Portraying the prophet from Persian art to South Park

February 06, 2006

* The US Supreme Court in Washington has a stone frieze of Mohammad as an example of an ancient lawmaker
* Even in the holiest Muslim city of Mecca, Mohammad has been depicted

 

CONTENTS

1. Daned if you do
2. “If you get rid of the Danes, you’ll have to keep paying the Danegeld” (By Charles Moore, Daily Telegraph, Feb. 4, 2006)
3. “Europe’s new dissidents” (By Daniel Schwammenthal, Wall Street Journal Europe, Feb. 6, 2006)
4. “Portraying prophet from Persian art to South Park” (Times of London, Feb. 4, 2006)
5. “Fight the bullies of Islam” (By Michelle Malkin, Worldnetdaily.com, Feb. 1, 2006)


DANED IF YOU DO

[Note by Tom Gross]

I attach further articles concerning the ongoing protests over Danish cartoons. Today’s dispatch is split into two for space reasons. This dispatch contains opinion and comment articles; the other dispatch has news reports. There are summaries first, for those who don’t have time to read them in full.

The following webpage is worth looking at. It contains dozens of examples of the pictorial portrayal of Mohammed – something that is not banned in the Koran as such, but only by various interpretations of sharia law.

Some of the satirical cartoons towards the bottom of this page are, in my opinion, much more offensive portrayals of Mohammed than the Danish cartoons that have caused so much anger.

http://info2us.dk/muhammed

You may also wish to read the comment piece just published minutes ago on National Review Online by Emanuele Ottolenghi, who like Charles Moore and Daniel Schwammenthal is a subscriber to this list.
http://www.nationalreview.com/comment/ottolenghi200602060945.asp

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

“THE MORE YOU STUDY THIS STORY OF ‘SPONTANEOUS’ MUSLIM RAGE, THE ODDER IT SEEMS”

“If you get rid of the Danes, you’ll have to keep paying the Danegeld” (By Charles Moore, The Daily Telegraph, February 4, 2006)

It’s some time since I visited Palestine, so I may be out of date, but I don’t remember seeing many Danish flags on sale there… I raise the question because, as soon as the row about the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Jyllands-Posten broke, angry Muslims popped up in Gaza City, and many other places, well supplied with Danish flags ready to burn…

Why were those Danish flags to hand? Who built up the stockpile so that they could be quickly dragged out right across the Muslim world and burnt where television cameras would come and look? The more you study this story of “spontaneous” Muslim rage, the odder it seems…

Now the BBC announces that the head of the International Association of Muslim Scholars has called for an “international day of anger” about the cartoons. It did not name this scholar, or tell us who he is. He is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. According to Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, Qaradawi is like Pope John XXIII for Catholics, “the most progressive force for change” in the Muslim world.

Yet if you look up Qaradawi’s pronouncements, you find that he sympathises with the judicial killing of homosexuals, and wants the rejection of dialogue with Jews in favour of “the sword and the rifle”. He is very keen on suicide bombing, especially if the people who blow themselves up are children – “we have the children bomb”. This is a man for whom a single “day of anger” is surely little different from the other 364 days of the year.

…It is a great mistake – made out of ignorance – to assume that those who shout the loudest are the most representative. This was the error in the case in Luton, where a schoolgirl’s desire to wear the jilbab was upheld in the erroneous belief that this is what Islam demands. In fact, the girl was backed by an extremist group, and most of the other Muslims at the school showed no inclination to dress in full-length gowns like her.

…But, as I write, I have beside me a learned book about Islamic art and architecture which shows numerous Muslim paintings from Turkey, Persia, Arabia and so on. These depict the Prophet preaching, having visions, being fed by his wet nurse, going on his Night-Journey to heaven, etc. The truth is that in Islam, as in Christianity, not everyone agrees about what is permissible.

Some of these depictions are in Western museums. What will the authorities do if the puritan factions within Islam start calling for them to be removed from display (this call has been made, by the way, about a medieval Christian depiction of the Prophet in Bologna)? Will their feeling of “offence” outweigh the rights of everyone else?

