Thursday, February 02, 2006

Land of the Free Infidels ?

The Muslim world has a new demon. The mighty US with its military, its control of oil and its dominant culture is still there.

But today there is a new bad nation on the block whose flags are burned from the West Bank to Baghdad. Little Denmark is the culprit.

The "crime" of this nation is for one of its newspapers to have published some satirical cartoons on the Prophet Mohammed last September. Quite why it has become such an issue 5 months later is a bit of a mystery.

However yesterday papers in at least Germany, Spain, Italy and Switzerland republished these cartoons as the story grew. The chief editor of the French tabloid "France Soir" was sacked by its Egyptian owner.

In London there seems little danger that an organisation as politically correct as the BBC would show them- certainly there is no sign on their website. It seems doubtful that the papers will show the cartoons either. Maybe "the Sun" will do so but probably its owner Rupert Murdoch has some contract in Indonesia to consider.

Of course the cartoons are likely to offend muslims. But are we to end all humour, satire and parody for want of offending one group or another? Christians are routinely the subject of jokes and while the Iranian leader calls for the destruction of Israel, all the great powers still negotiate with him. There is no burning of Iranian flags anywhere that I am aware of.
Yet this little Scandinavian country is now demonised and Danish food is thrown off the shelves of Cairo's supermarkets. Will some lunatic soon blow himself up in Copenhagen ?

If the Prophet was really as great as the muslims say he was then I am sure he will be unaffected by the immature jibes of a few Danes. Personally I respect Muslims and have no wish to offend them. However there should still be freedom to speak, to write and this case, to draw. That a French newspaper editor is sacked for publishing a cartoon is a sad day in the land that once gave birth to Voltaire (" I DISSAPROVE OF WHAT YOU SAY, BUT I WILL DEFEND TO THE DEATH YOUR RIGHT TO SAY IT!")

Europe may choose to bow to this tantrum by a few of the muslims of the world and make embarrassing (and insincere) apologies. However I hope it shows that that it stays true to its Enlightenment roots and defends the Danish cartoonists. Offensive they may be, but as non-muslims why should Danes be forced to observe Muslim rules (against depicting the Prophet) in their own country ? To the eyes of Muslims, Danes are "infidels", but they should be left free to act as infidels. If they are wrong in what they do they should only be answerable to God and not some Kalashnikov-waving hothead in the Middle East. Link- Germany still has free speech at least. Click on Die umstrittenen Karikaturen on Die Welt site to see cartoons.

No comments: