have their own mosques, cemeteries, schools, TV and radio stations.

I acknowledge that some people have been offended by the publication of the cartoons, and Jyllands-Posten has apologized for that. But we cannot apologize for our right to publish material, even offensive material. You cannot edit a newspaper if you are paralyzed by worries about every possible insult. I am offended by things in the paper every day: transcripts of speeches by Osama bin Laden, photos from Abu Ghraib, people insisting that Israel should be erased from the face of the Earth, people saying the Holocaust never happened. But that does not mean that I would refrain from printing them as long as they fell within the limits of the law and of the newspaper's ethical code. That other editors would make different choices is the essence of pluralism.

Since the Sept. 30 publication of the cartoons, we have had a constructive debate in Denmark and Europe about freedom of expression, freedom of religion and respect for immigrants and people's beliefs. Never before have so many Danish Muslims participated in a public dialogue -- in town hall meetings, letters to editors, opinion columns and debates on radio and TV. We have had no anti-Muslim riots, no Muslims fleeing the country and no Muslims committing violence. The radical imams who misinformed their counterparts in the Middle East about the situation for Muslims in Denmark have been marginalized. They no longer speak for the Muslim community in Denmark because moderate Muslims have had the courage to speak out against them.

This is the sort of debate that Jyllands-Posten had hoped to generate when it chose to test the limits of self-censorship by calling on cartoonists to challenge a Muslim taboo. Did we achieve our purpose? Yes and no. Some of the spirited defenses of our freedom of expression have been inspiring. But tragic demonstrations throughout the Middle East and Asia were not what we anticipated much less desired. Moreover, the newspaper has received 104 registered threats, 10 people have been arrested, cartoonists have been forced into hiding because of threats against their lives and Jyllands-Posten's headquarters have been evacuated several times due to bomb threats. This is hardly a climate for easing self-censorship.

Still, I think the cartoons now have a place in two separate narratives, one in Europe and one in the Middle East. In the words of the Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the integration of Muslims into European societies has been sped up by 300 years due to the cartoons; perhaps we do not need to fight the battle for the Enlightenment all over again in Europe. The narrative in the Middle East is more complex, but that has very little to do with the cartoons.

Source: Jyllands-Posten (English)

Denmark: Immigrant men bend gender roles

Men with an immigrant background break out of stereotypes and take educations traditionally considered women's Secretaries, hairdressers, and day-care centre workers are still largely considered the domain of women, despite more than thirty years of women's liberation. Vocational schools find however, that men with an immigrant background are willing to buck tradition and take an education in these fields.

A recent study found that 34 percent of men with an immigrant background attending vocational schools were enrolled in study programmes dominated by women. Only 17 percent of ethnic Danish men choose the same study route.

The trend surprised Lars Larsen of LG Insight, the company that conducted the study.

'We had an expectation that men with other ethnic backgrounds would seek out traditional positions and be somewhat macho. But the men with the least education have another approach. Instead of choosing craftsmen subjects, they choose to work with people instead,' said Larsen.
The young men with an immigrant background might have an easier time negotiating male ideals of work, because they have a difficult time finding employment, said Kenneth Reinicke at the Danish Research Centre on Gender Equality at Roskilde University.

'But that makes them more innovative,' said Reinicke. 'These young men go in and see new possibilities instead of being limited by traditional beliefs about what a real man can work with.'

The untraditional career choice could give bonuses in the form of career advancement, said Reinicke.

'Men in women-dominated professions experience an elevator effect. Managers believe they should be transported through the system,' he said.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Holland: Immigrants are leaving the big cities

Following the emigration of the ethnic Dutch out of the big cities, a recent research found that more and more immigrants are also moving, though unlike the ethnic Dutch, they are much more likely to move ot neighboring cities. Turks and Moroccans are less likely to leave.

Of the total emigrants from Amsterdam and Rotterdam - 60% were ethnic Dutch, 30% were non-Western immigrants and 10% Western immigrants.

In order to get a better picture, these numbers must be compared to the population composition of those cities, which was not mentioned in the article.

Source: Nederlands Dagblad (Dutch)

Anti-American Turkish film a hit among Muslims

"Violent, but realistic", is how Muslim youth from Rotterdam describe the new Turkish film "Valley of the Wolves in Iraq". The film shows American soldiers shooting wedding guests and children, as well as selling off organs of detainees, the organ trade being controlled by a Jewish doctor.

Additional responses were: "It shows how the Americans oppress the world" and "if everybody will see this film, there will be more understanding of Muslims."

The film has broken all records in Turkey, and in Germany, where there have been calls to ban it, it is a hit among Turkish youth.

Source: Trouw (Dutch)

Yahoo bans Allah

Yahoo! is banning the use of allah in email names - even if the letters are included within another name.

This was uncovered by Reg reader Ed Callahan whose mother Linda Callahan was trying to sign up for a Verizon email address. She could not get it to accept her surname.

Enquiries to Verizon revealed that a partnership with Yahoo! was to blame. Yahoo! will not accept any identies which include the letters "allah".

Nor will Yahoo! accept yahoo, osama or binladen. But it will accept god, messiah, jesus, jehova, buddah, satan and both priest and pedophile.

Source: The Register (English)

Belgium: lawsuit against firm

The Center for Equal Opportunities has announced plans to sue the independent door/window constructor Feryn. The firm had announced it will not be recruiting Moroccan installers as it is not acceptable by the customers.

Feryn's decision has led to a join meeting between the Centar for Equal Opportunities, Feryn and Unizo (the independent employer's organization). At this meeting Feryn agreed to start off a plan to diversify their work force and not to exclude any qualified applicants based on origin.

However, these plans were rejected by the Regional Social Economic Board, which claims that the company is not doing enough on this issue.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Germany: Calls to ban Turkish film

A German official called for movie houses to cancel a Turkish action film showing U.S. troops killing and capturing civilians in Iraq.

The film "Valley of the Wolves in Iraq" should be pulled from German cinemas, Bavaria state Gov. Edmund Stoiber said, according to the Bild am Sonntag newspaper. He said the movie was racist and could stir animosity between Islam and the West.

