Tom Gross Mideast Media Analysis

David Irving says from prison: “The Jews will see a second Holocaust in 20 to 30 years”

February 27, 2006

* David Irving, in first interview since his guilty verdict: “Part of the human condition to dislike Jews”
* Irving’s 12-year-old daughter, in a show of defiance towards her father, now carries a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary

 

CONTENTS

1. “A political prisoner”
2. Irving “is no impartial seeker after knowledge”
3. “Truth will triumph, provided that its friends are vigilant and relentless”
4. “I am a soldier. I march towards the sound of gunfire”
5. Holocaust denial is a crime in several countries
6. Irving’s daughters, and Anne Frank’s Diary
7. “David Irving – A suitable case for treatment” (By Dominic Lawson, Independent, Feb. 24, 2006)
8. “From his cell, just two days after he recanted his views on the Holocaust, David Irving reverts to extremism” (Independent on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2006)
9. “The jailing of David Irving” (By Melanie Phillips, incorporating the views of Daniel Finkelstein, David Cesarani and David Conway, Feb. 24, 2006)
10. “Less Freedom, Less Speech” (By George F. Will, Washington Post, Feb. 26, 2006)
11. “Making of a monster” (Daily Mail, April 22, 2000)



[Note by Tom Gross]

“A POLITICAL PRISONER”

David Irving, the British “historian” sentenced to three years in prison by an Austrian court last week for Holocaust denial, has said he now regards himself as a “political prisoner.”

He gave his first interview since his sentence to a British newspaper yesterday. Unshaven, wearing a prison-issue blue shirt, shabby trousers and a pair of old trainers (sneakers), and now half-admitting that some sort of Holocaust did occur, he told the Independent on Sunday that “the Jews” “would see a second Holocaust ‘in 20 to 30 years.’”

He added that “it was part of the human condition to dislike Jews.” Following these and other comments, Austrian prosecutors are demanding an increase in his jail sentence, and the Austrian supreme court must now decide whether he goes down for the full 10 years. (The full interview is attached below.)

IRVING “IS NO IMPARTIAL SEEKER AFTER KNOWLEDGE”

Some commentators have welcomed the decision last week by the Austrian court. Melanie Phillips writes that “Irving’s statements are not a simple matter of gross historical error. They are not even merely an expression of prejudice. They are an active incitement to hatred of the Jews… The concept of ‘Holocaust denial’ is unfortunate, because in itself it muddles the issue and lends itself to the argument that freedom of speech is threatened. It would be far better to prosecute the Irvings of this world under the much clearer laws against incitement to racial hatred and incitement to violence.”

Phillips cites David Cesarani, who writes in The Guardian that Irving “is no impartial seeker after knowledge. He writes what amounts to propaganda for the neo-Nazi cause. This cannot even be defended as slanted history with a claim on our indulgence. It is an incitement to hatred. Holocaust denial is a particularly vicious form of anti-Semitism.”

“TRUTH WILL TRIUMPH, PROVIDED THAT ITS FRIENDS ARE VIGILANT AND RELENTLESS”

Other commentators have criticized the Austrian court’s decision. Daniel Finkelstein, the comment editor of the Times of London, writes that “it is always tempting to fear the liar and believe, as Mark Twain did that ‘A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on’. But I have more faith than that. I believe that by allowing free exchange, by allowing anyone to assert anything, the truth will triumph, provided that its friends are vigilant and relentless.”

The conservative commentator George F. Will, writing in the Washington Post, contends that “Holocaust denial is the occupation of cynics and lunatics who are always with us but are no reason for getting governments into the dangerous business of outlawing certain arguments. Laws criminalizing Holocaust denial open a moral pork barrel for politicians: Many groups can be pandered to with speech restrictions. Why not a law regulating speech about slavery? Or Stalin’s crimes?”

Both Phillips and Will mention the upcoming Holocaust revisionist conference to be held in Tehran. For more on this, please see Iran planning to host international Holocaust (denial) conference.

“I AM A SOLDIER. I MARCH TOWARDS THE SOUND OF GUNFIRE”

Dominic Lawson, in an article titled “David Irving – a suitable case for treatment” questions why Irving went to Austria. Lawson, the former editor-in-chief of the (London) Sunday Telegraph and of the Spectator, points out that “Irving knew very well that there was an arrest warrant still out for him in Austria. Indeed, his wife and friends warned him not to go. He replied, characteristically ‘I am a soldier. I march towards the sound of gunfire.’ Well, those who do that occasionally get hit by a bullet.”

Lawson argues that “I certainly don’t think that anyone should be imprisoned in this country [Britain] for something he said seventeen years ago – no matter how offensive,” but praises the Law against Neo-Nazi activity in Austria because “the laws of every country limit freedom of speech in ways which reflects that country’s history.”

To support this argument Lawson cites the successful EU policies against Jorg Haider which although they were “undemocratic and grossly improper… shocked the Austrian political class to its core – which may be one reason why the Law against Neo-Nazi activity has not been revoked.”

HOLOCAUST DENIAL IS A CRIME IN SEVERAL COUNTRIES

I would agree with Dominic Lawson on these points and also remind readers of Austria’s past. This includes the fact that most leading Nazi war criminals, including Hitler, were Austrian, and that Austria never went through the deNazification process that Germany did. With residual Nazi sympathies still at large in Austria it is all the more important to clamp down on those who would whip them up, as Irving intended to do as he re-entered Austria last year to speak to a neo-Nazi audience and was arrested while en route to the engagement.

That is why Holocaust denial is a crime in Belgium, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland – i.e. countries where residual Nazi stirrings still exist – but not in countries such as the US and UK.

IRVING’S DAUGHTERS, AND ANNE FRANK’S DIARY

David Irving has four daughters (The fifth, his eldest, committed suicide in 1999.)

As a teenager I was quite friendly with Irving’s daughter, Paloma, from his first marriage to a Spanish woman, Pilar. Paloma, who is a good deal more attractive than her father is, attended the French Lycee in London. When with her one day, I had the misfortune to meet Irving at his plush residence in London’s Mayfair district.

Even at the time Paloma (who was then 17) hated her father and after he left said he was “like Hitler.”

To this day, Paloma and her sisters Pilar and Beatrice have said they regard their father’s views as loathsome.

Irving’s youngest daughter from his second marriage, Jessica, 12, now carries a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary in a show of defiance towards her father.

***

I attach various articles below. Please note that the final article, from the Daily Mail, is from 2000, and was published following Irving’s defeat in the libel case he brought against Deborah Lipstadt and her publisher, Penguin books.

Dominic Lawson, Melanie Phillips, George F. Will, Daniel Finkelstein and David Cesarani are all subscribers to this email list.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

DAVID IRVING – A SUITABLE CASE FOR TREATMENT

David Irving – A suitable case for treatment
By Dominic Lawson
The Independent
February 24, 2006

“All the scum of humanity stand outside. The homosexuals, the gypsies, the lesbians, the Jews, the criminals, the Communists…” If a team of undergraduates were asked on University Challenge to identify the author of that remark, I suspect a bright young history student would immediately press the buzzer and tell Jeremy Paxman: “Adolf Hitler.” In fact I am quoting the words of a man who himself is widely described as an historian. They come from a video entitled “David Irving: Ich komme wieder.”

For the record, what David Irving was describing was the crowd who demonstrated outside his Belgravia apartment when he was contracted by the Sunday Times to assist the newspaper with their serialisation of the Goebbels Diaries. Given that Irving had some years earlier been one of the “experts” who said that that newspaper’s “Hitler Diaries” were the genuine article, it was perhaps surprising that the Sunday Times should have employed him. But it was not until Irving’s unsuccessful attempt in 2000 to sue the writer Deborah Lipstadt for calling him an anti-Semite and Holocaust denier, that he was comprehensively exposed as a man whose exhaustive research into the events of the Second World War were motivated not by a disinterested search for the historical truth, but by a burning desire to justify Hitler and his philosophy.

It is well worth reading Lord Justice Gray’s 333 page judgement in Irving vs Lipstadt for a full flavour of Irving’s “historical method”, but here’s just one example from the judgement of how Irving attempts to persuade the readers of “Hitler’s War” that the Fuhrer did not plan or desire the slaughter of the Jewish populations of Europe: In Hitler’s Table Talk of 25th January 1942, the Nazi leader says to his dining companions “The Jew has to get out of Europe; if he collapses in the course of it, I can’t help there. I can see only one thing: absolute extermination if they don’t go of their own accord.” Irving quotes the first sentence – but not the second one. It’s almost disappointing, really: this is the sort of childish trick that would get an undergraduate history essay gamma beta – at best.

The court in Vienna last week was not, of course, passing judgement on Irving the historian. Irving was on trial for what he said in speeches in 1989 to his Austrian fan club. The Times reported from one of the gatherings that Irving told his admirers the testimonies of so-called Holocaust survivors were worthless since they were “psychiatric cases” and that of the six million European Jews who disappeared 74,000 died of natural causes in work camps and the rest were hidden in reception camps; from there they were “transferred to Palestine” where they took on assumed identities.

A number of commentators, including Deborah Lipstadt, have questioned the wisdom of sentencing Irving to three years’ imprisonment for something that he said 17 years ago. I certainly don’t think that anyone should be imprisoned in this country for something he said seventeen years ago – no matter how offensive. But Irving knew very well that there was an arrest warrant still out for him in Austria. Indeed, his wife and friends warned him not to go. He replied, characteristically “I am a soldier. I march towards the sound of gunfire.” Well, those who do that occasionally get hit by a bullet.

Rightly or wrongly, the laws of every country limit freedom of speech in ways which reflects that country’s history. In Britain for example – where there is a substantial black and Asian population – there are laws which can be used to jail people for expressing views which might incite racial hatred. They were recently invoked to prosecute Nick Griffin, the leader of the British National Party. The politicians and courts of Austria have slightly different concerns. Although there are only about 7,000 Jews left in the country, its experiences in the Second World War still lie heavily on the national consciousness. The Allies treated the defeated Austria as a victim of Nazism, rather than a collaborating nation, despite the enthusiasm displayed by its people for the extirpation of the Jews. So there was no de-Nazification of the sort imposed by the Allies in post war Germany. The Austrians had to do it for themselves. Hence in 1947 they brought in the Law against Neo- Nazi activity which prohibits any form of neo-nazism or anti-semitism, including – this may interest you, Mr Blair – the “glorification of National Socialist Ideology”. This is the law which has snared David Irving. Despite Irving’s claim to the Vienna court that he is no longer a Holocaust denier, his website – which of course can be accessed in Austria – shows that he is still up to his sly old tricks. This is from an entry in May 2005: “We have no idea who the mountains of shoes at the Auschwitz tourist centre come from, forensically speaking. We do know that footwear was routinely removed from the bodies of German air raid victims, including thirty tons of clothing from those killed in the Dresden air raids alone and turned over to recycling agencies.”

The bombing of Dresden is Irving’s standard counter charge to those who accuse the Nazis of war crimes. And there is an appetite for this sort of thing in what used to be called “Greater Germany”. In February 2000 I flew out to Klagenfurt to conduct the only British newspaper interview with Jorg Haider, the Freedom party leader who had just had astounding success in the Austrian elections. In the past Haider had expressed support for the employment policies of the Third Reich and had claimed that Winston Churchill was a war criminal. When I asked him if he still had that opinion about Churchill he did not demur. Later that month Haider’s party became part of the Austrian governing coalition: the European Union responded by barring all Austrian politicians from its governing councils. Distasteful and creepy as I found Haider – and he threatened to sue me for the article I wrote about him – I thought the EU’s reaction was undemocratic and grossly improper. Nevertheless it shocked the Austrian political class to its core – which may be one reason why the Law against Neo-Nazi activity has not been revoked.

One mystery remains. Why did David Irving, an intelligent man in many ways, become such a Germanophile anti-Semite in the first place? He comes from a Service family – his father fought against Germany in both world wars and his elder brother reached the rank of Wing Commander in the RAF. In 1956 young David Irving presented himself at the RAF recruiting office in Holborn. But despite getting, he claims, “the highest result in their IQ test that they had ever recorded” a bitterly disappointed Irving was rejected as “medically unfit for military service.” It was, of course, the RAF which bombed Dresden. Perhaps Irving’s whole career is a form of revenge.

 

LATEST STATEMENTS COULD SEE IRVING BACK IN COURT

From his cell, just two days after he recanted his views on the Holocaust, David Irving reverts to extremism
As he starts a three-year sentence in Austria, the historian continues to voice his controversial views
By Bojan Pancevski and Steve Bloomfield
The Independent on Sunday
February 26, 2006

news.independent.co.uk/europe/article347808.ece

Far-right author David Irving’s repudiation of his views on the Holocaust and Hitler’s role in it has not lasted very long. In a prison interview just days after he told an Austrian court he had been wrong to deny the Holocaust, he reverted to insisting that the slaughter in Nazi death camps was exaggerated, and that Jews “bear blame for what happened”.

His latest statements, made just two days after he was convicted of Holocaust denial, could see him end up back in court. Prosecutors are demanding an increase in his jail sentence, and the Austrian supreme court must now decide whether he goes down for the full 10 years.

Speaking through a telephone behind a thick glass panel in a visitors’ room at the Josefstadt prison in central Vienna, Irving, who is appealing against his three-year prison sentence, appeared unrepentant and referred to himself as a political prisoner. As he entered the visitors’ room, unshaven and wearing a prison-issue blue shirt, shabby trousers and a pair of old trainers, he was escorted by a burly, uniformed prison warden.

But he appeared in high spirits and denied he was having personal difficulties, insisting that his Danish partner, Bente Hogh, could not visit him because she was sick. A series of interviews she has given to the British press in recent days appear to belie this.

A shortage of money now means Ms Hogh and the couple’s 12-year-old daughter Jessica face eviction from their expensive London flat. She told the Daily Mail that Jessica now carries a copy of Anne Frank’s Diary to make plain her disagreement with her father. “She hates his views. She is a lovely girl, bright and clever, and it is not her fault who her father is. It is easier for her when he is not around.”

The author was jailed on Monday for three years for denying the Holocaust during two lectures and in a newspaper interview in Austria nearly 17 years ago. But despite the conviction, the 67-year-old did not shy away from the subject. Irving complained that the Jews held far too much power and predicted their disproportionate control in the US would see a second Holocaust “in 20 to 30 years”.

Just days after he told the Viennese court “I’ve changed my views”, he said it was part of the human condition to dislike Jews and that they were at least in part to blame for the 3,000 years of hatred they had had to endure.

Irving is locked up for 23 hours a day and is taking medication for a heart condition. He gets one hour’s exercise a day – “in a yard half the size of my drawing room in Queen Anne’s Gate, walking around with 70 other men who are robbers, rapists, swindlers, murderers and cocaine dealers”.

Meanwhile, in Wiltshire, his elder brother, John, campaigns against exactly the sort of prejudice that Irving displays. John Irving, 75, is chairman of Wiltshire Racial Equality Council and a devout Muslim. Living on a pig farm in Trowbridge, Wiltshire, John Irving is also, probably, Britain’s only Muslim pig farmer. He converted to Islam in 1981 while commanding troops for the Sultan of Oman and now attends Trowbridge’s mosque on a regular basis.

When asked about his brother, John refers to Genesis, chapter four, verse nine: “Then the Lord said to Cain, ‘Where is Abel, your brother?’ And he said, “I do not know. Am I my brother’s keeper?’ I value family harmony,” he said. “He is my brother and that is all there is to say about it. My primary concerns are for racial harmony in Wiltshire.” The two do still talk.

 

IRVING’S STATEMENTS… “ARE AN ACTIVE INCITEMENT TO HATRED OF THE JEWS”

The jailing of David Irving
By Melanie Phillips
February 24, 2006

www.melaniephillips.com/diary/archives/001602.html

Two excellent articles have neatly illustrated the profound confusion which has characterised the reaction to the jailing of the anti-Jewish rabble-rouser David Irving. His conviction and imprisonment in Austria for the crime of Holocaust denial has provoked the general response that, odious as his views are, he should have been allowed to express them so that they could be exposed and defeated in open debate, this being the democratic way. The issue is therefore principally one of freedom of speech. A fine example of this viewpoint was furnished by Danny Finkelstein, who wrote in the Times:

“It is difficult, even for me now, born in safety, free to bring up my sons as Jews, sitting at a desk typing my article in civilised Britain, it is difficult not to feel anger, rage at Irving. It is difficult not to wish him behind bars. And I do feel rage. But I do not wish him behind bars, not for giving his opinion, not for delivering a lecture, however warped and horrible his opinion is. I still believe in the power of truth. And my belief in truth is what separates me from Irving. The admirable author Deborah Lipstadt had it right when she destroyed Irving in the courts, challenging his methods as a historian, undermining his reputation, demonstrating his falsehoods and his distortions. It is always tempting to fear the liar and believe, as Mark Twain did that ‘A lie can make it half way around the world before the truth has time to put its boots on’. But I have more faith than that. I believe that by allowing free exchange, by allowing anyone to assert anything, the truth will triumph, provided that its friends are vigilant and relentless.”

A point of view which is in itself admirable. But in this case, it is surely misplaced. For the issue raised by the Irving case is not one of freedom of speech. It is incitement of racial hatred. In the Guardian on the same day, David Cesarani got to the heart of the matter:

“Irving has not gone to prison for defending truth. There is not the slightest resemblance between him and the courageous journalists in China, genuine martyrs for free speech, imprisoned for criticising a totalitarian regime. He is no impartial seeker after knowledge. He writes what amounts to propaganda for the neo-Nazi cause. This cannot even be defended as slanted history with a claim on our indulgence. It is an incitement to hatred. Holocaust denial is a particularly vicious form of anti-semitism. It is predicated on the absurd notion that after 1945 the Jews systematically fabricated evidence on the ground and in archives, and staged trials, to convince the world that millions of Jews had been murdered by the Nazis. Having forged this evidence, the Jews then ruthlessly squeezed the hapless Gentiles for every dollar and drop of sympathy they could. It reinforces the stereotype of Jews as powerful, merciless and conspiratorial.

“At a time when anti-semitism is on the rise, tolerating Holocaust denial is like allowing a man to shout fire in a crowded theatre.”