…But I am a bit confused about why someone like Qaradawi thinks it is insulting to show the Prophet’s turban turned into a bomb, as one of the cartoons does. He never stops telling us that Islam commands its followers to blow other people up…

The fact that Christians nowadays do not threaten to blow up art galleries, invade television studios or kill writers and producers does not mean that their tolerance is rewarded by politeness. It means that they are insulted the more.

Right now, at the fashionable White Cube Gallery in Hoxton, you can see the latest work of Gilbert and George, mainly devoted, it is reported, to attacks on the Catholic Church. The show is called Sonofagod Pictures and it features the head of Christ on the Cross replaced with that of a primitive deity. One picture includes the slogan “God loves F***ing”.

Like most Christians, I find this offensive, but I think I must live with the offence in the interests of freedom…

Jack Straw gibbers about the irresponsibility of the cartoons, but says nothing against the Muslims threatening death in response to them. I wish someone would mention the word that dominates Western culture in the face of militant Islam – fear. And then I wish someone would face it down.

 

“THE CARTOONS DIDN’T MOCK ISLAM AS SUCH BUT ITS ABUSE BY MILITANT MUSLIMS”

“Europe’s New Dissidents” (By Daniel Schwammenthal, The Wall Street Journal Europe, February 6, 2006)

…For four months, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Jyllands-Posten staunchly refused to apologize. But last week, with little support from the rest of Europe against this orchestrated assault on Denmark’s press freedom, the paper caved in, much to the government’s relief.

Were the cartoons disrespectful? Certainly. In Islam the drawing of any image of Muhammad is forbidden and so religious Muslims might feel offended. As might millions of Christians when Jesus is depicted as gay or defiled in a thousand other ways every day. But that’s what letters to the editor are for.

Moreover, the cartoons didn’t mock Islam as such but its abuse by militant Muslims. One cartoon showed Muhammad with a turban in the form of a bomb…

Just as was the case with communism, Islamic totalitarian impulses find their apologists in the West. Last Monday in Qatar, former U.S. President Bill Clinton decried the “totally outrageous cartoons against Islam.” EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said the journalists “have to understand the offense caused by cartoons of this nature,” and the U.S. state department said that “inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable.”

The support shown in the past few days by newspapers around Europe reprinting the cartoons is very welcome. But the vast majority of Europe’s media didn’t join the battle. And so in the end, it was too little, too late, coming just after the Danes were forced to “confess.”

…But what really sealed the Danes’ fate – and possibly Europe’s – was the lack of solidarity from other governments. The European Union likes to call “emergency meetings” for the most trivial topics, from farm subsidies to VAT rates. But when one of their smallest members came under attack for nothing else than being a European country, for defending the values and norms the EU is based on, there was nothing but silence from Europe’s capitals. That silence has been heard and understood in the Muslim world.

 

“THE LATEST IN A LONG LINE OF DEPICTIONS OF THE MUSLIM PROPHET…”

“Portraying prophet from Persian art to South Park” (By Anthony Browne and Ruth Gledhill, The Times of London, February 4, 2006)

Despite the outcry, the Danish cartoons of Muhammad are just the latest in a long line of depictions of the Muslim prophet, both in the West and in Islamic countries. From Ottoman religious icons to market stalls in Iran, from the US Supreme Court building to the South Park cartoon, Muhammad has been frequently portrayed in flattering and unflattering lights.

Many painters, including William Blake, Gustave Dore, Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali, have depicted Muhammad in illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, where the Muslim prophet ends up in Hell with his entrails hanging out.

Depictions of Muhammad were common during the Ottoman Empire, when the taboo on portraying him was less strong, although often his face was left blank. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has a 16th-century picture of Muhammad in a mosque, wearing long sleeves to hide his arms and hands. A 14th-century Persian miniature shows the angel Gabriel speaking to Muhammad, whose face is shown…

The taboo is stronger in Sunni Islam than Shia and even today in Iran, which is mainly Shia, pictures of Muhammad can been bought illegally in markets.

Even in the holiest Muslim city of Mecca, Muhammad has been depicted. Edinburgh University has a 14th-century miniature of him rededicating the black stone at Kaaba holy place in Mecca to illustrate a History of the World by Rashid al-Din…

Muhammad is recorded in the hadith, one of the four arms of Sharia, or Islamic law, as having said: “And who is more unjust than those who try to create the likeness of My creation?” He also said: “Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.”

