[Note by Tom Gross]
CARTOONS OF PROPHET MOHAMMED LEAD TO DEATH THREATS
In the dispatch of Nov. 10, 2005 (Elections imminent as Shimon Peres ousted...
), I attached an article about Danish Muslims marching in protest over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed. The cartoons had been published in Denmark’s bestselling broadsheet newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, on September 30.
In recent days, what was previously a local protest by some Danish Muslims, has turned into a major international incident, leading to a boycott of Danish goods and fiery street protests throughout the Muslim world.
Danish publishers, artists and cartoonists have received death threats and the Jyllands-Posten offices in Copenhagen and in the northern town of Aarhus were evacuated yesterday following bomb threats.
The cartoons were commissioned and published by Jyllands-Posten, after a biographer of Mohammed said that he could not find a cartoon to illustrate his book. The newspaper has removed them from its website, but they can be viewed here: http://www.di2.nu/files/Muhammed_Cartoons_Jyllands_Posten.html
(That webpage is attracting tens of thousands of visitors daily and is slow to load.)
“WE HAVE RUN OUT OF VIRGINS!”
The 12 cartoons include a picture of Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban and another of Mohammed turning away suicide bombers in heaven saying “Stop. Stop. We have run out of Virgins!”
It should be noted that there have been no protests or boycotts following offensive cartoons published in the Arab world, such as these
Norwegian citizens have also been threatened after a Norwegian Christian newspaper, Magazinet, republished the Danish cartoons three weeks ago. They were also published on the website of the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.
FRENCH, GERMAN PAPERS DEPICT MOHAMMED ON FRONT PAGE TODAY
The French newspaper, France Soir, reproduced all 12 Danish caricatures today, arguing that European media should not be intimidated by threats. And under the headline “Yes, we have the right to caricature God”, France Soir ran a new front page cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods floating on a cloud. It shows the Christian deity saying: “Don’t complain, Mohammed, we’ve all been caricatured here.” The full set of Danish drawings, some of which depict the Prophet Mohammed as a terrorist, were printed on the inside pages.
In a statement earlier today, the French foreign ministry said the decision to publish the pictures was the sole responsibility of France Soir, and distanced the French government from it.
A spokesman for a leading French Muslim group said this afternoon that they will “react harshly to this appalling act of provocation by France Soir.”
The German daily Die Welt also reprinted one of the cartoons on its front page today. See: http://www.welt.de/data/2006/02/01/839667.html
. And so have Dutch, Italian and Spanish papers.
DENMARK WARNS ITS CITIZENS
In general, the protests against Denmark are being orchestrated by Arab governments which allow little freedom of expression in their own countries. Many of the protesters have never seen the cartoons.
Saudi Arabia has recalled its ambassador from Denmark, while Libya and Syria say they will close their embassies in Copenhagen. Both the Iraqi and Iranian foreign ministries summoned Danish diplomats to protest the cartoons. In Tunis, Arab interior ministers called on the Danish authorities to punish the cartoonists.
The Danish foreign ministry has warned its citizens not to travel to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria.
Bahrain says they will take Denmark to the UN.
FATWA AGAINST DANISH TROOPS IN IRAQ
In Iraq, an unidentified terrorist group has called for a fatwa against Danish troops, who are currently based in southern Iraq.
Also in Iraq, the influential Sunni Muslim Cleric’s Association has backed the boycott, and so have Saudi religious leaders, who said it should be widened to Norway.
In Kuwait, the government announced in an official statement that Kuwait was to summon the Danish ambassador over the “despicable racism” of the cartoons.
On Monday, the Danish newspaper apologized for printing the caricatures. In a front-page letter published in Danish, English and Arabic, they said: “These cartoons were not in violation of Danish law but have irrefutably offended many Muslims, and for that we apologize.”
The Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has welcomed the newspaper’s apology, but emphasized the “fundamental importance attached to freedom of expression, which is a vital and indispensable part of a democratic society.”
Norway’s Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg also expressed regret. He said: “We cannot apologize for something written by newspapers in a country with freedom of expression like Norway. But I am sad that this may have been hurtful for many Muslims. ”
Although Danish Muslims have accepted it, other Islamic groups have complained that this apology is not sufficient. After the apology, ministers from 17 Arab countries called on Denmark’s government to punish Jyllands-Posten for what they described as an “offence to Islam”.
In a poll on Danish radio last Saturday, 79 percent said the Danish prime minister should not apologize on Denmark’s behalf, and 62 percent said Jyllands-Posten should not apologize either.