This is surely the point. Context is everything. Irving’s statements are not a simple matter of gross historical error. They are not even merely an expression of prejudice. They are an active incitement to hatred of the Jews. That’s why, as Cesarani also says:

“He went to Austria at the invitation of a far-right student group to peddle his lies and spread his neo-Nazi message. Under these circumstances, the Austrian authorities were not only right to act, they were almost under a compulsion to do so.”

And it is why Irving was also on his way to Iran to put his neo-Nazi lies at the service of Ahmadinejad’s genocidal intention to write the Holocaust out of history and thus pave the way for a second Shoah. On the Civitas website, David Conway puts it well:

“There is a perfectly bona fide liberal case for favouring the legal interdiction in Austria and Germany, and wherever else there is a genuine threat of resurgent Nazism, of the public expression of such opinions as those which Irving expressed and for which he has been imprisoned. It issues from no less an impeccably liberal source than John Stuart Mill and is to be found in his famous essay On Liberty which this week has been so much wrongly cited as warrant for supposing liberals must condemn the fate Irving has suffered at the hands of the Austrian authorities.

“In the first paragraph of the third chapter of that essay that immediately follows the famous one in which Mill defends freedom of thought and expression, Mill adds a caveat to his general commendation of such freedom. He observes: ‘even opinions lose their immunity, when the circumstances in which they are expressed are such as to constitute their expression a positive instigation to some mischievous act. An opinion that corn-dealers are starvers of the poor, or that private property is robbery, ought to be unmolested when simply circulated through the press, but may justly incur punishment when delivered orally to an excited mob assembled before the house of a corn-dealer, or when handed out among the same mob in the form of a placard. Acts, of whatever kind, which, without justifiable cause, do harm to others, may be, and in the more important cases absolutely require to be, controlled, ...when needful, by the active interference of mankind.’

“... To illustrate what danger Irving posed, consider a speech he made in March 1990 in the East German town of Halle before an audience of neo-Nazis. The account comes from a book about Irving’s unsuccessful libel suit in 2000 against Penguin Books and Deborah Lipstadt for having published a book she wrote accusing him of having wilfully and maliciously distorted facts of history of which he was fully aware so as cast doubt on the Holocaust having happened. A video of the speech was presented in evidence by the defendants:

“‘A trench-coat clad Irving is shown addressing a crowd of young skinheads... As the ranks of skinheads march in front of him stamping their Doc Martens and waving the red and black Reichskriegsflagge – Reich battle flag emblem of German irredentism since the turn of the century, and a stand-in for the banned Nazi swastika,...in response to a burst of German rhetoric from Irving, they begin chanting: Sieg Heil! Seig Heil! Sieg Heil! ’ [D.D.Guttenplan, The Holocaust on Trial: History Justice and the David Irving Libel Case (London: Granta Books, 2001), p. 244]

“Again, consider a slogan that Irving coined and which he unveiled to the world in a press conference that he gave in West Berlin in October 1989 and which was subsequently used as the slogan of a conference in Munich in 1990 at which Irving spoke. The slogan runs: Wahrheit Macht Frei (The Truth Makes Free), and is a clear allusion to the slogan Arbeit Macht Frei (Work Makes Free) that festooned the gates of Auschwitz. Clearly, within the context of Holocaust denial what it seems to be suggesting is that, by denying the occurrence of the Holocaust in the manner in which Irving and his like are, legitimacy, and thereby, more importantly, legality, will once again be able to be conferred on the Nazis and their latter-day sympathisers.”

This is why the comparison that has been made with the Danish cartoon controversy is simply grotesque. It has been argued that, just as those cartoons should have been published, so too should Irving’s Holocaust denial; or conversely, from the Muslim perspective, that both should be banned. But the two things are totally different. The cartoons were a political protest against clerical fascism and intimidation. Irving’s utterances are the handmaiden of fascism and an attempt to incite racial hatred.

The key confusion is to view these issues, and others like them, through the prism of freedom of speech. The cartoons issue was not at root about freedom of speech. It was rather the latest salient of the global jihad against the west. That’s why the Danish cartoonists and editors should have been defended to the hilt, and why it was so disastrous that they were not. The academic boycott of Israeli universities by British academics was also wrongly fought on the basis that Israeli academic freedom of expression was being threatened. The real issue, however, was the abuse of free expression by the boycotters peddling lies and libels against Israel, whose effect was to whip up further hatred of Israel and aid those who wish to exterminate it.

The concept of ‘Holocaust denial’ is unfortunate, because in itself it muddles the issue and lends itself to the argument that freedom of speech is threatened. It would be far better to prosecute the Irvings of this world under the much clearer laws against incitement to racial hatred and incitement to violence. Unfortunately, such laws are rarely used in Britain because of the supine nature of the prosecuting authorities – but that is another story.

 

“WHY NOT A LAW REGULATING SPEECH ABOUT SLAVERY? OR STALIN’S CRIMES?”

Less Freedom, Less Speech
By George F. Will
The Washington Post
February 26, 2006

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/24/AR2006022401800.html

In some recess of David Irving’s reptile brain, he knows that his indefensible imprisonment is helping his side. His side consists of all the enemies of open societies.

Irving, born in England in 1938, was a prodigy of perversity, asking for a copy of “Mein Kampf” as a school prize. He grew up to be a “moderate fascist” – his description – historian who has made a career of arguing, in many books and incessant speeches, that although many Jews died of disease and hardship during World War II, nothing like the Holocaust – 6 million victims of industrialized murder – occurred.

Holocaust deniers, from crackpots to the president of Iran, argue that the “so-called” gas chambers were only for showers or fumigation; that Zyklon B gas was too weak to produce mass deaths; that it was too strong to be used – it would have killed those emptying the chambers; that Poles built the crematoria after the war as a macabre tourist attraction or by Jews to extort compensation; and that Germans concocted “evidence” of “genocide” to please their conquerors.

Holocaust denial, which is anti-Semitism tarted up with the trappings of historiography, is a crime in Australia, Belgium, Canada, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, New Zealand, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Switzerland. And in Austria, which criminalizes speech that “denies, grossly trivializes, approves or seeks to justify” Nazi atrocities.

In 1989, in two speeches in Austria, Irving said, among much else, that only 74,000 Jews died of natural causes in work camps and millions were spirited to Palestine after the war. An arrest warrant was issued. Last November Irving was arrested when he came to Austria to address some right-wing students. Last week, while Europe was lecturing Muslims about the virtue of tolerating free expression by Danish cartoonists, Irving was sentenced to three years in prison.

What folly. What dangers do the likes of Irving pose? Holocaust denial is the occupation of cynics and lunatics who are always with us but are no reason for getting governments into the dangerous business of outlawing certain arguments. Laws criminalizing Holocaust denial open a moral pork barrel for politicians: Many groups can be pandered to with speech restrictions. Why not a law regulating speech about slavery? Or Stalin’s crimes?

Some defenders of the prosecution of Irving say that Europe – and especially Austria, Hitler’s birthplace – rightly has, from recent history, an acute fear of totalitarians. But that historical memory should cause Europe to recoil from government-enforced orthodoxy about anything.

American legislators, using the criminal law for moral exhibitionism, enact “hate crime” laws. Hate crimes are, in effect, thought crimes. Hate-crime laws mandate enhanced punishments for crimes committed as a result of, or at least when accompanied by, particular states of mind of which the government particularly disapproves. Governments that feel free to stigmatize, indeed criminalize, certain political thoughts and attitudes will move on to regulating what expresses such thoughts and attitudes – speech.

For several decades in America, the aim of much of the jurisprudential thought about the First Amendment’s free-speech provision has been to justify contracting its protections. Freedom of speech is increasingly “balanced” against “competing values.” As a result, it is whittled down, often by seemingly innocuous increments, to a minor constitutional afterthought.

On campuses, speech codes have abridged the right of free expression to protect the right – for such it has become – of certain preferred groups to not be offended. The NCAA is truncating the right of some schools to express their identity using mascots deemed “insensitive” to the feelings of this or that grievance group. Campaign finance laws ration the amount and control the timing and content of political speech. The right to free political speech is now “balanced” against society’s interest in leveling the political playing field, or elevating the tone of civic discourse, or enabling politicians to spend less time soliciting contributions, or allowing candidates to control the content of their campaigns, or dispelling the “appearance” of corruption, etc.

To protect the fragile flower of womanhood, a judge has ruled that use of gender-based terms such as “foreman” or “draftsman” could create a “hostile environment” and hence constitute sexual harassment. To improve all of us, people with various agendas are itching to get government to regulate speech of this or that sort.

Even open societies have would-be mullahs. But the more serious threats to freedom are mullahs who control societies: Irving, expecting a suspended sentence, had planned to travel to Tehran to participate in a conference, organized by Iran’s government, to promote Holocaust denial.

 

MAKING OF A MONSTER

Making of a monster
By Mary Riddell
Daily Mail (London)
April 22, 2000

“Making of a monster; He taunts his lover with Hitler jibes and is ‘improper’ with his six-year-old child. Here David Irving, deserted by his first wife and three daughters, talks of the family destroyed by his beliefs,” by Mary Riddell

THESE, one imagines, must be fraught times for David Irving. ‘Do I sound fraught?’ he booms crossly, as if a GBP 2.5 million legal bill, the prospect of financial ruin and a shredded reputation are mere pinpricks to man of such elephantine resilience.

Ten days have passed since he listened as a High Court judge branded him a racist and an anti-Semite who falsified history to try to disprove the existence of Nazi gas chambers and exculpate Hitler from involvement in the mass murder of six million Jews.

Irving’s libel action against a fellow historian, Deborah Lipstadt, culminated in disgrace for him, as his record as a pro-Nazi polemicist unravelled in the judge’s summary.

Naturally Irving, a master of denial, wishes to exploit defeat for his own end – though the word hubris springs easily to mind. ‘Now I’m one of the best-known historians in the world,’ he boasts.

Notoriety apart, both the professional and the personal history of David Irving offer grim chronicles. The first has been charted in a court of law; the second only patchily addressed.

Irving is now 62 and a veteran of family bitterness and heartbreak.

His first marriage ended in acrimonious divorce, and the eldest of four daughters from that relationship, Josephine, died last year when she, a schizophrenic, flung herself from the window of her London flat. The other three are said to deplore his views.

Estranged from his twin brother, Nicholas – of whom he speaks in the coldest terms – Irving now lives with Bente Hogh, his Danish partner, and their six-year-old daughter, Jessica.

If there were an oasis in the life of David Irving, this relationship, with a beautiful woman of 37, would be the tranquil centre. Instead, it is impossible to venture into his study in London’s Mayfair without absorbing the querulous taint of domestic disharmony.

Several times, Bente drifts through the door, fragile, charming and almost piteously eager to dissociate herself from our conversation. ‘I am a very private person. I am totally different to David, and I do not share his views,’ she says quietly.

‘Also, David has a very funny relationship with the truth.’

Irving plants beefy forearms on his desk and stares at her. ‘You do not share my views? She’s more extreme than me. She marches up and down. Adolf Hitler’s birthday is a great day for her.’

‘Ha, ha, I am only joking,’ he roars as she slips away, her eyes heavy with weariness – or contempt.

Down the years, Irving has described women as ‘mental chewing gum,’ 10pc less intelligent than men and useful only for procreation and child-rearing.

In court, much was made both of a racist ditty beginning ‘I am a baby Aryan,’ which he sang to the infant Jessica.

He is eager to laugh off his more repellent sayings as a slap against political correctness. It seems harder to explain why he should taunt a partner who, according to the website promoting his cause, ‘has been fighting her own battle for a year.’ ‘She is very ill,’ he says, when Bente has left the room. ‘She won’t talk about it. She won’t want me to talk about it.

Throughout the trial, she was in bed all day in a darkened room.

‘She was there when I left and there when I came home at 5pm. It would not be right for me to add any more,’ he says in a rare display of delicacy.

One wonders what influences made him what he is. ‘You mean where did it all go wrong? I had a very happy childhood. No one can take that away from me.’

In fact, his early life was fractured after his father, John, a Royal Navy officer who fought in the Battle of Jut-land, left Irving’s artist mother, Beryl, to bring up her four children alone.

‘I didn’t miss having a father. He’d probably have beaten me to a pulp, and I’d have grown up an ordinary person. Being brought up as the wayward youngest child of a family with only a mother must have had an effect.’ The depth of that effect only emerges much later, when he tells me idly of a horror story about lone parents that he has invented for Jessica: ‘I’m trying to instil in her a terror of single-parent families. Highly improper. But if you can’t be improper with your own children, who can you be improper with?’

At Brentwood Grammar, Irving was a difficult pupil who chose Hitler’s Mein Kampf as a school prize to attract notice.

At university, he dabbled in two degree courses and finally went to Germany to work in a steel factory in the Ruhr; the seedbed for his obsessive interest in the Third Reich.

But the hallmark of his early years seems to have been an inability to forge close family bonds; seemingly with his mother and certainly with his father, who became an author later in life and whom he got to know after years of estrangement only when he brought him, by then an old man, to London to finish a military history.

‘I tortured him to do it, made him write every morning. A few months later he started dying of cancer,’ he says, describing a reunion that sounds less like reconciliation than retribution.

Irving claims to stay in touch with his sister, Jennifer, and elder brother John, a Wiltshire county councillor.

But for his twin Nicholas there is only scorn: ‘The story that he changed his name by deed poll to dissociate himself from me is not true. He changed it to Newington-Irving because is a snob.

‘I got a horrible letter from my sister asking how I could say that Nicky was boring and balding. But he is quiet, reserved, boring and a pipe-smoker: the kind of person on whom this country depends,’ he says dismissively.

The last time the twins met was last September, at Josephine’s funeral.

She was the first child of his marriage in 1959 to his Spanish wife, Pilar, and a normal girl until she developed schizophrenia in her late teens.

‘It happened in the A-level period,’ he says. ‘She said she could not do that day’s paper because the Devil was sitting in the front row. Finally, there was the knowledge that it was incurable; a permanent burnout in the brain.’ Josephine married and had a son but remained incapable of a normal life.

Four years ago, a terrible accident left her with both legs amputated and paralysed from the waist down.

‘Then, in 1999, my sister phoned to say Josie had thrown herself from her window. The hospital asked if I wanted them to describe her injuries. I said no.

‘The rest of my family saw her body. I refused. I had such fond memories. She had come to see me two weeks before, full of plans. She and her husband had just bought a secondhand car for GBP 1,000 and wanted me to pay for the insurance.

‘That day, I had a premonition I might not see her again. I asked someone to take a picture of us on the pavement outside, because she couldn’t get her wheelchair into the lift. Then suddenly I was arranging the funeral of my own child.’ Irving talks about Josephine with such unusual warmth that it is only afterwards that one wonders about the oddness of the tableau he paints: of a disabled daughter lingering in the street because there was no way of transporting her to her father’s first-floor flat.

When his libel case first began, Irving offered to settle if his opponents paid GBP 500 to a ‘charity for the limbless.’ Was there not something strange about dragging Josephine’s memory into his battles?

‘I don’t think that’s a valid allegation,’ he says evenly. He is eager to deny that his other daughters, Paloma, Pilar and Beatrice – all in their early 30s – have publicly labelled his views loathsome.

Whatever his relationship with them, his divorce from their mother, 20 years ago, seems to have been the lowest point in his life.

‘The whole family just rotted apart. You hurt for a long time afterwards. I’ve never seen Pilar’s house in Paddington, though I paid for it, but I still wear my wedding ring. Bente doesn’t like it.’ And has he offered to marry Bente? ‘I’ve said for two or three years that she ought to have the bit of paper. The first time I suggested it, she freaked out and vanished for a month. Danes are not into that kind of thing.

‘She doesn’t realise there would be all sorts of advantages and privileges. Also, I don’t like having a daughter who can be regarded as illegitimate. That is very wrong.’

Irving first met Bente when she, a dentist’s daughter who had worked as an au pair, rented his flat while he was abroad. A friend had already appraised Irving, who has a quite undisguised interest in women, of the ‘gorgeous blonde’ in residence.

So he returned to find her ‘like Goldilocks in his bed.’

Her two companions, of whom one was ‘frightfully nice, although she wore blue underwear, which I do not like,’ eventually left, and Bente was pregnant with Jessica soon after.

At times, Irving displays a clumsy fondness for a partner he calls ‘the beautiful Bente bird.’ Her feelings are harder to gauge. ‘You are on Planet Vanity,’ she taunts him as she passes through. ‘She was my concubine,’ he says as she departs.

If this dialogue was only a stageshow for a visitor, it might seem a minor matter. But there is something in Bente’s drawn face that suggests a deep unease.

Irving, meanwhile, is glorying in his notoriety. He will, he hopes, get leave to appeal against his libel verdict, and he is about to publish the second part of his biography of Churchill and a reprinted edition of his book Hitler’s War.

And what does Bente think of his high public profile? ‘She hates it, hates it. There was a hatefest for days after the verdict. She told me: “How can I be seen out with you?” Does he think she will leave him?

‘No, I’m sure she won’t. Why should she? Where would she go? Of course, she lives in a state of terror for Jessica, because of the opponents we are up against.

‘Why do people stay together? Togetherness, inertia; all sorts of reasons. She is good-looking and the mother of my child. Jessica is the most important thing in my life.’ Though he is grizzled now, it is easy to see how the younger Irving, for all his gruesome opinions, might conceivably have seemed a mesmeric figure; handsome and possessed of a brilliant, if warped, intelligence. Clearly, in his view, this doubtful charm has not evaporated.

‘I like being interviewed by women,’ he says happily at the end, as we pause to stare at a vast portrait of Hitler propped in his hallway.

‘Besides, you are rather like Bente – just my type.’ And, even more preposterously: ‘You are wearing black stockings in my honour.’ If Irving were the powerful figure he deems himself to be, such comments might seem truly odious.

Instead the current verdicts on his record – a judge’s damning indictment, a lover’s withering stare – provoke a feeling closer to pity than to outrage.