…Technically, the rulings also forbid photographs of family members in the home, video cameras and mobile picture phones. The rulings remain the subject of intense debate in Islamic scholarly circles.

…Imam Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “Some are very strict about it and will not have photographs taken except for official documents such as a driving licence or a passport.

“Others will say it is OK to have photographs taken because they do not intend to worship the pictures. In this country, most people take a relaxed view about photographs.”

…In the past 20 years, many books on Islam in France have shown pictures of Muhammad, even on their cover, in a more sympathetic light.

In 2001, the satirical television cartoon South Park included an episode called Super Best Friends in which Muhammad and the founders of the other world religions acted as superheroes. Although not deliberately blasphemous, there can be few portrayals of Muhammad less respectful than this all-singing, all-dancing version.

 

“FIRST, THEY CAME FOR THE CARTOONISTS”

“Fight the bullies of Islam” (By Michelle Malkin, Worldnetdaily.com, February 1, 2006)

Something very important is happening in Denmark - a showdown over freedom, tolerance, and their wolfish menaces in religious clothing. So, please, turn off “American Idol,” put down the Game Boy for a moment, and pay attention. This does affect you…

The reaction to the cartoons has resoundingly confirmed the fears those artists expressed about radical Islamic intolerance and violence. In fact, the Jyllands-Posten reported, two of the illustrators received death threats and went into hiding. The Pakistani Jamaaat-e-Islami party placed a 5,000-kroner bounty on the cartoonists’ heads. A terrorist outfit called the “Glory Brigades” has threatened suicide bombings in Denmark over the artwork…

The country now faces an international boycott from Muslim nations whose fist-clenched protesters led chants this week of “War on Denmark, Death to Denmark” while firing bullets in the air.

Soft-on-terror mouthpieces are blaming the messenger for the conflagration. Former appeaser-in-chief Bill Clinton condemned the cartoons as “appalling” and “totally outrageous.” Where was Clinton’s condemnation of the gun-wielding, death-threat-issuing, flag-burning bullies of Islam who have targeted Denmark for jihad?

…First, they came for the cartoonists. Then, they came for the filmmakers and talk-show hosts and namers of evil. Next, who knows?



FULL ARTICLES

“THE MORE YOU STUDY THIS STORY OF ‘SPONTANEOUS’ MUSLIM RAGE, THE ODDER IT SEEMS”

If you get rid of the Danes, you’ll have to keep paying the Danegeld
By Charles Moore
The Daily Telegraph
February 4, 2006

www.telegraph.co.uk/opinion/main.jhtml?xml=/opinion/2006/02/04/do0402.xml&sSheet=/opinion/2006/02/04/ixopinion.html

It’s some time since I visited Palestine, so I may be out of date, but I don’t remember seeing many Danish flags on sale there. Not much demand, I suppose. I raise the question because, as soon as the row about the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Jyllands-Posten broke, angry Muslims popped up in Gaza City, and many other places, well supplied with Danish flags ready to burn. (In doing so, by the way, they offered a mortal insult to the most sacred symbol of my own religion, Christianity, since the Danish flag has a cross on it, but let that pass.)

Why were those Danish flags to hand? Who built up the stockpile so that they could be quickly dragged out right across the Muslim world and burnt where television cameras would come and look? The more you study this story of “spontaneous” Muslim rage, the odder it seems.

The complained-of cartoons first appeared in October; they have provoked such fury only now. As reported in this newspaper yesterday, it turns out that a group of Danish imams circulated the images to brethren in Muslim countries. When they did so, they included in their package three other, much more offensive cartoons which had not appeared in Jyllands-Posten but were lumped together so that many thought they had.

It rather looks as if the anger with which all Muslims are said to be burning needed some pretty determined stoking. Peter Mandelson, who seems to think that his job as European Trade Commissioner entitles him to pronounce on matters of faith and morals, accuses the papers that republished the cartoons of “adding fuel to the flames”; but those flames were lit (literally, as well as figuratively) by well-organised, radical Muslims who wanted other Muslims to get furious. How this network has operated would make a cracking piece of investigative journalism.

Now the BBC announces that the head of the International Association of Muslim Scholars has called for an “international day of anger” about the cartoons. It did not name this scholar, or tell us who he is. He is Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi. According to Ken Livingstone, the Mayor of London, Qaradawi is like Pope John XXIII for Catholics, “the most progressive force for change” in the Muslim world.