“WAR ON DENMARK, DEATH TO DENMARK”
Thousands of Palestinians have demonstrated in Gaza for the last two days, chanting “War on Denmark, Death to Denmark,” according to Reuters and AP reports.
On Monday, masked Palestinian gunmen stormed and shut down the EU office in Gaza to protest the publication of the cartoons.
The Gaza protestors fired bullets in the air and burned Danish and U.S. flags.
These particularly violent protests in Gaza, stirred up by Hamas and Fatah leaders there, suggest a Hamas-led Gaza may develop into a new hotbed of Islamic militancy.
NORWEGIANS AND SWEDES TOLD “TO LEAVE GAZA, OR ELSE”
Fatah’s Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade has handed out pamphlets in Gaza demanding Danes and Swedes leave. The Al Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigade faxed a warning to the Swedish Consulate in Jerusalem on Monday demanding that all Danes and Swedes depart Gaza and the West Bank “within 48 hours, or else.”
It appears that Swedes have been threatened with violence as a result of being Scandinavian, even though no Swedish publication has run the cartoon. The Norwegian Foreign Ministry has advised Norwegians not to travel to Gaza.
Danish, Norwegian, and Swedish taxpayers have donated tens of millions of dollars to the Palestinians in recent years.
BOYCOTT HITS ARLA FOODS, AND LEGO TOYS
The Danish-Swedish dairy giant, Arla Foods, has said that its sales across the Middle East – built up over a 40-year period – have been wiped out in the last five days as a result of the boycott.
Company spokeswoman Astrid Gade Niels claimed that “Our sales in the Middle East have come to a complete stop – in all countries in the region.” The company had annual sales of $480 million in the region. The firm said it has had to lay off 100 people because of the fall in demand.
Arla attempted to place (paid) advertisements in Saudi newspapers, stating that the Danish government respects Islam, but the Saudi daily Al-Watan refused to publish it, arguing that this was not a sufficient apology.
For those that would like to see pictures of the various products that have been boycotted (including the toy company Lego), please see http://www.naseh.net/vb/showthread.php?p=106582#post106582
“IS ISLAM CAPABLE OF COPING WITH SATIRE?”
A commentary in the German newspaper Die Welt today titled “Holy anger,” asks “is Islam capable of coping with satire?” The paper also questions whether “the standards that Muslims require are overtaxing for open societies?”
Die Welt (senior editors at which are subscribers to this email list) also pointed out that there was no protest when a primetime program on Syrian TV portrayed a rabbi as a cannibal. The paper then added that “Muslims’ protests would be taken more seriously if they came across as less hypocritical.”
Austria’s Die Presse writes today that Muslims should at “least have mentioned” in their protests that without “radical, impatient and violent people who represent Islam” such caricatures would not exist.
For more on Muslim-European relations, please see Jihad Warning: The Coming Eurabia?
IRAN INVITES TONY BLAIR TO ITS HOLOCAUST (DENIAL) CONFERENCE; BLAIR SAYS IRANIAN PRESIDENT SHOULD VISIT AUSCHWITZ TO SEE FOR HIMSELF
Iran has invited British Prime Minister Tony Blair to Tehran to take part in its planned conference on the Holocaust. Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Hamid Reza Asefi said that at the planned Holocaust (denial) conference Blair “can say the kind of things he cannot say in London because of Zionist pressure there.”
This follows comments by Blair that the conference is “shocking, ridiculous, stupid,” and that Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad “should come and see the evidence of the Holocaust himself in the countries of Europe”.
There has been no word from Tehran on whether Ahmadinejad will visit Europe. Iran’s foreign ministry has already said it was willing to send a team of “independent investigators” to visit former Nazi deaths camps. The Iranian President has said the Holocaust a “myth”.
For more on this story, please see Iran planning to host international Holocaust (denial) conference (Jan. 10, 2006).
OPRAH VISITS AUSCHWITZ
U.S. television talk show superstar Oprah Winfrey, and Nobel Peace Prize winner and Holocaust survivor Elie Wiesel, visited the former Nazi death camp Auschwitz in southern Poland in recent days.
A camera crew accompanied Wiesel and Winfrey in preparation for an episode of the popular Oprah Winfrey show on U.S. national network TV.
The visit was planned in conjunction with the republication in the U.S. of Elie Wiesel’s book “Night,” in which he was a child prisoner at Auschwitz.
I attach two articles below on the international boycott of Denmark. Please note the comments in the second article by the Kuwaiti Islamist MP Abdullah al-Roumi who told his fellow MPs that “No Muslim can accept this insult against the Prophet... It is a form of terrorism.”