Source: LA Times (English)

40% of British Muslims want Sharia law in UK

Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today.

The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity.

The most startling finding is the high level of support for applying sharia law in "predom-inantly Muslim" areas of Britain.

Islamic law is used in large parts of the Middle East, including Iran and Saudi Arabia, and is enforced by religious police. Special courts can hand down harsh punishments which can include stoning and amputation.

Forty per cent of the British Muslims surveyed said they backed introducing sharia in parts of Britain, while 41 per cent opposed it. Twenty per cent felt sympathy with the July 7 bombers' motives, and 75 per cent did not. One per cent felt the attacks were "right".

Source: Sunday Telegraph (English)

Terrorist group members sentenced in Belgium

A Brussels court sentenced two main suspects of the Moroccan Islamic Combatant Group to 7 years. Four others from the group got 5-6 years. This was less than the prosecution demanded, but according to the judge there was only evidence that they belonged to a terrorist group.

Most suspects had been arrested two years ago in Maaseik en Brussels. Thirteen people were accused of helping a terrorist organization.

The group did not plan terror attacks in Belgium, but was involved in terror attacks in other countries such as the Madrid and Casablanca bombings. Fingerprints of one of the suspects in the Madrid bombing had been found in an apartment in Brussels.

Source: VRT (Dutch)

Muslim groups apologize for violence

The web site has attracted attention as a voice of moderation from the Muslim world.

The website has a clear message from the moderate Arab and Muslim world.

The web site argues that the images of Arab and Muslim wrath at the publication of caricatures of the prophet Mohammed seen around the world are not representative of what Muslims at large feel, and apologizes for and condemns acts of violence against Denmark, Norway and the European Union.

"A group of Arab and Muslim youth who live in Arab nations and other places are behind the web site," Ahmad, one of the founders of the site, told "None of us live in Denmark or Norway. We have no other direct connection to these countries other than that some of us have friends there," Ahmad said.

Ahmad said that the group behind the site is diverse and far from in agreement about everything, but that they felt a strong need to do something after seeing the various violent reactions to the caricatures.

"Because of the oppression of authorities and lack of freedom, many in the Muslim world are afraid to say what they mean. So the stage is left to those who scream loudest and are violent," Ahmad said.

The web site was at first visited primarily by Arabs and Muslims but as word spread it also became a point of interest for European web surfers.

"The response has been fantastic. Our inboxes are overflowing with email of support and thanks from Arabs and Muslims, and also from Europeans and Americans," Ahmad told

"We never thought we would get so much attention, we just wanted to ask for peace and understanding."

Ahmad said that the group shrugs off the few negative reactions they have received.
"We believe that this web site is proof that people always prefer to see things from the positive side and that they, regardless of race and religion, want peace and respect," Ahmad said.

Source: Aften-posten (English)

Italian minister quits over cartoons

Another minister quits in the political "upheavals" over the Danish Mohammed cartoons. This time, in Italy.

The Italian reform minister who angered Muslims by wearing a T-shirt decorated with Western media cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad has resigned.

Roberto Calderoli stepped down a day after rioting outside the Italian consulate in the Libyan city of Benghazi led to at least 10 deaths.

Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi had also urged him to go.

Libyan Interior Minister Nasr al-Mabrouk was suspended on Saturday and referred for investigation into police actions during the rioting.

Source: BBC (English)

Dutch immigrants NOT going to vote

A new survey, this time by the research firm Onderzoek en Statistiek shows that Dutch immigrants are not going to go to the polls in the upcoming local elections. Only 20-25% of Amsterdam Moroccans intend to go vote while by the Turks this figure goes up to 30%. This is much less than the recent survey that showed almost half of the immigrants will go to vote.

The main reason, according to the researchers is that immigrants are usually less educated and the less educated tend to vote less. Also, as there aren't more immigrant candidates, there's no push to go vote.

The final survey: in the voting booth.

Source: Het Parool (Dutch)

More protests in Belgium

About 100 Muslim leaders marched in the European district of Brussels in order to show their
indignation over the Mohammed cartoons. They read out a letter condemning the "blasphemy and humiliation" that was caused by the cartoons.

They delivered another letter to the Danish Embassy, demanding more laws to defend religion.

Meanwhile, about 3500 protesters gathered in Antwerp to show their solidarity for illegal asylum seekers and to demand that they be given residence after three years, regardless of whether they are allowed to stay or not.

Source: VRT 2 (Dutch)

Dutch immigrants going to vote

According to a recent survey by Motivaction, about 44% of immigrants in the Netherlands intend to vote in the upcoming local elections. 46% of immigrants said they would certainly vote while another 26% were yet unsure. However, it is unclear how many of those who claim they will vote will actually do so.

In the past 10 years the number of immigrant voters came down to 25%, and this will be a huge bonus for pro-immigrant parties.

The survey also showed that an immigrant party won't do well. Barely 15% said they would vote for such a party.

Source: NRC Handelsblad (Dutch)

Denmark and Palestine

Near East Consulting has advertised a poll conducted among Palestinians regarding the Danish Mohammed cartoons.

Although the knowledge of the cartoons depicting the Prophet
Muhammad is very widespread (99.7%), only 1% heard about them in
September 2005 when they first appeared. A mere 31% have actually
seen the cartoons

- 24% believe Denmark is a friend of the Palestinians, 42% believe
Denmark holds a neutral position, while 34% view Denmark as an enemy
of the Palestinians.

- 7% believe Denmark is friendly to Islam, 34% believe it holds a neutral
position, while 59% view Denmark as an enemy to Islam.

- Only 4% believe that the Danish government has been acting
appropriately in their efforts to solve the cartoon issue.

- Although 86% believe that the reactions that have emerged against
Denmark are justifiable, equally large majorities are opposed to the
attack on the EU offices in the Gaza Strip (82%) or TIPH in Hebron (88%),
while 93% disagree that Western civilians should now become
legitimate targets.

(notice that almost 30% agree with the attacks on the Danish diplomatic missions in Syria & Lebanon)

- 37% believe that the most appropriate way to protest against the
cartoons is a combination of peaceful means, including boycott of
products, stopping diplomatic ties, peaceful demonstrations, refusing
Danish humanitarian assistance, and taking the issue to Danish courts.
8% believe the most appropriate way to protest against the cartoons is
by using all means, including violence.

