Friday, February 03, 2006

Cartoon Chaos

The violent Muslim reaction around the world to the cartoons of Muhammad is indicative of what the ultimate struggle is all about.

In Gaza, masked gunmen briefly took over an office used by the EU, demanding an apology from Denmark and Norway.

The Danish Red Cross was evacuating two employees from Gaza and one from Yemen. "There have been concrete threats against our employees. The fact that they are Danish nationals has made the difference," the Danish Red Cross spokesman said.

In Indonesia, protesters broke into the lobby of the building housing the Danish embassy and pelted the coat-of-arms outside with eggs.

In Iraq, a roadside bomb targeted a joint Danish-Iraqi patrol near the southern city of Basra on Monday.

Editors of Jordanian and French newspapers who chose to republish the cartoons were dismissed on Thursday.

Libya on Sunday said it was closing its embassy in Denmark.

And, so it goes on and on. This, however, illustrates the fundamental differences between the cultures that cannot be bridged.

In Pakistan, Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Tasnim Aslam said she hopes the Danish government will "try to resolve this issue because you cannot hurt the sentiments of billions of Muslims in the name of freedom of press."

But, of course, it is perfectly fine for Muslims to insult Jews, Hindus and Christians. Where is the Muslim violent reaction to those acts?

Emirates' Minister of Justice and Islamic Affairs Mohammed Al Dhaheri said, "This is cultural terrorism, not freedom of expression. The repercussions of such irresponsible acts will have adverse impact on international relations."

I'm not sure what "cultural terrorism" is. Is it waged by those engaged in what has almost become suicide cartooning? Get over it, Mohammed, this is part of free speech and the democratic nations of the world are not surrendering it.

"What is freedom of expression? Without the freedom to offend, it ceases to exist."
Salman Rushdie
Indian-born British novelist (1947-)


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