Yet if you look up Qaradawi’s pronouncements, you find that he sympathises with the judicial killing of homosexuals, and wants the rejection of dialogue with Jews in favour of “the sword and the rifle”. He is very keen on suicide bombing, especially if the people who blow themselves up are children – “we have the children bomb”. This is a man for whom a single “day of anger” is surely little different from the other 364 days of the year.

Which leads me to question the extreme tenderness with which so many governments and media outlets in the West treat these outbursts of outrage. It is assumed that Muslims have a common, almost always bristling, view about their faith, which must be respected. Of course it is right that people’s deeply held beliefs should be treated courteously, but it is a great mistake – made out of ignorance – to assume that those who shout the loudest are the most representative.

This was the error in the case in Luton, where a schoolgirl’s desire to wear the jilbab was upheld in the erroneous belief that this is what Islam demands. In fact, the girl was backed by an extremist group, and most of the other Muslims at the school showed no inclination to dress in full-length gowns like her. It’s as if the Muslim world decided that the views of the Rev Ian Paisley represented the whole of authentic Christianity.

There is no reason to doubt that Muslims worry very much about depictions of Mohammed. Like many, chiefly Protestant, Christians, they fear idolatry. But, as I write, I have beside me a learned book about Islamic art and architecture which shows numerous Muslim paintings from Turkey, Persia, Arabia and so on. These depict the Prophet preaching, having visions, being fed by his wet nurse, going on his Night-Journey to heaven, etc. The truth is that in Islam, as in Christianity, not everyone agrees about what is permissible.

Some of these depictions are in Western museums. What will the authorities do if the puritan factions within Islam start calling for them to be removed from display (this call has been made, by the way, about a medieval Christian depiction of the Prophet in Bologna)? Will their feeling of “offence” outweigh the rights of everyone else?

Obviously, in the case of the Danish pictures, there was no danger of idolatry, since the pictures were unflattering. The problem, rather, was insult. But I am a bit confused about why someone like Qaradawi thinks it is insulting to show the Prophet’s turban turned into a bomb, as one of the cartoons does. He never stops telling us that Islam commands its followers to blow other people up.

If we take fright whenever extreme Muslims complain, we put more power in their hands. If the Religious Hatred Bill had passed unamended this week, it would have been an open invitation to any Muslim who likes getting angry to try to back his anger with the force of law. Even in its emasculated state, the Bill will still encourage him, thus stirring the ill-feeling its authors say they want to suppress.

On the Today programme yesterday, Stewart Lee, author of Jerry Springer: The Opera - in which Jesus appears wearing nappies – let the cat out of the bag. He suggested that it was fine to offend Christians because they had themselves degraded their iconography; Islam, however, has always been more “conscientious about protecting the brand”.

The implication of the remark is fascinating. It is that the only people whose feelings artists, newspapers and so on should consider are those who protest violently. The fact that Christians nowadays do not threaten to blow up art galleries, invade television studios or kill writers and producers does not mean that their tolerance is rewarded by politeness. It means that they are insulted the more.

Right now, at the fashionable White Cube Gallery in Hoxton, you can see the latest work of Gilbert and George, mainly devoted, it is reported, to attacks on the Catholic Church. The show is called Sonofagod Pictures and it features the head of Christ on the Cross replaced with that of a primitive deity. One picture includes the slogan “God loves F***ing”.

Like most Christians, I find this offensive, but I think I must live with the offence in the interests of freedom. If I find, however, that people who threaten violence do have the power to suppress what they dislike, why should I bother to defend freedom any more? Why shouldn’t I ring up the Hon Jay Jopling, the proprietor, and tell him that I shall burn down the White Cube Gallery unless he tears Gilbert and George off the walls? I won’t, I promise, but how much longer before some Christians do? The Islamist example shows that it works.

There is a great deal of talk about responsible journalism, gratuitous offence, multicultural sensitivities and so on. Jack Straw gibbers about the irresponsibility of the cartoons, but says nothing against the Muslims threatening death in response to them. I wish someone would mention the word that dominates Western culture in the face of militant Islam – fear. And then I wish someone would face it down.