- While 52% believe that the issue of the Danish cartoons will calm down,
only 41% feel that the situation should calm down.

The complete survey can be found on the Near East Consulting site.

Source: Near East Consulting

On the Islam-West divide

Malaysia's prime minister says a huge chasm has opened between the West and Islam, fuelled by Muslim frustrations over Western foreign policy.

Abdullah Badawi, seen as promoting a moderate form of Islam in largely Muslim Malaysia, said many Westerners saw Muslims as congenital terrorists.

Addressing an international conference intended to promote dialogue between Western and Islamic thinkers, Mr Abdullah said Islam and the West should stop demonising each other, and try to curb extremism and promote moderation.

He said mere talk and being nice to one another were not enough, and mutual respect should replace hegemony.

"They think Osama bin Laden speaks for the religion and its followers," he said, quoted by the Associated Press news agency.

"The demonisation of Islam and the vilification of Muslims, there is no denying, is widespread within mainstream Western society."

So, what were the demonstrators in Malaysia shouting?

"Long live Islam. Destroy Denmark. Destroy Israel. Destroy George Bush. Destroy America," protesters shouted as they marched to the Danish embassy in the rain from a nearby mosque.

Why would Westerns see all Muslims as terrorists?

Mr Badawi found it necessary to close down a newspaper which published the cartoons because their publication was "insensitive and irresponsible", but he does not see it fit to stop demonstrations where such slogans are being shouted.

Maybe because they're not insensitive and irresponsible?

Source: BBC (English)

Danish reactions

While the Muslim world is on fire and Muslims throughout Europe are staging demonstrations demanding respect, there are Muslims in Denmark who are reacting differently, and taking concrete steps to earn that respect.

Arab shops line Vesterbrogade, a main street in downtown Copenhagen. Muhammad, who, like many of the foreigners here, prefers not to give his surname, runs a travel agency specializing in travel to North Africa and the Middle East. "Denmark has never experienced anything like this," he says. Wearing a long black coat, he sits in front of a wall of travel brochures. "The whole thing makes me very uncomfortable. Why should they ruin everything? We're such a peaceful country," he says. For Muhammad, "they" are both the people who deliberately offend religious sensibilities and those who resort to violence, attacking Danish embassies and burning flags. "It hurts me," he says.

Ali, whose family emigrated to Denmark from Afghanistan, is also ashamed of the fact that Danish interests are being attacked, flags burned and foreigners in Arab countries threatened, all in the name of his religion. He sits, smoking, with a Danish friend on a bench in front of a shopping center and says: "I'm shocked by the images." His friend nods.

He has absolutely no sympathy for people like Ahmed Akkari, an imam in the central Danish city of Aarhus, who has only added to the controversy over the cartoons. "He traveled to the Middle East and showed people the wrong cartoons, cartoons that were far worse. They were all lies," explains Knut M. But there aren't many of "those kinds of Muslims" in Copenhagen, he adds.

A new party has sprung up, severing ties with the radical imams.

Dozens of Danish Muslims are joining the network of moderate Muslims, the Demokratiske Muslimer (Democratic Muslims). About 700 Muslims have already become DM members and 2,500 Danes have expressed their will to support the network. The initiative has caused anger among the Danish imams and their leader, Ahmad Abu Laban, who have referred to the moderates as “rats.” The imams feel that they are beginning to lose their control over part of the Muslim population.

Moderates such as Kamran Tahmasebi say they have had enough of fanatic Islamism and its intimidation of the Muslim immigrants in Denmark. “It is an irony that I am today living in a European democratic state and have to fight the same religious fanatics that I fled from in Iran many years ago,” Mr Tahmasebi says.

The Danish Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, will be meeting the leaders of the moderate Muslims today (February 13) to discuss the cartoon affair. The Danish government has suspended all dialogue and cooperation with the Danish imams on the integration process. Some of the strongest protests against the twelve Muhammad cartoons [see them here, halfway down the page] came from imams who are members of the government’s official integration think tank.

On the Danish side, two organizations have opened up pages Another Denmark and Reconcilliation Now, urging mutual respect and understanding.

The following is taken from the Reconcilliation Now homepage:
The publication of a number of satirical cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad showed a serious lack of tact and sensitivity in a Denmark, where prejudice is beginning to dominate the public debate. At the same time reactions abroad have shown that many have not understood that it is important to make a distinction between opinions expressed by a Danish newspaper and the opinions of the Danish people as a whole.

Sources: Brussels Journal (English), Jyllands Posten (English), Spiegel (English)

Denmark: More people wanting to help refugees

Two of Denmark's largest refugee aid associations are finding that more people are interested in volunteering for the organisations as a way to protest the government's strict immigration policies, reported newspaper Kristeligt Dagblad on Monday.

Before the current Liberal-Conservative government's tightening of asylum procedures in 2001, the Danish Red Cross had about 400 volunteers.

Last year, they had over 900, according to Bo Hansen, who coordinates the organisation's volunteers.

'A lot of volunteers say they need to show that there are other points of view than those that set the political agenda at the moment,' Hansen said.

A similar trend was recently reported in Belgium and the Netherlands.

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Netherlands: rate of unemployment equal throughout

Though immigrants from non-Western countries have a much higher unemployment rate than ethnic Dutch, according to the Dutch Central Bureau for Statistics the unemployment rate of both groups is rising at about the same rate.

In 2005 the unemployment rate by ethnic Dutch was about 5% while for non-Western immigrants it was about 16%. In 2004, both groups had a slightly higher unemployment rate.

The umemployment rate by young people (15-24), however, is rising much higher. In 2005, the unemployment rate by ethnic Dutch was 11% (12% in 2004), while by immigrants it went up from 23% to 26%.

Source: Volkskrant (Dutch)


I have seen posts/comments saying that a Muslim cannot stand quietly by while his most sacred beliefs are being joked about. That might very well be, but in this case, the belief wasn't being joked about, it was the very essence of having an all out severely violent reaction when people try to voice an opinion that doesn't sit well with the Muslims. The point was made - Muslims indeed can't stand aside when free speech is exercised. What is important to the Europeans is not important to the Muslims.

To me, the sad thing is that what really needs to be addressed, won't be. After going out on massive, violent protests for a cartoon, what else can the Muslim community in Europe do when a cemetery is defiled? Go out on another protest?

By overreacting, the Muslim community caused more damage to itself than to anybody else.

And now a question to the Muslim readers. Let's say you agree with these protests.. what is the final goal? The paper that published the cartoons has apologized. Denmark has already apologized. Besides expressing anger, is there any point to the protests?

Saturday protests turned violent

The protests in both Holland and Belgium did not pass as peacefully as first reported. All protests were without a permit (ie, illegal). Attempts by bystanders, as well as adults to calm the young people down did not succeed in all cases.

Here are some of the descriptions from the Amsterdam protest:
Young people with their faces concealed with hats and scarves called out slogans for Hamas, Jihad and Hizb-allah. They then set off on a chain of destruction in nearby shops, breaking shop windows, robbing and throwing shoes and clothing out into the street. People ran off into shops to seek protection. A despairing store owner looks around "I'm also Muslim."

Photographers were threatened. Several attempts were made to burn a Danish flag, then a Norwegian, to the cheers of the crowd.

A picture of Hirsi Ali with arrows by her cheeks. Explaining the crude text beneath it one demonstrator said that "It not Islamic to come down on somebody's appearance. But we talk to her at her level, otherwise she doesn't understand.'

The police, which was present at the demonstration reacted slowly and did not prevent the destruction, expecting it to just blow over. Four people between the ages of 14 and 20 were arrested.

In Belgium the protests turned violent as well. In Antwerp, among signs demanding respect for Islam were also signs warning the Danish, such as "The Danish will weep later". As in Amsterdam, here too demonstrators shouting slogans then marched into the city. Dozens were detained, 8 were arrested and one policeman was wounded.

A video of the protests in Antwerp can be seen here. (Source: Brussels Journal)

Sources: Reformatorisch Dagblad 1, 2 (Dutch), Het Parool (Dutch), VRT (Dutch)

Danish Muslim cemetery defiled

Unknown assailants defiled the Muslim section of a cemetery near the Danish town of Esbjerg over the weekend, Radio DR reported on Sunday.

Some 25 grave sites were completely destroyed as the attackers smashed or overturned gravestones and trashed plants, DR reported.

Source: M&C News (English)

Protests in Antwerp and Brussels

Muslims protested the Danish Mohammed cartoons throughout Europe this Saturday. Most protests passed peacefully, though I can't say I understand what is being protested or what is expected as a result.

About 500 Muslims protested in Antwerp. Besides some pushing and shoving there was no damage caused.

Two hundred Muslims protested in Brussels, 8 protesters were detained after an argument.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Britain and free press

Here's an interesting exchange between Global's Martin Himel and Dr. Tim Benson, head of the British editorial cartoonists' society about two years ago. At the time the Independent published a cartoon showing Israeli prime minister Sharon eating babies, a cartoon which later won an award by the British editorial cartoonists' society.

Himel: My question to you is, why, in all these paintings [sic] don't we see Sharon and Arafat eating babies?

Benson: Maybe Jews don't issue fatwas.

Himel: What do you mean by that?

Benson: Well, if you upset an Islamic or Muslim group, um, as you know, fatwas can be issued by Ayatollahs and such, like, and maybe it's at the back of each cartoonist's mind, that they could be in trouble if they do so.

Himel: If they do what?

Benson: If they depict, uh, say, an Arab leader in the same manner.

Himel: Then they could suffer?

Benson: Then they could suffer death, couldn't they? Which is rather different.

Maybe this explains why the Mohammed cartoons were not published in Britain? British cartoonists, unlike their Danish colleagues, have already learned who you can and cannot depict in cartoons.

Meanwhile, London mayor Ken Livingstone, marched in a Muslim protest against the Danish cartoons.

"I am supporting this event because, unlike some of the BBC's coverage, it will allow the views of the mainstream Muslim community to be properly heard," Reuters quoted Livingstone as telling reporters.

He was referring to the British broadcaster’s devoting too much coverage to a rally by a "tiny minority" -- as he put it -- of Muslim hardliners who had taken part in the highly publicized protest at the Danish embassy last week.

Livingstone also criticized the BBC for briefly showing the cartoons on some of its news bulletins.

"There is no excuse for breaking the law and anyone who does so should and will face prosecution, but there is no getting away from the fact that this whole episode has allowed much of Europe 's media to engage in an orgy of Islamophobia," Livingstone said.

Source: Daimnation (English), Islam Online (English)

Denmark: family reunification related expulsions halted

Would a Muslim Dane be safe in a Muslim country?

Unsafe conditions in Muslim countries leads the minister of integration to delay expelling families whose reunification applications are rejected

The minister of integration, Rikke Hvilshøj, said on Thursday that families facing expulsion to Muslim countries would not be forced to leave during the current crisis about the Mohammed drawings.

The security situation in certain countries was so unstable that sending families whose application had been rejected was irresponsible, Hvilshøj said

Source: Jyllands Posten (English)

Protests in Holland

Several hundred protesters demonstrated in Amsterdam against the publication of the Mohammed cartoons.

Several waved a Moroccan or Turkish flag. One young man who had a Danish flag was forced by the police to put it away.

The protest started off peacefully. About an hour into the demonstration young men wearing Hamas jackets raced screaming from one side of the protest to the other. Several made it clear that they did not want to be filmed. Despite attempts by elders in the crowd as well as one of the imams to stop, they continued on and were finally arrested by the police.

One of the kids who were interviewed, Yunul of Turkish descent did not understand why slogans were being shouted in Arabic. "This should be a calm protest. Slogans are being shouted, but Dutch won't understand what it's about."

Meanwhile, 150 schoolkids demonstrated in Maastricht, burning a paper Danish flag. The police allowed the demonstration though no permit had been asked for. The demonstrators were accompanied by police.

The kids, who were wearing Arabic dress, shouted Arab slogans. City citizens who passed by reacted to that with laughter to which several kids reacted with hostility.

Sources: NRC Handelsblad (Dutch), Het Parool (Dutch)

Sweden closes down website to prevent angering Arabs

The Swedish government has acted swiftly to prevent what could have been another "cartoon war" when it canceled a contest planned by a Swedish right-wing party on cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him).

"Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds decided to halt the Web site of the small nationalist party Sweden Democrats, which planned the Prophet cartoons contest," Abdul Razik Wabri, official of the Islamic League of Sweden, told IOL Friday, February 10.

Freivalds blamed the right-wing party, Sweden Democrats, a party too small to be represented in parliament, for provoking threats against the Swedish interests, Agecne France-Presse (AFP) reported.

"It is terrible that a small group of extremists are exposing Swedes and Swedish interests to obvious danger.

"In the current heated atmosphere I consider this very serious. This is a small group that does not have any support in our country," she said.

This is turning logic around. Who is threatening Swedes and Swedish interests? Not the cartoon contest, but rather the Muslims, both in Sweden and outside it. Sweden should be deciding now how far it's willing to go when it backs down when the real extremists threaten Swedes and Swedish interests.

"I apologize for the fact that we in Sweden have individuals who are so ruthless that they consciously offend other people's religion," Freivalds added.

The Swedish official also hailed the responsible freedom of expression practiced by the Swedish press over the cartoon row.

"Our freedom of expression and the press requires taking responsibility, something Swedish media so far has done, and I would expect the same even of the Sweden Democrats," she told public radio, referring to the fact that no Swedish newspapers have republished the Danish caricatures.

Source: Islam Online (English)

Belgium: Embassy to lodge complaint

An embassy in Brussels is planning to lodge a formal complaint about the Mohammed cartoons. It is unknown which embassy or upon what grounds the complaint will be lodged.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

Holland: planned protest against Mohammed cartoons

A demonstration is planned in Amsterdam on Saturday against the Danish cartoons. The demonstration is being advertised on the internet, but the city council had not been approached with a request for a permit.

The Union of Moroccan Mosques in Amsterdam and the Vicinity (UMMAO) has appealed to mosques about the demonstration, asking the imams to bring up the character of this demonstration during Friday prayers. Khalil ait Bilal, president of the organization is quoted as saying that "We hope that everybody is aware tat this is an illegal demonstration. We do not support this idea. Taking into account the atmosphere in Amsterdam, it seems to us this is not the best way to broach the cartoons" adding that there are other ways to go about this such as dialog.

Everybody has the right to demonstrate, he says, "but do that by the laws that hold in this land. If you organize a demonstration, you ask for a permit. That did not happen here and therefore we do not support this demonstration."

Source: Telegraaf (Dutch)

Cartoons had been published in Egyptian paper in October

According to Egyptian blogger Egyptian Sandmonkey, the now world famous cartoons of Mohammed were published by the Egyptian paper Al Fagr in October (ie, during the holy month of Ramadan). No editor was sacked and no riots ensued. Pictures of the cartoons can be seen on Sandmonkey's site.

The current edition of Al Fagr features depictions of the prophet throughout the ages.

Source: Egyptian Sandmonkey (English), El Fagr (Arabic)

Amsterdam Mosque complains against Wilders for publishing cartoons

The board of the El Tawheed Mosque in Amsterdam has filed a complaint against Dutch Parliamentarian Geert Wilders for blasphemy. The reason being that Wilders placed the Danish Mohammed cartoons on his website.

According to their lawyer, "The board of the foundation is very offended, grieved and highly insulted. By the shocking occurrences in the Middle East as reaction to the publication of the caricatures, Wilders knew what this would cause by Muslims. The board of the Mosque is worried about the situation in the Netherlands. It is now fortunately calm. Therefore the board feels that Wilders wants to use the caricatures in order to cause change."

The mosque itself is under investigation for selling books which might incite hatred against women and homosexuals: The Way of the Muslim and Fatwas of Muslim Women.

Wilders called the complaint "nonsense". Despite the tens of death threats he received after he posted the cartoons on his site he's not sorry at all and emphasized that the cartoons will stay there. Wilders had repeatedly called to close the El Tawheed Mosque.

Source: Het Parool (Dutch)

BBC explains the cartoons

The BBC, while not actually publishing the Mohammed cartoons, put out an article that explains what each one shows, while also trying to explain what has made the Muslim community so upset. The article ignores the premise that it is the actual drawing of Mohammed itself (which is supposedly prohibited), and therefore goes into a deep analyses of each cartoon.

The most controversial image shows the Prophet Muhammad carrying a lit bomb in the shape of a turban on his head decorated with the Islamic creed.

The face is angry, dangerous-looking - a stereotypical villain with heavy, dark eyebrows and whiskers.

Another shows Muhammad brandishing a sword ready for a fight. His eyes are blacked out while two women stand behind him with their Islamic dress leaving only their eyes uncovered.

Two of the critical cartoons do not show the Prophet at all. One uses crescent moons and stars of David to form repeated abstract shapes, possibly showing women in Islamic dress.

A poem accompanies the shapes, that one translator has rendered as: "Prophet, you crazy bloke! Keeping women under yoke."

In the other, a schoolboy points to a blackboard on which it is written in Farsi "The editorial team of Jyllands-Posten are a bunch of reactionary provocateurs".

The boy is labelled "Mohammed, Valby school, 7A", suggesting he is a second-generation Iranian immigrant to Denmark. "The future" is written on his shirt.

The Jyllands-Posten cartoons do not include some images that may have had a role in bringing the issue to international attention.

Three images in particular have done the rounds, in Gaza for example, which are reported to be considerably more obscene and were mistakenly assumed to have been part of the Jyllands-Posten set.

One of the pictures, a photocopied photograph of a man with a pig's ears and snout, has been identified as an old Associated Press picture from a French "pig-squealing" contest.

It was reportedly circulated by Danish Muslims to illustrate the atmosphere of Islamophobia which they say they live under.

Other cartoonists have clearly attempted a more humorous approach - as with the central image - although the images will be no less offensive to Muslims.

But, as the BBC sums up:
However, there is no doubt that the some of the original Jyllands-Posten cartoons are sufficiently hostile in nature to be taken as provocative by the Muslim community, whatever their intention.

Source: BBC (English)

Close to 1000 Danish sites defaced

Almost 1,000 Danish websites have been defaced by Islamic hackers protesting about controversial cartoons mocking the Prophet Muhammad.

The attacks typically replace home pages with pro-Islam messages and condemn the publication of the images.

Hack attack monitoring group Zone-H said the defacements were done both by hacker groups and individuals.

Many of the messages that replaced the home pages on hacked sites simply condemned the publication of the cartoons in Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on 30 September 2005. Some messages called for boycotts of Danish goods.

Other messages warned against mocking Muhammad and some told the Danes to expect a violent response.

More than 900 Danish websites have suffered defacement during the wave of attacks, said Mr Preatoni. He added that a further 1600 Western sites have also been attacked and defaced as part of the same protest.

Source: BBC (English)

Sweden: between kowtowing and spite

Three pieces of news from Sweden:

Swedish Foreign Minister Laila Freivalds called on the European Union and the Arab world to act together to head off further violence over cartoon row, Radio Sweden reported on Monday.

Speaking to Swedish Television News, Freivalds said there is a need for "common action, for example between the EU and the Arab world."

"(We need) a statement, to stand together to say that this conflict does not promote our common interests and does not reflect the situation we are in, where we are trying to develop a closer cooperation between these lands," Freivalds said.

"There is more to do to together, between the West, the EU for example, and representatives of the Arab world," she told Swedish television.

Source: Xinhua (English)

A Swedish publishing company Monday withdrew a religious textbook because it contains two images of the Muslim prophet Mohammed.

The book published by Liber was aimed at intermediate-level high school students, The Local reported.

The pictures were taken from a 14th century Persian manuscript and a 13th century Iraqi manuscript. The book was published in 1993.

(notice that the pictures were taken from Muslim texts.. Liber is trying to be more Muslim than the Muslims here)

Source: M&C News (English)

A radical rightist online newspaper in Sweden has joined the cartoon fray Tuesday after initiating a prophet Muhammad cartoon contest.

The paper, Sd-Kuriren, justified its decision by saying it supports freedom of expression and backs the Danish newspaper that touched off the controversy by publishing Muhammad cartoons.

"Freedom of expression in Sweden outweighs the Islamic ban regarding prophet Muhammad," the paper's editor wrote.

Source: Ynet (English)

The Terrorist Mindset

There is an interesting video interview of three reformed terrorists on 'Your Morning', a news show on the US channel CN8.

Europe fell asleep on the watch

Zvi Mazel, former Israeli ambassador to Sweden, voices his opinion on the Muslim-European conflict.

Europe's pro-Arab line led directly to the current Muhammad cartoon riots

Root of the problem

The extremists incited – and governments stood aside. After all, these are Islamic countries, and Sharia (Islamic law) is the source of all legislation.

Furthermore, and here we may find the root of the problem: Islam, as it is studied in schools in Islamic countries from a very young age, plants the idea of Islamic superiority over other religions in the student's mind.

Followers of other religions are presented as inferior beings, and they are taught Jewish blood is expendable.

Literature, movies, written and electronic media strengthen this world view.

Raised to hate

In this way, Arab countries have raised generations of young people with strong hate instincts, especially for Judaism and Christianity.

Many Muslims preach a return to the days of the prophet and demand strength in the face of the lures of Western society.

But when they come of age, these young people are faced with a crisis of identity that stems from the discrepancy between those lessons and what they see with their own eyes; between the success of inferior, heretical Western civilization and superior, yet failing and downtrodden, Islam.

Short path to terror

From here, the path to Bin Laden is short, and from there it is no problem to enlist thousands of people – both from Islamic countries and amongst Europe's Muslim minority – against those who seem to be violating religious holiness.

Islamic countries have permitted thousands of extreme anti-Semitic cartoons and editorials and distortions that bear no semblance to reality in recent years. The intent of these is only to increase hatred of both Israel and the Jewish people, and to enlist the masses to the struggle.

There has been no one to fight this, because extremism and hatred have become the mainstream in Islam, and the images reproduced daily in the media have become part of the culture in Arab countries.

In light of this critical situation, all that is left for Europe to do is to use the weapon of free speech; to use some of that lofty idealism to demonstrate against radical Islam and to try to wage their fight by use of the written or drawn word.

The newsweek interview of Jihad Momani can be found here.

Source: Ynet (English)

Imams accused of doublespeak

Danish imams are blamed for fanning the flames of the on-going conflict over Mohammed caricatures by saying one thing in Danish and something else in Arabic

PM Anders Fogh Rasmussen lashed out at extremist Muslim leaders in Denmark on Thursday for speaking with two tongues in the on-going row between the country and the Muslim world.

'We have clearly noted that in certain situations, some people are speaking with two tongues,' Rasmussen said after meeting the parliament's foreign policy committee. 'The government watches what news and information is circulated in Arabic countries very closely so we can catch false stories and correct them immediately.'

Rasmussen was referring specifically to an incident in which controversial imam Abu Laban said to television station al-Jazeera that he was happy about the Muslim boycott. Later in the day, Laban said to Danish television station TV2 that he would urge Muslims to stop the boycott immediately.

'If Muslim countries decide to boycott, and if Muslims feel that it is their obligation to defend the prophet, then that is something we can be happy about,' Laban said to al-Jazeera.

Other leading imams have also been accused of misleading Muslims outside of Denmark about the situation.

Earlier this week, imam Abu Bashir appeared on BBC World showing a caricature of Mohammed with a pig's snout and ears to representatives of the Arabic League. Bashir falsely claimed that the caricature was one of the 12 Jyllands-Posten drawings.

Source: Jyllands-Posten (English)

'Everyone Is Afraid to Criticize Islam'

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch politician forced to go into hiding after the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh, responds to the Danish cartoon scandal, arguing that if Europe doesn't stand up to extremists, a culture of self-censorship of criticism of Islam that pervades in Holland will spread in Europe. Auf Wiedersehen, free speech.

I bring parts of the interview below:

SPIEGEL: Why have the protests escalated to such an extent?

Hirsi Ali: There is no freedom of speech in those Arab countries where the demonstrations and public outrage are being staged. The reason many people flee to Europe from these places is precisely because they have criticized religion, the political establishment and society. Totalitarian Islamic regimes are in a deep crisis. Globalization means that they're exposed to considerable change, and they also fear the reformist forces developing among émigrés in the West. They'll use threatening gestures against the West, and the success they achieve with their threats, to intimidate these people.

SPIEGEL: Was apologizing for the cartoons the wrong thing to do?

Hirsi Ali: Once again, the West pursued the principle of turning first one cheek, then the other. In fact, it's already a tradition. In 1980, privately owned British broadcaster ITV aired a documentary about the stoning of a Saudi Arabian princess who had allegedly committed adultery. The government in Riyadh intervened and the British government issued an apology. We saw the same kowtowing response in 1987 when (Dutch comedian) Rudi Carrell derided (Iranian revolutionary leader) Ayatollah Khomeini in a comedy skit (that was aired on German television). In 2000, a play about the youngest wife of the Prophet Mohammed, titled "Aisha," was cancelled before it ever opened in Rotterdam. Then there was the van Gogh murder and now the cartoons. We are constantly apologizing, and we don't notice how much abuse we're taking. Meanwhile, the other side doesn't give an inch.

SPIEGEL: What should the appropriate European response look like?

Hirsi Ali: There should be solidarity. The cartoons should be displayed everywhere. After all, the Arabs can't boycott goods from every country. They're far too dependent on imports. And Scandinavian companies should be compensated for their losses. Freedom of speech should at least be worth that much to us.

SPIEGEL: But Muslims, like any religious community, should also be able to protect themselves against slander and insult.

Hirsi Ali: That's exactly the reflex I was just talking about: offering the other cheek. Not a day passes, in Europe and elsewhere, when radical imams aren't preaching hatred in their mosques. They call Jews and Christians inferior, and we say they're just exercising their freedom of speech. When will the Europeans realize that the Islamists don't allow their critics the same right? After the West prostrates itself, they'll be more than happy to say that Allah has made the infidels spineless

Source: Spiegel Online (English)


Recently my blog has been polluted with obscenities, becoming more and more obscene with each additional comment. I have decided, after much contemplation, to remove them all. I will not allow such language on my blog and I will not tolerate messages that include little else besides 4 letter words and other curses and obscenities.

I support free speech for the most radical ideas, on condition that they be thought out and expressed respectably.

I invite the general public to participate in the issues I bring up and I expect all cultured participants to contribute their intelligent input for the benefit of all readers. I have great respect for my readers and they do not deserve to have they eyes polluted by gutter talk.

Danish satirist, a Muslim, sees laughs ebbing away

Omar Marzouk, a Danish comedian, used to joke that he should have been born a poodle, not a Muslim.

"Dogs in this nation have their own burial grounds, and Muslims don't," he would say. "So I either have to be sent out of this country in a box or change my name to Fluffy."

Like most satire, there is truth in jest: Denmark's Muslims have not been granted land for Islamic cemeteries and have had to conduct traditional burial rights in other countries.

But while the Fluffy joke used to get laughs, Marzouk said, now he is heckled with "Paki go home" and has omitted it from his act.

"It's getting hard to be a Muslim comic in this country," said the 32-year-old Dane, who is as in demand at leftist cocktail parties in Copenhagen as he is at Middle Eastern weddings. He says the country's assimilation policies have failed because "the Danish government's idea of better integration is, 'Let's have a Turkish night and watch a belly dancer."'

Marzouk calls the Muhammad cartoons, which have spawned protests across the Islamic world, a cowardly provocation calculated to infuriate Muslims. But he says he supports the right of newspapers to publish them since the same free-speech rules that allowed their appearance in print also permit his hard-edged comedy.

"The cartoons have polarized Denmark so that both Muslims and non-Muslims are saying, 'You are either with us or against us,"' Marzouk says. "But surely a cartoon of Muhammad with a bomb-shaped hat is less damaging to the Muslim community than a photograph of a Muslim cutting off someone's head."

Anticipating his critics, Marzouk has a special death threat section on his Web site where he invites readers to choose between killing him by beheading, by blowing up his car or by firing squad. At last count, he said, 500 people had responded, with beheading the leading choice of execution.

But he adds that he will emerge alive since he has no intention of staying on in Denmark. "I am moving to London because I'm tired," he said. "Things are too tense here, and it is no longer as fun to try and be funny."

Source: International Herald Tribune (English)

Mohammed Cartoons updates

The Romanian Press Club, an organization composed of the owners of media outlets across the country, asked Romanian media not to publish the cartoons (Nine O'Clock)

In South Africa, editors denounced a "blow" to press freedom yesterday after the High Court issued an injunction banning them from publishing the cartoons. (Telegraph)

After the Arab European League, now also Iran decides to fight the Danish cartoons by calling for an anti-semitic cartoon contest (though I'm not sure how different this would be from the regular media publishings). Will the Jews burn down the Iranian embassies in Europe? Stay tuned.

French Muslims, on the initiative of the Union of Islamic Organizations in France, are considering suing newspapers that publish the Mohammed cartoons and are now consulting lawyers to see what grounds there are for such a lawsuit. (De Standaard)

About 1000 people protested in front of the Jyllands-Posten building in support of dialogue. (Jyllands-Posten)

Muslims protest in Brussels

4000 Muslims marched in Brussels yesterday in a spontaneous protest. The protesters marched to the buildings of the Flemish and French broadcasters, demanding media respect for Islam. The protest was generally peaceful but the US embassy was pelted with stones. The Danish embassy was closed off by police.

Source: De Standaard (Dutch)

A mountain out of a molehill

Nouille posted the following article, written by Mona Eltahawy, and I think there are some very important points here worth repeating.

1. Danish law does forbid incitement. It just happens that in this case, there is no incitement, only an act which hurt other people's religious feelings. Even that, not directly but by doing something that the Danes are really not forbidden to do. It is the Muslim who is not allowed to depict Mohammed (though there are examples galore of that being done), not the infidels.

It is interesting to note that Jyllands-Posten published the cartoons originally in order to show that the Danes are not afraid of death threats over publishing pictures of Mohammed.

2. There is much more to the current "protests" than just cartoons

What should have remained a local issue turned into a diplomatic uproar that Muslims otherwise rarely provoke when fighting for their rights around the world. Perhaps the Muslim governments who spearheaded the campaign - led by Egypt - felt this was an easy way to burnish their Islamic credentials at a time when domestic Islamists are stronger than they have been in many years.

That is, the Muslim secular governments are building up on the cartoons in order to show that they can protect Islam just as well as the Muslim fundamentalists who are seriously threatening their power base (see the case of Hamas).

3. Muslims should be insulted by the way their brethren are now acting all around the world. Compared to that, the cartoons are really bland. Protesting is one thing (though it's really going overboard), but threatening violence and actually going through with it?

Muslims must honestly examine why there is such a huge gap between the way we imagine Islam and our prophet, and the way both are seen by others. Our offended sensibilities must not be limited to the Danish newspaper or the cartoonist, but to those like Fadi Abdullatif whose actions should be regarded as just as offensive to Islam and to our reverence for the prophet. Otherwise, we are all responsible for those Danish cartoons.

Dutch daily Volkskrant not delivered

Moroccan newspaper deliverers in the IJmuiden-Velsen region refused to deliver the Dutch daily Volkskrant which published the Mohammed cartoons. The cartoons were published to illustrate the story about Jyllands-Posten and the ensuing developments.

According to the editor, Pieter Broertjes, it's unknown how many deliverers refused to do their job and how many subscribers didn't receive their papers but "we shouldn't make this out to be much worse than it is". Last Friday Broertjes said that several of his cartoonists had been threatened.

In 2001 subscribers of NRC Handelsblad did not receive their newspaper when the Muslim newspaper deliverers went on strike on account of that the Koran was pictures on the cover of the magazine.

Source: Planet Internet (Dutch)

AEL launches its own cartoon campaign

The Arab European League has decided to launch its own cartoon campaign

After the lectures that Arabs and Muslims received from Europeans on Freedom of Speech and on Tolerance. And after that many European newspapers republished the Danish cartoons on the Prophet Mohammed. AEL decided to enter the cartoon business and to use our right to artistic expression.

Just like the newspapers in Europe claim that they only want to defend the freedom of speech and do not desire to stigmatise Muslims,we also do stress that our cartoons are not meant as an offence to anybody and ought not to be taken as a statement against any group, community or historical fact.

If it is the time to break Taboos and cross all the red lines, we certainly do not want to stay behind.

Source: AEL (English)

Why Now? Cartoons Timeline

Jylland-Posten put out cartoons based on Mohammed 4 months ago. Why is the Muslim world burning now?

Below I try to outline the chain of events. I believe that it is no coincidence that Saudi Arabia, the country representing Islam to the world, made its move just a day after an Islamic party came to power in the Palestinian parliament. It is also no coincidence that Palestinians are threatening Europe at a time when Europe is threatening to withdraw funds.

30 Sept: Danish paper Jyllands-Posten publishes cartoons

12 Oct: Jyllands-Posten hires security guards due to death threats

20 Oct: Muslim ambassadors complain to Danish PM

27 Oct: Muslim ambassadors move issue to international Muslim groups (such as Organisation of the Islamic Conference)

10 Jan: Norwegian publication reprints cartoons

12 Jan: United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights appoints two UN experts to investigate the issue

16 Jan: Danish prosecutors refuse to charge Jyllands-Posten

25 Jan: Hamas elected as majority in Palestinian parliament - first time since the Iran revolution that an Islamic party comes into power and first time ever that it happens in democratic elections.

26 Jan: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador to Denmark, boycott is announced

27 Jan: Norwegian gov't apologizes

28 Jan: Danish paper apologises in Danish and Arabic

30 Jan: Gunmen raid EU's Gaza office demanding apology

31 Jan: Danish paper apologises again, in English. Denmark's Islamic Faith Community accepts apology

1 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons

(I have prepared this timeline based on several sources, among them BBC, Fjordman and my blog. I would be glad if people add on to it, and I would republish the timeline)

France Soir editor fired

Jacques Lefranc, editor of the French newspaper France Soir, was fired today by the owner of the paper for reprinting the Jylland-Posten cartoons as well as printing the following cartoon:

Caption: Don't worry Muhammad, we've all been caricatured here

However France Soir owner Raymond Lakah, a French Egyptian, said in a statement to AFP news agency that he "decided to remove Jacques Lefranc as managing director of the publication as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual".

"We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication."

Source: BBC (English)

Muslims threaten holy war over cartoons

In Gaza today:
Palestinian gunmen took up position outside the EU Commission's office Thursday and said they were closing it in protest over a newspaper cartoon that has riled the Muslim world.

The gunmen also demanded apologies from the governments of France, Denmark and Norway after newspapers in these countries printed the caricatures of the prophet Muhammad.

A leaflet signed by a Fatah militia and the militant Islamic Jihad group said the EU office and churches in Gaza could come under attack and urged all French citizens to leave Gaza.

Another group connected to the Fatah put out an ultimatum saying that if by 8pm Denmark and Europe won't apologize they will "abduct and hurt all the citizens of the European countries who hurt the feelings and honor of Islam."

(Note that Hamas, the Islamic movement, did not take part in this threat and attack)

Meanwhile in London:
UK-based jihadist groups have issued calls for their followers to mobilize and wage "holy war" against Israel and Denmark in recent days through internet messages on their websites

The website continued: "Denmark has a history of blasphemy against Islam… Last year the queen of Denmark aired her disapproval of Islam and for those ‘whom religion is their entire life.'"

In an explicit call for acts of murder, the site added: "At the time of the Messenger Muhammad (saw) there were individuals like these who dishonored and insulted him upon whom the Islamic judgment was executed. Such people were not tolerated in the past and throughout the history of Islam were dealt with according to the Shariah."

Sources: Jerusalem Post (English), Ynet News (English)