-- Tom Gross
DENMARK FACES THE FULL FURY OF THE MUSLIM WORLD
Denmark faces international boycott over Muslim cartoons
By Anthony Browne
The Times (of London)
January 31, 2006
Denmark faced the full fury of the Muslim world yesterday as a long-simmering row over newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad finally erupted.
There were street demonstrations and flag-burnings in the Middle East. Libya joined Saudi Arabia in withdrawing its ambassador from Copenhagen. Islamic governments and organisations, including the Muslim Council of Britain, issued denunciations and a boycott of Danish goods took hold across the Muslim world.
The Danish Government warned its citizens about travelling to Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Syria, and withdrew aid workers from the Gaza Strip.
Last night EU foreign ministers issued a statement in support of Denmark, and the European Commission threatened to report any government backing the boycott to the World Trade Organisation.
The fury echoed the outcry that followed the publication in 1988 of the Salman Rushdie novel The Satanic Verses. The trigger for the latest clash of cultures was the publication by the Danish newspaper Jyllends-Posten on September 30 of 12 cartoons of Muhammad. A biographer of the prophet had complained that no one would dare to illustrate his book, and the newspaper challenged cartoonists to draw pictures of the prophet in a self-declared battle for freedom of speech.
One submission showed Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban; in another he tells dead suicide bombers that he has run out of virgins with which to reward them. Any portrayal of Muhammad is blasphemous in Islam, lest it encourages idolatry.
In October ambassadors from ten Muslim countries complained to Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the Danish Prime Minister, who refused to interfere with the press’s freedom.
But the issue began to boil this month after the cartoons appeared in Magazinet, a Christian newspaper in Norway, and on the website of the Norwegian newspaper Dagbladet.
Imams denounced Denmark from their pulpits, the Arab press inflamed pent-up Muslim anger at the West and last Friday the Saudi Government recalled its ambassador, but still Mr Rasmussen refused to apologise. He condemned attempts to “demonise people because of religious beliefs”, but argued: “The Government can in no way influence the media.”
By yesterday governments across the Arab world were responding to public outrage. Libya closed its embassy in Denmark and the Egyptian parliament demanded that its Government follow suit. The Kuwaiti and Jordanian governments called for explanations from their Danish ambassadors. President Lahoud of Lebanon condemned the cartoons, saying his country “cannot accept any insult to any religion”. The Justice Minister of the United Arab Emirates said: “This is cultural terrorism, not freedom of expression.” In Gaza, gunmen briefly occupied the EU office in Gaza and warned Danes and Norwegians to stay away. Palestinians in the West Bank burnt Danish flags. The Islamic groups Hamas and Hezbollah and the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood demanded an apology.
Supermarkets in Algeria, Bahrain, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen all removed Danish produce from their shelves. Arla Foods, a Danish company with annual sales of about $430 million in the Middle East, said that the boycott was almost total and suspended production in Saudi Arabia.
The Muslim Council of Britain, whose leaders are to meet the Danish ambassador tomorrow, deplored the newspapers’ refusal to apologise for printing “sacrilegious cartoons vilifying the Prophet Muhammad”.
Bill Clinton, the former US President, added his voice, telling a conference in Qatar that he feared anti-Semitism would be replaced with anti-Islamic prejudice. He condemned “these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam”.
Per Stig Moeller, Denmark’s Foreign Minister, insisted in Brussels last night: “We condemn blasphemy. We want respect for religions. But we cannot intervene. We have sent explanations but, as we have said before, freedom of expression is a matter for the courts, not for the Government.”
A spokesman for Peter Mandelson, the EU Trade Commissioner, said that if the Saudi Government had encouraged the boycott of Danish goods, Mr Mandelson would take the matter to the WTO.
Carsten Juste, editor-in-chief of Jyllends-Posten, which has hired extra security after staff received death threats, said that the drawings “were not in violation of Danish law but have offended many Muslims, which we would like to apologise for”. He added that the drawings were “sober and were not meant to be offensive” to Muslims.