 

“THE CARTOONS DIDN’T MOCK ISLAM AS SUCH BUT ITS ABUSE BY MILITANT MUSLIMS”

Europe’s New Dissidents
By Daniel Schwammenthal
The Wall Street Journal Europe
February 6, 2006

Four months ago, Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper published 12 caricatures of the prophet Muhammad. At first, the cartoons elicited little interest.

But in December Danish Muslims circulated them in the Islamic world. They added two particularly inflammatory drawings that had never been published by the paper – one involved a pig’s nose and the other an indecent act with a dog. Street protests erupted from Lahore to Gaza. Libya, Syria, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait withdrew their ambassadors from Copenhagen, calling for an apology and punishment of the editors. Danish products are being boycotted in the Middle East, where state-controlled media speak darkly of a conspiracy against Islam. Palestinian terrorists have declared Danes and other Europeans as legitimate targets. The Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus on Saturday were looted and torched by mobs. Journalists at Jyllands-Posten have received death threats. Danish flags, whose design is based on a Christian cross, are being burned. So much for religious respect.

For four months, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen and Jyllands-Posten staunchly refused to apologize. But last week, with little support from the rest of Europe against this orchestrated assault on Denmark’s press freedom, the paper caved in, much to the government’s relief.

Were the cartoons disrespectful? Certainly. In Islam the drawing of any image of Muhammad is forbidden and so religious Muslims might feel offended. As might millions of Christians when Jesus is depicted as gay or defiled in a thousand other ways every day. But that’s what letters to the editor are for.

Moreover, the cartoons didn’t mock Islam as such but its abuse by militant Muslims. One cartoon showed Muhammad with a turban in the form of a bomb. The issue, though, is much larger than the question of how to balance press freedom with religious sensibilities; it goes to the heart of the conflict with radical Islam. The Islamists demand no less than absolute supremacy for their religion – and not only in the Muslim world but wherever Muslims may happen to reside. That’s why they see no hypocrisy in their demand for “respect” for Islam while the simple display of a cross or a Star of David in Saudi Arabia is illegal. Infidels simply don’t have the same rights.

The murder in 2004 of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh by a Muslim fundamentalist in Amsterdam demonstrated the kind of risks critics of Islam are exposed to these days – even in Europe. Fundamentalists can find good cover – and followers – among the millions of Muslim immigrants on the Continent. Jyllands-Posten decided to publish the cartoons after complaints from an author that he could not find an illustrator who dared to draw images of Muhammad for his book. It was this atmosphere of fear and intimidation that the newspaper wanted to highlight. The Muslim reaction to these pictures only confirmed how relevant the topic is.

Using their combined economic muscle, death threats and street protests, a combination of state and nonstate actors are slowly exporting to Europe the Middle East’s repressive system. What Jyllands-Posten’s editors are enduring is not unlike what dissidents under communism had to go through. The Islamists can’t send the journalists to a gulag but they can silence them by threatening to kill them. Bomb threats twice forced the journalists to flee their offices last week.

Reminiscent of Stalinist show trials, the paper was in the end forced to show public remorse. The cartoons “were not in variance with Danish law but have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize,” the paper said Monday. “I would have never chosen to depict religious symbols in this way,” the previously defiant Mr. Rasmussen added. But just like the original show trials, the “admission of guilt” won’t cut the Danes much slack. Muslim organizations in Denmark rejected it as not “sincere” and the death threats, protests and boycotts continue.

Just as was the case with communism, Islamic totalitarian impulses find their apologists in the West. Last Monday in Qatar, former U.S. President Bill Clinton decried the “totally outrageous cartoons against Islam.” EU trade commissioner Peter Mandelson said the journalists “have to understand the offense caused by cartoons of this nature,” and the U.S. state department said that “inciting religious or ethnic hatred in this manner is not acceptable.”

The support shown in the past few days by newspapers around Europe reprinting the cartoons is very welcome. But the vast majority of Europe’s media didn’t join the battle. And so in the end, it was too little, too late, coming just after the Danes were forced to “confess.”

“Those who have won are dictatorships in the Middle East, in Saudi Arabia, where they cut criminals’ hands and give women no rights,” Jyllands-Posten’s editor in chief, Carsten Juste, told the AP.

But what really sealed the Danes’ fate – and possibly Europe’s – was the lack of solidarity from other governments. The European Union likes to call “emergency meetings” for the most trivial topics, from farm subsidies to VAT rates. But when one of their smallest members came under attack for nothing else than being a European country, for defending the values and norms the EU is based on, there was nothing but silence from Europe’s capitals. That silence has been heard and understood in the Muslim world.

 

“THE LATEST IN A LONG LINE OF DEPICTIONS OF THE MUSLIM PROPHET…”

Portraying prophet from Persian art to South Park
By Anthony Browne and Ruth Gledhill
The Times (of London)
February 4, 2006

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2024307,00.html

Despite the outcry, the Danish cartoons of Muhammad are just the latest in a long line of depictions of the Muslim prophet, both in the West and in Islamic countries. From Ottoman religious icons to market stalls in Iran, from the US Supreme Court building to the South Park cartoon, Muhammad has been frequently portrayed in flattering and unflattering lights.

Many painters, including William Blake, Gustave Dore, Auguste Rodin and Salvador Dali, have depicted Muhammad in illustrations of Dante’s Inferno, where the Muslim prophet ends up in Hell with his entrails hanging out.

Depictions of Muhammad were common during the Ottoman Empire, when the taboo on portraying him was less strong, although often his face was left blank. The Boston Museum of Fine Arts has a 16th-century picture of Muhammad in a mosque, wearing long sleeves to hide his arms and hands. A 14th-century Persian miniature shows the angel Gabriel speaking to Muhammad, whose face is shown.

Medieval Islamic pictures often echo Christian iconography. The University of California has a 14th-century Turkish painting of Muhammad in his mother’s arms, just as there are pictures of the Virgin Mary holding the infant Christ.

The taboo is stronger in Sunni Islam than Shia and even today in Iran, which is mainly Shia, pictures of Muhammad can been bought illegally in markets.

Even in the holiest Muslim city of Mecca, Muhammad has been depicted. Edinburgh University has a 14th-century miniature of him rededicating the black stone at Kaaba holy place in Mecca to illustrate a History of the World by Rashid al-Din.

In Islam, as in other religions, different communities will place different interpretations on the hadith, the sayings of the Prophet, which deal with depictions of him.

Muhammad is recorded in the hadith, one of the four arms of Sharia, or Islamic law, as having said: “And who is more unjust than those who try to create the likeness of My creation?” He also said: “Angels do not enter a house in which there is a dog or a picture.”

Taken with the Koran’s injunctions on respect for the Prophet, these sayings mean, in strict Islamic interpretation, that any representation of any living thing is forbidden. Essential illustrations in academic textbooks might, for example, show a cow but with the head missing.

Technically, the rulings also forbid photographs of family members in the home, video cameras and mobile picture phones. The rulings remain the subject of intense debate in Islamic scholarly circles.

Just as many young British Muslims photograph their friends and family on their mobile phones, so the Prophet has appeared in art throughout the centuries, most often in cultures where it was a mark of respect to hang pictures of a reigning monarch or other leader in homes and galleries.

Imam Ibrahim Mogra, of the Muslim Council of Britain, said: “This would happen where the hadith prohibiting it might be overlooked, or merely interpreted differently. For example, some scholars might argue that the intention of the hadith was to prevent worship of the image and that it was permissible to have an image where the aim was not to worship but to show respect.”

He said that the debate continued in Muslim families today. “Some are very strict about it and will not have photographs taken except for official documents such as a driving licence or a passport.

“Others will say it is OK to have photographs taken because they do not intend to worship the pictures. In this country, most people take a relaxed view about photographs.”

Among modern depictions, the US Supreme Court in Washington has a stone frieze of Muhammad as an example of an ancient lawmaker. Muhammad was put to less serious use by a German food company in 1928, which used him for advertising bouillon.

In the past 20 years, many books on Islam in France have shown pictures of Muhammad, even on their cover, in a more sympathetic light.

In 2001, the satirical television cartoon South Park included an episode called Super Best Friends in which Muhammad and the founders of the other world religions acted as superheroes. Although not deliberately blasphemous, there can be few portrayals of Muhammad less respectful than this all-singing, all-dancing version.

 

“FIRST, THEY CAME FOR THE CARTOONISTS”

Fight the bullies of Islam
By Michelle Malkin
Worldnetdaily.com
February 1, 2006

www.worldnetdaily.com/news/article.asp?ARTICLE_ID=48607

Something very important is happening in Denmark - a showdown over freedom, tolerance, and their wolfish menaces in religious clothing. So, please, turn off “American Idol,” put down the Game Boy for a moment, and pay attention. This does affect you.

Last October, a Danish newspaper called the Jyllands-Posten published a dozen cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. The illustrations included various depictions of the prophet Muhammad, some innocuous (Muhammad walking in a pasture) and a few with provocative references to radical Islamic terrorism. One showed Muhammad with a bomb in his turban; another had Muhammad wielding a sword in front of two, wide-eyed Muslim women covered in black abayas; another featured a cartoonist hunched over his desk, sweating in fear, as he drew Muhammad in suicide bomb-like apparel.

The newspaper was making a vivid editorial point about European artists’ fear of retaliation for drawing any pictures of Muhammad at all. (Remember: It’s been a little over a year since Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered by an Islamist gunman over his movie criticizing violence against women in Islamic societies.) A Danish author had reported last fall that he couldn’t find an illustrator for a book about Muhammad; the Jyllands-Posten editors rose to the challenge by calling on artists to send in their submissions and publishing the 12 entries they received in response.

The reaction to the cartoons has resoundingly confirmed the fears those artists expressed about radical Islamic intolerance and violence. In fact, the Jyllands-Posten reported, two of the illustrators received death threats and went into hiding. The Pakistani Jamaaat-e-Islami party placed a 5,000-kroner bounty on the cartoonists’ heads. A terrorist outfit called the “Glory Brigades” has threatened suicide bombings in Denmark over the artwork.

Despite how relatively tame the pictures actually are (compared not only to Western standards, but also to the vicious, anti-Semitic propaganda regularly churned out by Arab cartoonists), the drawings have literally inflamed the radical Muslim world and its apologists. Eleven Muslim ambassadors to Copenhagen immediately protested to Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen demanding retractions from the newspaper. The ambassador of Turkey urged Rasmussen to call the Jyllands-Posten to account for “abusing Islam in the name of democracy, human rights and freedom of expression.”

Rasmussen, in a rare show of European spine, steadfastly refused to appease the howlers. As a result, anti-Denmark sentiment has simmered over the last four months, and it boiled over this past week. In Gaza City, masked Palestinian gunmen representing the so-called Religion of Peace raided a European Union office to protest the cartoons. Muslims burned Danish flags and banners depicting Rasmussen (American and Norwegian flags, as well as portraits of President Bush, were thrown into the fire for good measure). A Danish company, Arla Foods, reports that two of its employees in Saudi Arabia were beaten by angry customers. Danish aid workers are evacuating Gaza in fear for their lives.

The country now faces an international boycott from Muslim nations whose fist-clenched protesters led chants this week of “War on Denmark, Death to Denmark” while firing bullets in the air.

Soft-on-terror mouthpieces are blaming the messenger for the conflagration. Former appeaser-in-chief Bill Clinton condemned the cartoons as “appalling” and “totally outrageous.” Where was Clinton’s condemnation of the gun-wielding, death-threat-issuing, flag-burning bullies of Islam who have targeted Denmark for jihad?

On the Internet, supporters of free speech have launched a “Buy Danish” campaign in solidarity with the nation under siege. But this isn’t just about Denmark. American-based Muslim activists are on an angry campaign to stifle the speech of talk-show hosts (most recently, KFI morning host Bill Handel in Los Angeles) who offend their sensibilities. And on Tuesday afternoon in advance of the State of the Union address, the Council on American-Islamic Relations issued an ultimatum warning President Bush to “avoid the use of hot-button terms such as ‘Islamo-fascism, ’ ‘militant jihadism,’ ‘Islamic radicalism’ or ‘totalitarian Islamic empire’” in his speech – in other words, advising Bush not to identify our enemies for the sake of tolerance and diversity.

First, they came for the cartoonists. Then, they came for the filmmakers and talk-show hosts and namers of evil. Next, who knows?


All notes and summaries copyright © Tom Gross. All rights reserved.