ISLAMIC CONFLICT: A SHORT HISTORY
1988 Ayatollah Khomeini issues fatwa against Salman Rushdie after publication of The Satanic Verses
2001 The author Khalid Duran faces mass condemnation from Muslims for his book which sought to explain Islam to Jews, culminating in alleged death threats for his apostasy
2002 Fatwa issued against the Nigerian journalist Isioma Daniel after she suggested that Muhammad might approve of the Miss World contest
2004 Extremist kills the Dutch director Theo Van Gogh after he made Submission, a ten-minute film about the abuse of Muslim women featuring Koranic verses written on female bodies
2005 Swedish museum is forced to remove a painting depicting a couple making love while covered in verses from the Koran
SAUDI SUPERMARKET NOTICES: “DANISH PRODUCTS ARE NOT SOLD”
Gulf shoppers protest Danish slur against Prophet, demand apology
By Agence France Presse (AFP)
January 30, 2006
Gulf retailers were pulling Danish products from their shelves and ambassadors were being summoned for a dressing down over the publication in a Danish newspaper of cartoons depicting Prophet Mohammad. Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark last week to protest the Danish government’s laissez-faire stance on the offending drawings, and Kuwait said it was summoning Denmark’s ambassador.
Major Saudi supermarkets posted notices saying “Danish products are not sold” over their cheese displays, while people were sending text messages urging consumers to boycott Danish products.
Saudi supermarket chain Panda said it started withdrawing Danish products Friday, while Al-Sadhan supermarkets announced on its Web site that it had stopped selling them.
Muslims in Denmark and around the world have protested against the 12 cartoons, published in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten last September, because images of the prophet are considered blasphemous.
The cartoons include portrayal of the Prophet wearing a time-bomb shaped turban and show him as a wild-eyed, knife-wielding bedouin flanked by two women shrouded in black.
The cartoons were reprinted in a Norwegian magazine earlier this month sparking uproar in the Muslim world.
Sheikh Ali al-Huzaifi, the imam of the holy mosque in Medina, urged Muslim governments to recall their ambassadors and freeze trade with Denmark and Norway “who permit such nonsense, calling it democracy.”
“Ridiculing the Prophet is an appaling crime which should not pass without response, because that would allow others in the future to commit the same indecent act,” he told Friday worshippers.
“They call [that] freedom of expression and democracy. They are liars and hypocrites,” he added.
The grand mufti of Saudi Arabia – the highest religious authority in the ultra-conservative kingdom – had demanded that the Danish government punish the newspaper, which “should in turn apologize for the indecent act.”
In Kuwait, the Union of Cooperative Societies, the largest retail network, said all Danish products will be withdrawn starting Sunday, as MPs called for diplomatic and economic sanctions on Copenhagen.
Some 50 companies have decided to stop importing Danish goods, Mohammad al-Mutairi, president of the union, told a furious Parliament. Kuwait annually imports about $170 million a year in Danish consumer goods, mostly dairy products and juices.
Parliament Speaker Jassem al-Khorafi called for a total economic boycott of Denmark to be “a lesson for those who may try to repeat the insult in the future.”
An official statement said Saturday that Kuwait was to summon the Danish ambassador over the “despicable racism” of the cartoons.
“Kuwait strongly condemns and denounces what was published in one of the Danish newspapers,” a senior Foreign Ministry official was quoted as saying.
“It is a great harm” to Prophet Mohammad, he said. “This is one of the forms of despicable racism that has caused disasters for the entire international community.”
Several hundred Kuwaitis protested outside the Danish consulate in Kuwait City Saturday, with speakers calling for the Danish ambassador, who is based in Saudi Arabia, to have his accreditation withdrawn.
“No Muslim can accept this insult against the Prophet... It is a form of terrorism,” Islamist MP Abdullah al-Roumi told fellow MPs.
Lawmaker Jamal al-Omar branded the cartoons as a “racist attack against all Muslims.”
Speakers at the Parliament meeting, organized by Islamist MP Waleed al-Tabtabai, also urged other Arab and Muslim countries to take diplomatic and economic measures against Denmark.
Iran’s foreign minister said he had written to his counterparts in Denmark and Norway to protest over the publication of “ridiculous and revolting” cartoons deemed offensive to Muslims.
“I have written a letter to the foreign ministers of Denmark and Norway and protested at the insult on behalf of the Muslim Iranian nation and the Islamic Republic,” Manouchehr Mottaki told reporters.
“We hope not to see such ridiculous and revolting insults by mercenary writers anymore. They hurt the feelings of more than one billion Muslims.”
Yemen’s Parliament blasted the publication of the cartoons and called on the Danish government to “apologize for the grave harm made by the newspaper,” Saba news agency reported.
In Mauritania, some imams urged the faithful during Friday prayers to boycott Danish products.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen last month refused to discuss the issue, insisting that freedom of expression was a fundamental human right. And a poll published Saturday showed that a majority of Danes feel their government and media should not apologize.
On Thursday, the Norwegian Foreign Ministry asked its diplomats posted in Muslim countries to express regrets to their host governments about the reprinting of the cartoons.