Ilan Halimi: Tortured and killed in Paris because “the Jews have money”

February 23, 2006

CONTENTS

1. Ilan Halimi: Seduced to his murder
2. “Barbarian gang” convinced that “the Jews have money”
3. French media neglect to mention the victim was Jewish
4. The Observer also fails to mention the victim was Jewish
5. Center-right press more likely to report anti-Semitism
6. “I Killed my Jew, I will go to paradise”
7. Gang leader caught today
8. “The fact that Ilan was Jewish… caused his abductors to behave as Islamists”
9. 5,000 people demonstrate in Paris
10. Norway’s largest newspaper compares Israeli security barrier to Auschwitz
11. Anti-Semitic slogans painted on former concentration camp in Serbia
12. Iranian President blames “Zionists” for destruction of Samarra Shrine’s golden dome
13. “Jews claim police hid killers’ motive to appease ghetto” (The Times, Feb. 22, 2006)
14. “A young man was kidnapped and tortured to death” (Le Figaro, Feb. 15, 2006)
15. “Jewish anger at ‘racist’ murder by kidnap gang” (The Independent, Feb. 21, 2006)
16. “Torturers’ Iraq link” (The Observer, Feb. 19, 2006)



[Note by Tom Gross]

ILAN HALIMI: SEDUCED TO HIS MURDER

On January 21, 2006, Ilan Halimi, a 23-year old Jewish store clerk in Paris, was seduced into going out on a date by a good-looking young woman who walked into the cell (mobile) phone store where he worked.

The woman had been sent as bait in order to lure Halimi to a spot from where he could be kidnapped. She had been sent by a gang named “The Barbarians,” made up of childhood friends who grew up in Bagneux, a suburb south of Paris. The gang, which includes Muslim radicals, overpowered Halimi and took him to an apartment in Bagneux.

Over the next three weeks they contacted Halimi’s family and demanded a ransom of up to 500,000 Euros ($595,000). On Monday last week (February 13), Halimi was found tied naked to a tree, handcuffed and gagged, with severe burns and torture marks and cuts all over his body.

He died of his wounds as he was taken to hospital. The French judicial police leading the investigation said the gang “kept him naked and tied up for weeks. They cut him and in the end poured flammable liquid on him and set him alight. It was one of the cruelest killings I have ever seen.”

“BARBARIAN GANG” CONVINCED THAT “THE JEWS HAVE MONEY”

Rafi Halimi, Ilan’s uncle, told the media that “when we said we didn’t have 500,000 euros to give them they told us to go to the synagogue and get it.” “The gang phoned the family on several occasions and made them listen to the recitation of verses from the Koran, while Ilan’s tortured screams could be heard in the background.”

The police found literature linking the suspects to extremist Muslim causes and also discovered that the gang had already tried to kidnap four other Jews in recent weeks.

Yet, last week the Paris public prosecutor, Jean-Claude Marin, told French journalists that “no element of the current investigation could link this murder to an anti-Semitic declaration or action”.

Following an outcry late last week by French Jews, the police have now admitted that there was an anti-Semitic component to this torture and murder.

French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy told the French National Assembly that the “Barbarian gang” was after money because “they were convinced that ‘the Jews have money.’”

FRENCH MEDIA NEGLECT TO MENTION THE VICTIM WAS JEWISH

For days last week, when reports of the kidnapping and murder of Ilan Hariri were published in Le Figaro (see article below), Libération and Le Monde, there was no mention of the racist aspect of this crime. Only French Jewish media mentioned it.

Following protests, French newspapers have now said that this was an anti-Semitic crime. Yet reports highlight some of the prejudice within the French police. One officer is quoted by the French newspaper Libération as saying: “Ce qui fait agir, ce n’est pas une raison raciale ou religieuse. Dans leur tête, juif égale argent, explique ainsi un enquêteur.” (“What we’re dealing with doesn’t have any racist or [anti-Semitic] motive. It’s just that to their way of thinking, Jew equals money, explained one of the crime investigators.”)

It should be pointed out that Ilan Hariri was a shop assistant from a simple family who did not have money.

THE OBSERVER ALSO FAILS TO MENTION THE VICTIM WAS JEWISH

In London, The Observer, the Sunday affiliate newspaper of The Guardian, in its report on the kidnapping and murder also failed to mention that the victim was Jewish. (See article below.) It is very unlikely that The Guardian of The Observer would report on an almost certain racial attack on a black or Asian Muslim without mentioning that it was a racial attack, or who the perpetrators and victim were. This was undoubtedly clear to The Observer at the time of publication as illustrated by the fact that Ha’aretz, for example, had already published an article highlighting this.

The Observer article says that the gang was composed of “jobless youths” yet there is no mention of the fact that Ilan Halimi was also a “youth”. In fact he was younger than many of the gang. As a result it may appear to some readers of the Observer that the victim (a store clerk) was privileged and the criminals were not. (In fact one of the gang, it turns out, was in on-the-job training in the IT service of a French TV station.)

Also in London, The Independent (article attached below) claims that “most of the other victims, or intended victims, were not Jewish”. This is in contrast to virtually every other news report this week on the murder, and to the police’s findings. The Independent’s report also put the emphasis in its headline on “Jewish anger” rather than on the innocence of the victim.

But this is not surprising. Like the Guardian, The Independent (of which Robert Fisk is the chief Middle East correspondent) is supposedly a liberal and tolerant paper, but in fact has a long record of whipping up hatred against Israel.

Today, perhaps realizing they have gone too far in denying the seriousness of the increase in anti-Semitism, The Independent carries a comment piece by John Lichfield on the murder titled “This anti-Semitic attack is terrifying”. Lichfield comments on the “‘new’ anti-Semitism: the gut hatred of Jews, not on the far right, but among the deprived, multiracial youth of the banlieues, the poor suburbs which surround French cities.”

CENTER-RIGHT PRESS MORE LIKELY TO REPORT ANTI-SEMITISM

While so-called liberal newspapers like The Independent and The Guardian downplay anti-Semitism, the center-right Times (of London), which is owned by Rupert Murdoch, does not shy away from the glaring anti-Semitic nature of this murder in its news report, titled “Jews claim police hid killers’ motive to appease ghetto.” (Attached below.)

The Times notes: Radio Shalom, a station in Paris, said that Halimi had “been made to pay for the (Danish) cartoons of Muhammad and Abu Ghraib”, the prison where US forces tortured Iraqi captives.

The leading Spanish daily, El Pais, which in recent years has toyed with anti-Semitism and also equated Ariel Sharon and Hitler (see Middle Beast), did take seriously the fact that this was a racially-motivated murder.

A Madrid-based correspondent on this email list writes: “The murder of the Jewish boy which was the main story on the back page of El Pais yesterday. The story put the emphasis on the fact that it was a Jewish boy in all probability tortured and murdered on racial grounds by a group that has attempted to murder a number of people recently, the majority of whom were Jewish.”

For the past week, the American media have been almost silent on this story; an exception was The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday. And The New York Times finally reported today “French Officials Now Say Killing of Jew Was in Part a Hate Crime”.

“I KILLED MY JEW, I WILL GO TO PARADISE”

Writing in today’s Wall Street Journal from Paris, Nidra Poller, says: “One of the most troubling aspects of this affair is the probable involvement of relatives and neighbors, beyond the immediate circle of the gang, who were told about the Jewish hostage and dropped in to participate in the torture.”

She also writes: “The murder of Ilan Halimi invites comparison with the November 2003 killing of a Jewish disc jockey, Sébastien Selam. His Muslim neighbor, Adel, slit his throat, nearly decapitating him, and gouged out his eyes with a carving fork in his building’s underground parking garage. Adel came upstairs with bloodied hands and told his mother, ‘I killed my Jew, I will go to paradise.’”

“In the two years before his murder, the Selam family was repeatedly harassed for being Jewish. The murderer, who admits his guilt, was placed in a psychiatric hospital, and may be released soon. The initial response to the kidnapping of Ilan Halimi suggested a comparably selective ignorance.”

GANG LEADER CAUGHT TODAY

The Jerusalem Post reports that Youssef Fofana, the leader of the (supposedly impoverished) gang, was detained this morning in the Ivory Coast, to where he had fled. Fofana is expected to be extradited back to France within a week.

French police have now arrested most of the other gang members responsible for the murder of Ilan Halimi, including the woman who lured Halimi to his fate.

The method of using a good-looking woman to lure a kidnap victim closely mirrors the plot of a 1990s French film “L’Appat” (The Bait). According to the Libération newspaper, the gang was inspired by the film which had itself been inspired by a press report.

“THE FACT THAT ILAN WAS JEWISH… CAUSED HIS ABDUCTORS TO BEHAVE AS ISLAMISTS”

The French judge presiding over the case of the kidnapping and murder has said that “aggravated anti-Semitism is present in the case of the kidnapping, imprisonment and torturous murder of young Ilan Halimi.”

Claude Barouch, President of the French Jewish organization, UPJF, said that an atmosphere of demonization of Israel in the French media, and a lack of reaction by political leaders contributed to create a climate that led some to believe they can do what they want to Jews without facing any serious consequences. (For more on this, see J’accuse.)

Sami Gazlan, who is responsible for security in the Jewish community, said the gang’s behavior suggested that the motive behind the kidnapping was violence for its own sake, particularly against Jews. “Why didn’t they release him when the realized the family couldn’t pay ransom?” he asked.

Jack Rosen, chairman of the New York-based American Jewish Congress issued a statement saying “we are shocked that in the 21st century, this horrific torture and murder of a Jew because he is a Jew could take place in a Western democracy.”

One other intended victim of the gang, a 50-year-old Jewish man identified as Michael, told how he had been lured to an estate and knocked out with a blow to the head from a pistol butt. He had been saved after residents called police, but spent a week in hospital. According to unconfirmed reports in the Jewish community of Paris, at least one family has recently paid a ransom for the release of a kidnapped child.

5,000 PEOPLE DEMONSTRATE IN PARIS

This past Sunday approximately 5,000 people marched in Paris, from Republic Square to Nation Square, in memory of Ilan Halimi. This peaceful protest is in stark contrast with recent protests by others over cartoons. (For more on this, see Drawing a line under hypocrisy.)

Other Jewish-owned shops closed in the 11th Arondissement on Friday, as a gesture of sympathy for Halimi’s family, and according to press reports, as a “protest against rising anti-Semitism.”

France is home to Western Europe’s largest Jewish community. With rising anti-Semitism, stoked by anti-Israel hate in the French media, over 10,000 French Jews have moved to Israel since 2000. The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics reported on Wednesday that 27 percent more French Jews immigrated last year in comparison to 2004. Political analysts attributed the phenomenon to fears of rising anti-Semitism in France. Other French Jews have sought asylum in Canada, Flordia and New York.

NORWAY’S LARGEST NEWSPAPER COMPARES ISRAELI SECURITY BARRIER TO AUSCHWITZ

A correspondent in Norway writes: “Norway’s largest newspaper, VG, which has a higher circulation than Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, on Tuesday [two days ago] printed a photo showing the (Israeli) security barrier with the inscription ‘Arbeit macht frei,’ the same as on the gates to the Auschwitz extermination camp. At the same time VG have said they will not print the Danish Mohammed cartoons because this could ‘inflame the situation.’”

ANTI-SEMITIC SLOGANS PAINTED ON FORMER CONCENTRATION CAMP IN SERBIA

Several anti-Semitic inscriptions have been found on the walls of a WW2 concentration camp in Serbia. Among the slogans were “The Holocaust is a Jewish myth,” “Serbia for the Serbs” and “work brings freedom.” It is thought that this graffiti was aimed to coincide with the 64th anniversary of the massacre of 1100 Jews, Serbs and Roma (Gypsies) at the camp.

IRANIAN PRESIDENT BLAMES “ZIONISTS” FOR DESTRUCTION OF SAMARRA SHRINE’S GOLDEN DOME

Speaking to a crowd of thousands in southwestern Iran this morning, President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad said the blowing up of the Askariya mosque dome in Samarra in Iraq yesterday was the work of “Zionists.” The speech was also broadcast on state television.

Separately, the influential Sunni cleric Sheikh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, an Egyptian who lives in Qatar, and is a close ally of London mayor Ken Livingstone, said today of the attack yesterday: “No one benefits from such acts other than the lurking Zionist enemy. ” (For more on al-Qaradawi, see Portraying the prophet from Persian art to South Park.)

No group claimed responsibility for the attack, but suspicion fell on Sunni extremist groups such as al-Qaeda in Iraq.

I attach four articles below.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLES

ILAN HALIMI ABDUCTED “BECAUSE HE WAS JEWISH, AND JEWS ARE RICH”

Jews claim police hid killers’ motive to appease ghetto
By Charles Bremner
The Times (of London)
February 22, 2006

The torture and murder of a young Jewish man in Paris triggered outrage among Jewish leaders yesterday as the Government sought to prevent the affair from inflaming emotions in the Muslim-dominated housing estates of France.

Dominique de Villepin, the Prime Minister, and his ministers promised that justice would be done after the parents of Ilan Halimi, 23, who was held captive for three weeks on an immigrant estate, accused the police of playing down the anti-Semitic motives of his kidnappers.

Voicing the anger felt among the Jewish population, Radio Shalom, a station in Paris, said that M Halimi had “been made to pay for the (Danish) cartoons of Muhammad and Abu Ghraib”, the prison where US forces tortured Iraqi captives.

M Halimi, who worked in a telephone shop, died shortly after being found ten days ago naked and bound on a suburban roadside. Police denied any racial aspect in the kidnapping and ransom demands, but on Monday investigators added racial hatred to the kidnapping and murder charges that six men and a woman in police custody are facing.

The kidnappers are alleged to have referred to M Halimi’s Jewish background in their telephone and e-mail demands to the family for ransom, and one of the young torturers was reported by accomplices to have stubbed out a cigarette on M Halimi’s forehead while voicing his hatred for Jews.

The seven are alleged to be part of a loose gang of young estate-dwellers who had already made six unsuccessful kidnap attempts against residents of Paris. Nicolas Sarkozy, the Interior Minister, told Parliament yesterday that four out of the six were Jewish.

Two officers flew yesterday to Ivory Coast in pursuit of Yussef Fofana, 25, the alleged ring-leader who calls himself “Brain of the Barbarians”, who flew out of Paris after M Halimi was found. The gang had used women to entrap their victims by chatting them up and arranging dates with them.

One intended victim, a 50-year-old Jewish man identified as Michael, told how he had been lured to an estate and knocked out with a blow to the head from a pistol butt. He had been saved after residents called police, but spent a week in hospital. According to unconfirmed reports in the Jewish community of Paris, at least one family has recently paid a ransom for the release of a kidnapped child.

As M Sarkozy visited M Halimi’s parents yesterday, the Simon Wiesenthal Centre sent him a message saying: “These acts are a test for Europe. Jihadi violence, hatred and anti-Semitism must be prevented from taking root in French soil.”

Ruth Halimi said that her son might still be alive had the police not evaded the nature of his kidnapping as they were negotiating over ransom.

“We told the police that there had been at least three other attempted abductions of young Jews, but they persisted in considering the motives purely criminal because they are afraid of reviving a clash with the Muslims,” she said.

Police said that the gang appeared to have been driven by greed and the crude racial stereotypes that prevailed on the estates. Feuj, slang for Jew, is a common insult in the ghetto-like estates. The group had been influenced by television, particularly the Abu Ghraib torture pictures, officers said.

In Parliament, M Sarkozy played down the kidnapping as a religious or political act. “These thugs acted first of all out of sordid criminal motives in a search for money, but they were convinced that ‘Jews have money’,” he said.

M de Villepin was reported yesterday to have reprimanded Pascal Clément, the Justice Minister, for quoting one of the accused kidnappers as saying M Halimi had been abducted “because he was Jewish, and Jews are rich”. His discretion reflects official fear of stirring the anger that drove thousands of young men from Muslim-dominated estates to a frenzy of fire-bombing last autumn.

France has Europe’s biggest Muslim and biggest Jewish populations. The actions of the gang contrast with a big drop in reported anti-Semitic acts in France over the past year.

 

“ACTS OF TORTURE AND BARBARISM”

[TG adds: The article below avoids saying that the victim was Jewish.]

A young man was kidnapped and tortured to death
By Christophe Cornevin
Le Figaro
February 15, 2006

“Ilan, 23 years old, fell victim to an organized gang, enticed by a customer in a cell phone shop in Paris. Left for dead by his torturers, who had handcuffed and gagged him, he died on his way to the hospital.”

“The discovery Monday afternoon of the naked body of Ilan, 23 years-old, near the railroad tracks at Sainte-Geneviève-des-Bois (Essonne) is the tragic epilogue of a long police stake out. The victim had been tortured, 80% of his body was covered with bruises, deep cuts, and burns from an inflammable fluid. The young man, handcuffed and gagged, left for dead by his torturers, died on his way to the hospital.

“For three weeks the Parisian criminal brigade, with the help of a hundred detectives, had been tracking a mysterious organized gang of kidnappers who entice their victims with pretty young ladies. The investigation, which began when the young man was kidnapped on January 20, was conducted with utter discretion. For the officers of the Quai des Orfèvres, the macabre discovery marks a failure.

“On 17 January, a young woman in her twenties came into the cell phone shop on Boulevard Voltaire in the 11th arrondissement of Paris where Ilan worked as a salesman.

She engaged him in conversation and they exchanged cell phone numbers. They made a date for the evening of the 20th, near Sceaux (Hauts de Seine). That is the last time Ilan was heard from.

“In the following days the kidnappers contacted Ilan’s father, and a friend of Ilan by e-mail three times. They sent photos of the hostage, his mouth and eyes taped shut, holding a newspaper to certify the date.

“Police investigators worked through the Net and found the originating electronic addresses, but the messages had been sent from cybercafés in Paris and the banlieue. The cybercafés were placed under surveillance for weeks by the Anti-gang Brigade and the Repression of banditism Brigade... in vain. Technical searches traced back through different servers to electronic mailboxes in the Congo and Ivory Coast.

“We are lost in conjectures”

“On other occasions a mysterious correspondent with a North African or African accent phoned and sent text messages to Ilan’s father demanding a ransom. ‘But, ’ explained the public prosecutor Jean Claude Marin, ‘the kidnappers were totally inconsistent.’

“The ransom demand went from 430,000 euros to 100,000 euros. ‘They changed the pickup point at the last minute. They had us running around in circles,’ admits a policeman. ‘One day it was Place du Châtelet, the next day Brussels, then in some other country via Western Union. At first we thought they were toying with us like the blackmailers of the AZF terrorist group...’

“The ‘Crim’ discovered that the gang wasn’t on its first try. In mid-January, using the same method of enticement this time with a European type blond young woman, they had contacted another cell phone salesman in a shop on boulevard Voltaire. But he didn’t fall into the trap. Early in December in Créteil (Val de Marne) a brunette who said she was a singer approached a young man who was a record producer. There too they traded phone numbers. But the young man’s father was suspicious, so he went to the trysting place. He was surprised by three strangers who hit him, handcuffed him, and led him into an underground parking lot. But his assailants were scared away by witnesses.

“François Jaspart, chief of the Parisian PJ explained yesterday: “For now, we are trying to find out exactly how many people the gang has hit on, and we’ll try to find an eventual connection,” according to our information, the men who were accosted frequented a luxurious striptease joint in the 8th arrondissement [this is apparently a false information]. “We are lost in conjectures,” admitted Jean-Claude Marin, adding that the last contact with the hostage takers dated to last Thursday. A phone number for witnesses (01 45 44 31 82) has been set up since yesterday. The kidnappers, who are now being sought for ‘kidnapping, sequestration in organized gang, acts of torture and barbarism,’ risk life imprisonment.”

 

ILAN HALIMI A VICTIM OF “ISLAMO-FASCISM”

Jewish anger at ‘racist’ murder by kidnap gang
By John Lichfield
The Independent
February 21, 2006

news.independent.co.uk/europe/article346728.ece

Tempers are reaching boiling point in the French Jewish community after the torture and murder of a young Jewish man by a suburban gang calling itself “the barbarians”.

Police had said that the gang kidnapped Ilan Halimi, 23 using a beautiful, young, blonde woman as bait to extort money from his family. However, the victim’s family and many other Parisian Jews are convinced the crime was, at least partially, racially motivated.

Last night the Justice Minister, Pascal Clement, confirmed that investigators had alleged “aggravated circumstances of anti-Semitism”. He said that one suspect had indicated M. Halimi was selected “because he was Jewish and because a Jew was rich”. He added: “That is an aggravating circumstance, it means that the resonance is no longer the same.”

A Parisian member of parliament, Claude Goasguen, said yesterday the city could face “extremely serious intra-community violence” unless the authorities abandoned their “persistent silence on the real motives for this murder”.

At the weekend, a mainly peaceful protest march by Parisian Jews was marred by a number of violent actions by radical young Jewish men. A black man was beaten up, allegedly for “smiling” at the protest. An Arab-run grocery was attacked. A motorist who was caught up in the march was assaulted and had to be rescued by demonstration marshals.

Tracts were handed out by Jewish radical groups which claimed that Ilan Halimi, a mobile telephone salesman, was a victim of “Islamo-fascism”.

Fifteen people have been arrested in connection with M. Halimi’s abduction and death. Three were placed under formal investigation at the weekend, including Audrey Lorleach, 24, who is accused of picking up the young man at his shop and leading him into a trap.

Seven other alleged members of the gang were formally accused of kidnapping, murder and lesser crimes after appearing before an investigating magistrate yesterday afternoon.

The alleged ring-leader of the kidnap gang, Youssouf “Mohammed” Fafana, 25, who called himself (in English) the “brain of the barbarians” is still on the run. Police have branded him as “the most wanted man in France”.

M. Fafana is a convicted petty criminal of Côte d’Ivoirian origin. French investigators say that the gang has been involved in half a dozen other kidnappings and attempted kidnappings. Most of the other victims, or intended victims, were not Jewish. Officially, therefore, police insist that there is no reason to suspect that the torture and murder of M. Halimi were racially motivated.

The young man disappeared on 21 January after making a date to meet Mme Lorleach, whom he had met in his mobile telephone shop in Paris. His family said that they had received a series of ransom demands via e-mail, text message and telephone, demanding a ransom of ¤450,000 (£308,000), which they were unable to raise.

He was discovered last Monday, three weeks later, in the southern suburbs of Paris, naked, gagged and handcuffed. He died soon afterwards from multiple injuries and burns.

His family insists that he was the victim of an “anti-Semitic crime”. During telephone calls demanding money, they said, gang members read out verses of the Koran. Even if money were the original motive for the abduction, they said, they believe that M. Halimi was tortured and murdered because he was Jewish.

The fugitive, M. Fofana, and several other gang members, lived in a troubled housing estate at Bagneux, west of Paris. Although the self-proclaimed “brain of the barbarians” had served time in prison for petty crimes, neighbours said that they were astonished to hear that he was suspected of kidnap, torture and murder.

A local youth said: “This is a gang made up of jetsam and flotsam young people without an idea in their head, who probably didn’t realise the seriousness of what they were doing.” Another neighbour described him as “an ordinary young man jeans, trainers, hello, goodbye, that’s all.”

Some Jewish community leaders accuse the police of deliberately playing down the racial aspects of the crime to avoid inflaming religious and intra-community tensions.

The torture and murder of M. Halimi has commanded much attention in the Israeli media. One Israeli radio station said the murder proved that it was “no longer safe” for Jewish people to live in Paris. In fact, there was a steep fall in the number of anti-Semitic attacks in France last year after a peak in 2004.

The representative council of Jewish institutions in France, CRIF, has called for calm but has also appealed to investigators to reveal all they know on the “motives of the assassins”.

 

THE OBSERVER ALSO FAILS TO MENTION THE VICTIM WAS JEWISH

Torturers’ Iraq link
By Jason Burke
The Observer
February 19, 2006

observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,1712961,00.html

Criminals who tortured and killed a young hostage, keeping him naked and hooded and burning him repeatedly before throwing him from a train, were inspired by images from Iraq, according to a French prosecutor.

Jean-Claude Martin, a senior government lawyer, said that the kidnappers, who kept their victim imprisoned for three weeks, were ‘repeating things they had seen practised elsewhere’.

Police have distributed a picture of Youssef Fofana, 26, who is the presumed head of the gang. Last week, a young woman, suspected of acting as ‘the lure’ in the murder, gave herself up. Raids then resulted in the arrest of 15 other suspects, aged between 17 and 32, in a poor suburb of Bagneux, near Paris.

The 23-year-old victim is thought to have been starved and tortured while negotiations with his family for a ransom of up to €450,000 continued. According to a police source, the violence was ‘gratuitous, extreme, spontaneous and without any limits or boundaries’.

The gang was composed of jobless youths from the suburbs around Paris which erupted in violent riots last autumn. They are believed to have made several previous attempts at kidnapping. According to the Liberation newspaper, the gang was inspired by a film which had itself been inspired by a press report.


(1) Iranian fatwa approves use of nuclear weapons (2) Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO

February 22, 2006

CONTENTS

1. Senior Iranian mullah says it is “only natural” to have nuclear bombs
2. “The claim that to stop Iran’s program all of its nuclear sites must be destroyed is simply wrong”
3. “Iranian fatwa approves use of nuclear weapons” (Sunday Telegraph, Feb. 19, 2006)
4. “Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO” (Washington Post, Feb. 21, 2006)
5. “In a single night” (By Edward N. Luttwak, Wall Street Journal, Feb. 8, 2006)
6. “US prepares military blitz against Iran’s nuclear sites” (Sunday Telegraph, Feb. 12, 2006)



SENIOR IRANIAN MULLAH SAYS IT IS “ONLY NATURAL” TO HAVE NUCLEAR BOMBS

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is the third of three dispatches today on Iran.

The first article below reports that spiritual leaders in Iran have issued an unprecedented fatwa that sanctions the use of atomic weapons. Mohsen Gharavian, a senior mullah and a disciple of the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, who is regarded as the cleric closest to Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, has said that it is “only natural” to have nuclear bombs.

Gharavian declared “that the use of nuclear weapons may not constitute a problem, according to Sharia.” He added that “when the entire world is armed with nuclear weapons, it is permissible to use these weapons as a counter-measure. According to Sharia too, only the goal is important.”

It is also reported that strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for a “last resort” military blitz against Iran’s nuclear sites. It is thought that planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation to block Iranian efforts to develop an atomic bomb. (See the final article in this dispatch.)

“THE CLAIM THAT TO STOP IRAN’S PROGRAM ALL OF ITS NUCEAR SITES MUST BE DESTROYED IS SIMPLY WRONG”

Also attached in this dispatch are two opinion pieces which question the present thinking about combating Iran and its efforts to produce nuclear weapons. Ronald D. Asmus, writing in the Washington Post, argues that “the best way to provide Israel with that additional security is to upgrade its relationship with the collective defense arm of the West: NATO.” Asmus concludes by urging the United States to put “its weight behind the idea. The time has come to do so.”

(Asmus is executive director of the German Marshall Fund’s Transatlantic Center in Brussels, and served as deputy assistant secretary of state for European affairs from 1997 to 2000.)

Edward N. Luttwak, writing in The Wall Street Journal, attempts to dispel the claim that “a pre-emptive air attack against Iran’s nuclear installations is unfeasible.” Luttwak claims that “in fact the odds are rather good.”

Luttwak argues that “it is enough to demolish a few critical installations to delay its program for years” and then concludes that “the bombing of Iran’s nuclear installations may still be a bad idea for other reasons, but not because it would require a huge air offensive. On the contrary, it could all be done in a single night.”

(Luttwak is a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic & International Studies.)

I attach four articles, with summaries first for those that don’t have time to read them in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

IRANIAN FATWA APPROVES USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

“Iranian fatwa approves use of nuclear weapons” (By Colin Freeman and Philip Sherwell, The Sunday Telegraph, February 19, 2006)

Iran’s hard line spiritual leaders have issued an unprecedented new fatwa, or holy order, sanctioning the use of atomic weapons against its enemies… influential Muslim clerics have for the first time questioned the theocracy’s traditional stance that Sharia law forbade the use of nuclear weapons.

One senior mullah has now said it is “only natural” to have nuclear bombs… The pronouncement is particularly worrying because it has come from Mohsen Gharavian, a disciple of the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, who is widely regarded as the cleric closest to Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad… Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s group opposes virtually any kind of rapprochement with the West and is believed to have influenced President Ahmadinejad’s refusal to negotiate over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The comments, which are the first public statement by the Yazdi clerical cabal on the nuclear issue, will be seen as an attempt by the country’s religious hardliners to begin preparing a theological justification for the ownership – and if necessary the use – of atomic bombs… Ayatollah Yazdi has previously justified use of suicide bombers against “enemies of Islam”…

… The bus strike, which has led to the jailing of more than 1,000 drivers, was originally sparked by an industrial dispute over unpaid wages benefits. But the robustness of the state response has indicated the nervousness of the Ahmadinejad regime over any internal dissent. Reports from Iran say that Massoud Osanlou, the leader of the bus drivers’ union, was arrested at his home by members of the Basij, the pro-regime militia, and had part of his tongue cut out as a warning to be quiet…

 

CONTAIN IRAN: ADMIT ISRAEL TO NATO

“Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO” (By Ronald D. Asmus, The Washington Post, February 21, 2006)

The choice of how to respond to Iran’s growing threat to the West in general and Israel in particular is not an easy one. One option is to try to stop Iran’s nuclear program via an air and missile strike – but such a step is unlikely to work militarily and could have disastrous consequences. The other is to shift to a longer-term strategy of containment while working for peaceful regime change. While that might work over time, it is unlikely to stop Iran from going nuclear in the short term if it is determined to do so. While working to prevent Iran from going nuclear, the West must think now about what to do if we fail.

One important element has been missing from the debate: NATO. What can the alliance do to help address the growing likelihood that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons? Let us not forget that it is European capitals that would be within striking distance of Iranian nuclear arms. NATO would have to return to its classic mission of defending Europe by deterring a nuclear threat.

… But the country most threatened by a future Iranian nuclear capability is, of course, Israel. It would be a mistake to dismiss Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rantings about Israel as mere posturing or a bluff. One lesson from Sept. 11 is that we should not limit our strategic imagination or underestimate our enemies in the Middle East. When someone says he wants to wipe you off the map, he might just might mean it. If, then, the West decides that a military strike to deny Iran the nuclear option is too risky and instead opts for a policy of deterrence and long-term peaceful regime change, it must also take steps to ensure Israel’s protection for that interim period.

… The best way to provide Israel with that additional security is to upgrade its relationship with the collective defense arm of the West: NATO.

There are growing signs that Israel is interested in such a relationship with NATO … Talking with my Israeli interlocutors two years ago, I asked them how they envisioned the circumstances under which Israel might one day seek NATO membership. They laid out two scenarios. The first was one in which Israel was moving toward a final peace settlement with Palestinians and an upgraded relationship with NATO became a key element in a package to persuade the Israeli public to opt for peace. The second was a scenario in which Iran acquired nuclear weapons and posed a real and growing threat to Israel. Having lost its own extended deterrence, Israel would turn to the West and NATO to help guarantee its very real security needs.

… NATO has been reluctant to move too far too fast with Israel, preferring to wait for more progress in the peace process and wanting to move forward in cooperation with other Arab Mediterranean countries in parallel. But this is no longer the time for political correctness…

 

THE BOMBING OF IRAN’S NUCLEAR INSTALLATIONS “COULD ALL BE DONE IN A SINGLE NIGHT”

“In a Single Night” (By Edward N. Luttwak, Wall St Journal, February 8, 2006)

Many commentators argue that a pre-emptive air attack against Iran’s nuclear installations is unfeasible. It would not be swift or surgical, they say, because it would require thousands of strike and defense-suppression sorties. And it is likely to fail even then because some facilities might be too well hidden or too strongly protected. There may well be other, perfectly valid reasons to oppose an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. But let’s not pretend that such an attack has no chance of success. In fact, the odds are rather good…

But the claim that to stop Iran’s program all of its nuclear sites must be destroyed is simply wrong. An air attack is not a Las Vegas demolitions contract, where nothing must be left but well-flattened ground for the new casino to be built. Iran might need 100 buildings in good working order to make its bomb, but it is enough to demolish a few critical installations to delay its program for years – and perhaps longer because it would become harder or impossible for Iran to buy the materials it bought when its efforts were still secret. Some of these installations may be thickly protected against air attack, but it seems that their architecture has not kept up with the performance of the latest penetration bombs…

The bombing of Iran’s nuclear installations may still be a bad idea for other reasons, but not because it would require a huge air offensive. On the contrary, it could all be done in a single night. One may hope that Iran’s rulers will therefore accept a diplomatic solution rather than gamble all on wildly exaggerated calculations.

 

US PREPARES MILITARY BLITZ AGAINST IRAN’S NUCLEAR SITES AS A “LAST RESORT”

“US prepares military blitz against Iran’s nuclear sites” (By Philip Sherwell, The Sunday Telegraph, February 12, 2006)

Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran’s nuclear sites as a “last resort” to block Teheran’s efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic’s nuclear bomb ambitions. Teheran claims that it is developing only a civilian energy programme…

The most likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B2 bombers, each armed with up to 40,000lb of precision weapons, including the latest bunker-busting devices. They would fly from bases in Missouri with mid-air refuelling.

The White House says that it wants a diplomatic solution to the stand-off, but President George W Bush has refused to rule out military action and reaffirmed last weekend that Iran’s nuclear ambitions “will not be tolerated”…



FULL ARTICLES

IRANIAN FATWA APPROVES USE OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Iranian fatwa approves use of nuclear weapons
By Colin Freeman and Philip Sherwell
The Sunday Telegraph (U.K.)
February 19, 2006

Iran’s hard line spiritual leaders have issued an unprecedented new fatwa, or holy order, sanctioning the use of atomic weapons against its enemies.

In yet another sign of Teheran’s stiffening resolve on the nuclear issue, influential Muslim clerics have for the first time questioned the theocracy’s traditional stance that Sharia law forbade the use of nuclear weapons.

One senior mullah has now said it is “only natural” to have nuclear bombs as a “countermeasure” against other nuclear powers, thought to be a reference to America and Israel.

The pronouncement is particularly worrying because it has come from Mohsen Gharavian, a disciple of the ultra-conservative Ayatollah Mohammad Taghi Mesbah-Yazdi, who is widely regarded as the cleric closest to Iran’s new president, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad.

Nicknamed “Professor Crocodile” because of his harsh conservatism, Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi’s group opposes virtually any kind of rapprochement with the West and is believed to have influenced President Ahmadinejad’s refusal to negotiate over Iran’s nuclear programme.

The comments, which are the first public statement by the Yazdi clerical cabal on the nuclear issue, will be seen as an attempt by the country’s religious hardliners to begin preparing a theological justification for the ownership – and if necessary the use – of atomic bombs.

They appeared on Rooz, an internet newspaper run by members of Iran’s fractured reformist movement, which picked them up from remarks by Mohsen Gharavian reported on the media agency IraNews.

Rooz reported that Mohsen Gharavian, a lecturer based in a religious school in the holy city of Qom, had declared “for the first time that the use of nuclear weapons may not constitute a problem, according to Sharia.”

He also said: “When the entire world is armed with nuclear weapons, it is permissible to use these weapons as a counter-measure. According to Sharia too, only the goal is important.”

Mohsen Gharavian did not specify what kinds of “goals” would justify a nuclear strike, but it is thought that any military intervention by the United States would be considered sufficient grounds. Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi has previously justified use of suicide bombers against “enemies of Islam” and believes that America is bent on destroying the Islamic republic and its values. The latest insight into the theocracy’s thinking comes as the US signals a change in strategy on Iran, after the decision earlier this month to report it to the United Nations Security Council for its resumption of banned nuclear research.

While Washington has made it clear that military strikes on Iran’s nuclear sites would be a “last resort”, White House officials are also targeting change from within by funding Iranian opposition groups.

The secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, said the Bush administration would seek an extra $75 million (£43 million) from Congress to help to support Iran’s fractured pro-democracy movement and fund Farsi-language satellite broadcasts.

The announcement is the clearest public indication that Washington has adopted a two-track approach to Iran, combining the diplomatic search for a united international condemnation of its illicit nuclear programme with efforts to undermine the regime’s status.

The new tactic amounts to the pursuit of regime change by peaceful means, although that phrase is still not stated as official US policy. Washington hopes that a dedicated satellite channel beamed into Iran will encourage domestic dissent, such as the current strike by bus drivers – the most significant display of organised opposition since the 1999 and 2003 student protests.

Ms Rice unveiled the change of tactics a week after a visit to Washington by a senior British delegation that pressed for a co-ordinated Western policy on using satellite television and the internet to bolster internal opposition. The State Department had previously been wary of the two-track strategy.

As the Sunday Telegraph reported last week, Pentagon strategists have been updating plans for a another policy of “last resort” – blitzing Iranian nuclear sites in an effort to stop the regime gaining the atomic bomb.

The bus strike, which has led to the jailing of more than 1,000 drivers, was originally sparked by an industrial dispute over unpaid wages benefits. But the robustness of the state response has indicated the nervousness of the Ahmadinejad regime over any internal dissent.

Reports from Iran say that Massoud Osanlou, the leader of the bus drivers’ union, was arrested at his home by members of the Basij, the pro-regime militia, and had part of his tongue cut out as a warning to be quiet.

But the dispute already risks disillusioning Mr Ahmadinejad’s core of working class support – among them municipal workers – who voted him into power on his promises to improve the lot of Iran’s poor.

 

CONTAIN IRAN: ADMIT ISRAEL TO NATO

Contain Iran: Admit Israel to NATO
By Ronald D. Asmus
The Washington Post
February 21, 2006

www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2006/02/20/AR2006022001121.html

The choice of how to respond to Iran’s growing threat to the West in general and Israel in particular is not an easy one. One option is to try to stop Iran’s nuclear program via an air and missile strike – but such a step is unlikely to work militarily and could have disastrous consequences. The other is to shift to a longer-term strategy of containment while working for peaceful regime change. While that might work over time, it is unlikely to stop Iran from going nuclear in the short term if it is determined to do so. While working to prevent Iran from going nuclear, the West must think now about what to do if we fail.

One important element has been missing from the debate: NATO. What can the alliance do to help address the growing likelihood that Iran will acquire nuclear weapons? Let us not forget that it is European capitals that would be within striking distance of Iranian nuclear arms. NATO would have to return to its classic mission of defending Europe by deterring a nuclear threat. This development would also accelerate the debate in NATO over a regional missile defense system. The alliance would have to reorient its defense shield to confront the greatest threats to its members, emanating from the wider Middle East, in particular from a nuclear-armed Iran.

But the country most threatened by a future Iranian nuclear capability is, of course, Israel. It would be a mistake to dismiss Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s rantings about Israel as mere posturing or a bluff. One lesson from Sept. 11 is that we should not limit our strategic imagination or underestimate our enemies in the Middle East. When someone says he wants to wipe you off the map, he might just might mean it. If, then, the West decides that a military strike to deny Iran the nuclear option is too risky and instead opts for a policy of deterrence and long-term peaceful regime change, it must also take steps to ensure Israel’s protection for that interim period.

The United States already has a de facto security commitment to Israel. Any future U.S. president would go to the defense of that country if its existence were threatened by a nuclear-armed Iran. And in spite of the anti-Israeli and anti-Semitic voices that one can hear in Europe, there is little doubt that European leaders such as Tony Blair, Angela Merkel and even Jacques Chirac would also stand tall and defend Israel against an Iranian threat. Given this situation, basic deterrence theory tells us that it is more credible and effective if those commitments are clear and unambiguous.

The best way to provide Israel with that additional security is to upgrade its relationship with the collective defense arm of the West: NATO. Whether that upgraded relationship culminates in membership for Israel or simply a much closer strategic and operational defense relationship can be debated. After all, a classic security guarantee requires clear and recognized borders to be defended, something Israel does not have today. Configuring an upgraded Israel-NATO relationship will require careful diplomacy and planning. But what must be clear is that the West is prepared to match the growing bellicosity against Israel by stepping up its commitment to the existence of the Jewish state.

There are growing signs that Israel is interested in such a relationship with NATO. About two years ago I was approached by a group of Israelis and asked to help facilitate a closer Israeli-NATO dialogue. At the time, the idea seemed a bit far-fetched to many. Since then, however, a real debate has emerged in Israel over building closer ties to both NATO and the European Union. Israel has also presented the alliance with a plan for a step-by-step upgrade in bilateral cooperation. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer has paid his first visit there, and talks on closer cooperation are underway.

Talking with my Israeli interlocutors two years ago, I asked them how they envisioned the circumstances under which Israel might one day seek NATO membership. They laid out two scenarios. The first was one in which Israel was moving toward a final peace settlement with Palestinians and an upgraded relationship with NATO became a key element in a package to persuade the Israeli public to opt for peace. The second was a scenario in which Iran acquired nuclear weapons and posed a real and growing threat to Israel. Having lost its own extended deterrence, Israel would turn to the West and NATO to help guarantee its very real security needs.

I would much prefer that we were faced with the first scenario, and one day we may reach that point, although the recent victory of Hamas in Palestinian elections suggests we shouldn’t hold our breath. But the second scenario may become reality for Israel and the West. And that is the one that must determine the future pace of Israeli-NATO cooperation.

NATO has been reluctant to move too far too fast with Israel, preferring to wait for more progress in the peace process and wanting to move forward in cooperation with other Arab Mediterranean countries in parallel. But this is no longer the time for political correctness. It is time to break that link and not hold future Israeli-NATO ties hostage to Hamas or the broader vagaries of NATO’s overall Mediterranean dialogue. While continuing to expand ties with these other Arab countries, we must recognize that the threat Israel faces is qualitatively different, as is our security commitment to that country.

Several leading Europeans have called for NATO to embrace Israel, but this debate will not get serious until the United States, Israel’s main ally, puts its weight behind the idea. The time has come to do so.

 

THE BOMBING OF IRAN’S NUCLEAR INSTALLATIONS “COULD ALL BE DONE IN A SINGLE NIGHT”

In a Single Night
By Edward N. Luttwak
The Wall Street Journal
February 8, 2006

Many commentators argue that a pre-emptive air attack against Iran’s nuclear installations is unfeasible. It would not be swift or surgical, they say, because it would require thousands of strike and defense-suppression sorties. And it is likely to fail even then because some facilities might be too well hidden or too strongly protected. There may well be other, perfectly valid reasons to oppose an attack on Iran’s nuclear sites. But let’s not pretend that such an attack has no chance of success. In fact, the odds are rather good.

The skeptics begin sensibly enough by rejecting any direct comparison with Israel’s 1981 air attack that incapacitated the Osirak reactor, stopping Saddam Hussein’s first try at producing plutonium bombs. Iran is evidently following a different and much larger-scale path to nuclear weapons, by the centrifuge “enrichment” of uranium hexafluoride gas to increase the proportion of fissile uranium 235. It requires a number of different plants operating in series to go from natural uranium to highly enriched uranium formed in the specific shapes needed to obtain an explosive chain reaction. Some of these plants, notably the Natanz centrifuge plant, are both very large and built below ground with thick overhead protection.

It is at this point that the argument breaks down. Yes, Iraq’s weapon program of 1981 was stopped by a single air strike carried out by less than a squadron of fighter-bombers because it was centered in a single large reactor building. Once it was destroyed, the mission was accomplished. To do the same to Iran’s 100-odd facilities would require almost a hundred times as many sorties as the Israelis flew in 1981, which would strain even the U.S. Air Force. Some would even add many more sorties to carry out a preliminary suppression campaign against Iran’s air defenses (a collection of inoperable anti-aircraft weapons and obsolete fighters with outdated missiles). But the claim that to stop Iran’s program all of its nuclear sites must be destroyed is simply wrong.

An air attack is not a Las Vegas demolitions contract, where nothing must be left but well-flattened ground for the new casino to be built. Iran might need 100 buildings in good working order to make its bomb, but it is enough to demolish a few critical installations to delay its program for years – and perhaps longer because it would become harder or impossible for Iran to buy the materials it bought when its efforts were still secret. Some of these installations may be thickly protected against air attack, but it seems that their architecture has not kept up with the performance of the latest penetration bombs.

Nor could destroyed items be easily replaced by domestic production. In spite of all the claims of technological self-sufficiency by its engineer-president, not even metal parts of any complexity can be successfully machined in Iran. More than 35% of Iran’s gasoline must now be imported because the capacity of its foreign-built refineries cannot be expanded without components currently under U.S. embargo, and which the locals cannot copy. Aircraft regularly fall out of the sky because Iranians are unable to reverse-engineer spare parts.

The bombing of Iran’s nuclear installations may still be a bad idea for other reasons, but not because it would require a huge air offensive. On the contrary, it could all be done in a single night. One may hope that Iran’s rulers will therefore accept a diplomatic solution rather than gamble all on wildly exaggerated calculations.

 

US PREPARES MILITARY BLITZ AGAINST IRAN’S NUCLEAR SITES AS A “LAST RESORT”

US prepares military blitz against Iran’s nuclear sites
By Philip Sherwell
The Sunday Telegraph (U.K.)
February 12, 2006

Strategists at the Pentagon are drawing up plans for devastating bombing raids backed by submarine-launched ballistic missile attacks against Iran’s nuclear sites as a “last resort” to block Teheran’s efforts to develop an atomic bomb.

Central Command and Strategic Command planners are identifying targets, assessing weapon-loads and working on logistics for an operation, the Sunday Telegraph has learnt.

They are reporting to the office of Donald Rumsfeld, the defence secretary, as America updates plans for action if the diplomatic offensive fails to thwart the Islamic republic’s nuclear bomb ambitions. Teheran claims that it is developing only a civilian energy programme.

“This is more than just the standard military contingency assessment,” said a senior Pentagon adviser. “This has taken on much greater urgency in recent months.”

The prospect of military action could put Washington at odds with Britain which fears that an attack would spark violence across the Middle East, reprisals in the West and may not cripple Teheran’s nuclear programme. But the steady flow of disclosures about Iran’s secret nuclear operations and the virulent anti-Israeli threats of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad has prompted the fresh assessment of military options by Washington. The most likely strategy would involve aerial bombardment by long-distance B2 bombers, each armed with up to 40,000lb of precision weapons, including the latest bunker-busting devices. They would fly from bases in Missouri with mid-air refuelling.

The Bush administration has recently announced plans to add conventional ballistic missiles to the armoury of its nuclear Trident submarines within the next two years. If ready in time, they would also form part of the plan of attack.

Teheran has dispersed its nuclear plants, burying some deep underground, and has recently increased its air defences, but Pentagon planners believe that the raids could seriously set back Iran’s nuclear programme.

Iran was last weekend reported to the United Nations Security Council by the International Atomic Energy Agency for its banned nuclear activities. Teheran reacted by announcing that it would resume full-scale uranium enrichment – producing material that could arm nuclear devices.

The White House says that it wants a diplomatic solution to the stand-off, but President George W Bush has refused to rule out military action and reaffirmed last weekend that Iran’s nuclear ambitions “will not be tolerated”.

Sen John McCain, the Republican front-runner to succeed Mr Bush in 2008, has advocated military strikes as a last resort. He said recently: “There is only one thing worse than the United States exercising a military option and that is a nuclear-armed Iran.”

Senator Joe Lieberman, a Democrat, has made the same case and Mr Bush is expected to be faced by the decision within two years.

By then, Iran will be close to acquiring the knowledge to make an atomic bomb, although the construction will take longer. The President will not want to be seen as leaving the White House having allowed Iran’s ayatollahs to go atomic.

In Teheran yesterday, crowds celebrating the anniversary of the 1979 Islamic revolution chanted “Nuclear technology is our inalienable right” and cheered Mr Ahmadinejad when he said that Iran may reconsider membership of the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.

He was defiant over possible economic sanctions.


(1) Iranian anger over German football cartoon (2) Iran to hang teenage rape victim

CONTENTS

1. German cartoonist goes into hiding
2. Death by hanging
3. Iranian government angry at BBC’s “anti-Iran tendency”
4. “Anger in Iran over German football cartoon” (DPA, Feb. 13, 2006)
5. “German cartoonist gets death threats” (United Press International, Feb. 14, 2006)
6. “Iran to hang teenage girl attacked by rapists” (Iran Focus, Jan. 7, 2006)
7. “Iran continues BBC website embargo” (The Guardian, Feb. 13, 2006)



GERMAN CARTOONIST GOES INTO HIDING

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is the second of two dispatches today on Iran.

The first two articles below concern Iranian anger over a cartoon in the German newspaper Tagesspiegelin, which depicted the Iranian national soccer team standing in a World Cup stadium with bomb belts strapped to their jerseys. The cartoonist, Klaus Stuttmann, has now received death threats and has been forced to move out of his apartment. He says that the drawing was intended to criticize German politicians favoring a deployment of soldiers to safeguard the World Cup soccer tournament due to be held in Germany this coming June.

The German World Cup football (soccer) cartoon from Tagesspiegelin which is the subject of the Iranian anger can be viewed here.

DEATH BY HANGING

An Iranian court has sentenced an 18-year-old girl to death by hanging after she unintentionally killed a man while defending herself as he and two other men tried to gang rape her and her niece in a Tehran park. In August 2004, Iran hanged a 16-year-old girl in the northern town of Neka after she had been raped. (For more, please see the article below.)

IRANIAN GOVERNMENT ANGRY AT BBC’S “ANTI-IRAN TENDENCY”

The Iranian government has announced that it will continue to block the BBC’s Persian-language website until the corporation drops its “anti-Iran tendency”. The BBC said the website normally received 30 million page views a month, making it the corporation’s most popular foreign-language online destination. In January it was read by about one third of Iran’s seven million internet users. (For more, please see the article below.)

I attach four articles. There are summaries first for those who don’t have time to read the articles in full.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

“IT IS NOW CLEAR THAT THE GERMANS ARE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF THE ZIONISTS…”

“Anger in Iran over German football cartoon” (DPA German Press agency, February 13, 2006)

The general secretary of the Iranian press association has called for action over a football [soccer] cartoon printed in a German newspaper showing the Iranian national team standing in a World Cup stadium with bomb belts strapped to their jerseys.

Manuchehr Sandi called the cartoon, which was printed in the Friday edition of Berlin’s Tagesspiegel, a “dirty joke” and in an interview with the IRNA news agency demanded the German Embassy in Tehran give an “appropriate reaction” to it.

Earlier, the Iranian newspaper 90 published the cartoon, calling it “shameless” and demanded the Iranian football federation to lodge an official protest. “It is now clear that the Germans are under the influence of the Zionists (Israel) and have lowered themselves to become their scarecrows,” wrote 90.

Iran’s most famous sports journalist, Ardeschir Larudi, accused the Tagesspiegel of becoming the first newspaper in Germany to demand Iran’s exclusion from this summer’s World Cup in Germany, which runs June 9 to July 9.

 

GERMAN CARTOONIST RECEIVES DEATH THREATS

“German cartoonist gets death threats” (United Press International, February 14, 2006)

[There is a summary only of this article attached.]

A German cartoonist has received death threats for a caricature mocking his country’s eagerness to use army soldiers to safeguard the upcoming soccer World Cup.

The Tagesspiegel, a Berlin-based newspaper, published a cartoon Friday by caricaturist Klaus Stuttmann that depicted four heavily armed Bundeswehr soldiers facing four Iranian soccer players equipped with explosive belts.

The drawing was meant to criticize German politicians favoring the deployment to safeguard the month-long tournament. Stuttmann employed irony to show that it was not necessary to deploy armed troops, as there are no soccer players that would commit terrorist acts.

However, that did not convince those protesting against equating Iran’s soccer team with terrorists. The author has received several death threats, according to the Tagesspiegel. He has since moved out of his apartment.

 

IRAN TO HANG TEENAGE GIRL ATTACKED BY RAPISTS

“Iran to hang teenage girl attacked by rapists” (Iran Focus, January 7, 2006)

An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape. The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

In August 2004, Iran’s Islamic penal system sentenced a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, to death after a sham trial, in which she was accused of committing “acts incompatible with chastity”. The teenage victim had no access to a lawyer at any stage and efforts by her family to retain one were to no avail. She was eventually hanged in public in the northern town of Neka.

 

IRAN CONTINUES EMBARGO OF THE BBC WEBSITE

“Iran continues BBC website embargo” (By Julia Day, The Guardian, February 13, 2006)

Iranian government today said it would continue to block the BBC’s Persian-language website until the corporation dropped its ‘anti-Iranian tendency’ and changed its stance on Islamic issues.

Last month the BBC said access to BBC Persian.com, the biggest website in the Persian language, was being blocked inside Iran after its traffic figures dropped “substantially” within the country.

The Iranian culture minister, Mohammad Hossein Saffar-Harandi, said at a news conference today: “What was done to the BBC Persian-language website... was carried out because it was pursuing an anti-Iranian tendency in its activities.”

… Mr Saffar-Harandi did not say exactly what aspect of the BBC’s coverage had upset the Iranian authorities.

The BBC said the website normally received 30 million page views a month, making it the corporation’s most popular foreign-language online destination. In January it was read by about one third of Iran’s seven million internet users…



FULL ARTICLES

ANGER IN IRAN OVER GERMAN FOOTBALL CARTOON

Anger in Iran over German football cartoon
DPA (German Press Agency, Deutsche Presse-Agentur)
February 13, 2006

www.expatica.com/source/site_article.asp?subchannel_id=52&story_id=27598&name=Anger+in+Iran+over+German+football+cartoon

The general secretary of the Iranian press association called Sunday for action over a football cartoon printed in a German newspaper showing the Iranian national team standing in a World Cup stadium with bomb belts strapped to their jerseys.

Manuchehr Sandi called the cartoon, which was printed in the Friday edition of Berlin’s Tagesspiegel, a “dirty joke” and in an interview with the ISNA news agency demanded the German Embassy in Tehran give an “appropriate reaction” to it.

The cartoon also depicts German soldiers standing in the stadium with a caption saying “Why at the World Cup of all places does the German army have to be on duty?”

The newspaper said it regretted the reactions from Iran.

Earlier Sunday, the Iranian newspaper 90 published the cartoon, calling it “shameless” and demanded the Iranian football federation to lodge an official protest.

“It is now clear that the Germans are under the influence of the Zionists (Israel) and have lowered themselves to become their scarecrows,” wrote 90.

Iran’s most famous sports journalist, Ardeschir Larudi, accused the Tagesspiegel of becoming the first newspaper in Germany to demand Iran’s exclusion from this summer’s World Cup in Germany, which runs June 9 to July 9.

“Iran was the second country (after Japan) to qualify for the World Cup and it is totally unfair to present the players in this way,” he told ISNA.

“We have to protest against this cartoon but we Iranians should remain civilised and not trade insults for insults.”

 

IRAN TO HANG TEENAGE GIRL ATTACKED BY RAPISTS

Iran to hang teenage girl attacked by rapists
Iran Focus
January 7, 2006

An Iranian court has sentenced a teenage rape victim to death by hanging after she weepingly confessed that she had unintentionally killed a man who had tried to rape both her and her niece.

The state-run daily Etemaad reported on Saturday that 18-year-old Nazanin confessed to stabbing one of three men who had attacked the pair along with their boyfriends while they were spending some time in a park west of the Iranian capital in March 2005.

Nazanin, who was 17 years old at the time of the incident, said that after the three men started to throw stones at them, the two girls’ boyfriends quickly escaped on their motorbikes leaving the pair helpless.

She described how the three men pushed her and her 16-year-old niece Somayeh onto the ground and tried to rape them, and said that she took out a knife from her pocket and stabbed one of the men in the hand.

As the girls tried to escape, the men once again attacked them, and at this point, Nazanin said, she stabbed one of the men in the chest. The teenage girl, however, broke down in tears in court as she explained that she had no intention of killing the man but was merely defending herself and her younger niece from rape, the report said.

The court, however, issued on Tuesday a sentence for Nazanin to be hanged to death.

Last week, a court in the city of Rasht, northern Iran, sentenced Delara Darabi to death by hanging charged with murder when she was 17 years old. Darabi has denied the charges.

In August 2004, Iran’s Islamic penal system sentenced a 16-year-old girl, Atefeh Rajabi, to death after a sham trial, in which she was accused of committing “acts incompatible with chastity”.

The teenage victim had no access to a lawyer at any stage and efforts by her family to retain one were to no avail. Atefeh personally defended herself and told the religious judge that he should punish those who force women into adultery, not the victims. She was eventually hanged in public in the northern town of Neka.

 

IRAN CONTINUES BBC WEBSITE EMBARGO

Iran continues BBC website embargo
By Julia Day
The Guardian
February 13, 2006

media.guardian.co.uk/newmedia/story/0,,1708962,00.html

Iranian government today said it would continue to block the BBC’s Persian-language website until the corporation dropped its ‘anti-Iranian tendency’ and changed its stance on Islamic issues.

Last month the BBC said access to BBC Persian.com, the biggest website in the Persian language, was being blocked inside Iran after its traffic figures dropped “substantially” within the country.

The Iranian culture minister, Mohammad Hossein Saffar-Harandi, said at a news conference today: “What was done to the BBC Persian-language website ... was carried out because it was pursuing an anti-Iranian tendency in its activities.”

He continued: “It is clear that we will not allow it. But as for how long the ban will continue, it depends on the approach the BBC chooses in its treatment of the Islamic world and Iran.”

Mr Saffar-Harandi did not say exactly what aspect of the BBC’s coverage had upset the Iranian authorities.

The BBC said the website normally received 30 million page views a month, making it the corporation’s most popular foreign-language online destination. In January it was read by about one third of Iran’s seven million internet users.

The BBC World Service director, Nigel Chapman said last month: “BBC Persian.com is a major source of news for Iranians and has the biggest impact of any online site or newspaper in Persian.

“We are very concerned at this action and regret that it deprives a great number of ordinary Iranians of a trusted source of impartial and editorially independent news and information.”

A BBC spokesman said that the corporation had received no official complaint from Iran about its serviceand has asked for the site to be unblocked.

“The BBC World Service approaches its coverage of Iran and Islamic issues with the highest standards of impartiality and editorial independence,” he said.

“We note that we haven’t had specific complaints about coverage from the authorities and would be willing to hear if they have specific issues. We know our Persian language website has been blocked for a month. We have asked the authorities to rectify the situation and have engaged in some discussions. We are currently awaiting a reply.”


(1) Poland will not let Iran “research” Holocaust (2) German Gypsies condemn Iran

CONTENTS

1. Poland, Portugal, Roma stand up against Iran
2. Western cartoonists and Holocaust revisionism
3. “Poland will not let Iran ‘research’ Holocaust” (Reuters, Feb. 17, 2006)
4. “German Gypsy leader protests to Iran over president’s dismissal of Holocaust” (AP, Feb. 14, 2006)
5. “Iran’s envoy to Portugal questions Holocaust on radio show” (Reuters/Ha’aretz, Feb. 15, 2006)
6. “Portugal summons Iranian envoy over Holocaust comments” (Reuters/Ha’aretz, Feb. 16, 2006)
7. “Iran’s Jews: president’s words scare our community” (Reuters, Feb. 12, 2006)
8. “‘No Iranian will beat us on our home turf’” (Ha’aretz, Feb. 20, 2006)



POLAND, PORTUGAL, ROMA STAND UP AGAINST IRAN

[Note by Tom Gross]

This is the first of three dispatches today on Iran. This one concerns continuing Iranian Holocaust denial. I attach six articles, including pieces on the Polish foreign minister’s dismissal of Iran’s attempts to “research” the Holocaust on Polish soil, protests by German Roma (Gypsies) against the Iranian President’s lies, and an Israeli attempt to undermine Iran’s plans to hold an anti-Semitic cartoon competition by holding one of its own.

There are summaries first for those who don’t have time to read the articles in full.

WESTERN CARTOONISTS AND HOLOCAUST REVISIONISM

Australian cartoonist Michael Leunig is furious that his drawings (which I would argue are in fact anti-Semitic) have been entered into the Holocaust denial cartoon competition launched by the Iranian newspaper “Hamshahri”. His employer, the Australian daily newspaper “The Age,” is looking at legal means by which to stop it.

In 2002, “The Age” refused to publish the drawing, which shows on one side a man wearing a Star of David on his back, marching towards Auschwitz at the entrance of which is the sign “Work brings freedom” (arbeit macht frei) and on the other side, the same scene entitled “Israel 2002,” in which a man carrying a rifle on his back approaches a camp at the entrance of which is a sign that reads “War brings peace.”

The cartoon can be seen on this webpage of the Australian newspaper The Sunday Mail.

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARY

POLAND WILL NOT LET IRAN “RESEARCH” HOLOCAUST

“Poland will not let Iran ‘research’ Holocaust” (Reuters, February 17, 2006)

[There is a summary only of this article attached.]

Poland’s Foreign Minister Stefan Meller has ruled out allowing any Iranian researchers to examine the scale of the Holocaust committed by the German Nazis on Polish soil during World War Two… Meller’s remarks came after repeated denials of the Jewish Holocaust by Iranian officials and their suggestions that more research is needed to establish the truth about what happened to European Jews.

“Under no circumstances should we allow something like that to take place in Poland,” Meller told Polish news agency PAP. “It goes beyond all imaginable norms to question, even discuss or negotiate the issue.” Polish daily Rzeczpospolita reported on Friday that Iran wants to send researchers to Poland to examine the scale of the Nazi crimes during the war…

 

GERMAN GYPSY LEADERS PROTEST IRANIAN PRESIDENT

“German Gypsy leader protests to Iran over president’s dismissal of Holocaust” (AP, February 14, 2006)

A group representing Germany’s Gypsies has protested to Iran over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dismissals of the Nazi Holocaust as a “myth.” The head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, said in a letter to the Iranian ambassador that “the government in Tehran must respect these historical facts if it wants to be part of the international community.”

Rose also expressed solidarity with the Israeli and Jewish communities in Germany and elsewhere in his letter to Ambassador Seyed Shamseddin Kharegani condemning the Iranian president’s “continued hate propaganda.”

[** Tom Gross adds: The AP article summarized above states that: “Of the roughly 1 million Gypsies living in Europe at the time of World War II, historians estimate that the Nazis and their allies killed between 25 percent and 50 percent, in addition to the Holocaust’s 6 million Jewish victims.”

In fact estimates by reliable historians of the total number of European Roma (Gypsies) killed in World War II range from 90,000 to 196,000, out of a prewar population of over a million. Most did not die in camps but in mass shootings and forced labor. For more, see: A Forgotten People, a Terrible Ordeal: The Nazi persecution of the Gypsies, by Tom Gross, The Wall Street Journal, January 19, 2000.]

 

IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO PORTUGAL QUESTIONS HOLOCAUST

“Iran’s envoy to Portugal questions Holocaust on radio show” (Reuters/Ha’aretz, February 15, 2006)

Iran’s ambassador to Portugal told a Portuguese radio interviewer it would have taken the Nazis 15 years to burn the corpses of 6 million people, a remark reflecting the denials of the Holocaust made by his president. “When I was ambassador in Warsaw, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau twice and made my calculations,” ambassador Mohammed Taheri said in an interview with Portuguese state radio RTP on Tuesday. “To incinerate 6 million people, 15 years would be necessary,” he said…

[TG adds: Of course the Nazis in fact murdered people at dozens of camps and other sites, not just at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where more than 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, were killed.]

 

PORTUGAL SUMMONS IRANIAN AMBASSADOR OVER COMMENTS

“Portugal summons Iranian envoy over Holocaust comments” (Reuters/Ha’aretz, February 16, 2006)

Iran’s ambassador to Lisbon was summoned by Portugal’s government on Wednesday after saying in an interview it would have taken the Nazis 15 years to burn the corpses of 6 million people. The remarks, reflecting similar Holocaust denials by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, were an unacceptable distortion of history, Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral said. The statements “seriously offended humanity’s collective conscience,” the minister said.

Freitas do Amaral said Taheri was told his statements and those of his government’s over the Holocaust were unacceptable… Taheri also said the publication by European newspapers of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, outraging many Muslims and provoking widespread protests, was an Israeli conspiracy designed to cause conflict between Muslims and Christians.

 

IRANIAN JEWS SCARED BY AHMADINEJAD COMMENTS

“Iran’s Jews: president’s words scare our community” (By Christian Oliver, Reuters, February 12, 2006)

Iran’s Jews have sharply criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust, saying his remarks have sparked fears in their ancient but dwindling community.

… Haroun Yashayaei, the head of Iran’s Jewish community, sent a letter of complaint to Ahmadinejad: “How is it possible to ignore all of the undeniable evidence existing for the exile and massacre of the Jews in Europe during World War Two? Challenging one of the most obvious and saddening events of 20th-century humanity has created astonishment among the people of the world and spread fear and anxiety among the small Jewish community of Iran,” the letter added.

A Jewish community leader said he preferred not to comment on whether Ahmadinejad had sent a reply to the letter, penned on behalf on the entire Jewish community. Jews occupy an awkward position in Israel’s arch-foe Iran, often speaking out against Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Iran’s Jewish community has slumped to some 25,000 members from about 85,000 at the time of the 1979 Islamic revolution. Iran’s population is about 69 million…

 

“WE CAN DO THE BEST, SHARPEST, MOST OFFENSIVE JEW-HATING CARTOONS EVER PUBLISHED”

“‘No Iranian will beat us on our home turf’” (By Nirit Anderman, Ha’aretz, February 20, 2006)

While the Muslim world is still boiling over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, two Israeli artists have decided to come out with an initiative to stress the importance of satire, freedom of expression and self-humor. After hearing about the decision by an Iranian newspaper to join the international Muslim protest and open a competition for cartoons about the Holocaust, illustrator Amitai Sandy and actor and screenwriter Eyal Zusman decided to bring Israel into the new battlefield: They have declared an Israeli competition for anti-Semitic cartoons, open to Jewish participants only.

“We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!” said Sandy. “No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!” declared Sandy last week, in announcing the competition on his Internet site boomka.org. The announcement invited artists from all over the world to send in cartoons, illustrations and short comics that express hatred for Jews in the most outrageous way.

… It appears that the main difference between the Iranian and Israeli anti-Semitic cartoons is humor. While in the Iranian contest the main message is anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish, the organizers of the Israeli contest are aiming at creating a collection of works that are above all funny. They are showing that it is possible to defuse the hatred and fear in anti-Semitism by means of humor, and in this way are ridiculing the grimness that characterizes the Iranian contest.

Thus far the contest has received about 40 entries… The submission deadline is March 5. Apparently the jury will include American historian Deborah Lipstadt, who has written a book about Holocaust-deniers and became well known in the wake of the libel suit pressed against her in 1998 by David Irving, the Holocaust-denying historian. Sandy says Lipstadt contacted him after hearing about the competition and wrote that she had experience with anti-Semitism and that she would be glad to serve in the jury.



FULL ARTICLES

GERMAN GYPSY LEADERS PROTEST IRANIAN PRESIDENT’S DISMISSAL OF HOLOCAUST

German Gypsy leader protests to Iran over president’s dismissal of Holocaust
The Associated Press
February 14, 2006

A group representing Germany’s Gypsies said Tuesday it has protested to Iran over President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s dismissals of the Nazi Holocaust as a “myth.”

Of the roughly 1 million Gypsies living in Europe at the time of World War II, historians estimate that the Nazis and their allies killed between 25 percent and 50 percent, in addition to the Holocaust’s 6 million Jewish victims.

The head of the Central Council of German Sinti and Roma, Romani Rose, said in a letter to the Iranian ambassador that “the government in Tehran must respect these historical facts if it wants to be part of the international community,” the group said in a statement.

Rose also expressed solidarity with the Israeli and Jewish communities in Germany and elsewhere in his letter to Ambassador Seyed Shamseddin Kharegani condemning the Iranian president’s “continued hate propaganda.”

Ahmadinejad provoked outrage in Europe when he said last year that Israel should be “wiped out” and the Holocaust was a “myth.”

Tensions have escalated since then amid concerns over Iran’s nuclear program and the furor over widespread publication in Western newspapers of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

Rose’s group said his protest was directed not only against Ahmadinejad’s remarks but also against “demonstrations tolerated by the Iranian government with banners and placards saying that ‘the Holocaust is a lie.’”

 

IRANIAN AMBASSADOR TO PORTUGAL QUESTIONS HOLOCAUST

Iran’s envoy to Portugal questions Holocaust on radio show
Reuters/ Ha’aretz
February 15, 2006

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/683351.html

Iran’s ambassador to Portugal told a Portuguese radio interviewer it would have taken the Nazis 15 years to burn the corpses of 6 million people, a remark reflecting the denials of the Holocaust made by his president.

“When I was ambassador in Warsaw, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau twice and made my calculations,” ambassador Mohammed Taheri said in an interview with Portuguese state radio RTP on Tuesday.

“To incinerate 6 million people, 15 years would be necessary,” he said.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad has repeatedly denied that the Holocaust, the Nazis’ killing of 6 million Jews during World War Two, took place. He has also called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

More than 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a death camp set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland.

“When our president wants to talk about the Holocaust with historians and scientists, the whole world is against him,” Taheri said, referring to plans by Ahmedinejad to organize an academic conference on what happened in the Holocaust.

“Historians need to get together to give their opinions,” the envoy added.

Taheri said the publication by European newspapers of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, outraging many Muslims and provoking widespread protests, was an Israeli conspiracy designed to cause conflict between Muslims and Christians.

“We think that this is a conspiracy by Zionists who want to put Muslims against Christians in Europe,” he said.

Iran’s best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, has responded to the Muslim outrage over published cartoons of the Prophet by organizing a competition for cartoons about the Holocaust, saying it is a test of the West’s vaunted freedom of speech.

 

PORTUGAL SUMMONS IRANIAN AMBASSADOR OVER HOLOCAUST COMMENTS

Portugal summons Iranian envoy over Holocaust comments
Reuters/Ha’aretz
February 16, 2006

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/683412.html

Iran’s ambassador to Lisbon was summoned by Portugal’s government on Wednesday after saying in an interview it would have taken the Nazis 15 years to burn the corpses of 6 million people.

The remarks, reflecting similar Holocaust denials by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmedinejad, were an unacceptable distortion of history, Portuguese Foreign Minister Diogo Freitas do Amaral said in a statement.

The statements “seriously offended humanity’s collective conscience,” the minister said.

In an interview on Tuesday with Portuguese state radio RDP, Iranian ambassador Mohammed Taheri said: “When I was ambassador in Warsaw, I visited Auschwitz and Birkenau twice and made my calculations. To incinerate 6 million people, 15 years would be necessary.”

Freitas do Amaral said Taheri was told his statements and those of his government’s over the Holocaust were unacceptable.

Freitas do Amaral said Iran’s statements over the Holocaust, attacks on embassies in Tehran and Iran’s “negative attitude” in its nuclear standoff with the International Atomic Energy Agency were threatening relations based on “mutual confidence.”

Ahmedinejad has repeatedly denied that the Holocaust, the Nazis’ killing of 6 million Jews during World War Two, took place. He has also called for Israel to be “wiped off the map.”

More than 1.5 million people, mostly Jews, died at Auschwitz-Birkenau, a death camp set up by Nazi Germany in occupied Poland.

“When our president wants to talk about the Holocaust with historians and scientists, the whole world is against him,” Taheri said, referring to plans by Ahmedinejad to organize an academic conference on the Holocaust.

“Historians need to get together to give their opinions,” the envoy added.

Taheri said the publication by European newspapers of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, outraging many Muslims and provoking widespread protests, was an Israeli conspiracy designed to cause conflict between Muslims and Christians.

“We think that this is a conspiracy by Zionists who want to put Muslims against Christians in Europe,” he said.

Iran’s best-selling newspaper, Hamshahri, has responded to the Muslim outrage over published cartoons of the Prophet by organizing a competition for cartoons about the Holocaust, saying it is a test of the West’s vaunted freedom of speech.

 

IRANIAN JEWS SCARED BY AHMADINEJAD COMMENTS

Iran’s Jews: president’s words scare our community
By Christian Oliver
Reuters
February 12, 2006

www.keralanext.com/news/index.asp?id=550922 (An Indian website.)

Iran’s Jews have sharply criticized President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad for denying the Holocaust, saying his remarks have sparked fears in their ancient but dwindling community.

Ahmadinejad has dismissed the 1933-1945 genocide of six million Jews by the Nazis and their allies as a myth, saying the crime was exaggerated to bolster Israeli interests. Haroun Yashayaei, the head of Iran’s Jewish community, sent a letter of complaint to Ahmadinejad two weeks ago.

“How is it possible to ignore all of the undeniable evidence existing for the exile and massacre of the Jews in Europe during World War Two?” said a copy of Yashayaei’s letter faxed to Reuters on Sunday. “Challenging one of the most obvious and saddening events of 20th-century humanity has created astonishment among the people of the world and spread fear and anxiety among the small Jewish community of Iran,” the letter added.

A Jewish community leader said he preferred not to comment on whether Ahmadinejad had sent a reply to the letter, penned on behalf on the entire Jewish community. Jews occupy an awkward position in Israel’s arch-foe Iran, often speaking out against Israeli treatment of Palestinians.

Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, spiritual father of Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution, urged Iranians to distinguish clearly between their own ancient community and Zionists. However, Iran’s Jewish community has slumped to some 25,000 members from about 85,000 at the time of the revolution. Iran’s population is about 69 million.

Iran’s Jews are often the subject of intense suspicion and 10 from the southern city of Shiraz were convicted of spying in 2000. The closed door trial sparked international outrage. The last five detained were released in April 2003. Last April, Iran’s Jewish parliamentarian had to complain to parliament that popular television serials were anti-Semitic. The parliament speaker supported his complaint.

 

“WE CAN DO THE BEST, SHARPEST, MOST OFFENSIVE JEW HATING CARTOONS EVER PUBLISHED”

‘No Iranian will beat us on our home turf’
By Nirit Anderman
Ha’aretz
February 20, 2006

www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/684696.html

While the Muslim world is still boiling over the publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in a Danish newspaper, two Israeli artists have decided to come out with an initiative to stress the importance of satire, freedom of expression and self-humor. After hearing about the decision by an Iranian newspaper to join the international Muslim protest and open a competition for cartoons about the Holocaust, illustrator Amitai Sandy and actor and screenwriter Eyal Zusman decided to bring Israel into the new battlefield: They have declared an Israeli competition for anti-Semitic cartoons, open to Jewish participants only.

“We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!” said Sandy. “No Iranian will beat us on our home turf!” declared Sandy last week, in announcing the competition on his Internet site boomka.org. The announcement invited artists from all over the world to send in cartoons, illustrations and short comics that express hatred for Jews in the most outrageous way.

News of the competition spread over the net, and within a few days the initiators of the competition received hundreds of e-mails congratulating them on the initiative. Quickly the discussion spread beyond the realm of the Internet and reawakened the debate on the limits of satire; media outlets from all over the world swooped down on it with interest. Sandy says that within three days he was interviewed by more than 30 dailies, two television channels and a radio program broadcast on 450 local stations in the United States. Sandy, 29, relates that most of the e-mails have come from Jews around the world who say they are glad to hear about the initiative and that it has made them proud to be Jewish. E-mails from Christian surfers, who congratulated them on the initiative but noted that they would not feel comfortable participating in the competition, led him to decide to restrict the competition to Jewish participants only and to focus it on Jewish self-humor.

“I believe that humor is the best way to examine our values,” he says. “The problem with values is that over time they become sanctified, and therefore the best education is to cast doubt, to ask questions all the time, even about the values one believes in. One of the best ways to do this is self-humor.”

Many people have responded on the Web site and via e-mail expressing concern about the suitable limits of satire, the subject matter appropriate for cartoons and their ability to encourage hatred and racism, or, alternatively – openness and tolerance. Sandy relates that he was surprised by the large number of surfers who said that the contest stirred pride in their Jewishness. “There were reactions like ‘We will show those primitive Arabs that we are better than they are,’” he says. “I didn’t think we would get reactions like that. We are in no way against the Iranians, and I do not think that they don’t have a sense of humor.”

However, it appears that the main difference between the Iranian and Israeli anti-Semitic cartoons is nevertheless humor. While in the Iranian contest the main message is anti-Israeli or anti-Jewish, the organizers of the Israeli contest are aiming at creating a collection of works that are above all funny. They are showing that it is possible to defuse the hatred and fear in anti-Semitism by means of humor, and in this way are ridiculing the grimness that characterizes the Iranian contest.

Thus far the contest has received about 40 entries, and Sandy relates that many of them – as well as many of the jokes that surfers are telling on the competition’s Web site – deal with the Holocaust. Many responses have come in from Jews who say they are descendents of Holocaust survivors and have no hesitations about dealing with this trauma through means.

According to Sandy, only a small proportion of those who have responded have come out against the competition. A small minority of pro-Israeli Christians from the United States, for example, has argued this initiative is dangerous, because anti-Semites could use cartoons from the competition for anti-Jewish propaganda.

The submission deadline is March 5. Apparently the jury will include, alongside Sandy and Zusman and a number of Israeli cartoonists, American historian Deborah Lipstadt, who has written a book about Holocaust-deniers and became well known in the wake of the libel suit pressed against her in 1998 by David Irving, the Holocaust-denying historian. Sandy says Lipstadt contacted him after hearing about the competition and wrote that she had experience with anti-Semitism and that she would be glad to serve in the jury.


“To be or not to be, that is the question,” not just asked by a famous fictional Dane

February 07, 2006

[Note by Tom Gross]

ANNE FRANK IN BED WITH HITLER?

“To be or not to be, that is the question,” not just asked by a famous fictional Dane. It is what all Europe should now be asking about the long-term future of European freedoms.

I attach an op-ed by myself from today’s Jerusalem Post, below.

In it I ask whether circulating a (repulsive) cartoon of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler, as Belgian and Dutch Muslims did last weekend, or publishing a caricature of a hooked-nosed Ehud Olmert, as Britain’s widely-read “Muslim Weekly” did on Saturday, is really the best way for Muslims to engender sympathy with their non-Muslim neighbors.

There are even worse cartoons now being circulated by European Muslims than the Anne Frank one, but I won’t describe them out of respect for survivors of Nazi death camps on this list, of which there are at least three.

IRAN ANNOUNCES HOLOCAUST DENIAL CARTOON CONTEST

The Iranian regime announced yesterday that it will hold a contest to find the “best” Holocaust denial cartoons from the Islamic world. Iran’s anti-Semitic president has already denied the slaughter of 6 million European Jews took place. His government is actively attempting to acquire nuclear weapons.

WEBSITE

Apologies for those who have been unable to access my website at various points in recent days. There has been an enormous surge in traffic after this page was linked to by hundreds of other sites around the world, including through the website of Time magazine. There will be no more dispatches this week or next as I will be particularly busy with other work.

-- Tom Gross



FULL ARTICLE

“TO BE OR NOT TO BE”

Drawing a line under hypocrisy
By Tom Gross
The Jerusalem Post
February 7, 2006

www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1138622563555&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull

There is a strong case for saying that the Danish cartoons of Mohammed, which have caused so much uproar, are fair comment. Certainly those who haven’t seen them can rest assured that they are relatively tame in comparison with many cartoons on other subjects which regularly appear in the European press. Even so, non-Muslims might have more sympathy with Muslims who find them offensive, if it weren’t for the astonishing double standards and hypocrisy of the Muslim world when it comes to accepting and applauding truly vicious slanders against Jews, and to a lesser extent Christians.

The arguments from Muslims – though not the fanatical, violent manner of many of their protests – would no doubt be taken more seriously if they had also objected to the depiction on Syrian television of rabbis as cannibals. Or if last Saturday, Britain’s Muslim Weekly had not published a caricature of a hooked-nosed Ehud Olmert.

Or if last Friday, “Valley of the Wolves,” the most expensive movie ever made in Turkey, had not opened to great local acclaim. In the film, American soldiers in Iraq crash a wedding and pump a little boy full of lead in front of his mother. They kill dozens of innocent people with random machine gun-fire, shoot the groom in the head, and drag those left alive to prison, where a Jewish doctor cuts out their organs, and sells them to rich people in New York, London and Tel Aviv.

Or if a Belgian and Dutch Muslim group hadn’t last week posted on its website pictures of Anne Frank in bed with Hitler. Or if the mere display of a cross or a Star of David in Saudi Arabia wasn’t illegal.

SO MUCH FOR RELIGIOUS RESPECT

And when it comes to newspaper cartoons – the subject of the present unrest – Muslim countries are world leaders in stirring up hate, without a peep of protest elsewhere, let alone the torching of buildings, threats to behead European tourists, and the burning of the Danish flag (which incidentally bears a Christian symbol, the cross). So much for religious respect.

The cartoons published last September in Jyllands Posten, a paper that hardly anyone outside Denmark, one of Europe’s smallest countries, had ever heard of, are mild when compared to cartoons routinely produced about Jews in the countries where some of the worst anti-Danish protests are now being staged.

Arabic Jew-baiting is not – as Israel’s enemies in the West often try to argue – limited to political attacks on Zionism. They are directed against Jews in general, and are as loathsome and dehumanizing as those produced under the Nazis.

We might expect such demonic images from a country led by a Holocaust-denier like Iran, or a rogue regime like Syria. But these vile images are to be found in the media of supposedly moderate, pro-Western states like Jordan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Egypt.

BLACK-HATTED JEWS SPITTING AND SWEATING

Al-Watan (Oman) has run Nazi-type caricatures of Jews with hooked noses and hunched backs, not wearing shoes, and sweating profusely.

Akhbar Al-Khalij (Bahrain) has shown anti-Semitic caricatures of black-hatted Jews spitting and sweating as they manipulate America to do their bidding.

Al Ahram, one of Egypt’s leading dailies, has published cartoons of Jews laughing while they drink blood. (The U.S. senate has approved a $1.84 billion aid package for Egypt for 2006, the second highest in the world.)

The official cartoonist of the Palestinian Authority has portrayed Jews in the form of snakes, a historic motif of medieval European anti-Semitism. The PA website has posted cartoons repeating the ancient blood libel that Jews murder non-Jewish children.

Some of the cartoons don’t just resemble those published by the Nazis. They are literally copied from Nazi originals. For instance, a cartoon from Arab News (an English-language Saudi daily regarded as one of the more moderate publications in the Arab world), depicts rats wearing Stars of David and skullcaps, scurrying backwards and forwards through holes in the wall of a building called “Palestine House.” The imagery used is almost identical to a well-known scene from the Nazi film “Jew Suess” – a scene in which Jews are depicted as vermin to be eradicated by mass extermination.

At other times the Jews are the Nazis. The Jordanian newspaper, Ad-Dustur, for example, ran a cartoon showing the railroad to the death camp at Auschwitz-Birkenau – but with Israeli flags replacing the Nazi ones, and a sign which read “The Israeli Annihilation Camp.” Jordan is supposedly a moderate country at peace with Israel.

NOR IS JUDAISM SPARED

To mark the UN designation of January 27 as Holocaust memorial day, the cartoonist for Al-Yawm (Saudi Arabia) superimposed the Nazi swastika on the Star of David.

Nor is Judaism spared. The Daily Star in Beirut ran a cartoon showing a large Talmud with a bayonet sticking out of it shooting an elderly man in Arab headdress who then has red blood gushing out of him. Other Arab cartoons have shown Jews with money bags, spreading death, terror and disease.

The relatively mild Danish cartoons have been republished in several European papers so readers can discover what all the fuss is about. (It is hard for readers to judge the story without seeing them.) But not in papers in Britain or in any major publications in the US, countries that are now apparently too intimidated to run the risks that might go with reproducing them.

At the same time, whereas editors from both the Guardian and Independent in London, for example, have appeared on the BBC saying they wouldn’t dream of publishing cartoons that Muslims find offensive, these papers have not hesitated to publish cartoons offensive to Jews (Arab blood being smeared on the Western Wall in The Guardian, the flesh of Palestinian babies being eaten by Ariel Sharon in The Independent, and so on.)

JESUS HAVING GAY SEX WITH JUDAS

The New York Times rushed to praise a frivolous Broadway play showing Jesus having gay sex with Judas, yet hasn’t dared to reproduce a Danish cartoon making a serious point about the misuse of the teachings of the prophet Mohamed by Islamist terrorists.

With demonstrators on the streets of London last Friday chanting in unison “Europe you will pay, your 9/11 is on its way” and holding signs reading “Behead those who insult Islam,” and “Prepare for the REAL Holocaust,” it is perhaps not surprising that weak spirits in the West are cowed.

Yet this is an issue that goes far beyond cartoons, and if they want Western freedoms to survive, moderate Muslims and non-Muslims alike have to stop caving into threats. On Sunday, Mark Steyn reminded us of the best-known words of a famous fictional Dane: “To be or not to be, that is the question.” Exactly.

(The writer is a former Jerusalem correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph.)


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?


Belgium Muslim leader calls on Arabs to use Danish flag as a substitute for toilet paper

* This is follow up to “War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!” (& Oprah visits Auschwitz) (Feb. 1, 2006)

 

CONTENTS

1. Some in Europe say: We are all Danes now
2. Continuing terror all but ignored by Western press
3. “Danish cartoonists fear for their lives” (The Times of London, Feb. 4, 2006)
4. “Arab leader calls on Arabs to use Danish flag as toilet paper” (IRNA, Feb. 4, 2006)
5. “U.S. sides with Muslims in cartoon dispute” (Reuters, Feb. 3, 2006)
6. “‘Inquirer’ one of few U.S. papers to publish ‘Muhammad’ cartoon” (E&P, Feb. 3, 2006)
7. “Islamic group posts anti-Jew cartoons” (AP, Feb. 5, 2006)
8. “Jewish dignitaries condemn Muhammad cartoon” (European Jewish Press, Feb. 2, 2006)



SOME IN EUROPE SAY: WE ARE ALL DANES NOW

[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 news reports, the other dispatch has opinion and comment articles. There are summaries first, for those who don’t have time to read them in full.

Among news developments: Today in Afghanistan, a man was shot dead in protests over the cartoons, and petrol bombs were thrown at the Austrian embassy in Iran. In Gaza on Saturday, a Polish couple were kidnapped by unknown gunmen as they were driving in one of the main streets in Gaza City. Once it was discovered that the two victims were of Palestinian origin, they were released. About two dozen Palestinians burst into the German cultural center in Gaza on Saturday, smashing windows and breaking doors. Yesterday the Danish consulate in Beirut was destroyed, and the day before the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus were burned down.

CONTINUING TERROR ALL BUT IGNORED BY WESTERN PRESS

While western newspapers have been comprehensively covering the cartoon row, most have failed to cover the ongoing terror attacks against Israeli civilians:

* Yesterday, an elderly woman was murdered on a bus in Petah Tikva (near Tel Aviv) by a knife-wielding Palestinian man, and another five Israelis injured, some severely. Ismail Haniya, who was Hamas’s top candidate in the January 25 election, last night told journalists that the attack in Petah Tikva was justified.

* Two Palestinians were caught with suicide bombs strapped to them, attempting to enter Israel on Friday.

* Qassam rockets fired from Gaza at a kibbutz in southern Israel resulted in a seven-month old Israeli baby boy sustaining a fractured skull, and four members of his family being wounded.

* Two longer-ranged rockets fired from Gaza hit the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

However, despite these attacks, Israel yesterday agreed to transfer to the PA tens of millions of dollars in customs duties which had been frozen after Hamas’s election victory. The PA General, meanwhile, announced that his investigation so far shows that at least $700 million has been stolen from the PA accounts in recent years. Ahmad Al-Mughni told a news conference that because the corruption is so widespread it’s difficult to put an exact figure on the amount that’s gone missing. He estimated the final tally as high as “billions of dollars.”

-- Tom Gross

 

SUMMARIES

“DANISH CARTOONISTS FEAR FOR THEIR LIVES”

“Danish cartoonists fear for their lives” (The Times of London, February 4, 2006)

Twelve Danish cartoonists whose pictures sparked such outcry have gone into hiding under round-the-clock protection, fearing for their lives… A spokesman for the cartoonists said: “They are in hiding around Denmark. Some of them are really, really scared. They don’t want to see the pictures reprinted all over the world. We couldn’t stop it. We tried, but we couldn’t.”

…The cartoonists’ names were originally printed in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten. Flemming Rose, the paper’s cultural editor, invited 25 newspaper cartoonists to draw a picture of Muhammad “how they saw him”, after a children’s author complained that cartoonists would only dare illustrate a book he was writing on the life of Muhammad if they could be anonymous. Twelve cartoonists responded, had their pictures printed in September, and were paid 800 Danish krone ($122) each.

In an interview with a Swedish newspaper this week, some of the cartoonists expressed their doubts about the entire episode. “It felt a little like a lose-lose situation. If I said no, I was a coward who contributes to self-censorship. If I said yes, I became an irresponsible hate monger against Islam,” one of the cartoonists said…

 

“I CALL UPON EVERY FREE SOUL AMONG ARABS TO USE THE DANISH FLAG AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR TOILET PAPER”

“Leader of Arab-European group calls on Arabs to use Danish flag as substitute for toilet paper” (IRNA, Iranian national news agency, February 4, 2006)

The leader of the Belgium-based Arab- European League (AEL), Dyab Abou Jahjah, has condemned the double standards of the West regarding freedom of speech as far as Muslims are concerned… “Muslims and others in Europe cannot say everything they often want to say and they risk being arrested and prosecuted if they do.

“Muslims and other religious people cannot express their disgust from homosexuality and clearly state that they believe it’s a sickness and a deviation without being persecuted for being homophobic.

“People in Europe are not allowed to make a free historical examination of the Second World War and the holocaust and freely express an opinion on it that is different from the dominating dogmatic line…

“Yes Arabs and Muslims are uptight when you touch their religious and national symbols, but Europe had made of political correctness and the cult of the holocaust and Jew worshiping its alternative religion,” he went on to say.

Abou Jahjah concluded by saying, “I am for the absolute freedom of speech everywhere, and that’s why I call upon every free soul among Arabs to use the Danish flag as a substitute for toilet paper.”…

 

U.S. SIDES WITH MUSLIMS IN CARTOON DISPUTE

“US sides with Muslims in cartoon dispute” (Reuters, February 3, 2006)

Washington on Friday condemned caricatures in European newspapers of the Prophet Mohammad, siding with Muslims who are outraged that the publications put press freedom over respect for religion.

By inserting itself into a dispute that has become a lightning rod for anti-European sentiment across the Muslim world, the United States could help its own battered image among Muslims.

“These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims,” State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in answer to a question. “We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.”…

 

ALMOST ALL U.S. NEWSPAPERS CHOOSE NOT TO PUBLISH THE CARTOONS

“‘Inquirer’ One of Few U.S. Papers to Publish ‘Muhammad’ Cartoon” (The Editor and Publisher, February 3, 2006)

…Nearly all U.S. newspapers have chosen not to publish the cartoons. Although most American papers have covered the issue, with many running Page One stories, most contend the cartoons are too offensive to run, and can be properly reported through descriptions…

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer, day after complaining that The Associated Press should at least distribute the images and allow members papers to make the call, decided to publish one of the drawings on Saturday.

The cartoon was being published “discreetly” with a note explaining the rationale, said Amanda Bennett, The Inquirer’s editor.

“This is the kind of work that newspapers are in business to do,” Bennett told the AP. “We’re running this in order to give people a perspective of what the controversy’s about, not to titillate, and we have done that with a whole wide range of images throughout our history...You run it because there’s a news reason to run it,” Bennett said…

But the vast majority of other top editors seemed to disagree, for now.

“They wouldn’t meet our standards for what we publish in the paper,” said Leonard Downie, Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post, which has not published the cartoons. “We have standards about racial sensitivity and general good taste.”*

[* Tom Gross adds: The Israeli ambassador to the United States, Danny Ayalon, complained yesterday that The Washington Post and the Los Angeles Times have published guest commentaries by Hamas leader Khaled Meshal and his deputy Moussa Abu Marzouk. The ambassador said that while he holds freedom of the press in high regard, he expects newspapers to be able to distinguish between legitimate national claims and incitement to hatred.]

…At USA Today, deputy foreign editor Jim Michaels said “I am not sure running it would advance the story.” Although he acknowledged that the cartoons have news value, he said the offensive nature overshadows that…

The Los Angeles Times said in a statement “Our newsroom and op-ed page editors, independently of each other, determined that the caricatures could be deemed offensive to some readers and the there were effective ways to cover the controversy without running the images themselves.”

The cartoons, which include one of the Muslim prophet wearing a turban fashioned into a bomb, have been reprinted in papers in Norway, France, Germany and Jordan after first running in a Danish paper last September…

Mike Days, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, said the paper might run the cartoons along with comments from experts in Muslim law so that the reasons behind the controversy are clear. It appears the New York Sun is the only American daily to run the images…

Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, said “We have a very longstanding policy of not distributing material that is found to be offensive.”…

[* Tom Gross adds: Many papers have had no problem in the past running images and stories offensive to Christians and Jews. For example, the Charlotte Observer in North Carolina ran an image of a controversial piece of artwork, in which a crucifix was placed in a glass of urine.]

 

PROTEST CARTOON SHOWS ANNE FRANK IN BED WITH HITLER

“Islamic group posts anti-Jew cartoons” (AP, February 5, 2006)

A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization, the Arab European League, posted anti-Jewish cartoons on its website in response to the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that appeared in Danish papers last year and offended many Muslims…

One of the AEL cartoons displayed an image of famed Dutch Holocaust victim Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler, and another questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred…

Dyab Abou Jahjah, the party’s founder and best-known figure, defended the action on the Dutch television program Nova Saturday. “Europe has its sacred cows, even if they’re not religious sacred cows,” he told the program…

The AEL stood in Belgian elections in 1999 and 2003 under different names but failed to get more than one percent of the vote…

 

JEWISH DIGNITARIES CONDEMN CARTOONS

“Jewish dignitaries condemn Muhammad cartoon” (European Jewish Press, February 2, 2006)

France’s Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk and the central Jewish Consistoire joined their Muslim and Christian counterparts on Thursday denouncing press drawings portraying Islamic prophet Muhammad.

The caricatures were printed on Wednesday in the French evening paper France Soir and in a dozen other European newspapers after their publication in other European newspapers...

Rabbi Michel Serfaty, from the Jewish Muslim friendship association, said believes that press drawings of biblical figures or Jesus Christ can be printed, but not Muslim caricatures… Rabbi Serfaty said “We must let Muslims develop their own self-criticism by themselves.”…



FULL ARTICLES

“IT’S BLOWN UP SO BIG”

Danish cartoonists fear for their lives
By Anthony Browne
The Times (of London)
February 4, 2006

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2024306,00.html

Twelve Danish cartoonists whose pictures sparked such outcry have gone into hiding under round-the-clock protection, fearing for their lives.

The cartoonists, many of whom had reservations about the pictures, have been shocked by how the affair has escalated into a global “clash of civilisations”. They have since tried, unsuccessfully, to stop them being reprinted.

A spokesman for the cartoonists said: “They are in hiding around Denmark. Some of them are really, really scared. They don’t want to see the pictures reprinted all over the world. We couldn’t stop it. We tried, but we couldn’t.”

Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, president of the Danish Union of Journalists, told The Times: “They are keeping a very low profile. They are very concerned about their safety. They feel a big responsibility on their shoulders. It’s blown up so big. It is tough for them.”

The cartoonists’ names were originally printed in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten. Flemming Rose, the paper’s cultural editor, invited 25 newspaper cartoonists to draw a picture of Muhammad “how they saw him”, after a children’s author complained that cartoonists would only dare illustrate a book he was writing on the life of Muhammad if they could be anonymous. Twelve cartoonists responded, had their pictures printed in September, and were paid 800 Danish krone ($122) each.

In an interview with a Swedish newspaper this week, some of the cartoonists expressed their doubts about the entire episode. “It felt a little like a lose-lose situation. If I said no, I was a coward who contributes to self-censorship. If I said yes, I became an irresponsible hate monger against Islam,” one of the cartoonists said.

Another said: “I was actually angry when I first received the letter [from Jyllands-Posten]. I thought it was a really bad idea. At first I didn’t want to participate, but then I talked it over with some friends from the Middle East, and they thought I should do it.”

The cartoonists come from a variety of different political backgrounds, which is reflected in their work. While some of the pictures satirise Muhammad, others attack populist right-wing politicians and even Jyllands-Posten itself, which is rightwing.

Having failed to stop the cartoons being reprinted across Europe, the cartoonists have now decided to use all the money raised from the sales of the pictures to set up a foundation which will award an annual international prize for press freedom.

 

“I CALL UPON EVERY FREE SOUL AMONG ARABS TO USE THE DANISH FLAG AS A SUBSTITUTE FOR TOILET PAPER”

Leader of Arab-European group calls on Arabs to use Danish flag as substitute for toilet paper
IRNA (Iranian national news agency)
February 4, 2006

www.irna.ir/en/news/view/line-20/0602048360112131.htm

The leader of the Belgium-based Arab- European League (AEL), Dyab Abou Jahjah, has condemned the double standards of the West regarding freedom of speech as far as Muslims are concerned.

“Europeans think that freedom of speech is guaranteed in Europe, and that they are defending it against Islamic pressure. Reality, however, presents us with Muslims living in Europe with another experience,” said Abou Jahjah in an article posted on the AEL’s website.

“Muslims and others in Europe cannot say everything they often want to say and they risk being arrested and prosecuted if they do.

“Muslims and other religious people cannot express their disgust from homosexuality and clearly state that they believe it’s a sickness and a deviation without being persecuted for being homophobic.

“People in Europe are not allowed to do a free historical examination of the Second World War and the holocaust and freely express an opinion on it that is different from the dominating dogmatic line.

“Any attempt to have deviant historical examination of the holocaust will earn you the title of revisionist, anti-Semitic and a jail sentence,” he further wrote.

“I would be curious to see the reactions of these champions of freedom of speech in case some Danish paper would have published pictures of Jewish rabbis, or Moses for that matter, with a Jewish nose, the star of David and represented him as a greedy banker or other form of economical parasite sucking the blood of the people.

“Yes Arabs and Muslims are uptight when you touch their religious and national symbols, but Europe had made of political correctness and the cult of the holocaust and Jew worshiping its alternative religion,” he went on to say.

Abou Jahjah concluded by saying, “I am for the absolute freedom of speech everywhere, and that’s why I call upon every free soul among Arabs to use the Danish flag as a substitute for toilet paper.” Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten last September first published the blasphemous cartoons on Propher Mohammad (PBUH) which were later reprinted in many European papers.

The AEL, based in Antwerp and with branches in other European countries, says it is a political and social movement that stands for the rights of Arab and Muslim communities in Europe and Arab causes in general.

The AEL stands also for solidarity with all Muslim peoples and communities and all oppressed peoples of the world.

 

U.S. SIDES WITH MUSLIMS IN CARTOON DISPUTE

US sides with Muslims in cartoon dispute
Reuters
February 3, 2006

Washington on Friday condemned caricatures in European newspapers of the Prophet Mohammad, siding with Muslims who are outraged that the publications put press freedom over respect for religion.

By inserting itself into a dispute that has become a lightning rod for anti-European sentiment across the Muslim world, the United States could help its own battered image among Muslims.

“These cartoons are indeed offensive to the belief of Muslims,” State Department spokesman Kurtis Cooper said in answer to a question. “We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable.”

“We call for tolerance and respect for all communities for their religious beliefs and practices,” he added.

Major U.S. publications have not republished the cartoons, which include depictions of Mohammad as a terrorist. That is in contrast to European media, which responded to the criticism against the original Danish newspaper that printed the caricatures by republishing the offensive images themselves.

 

“NEARLY ALL U.S. NEWSPAPERS HAVE CHOSEN NOT TO PUBLISH THE CARTOONS”

‘Inquirer’ One of Few U.S. Papers to Publish ‘Muhammad’ Cartoon
By Joe Strupp
The Editor and Publisher
February 3, 2006

www.editorandpublisher.com/eandp/news/article_display.jsp?vnu_content_id=1001957270

As a collection of controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad circulates online and through some European publications, prompting numerous acts of violence abroad, nearly all U.S. newspapers have chosen not to publish the cartoons.

Although most American papers have covered the issue, with many running Page One stories, most contend the cartoons are too offensive to run, and can be properly reported through descriptions. While some have linked to the images on the Web, others are considering publishing one or more of them next week.

Meanwhile, the Philadelphia Inquirer, day after complaining that The Associated Press should at least distribute the images and allow members papers to make the call, decided to publish one of the drawings on Saturday.

The cartoon was being published “discreetly” with a note explaining the rationale, said Amanda Bennett, The Inquirer’s editor.

“This is the kind of work that newspapers are in business to do,” Bennett told the AP. “We’re running this in order to give people a perspective of what the controversy’s about, not to titillate, and we have done that with a whole wide range of images throughout our history...You run it because there’s a news reason to run it, ” Bennett said. “The controversy does not appear to have died down. It’s still a news issue.”

But the vast majority of other top editors seemed to disagree, for now.

“They wouldn’t meet our standards for what we publish in the paper,” said Leonard Downie, Jr., executive editor of The Washington Post, which ran a front-page story on the issue Friday, but has not published the cartoons. “We have standards about language, religious sensitivity, racial sensitivity and general good taste.”

Downie, who said the images also had not been placed on the Post Web site, compared the decision to similar choices not to run offensive photos of dead bodies or offensive language. “We described them,” he said of such images. “Just like in the case of covering the hurricanes in New Orleans or terrorist attacks in Iraq. We will describe horrific scenes.”

At USA Today, deputy foreign editor Jim Michaels offered a similar explanation. “At this point, I’m not sure there would be a point to it,” he said about publishing the cartoons. “We have described them, but I am not sure running it would advance the story.” Although he acknowledged that the cartoons have news value, he said the offensive nature overshadows that.

“It has been made clear that it is offensive,” Michaels said when asked if the paper was afraid of sparking violence or other kinds of backlash. “I don’t know if fear is the right word. But we came down on the side that we could serve readers well without a depiction that is offensive.”

The Los Angeles Times sent this statement to E&P this afternoon: “Our newsroom and op-ed page editors, independently of each other, determined that the caricatures could be deemed offensive to some readers and the there were effective ways to cover the controversy without running the images themselves.”

The cartoons, which include one of the Muslim prophet wearing a turban fashioned into a bomb, have been reprinted in papers in Norway, France, Germany and Jordan after first running in a Danish paper last September. The drawings were published again recently after some Muslims decried them as insulting to their prophet, AP reported, adding that Dutch-language newspapers in Belgium and two Italian “right-wing” papers reprinted the drawings Friday.

Islamic law, according to most clerics’ interpretations of the Quran, forbids depictions of Muhammad and other major religious figures -- even positive images.

Tens of thousands of angry Muslims marched through Palestinian cities, burning the Danish flag and calling for vengeance Friday against European countries where the caricatures were published. In Washington, the State Department criticized the drawings, calling them “offensive to the beliefs of Muslims.”

Still, most American newspapers are not publishing the cartoons, sticking mostly to the view that they constitute offensive images. “You want to make sure that you are sensitive to the cultural sensitivities,” said Mike Days, editor of the Philadelphia Daily News, which may run the images next week, but remains cautious. “I think you want to do it in a way that makes sense. I am not so sure the average American understands what the controversy is about, the use of the images of Muhammad.”

Days said the paper might run the cartoons along with comments from experts in Muslim law so that the reasons behind the controversy are clear. It appears the New York Sun is the only American daily to run the images, according to The Washington Times.

Anne Gordon, Philadelpia Inquirer managing editor, criticized the Associated Press for not distributing images of the cartoons to member newspapers. Although Gordon understands the concerns about sensitivity, she said AP should allow each paper to make up its own mind.

“It is not AP’s role to withhold information from news cooperative members,” Gordon said. “They are a co-op and we believe they overstepped their bounds to independently withhold the cartoon. It is not their decision to make independently.”

Kathleen Carroll, AP executive editor, said the news cooperative has long withheld images it deemed offensive, such as photos and video of beheadings. “We have a very longstanding policy of not distributing material that is found to be offensive,” she said, adding that the Inquirer was the only newspaper she knew of that had specifically requested the images from AP. “These images have not met that standard.”

But Carroll also agreed with some other editors who said the cartoons did not add to the news coverage in a major way. “If people want to find them, they are easily found,” she said.

Doug Clifton, editor of The Plain Dealer in Cleveland, agreed that the offensive nature precluded running the cartoons. “It has become a part of great angst and I don’t see any reason to run it, you can just describe it,” he said of the cartoon images. “I don’t see a need to insert ourselves in that fight.”

Clifton recalled his time at the Charlotte [N.C.] Observer years ago, when the paper ran an image of a controversial piece of artwork, in which a crucifix was placed in a glass of urine. “You knew you would get an outpouring of anger,” he recalled. “If I thought there were very good editorial reasons for running it, we’d run it. But I don’t think there are.”

But Clifton said his paper will likely place a link to the images from another site when it runs an editorial on the issue Saturday or Sunday. “They will have the option to see it if they choose,” he said about the Web readers. “The [print] newspaper reaches a much, much broader audience.”

 

PROTEST CARTOON SHOWS ANNE FRANK IN BED WITH HITLER

Islamic group posts anti-Jew cartoons
Protest cartoons posted by Belgian-Dutch group show Anne Frank in bed with Hitler
The Associated Press
February 5, 2006

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3211339,00.html

A Belgian-Dutch Islamic political organization, the Arab European League, posted anti-Jewish cartoons on its website in response to the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that appeared in Danish papers last year and offended many Muslims.

The cartoons were posted on the Arab European League’s site on Saturday. It was not working Sunday morning because of exceeded bandwidth.

The site carried a disclaimer saying the images were being shown as part of an exercise in free speech rather than to endorse their content - just as European newspapers have reprinted the Danish cartoons.

One of the AEL cartoons displayed an image of famed Dutch Holocaust victim Anne Frank in bed with Adolf Hitler, and another questioned whether the Holocaust actually occurred.

‘Europe has its sacred cows’

Dyab Abou Jahjah, the party’s founder and best-known figure, defended the action on the Dutch television program Nova Saturday.

“Europe has its sacred cows, even if they’re not religious sacred cows,” he told the program.

Denying the Holocaust is illegal under most European hate speech laws, which outlaw intimidating or inciting hatred toward groups on the basis of their ethnic, cultural, religious or sexual identity. Complaints about alleged hate speech are common but prosecutions are rare and convictions very rare.

The AEL espouses nonviolence but has gained a reputation for extremist views, and opposes Muslims integrating with non-Muslims. It promotes the participation of Muslims in political dialogue in European countries, but is internally divided as to whether or not to participate in elections directly.

It stood in Belgian elections in 1999 and 2003 under different names but failed to get more than one percent of the vote. The Dutch arm has had problems finding a leader and has said it has no immediate plans to participate in elections.

 

JEWISH DIGNITARIES CONDEMN CARTOONS

Jewish dignitaries condemn Muhammad cartoon

France’s Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk, central Jewish Consistoire join Muslim, Christian counterparts in denouncing press drawings portraying Islamic prophet Muhammad
By Shirli Sitbon
European Jewish Press
February 2, 2006

www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-3210191,00.html

France’s Chief Rabbi Joseph Sitruk and the central Jewish Consistoire joined their Muslim and Christian counterparts on Thursday denouncing press drawings portraying Islamic prophet Muhammad.

The caricatures were printed on Wednesday in the French evening paper France Soir and in a dozen other European newspapers after their publication in

Rabbi Michel Serfaty, from the Jewish Muslim friendship association, said believes that press drawings of biblical figures or Jesus Christ can be printed, but not Muslim caricatures.

“The Christians and us are used to this,” he told EJP. “We’ve been living in this free speech environment for centuries. They’ve just arrived. We don’t care about these caricatures but they get hurt.”

Asked whether Muslims wouldn’t feel insulted if their religion is treated differently from others, Rabbi Serfaty told EJP that “the important issue now is to reach civilian peace. We must let Muslims develop their own self-criticism by themselves.”

Many French readers didn’t get to see the controversial Muhammad drawings because France Soir was totally sold out and no other paper wished to publish them.

France Soir, a paper trapped with financial problems, might completely disappear in a few days. The paper’s newsroom criticized the owner’s decision to dismiss the editor, and explained this move could have been linked to his business contacts in Egypt.

He was also criticized by political figures but the government however criticized the editor of France Soir following the publication.

“France condemns everything that hurts individuals in their religious beliefs,” said a foreign ministry press release.

Freedom of expression

In Brussels, European Commission vice-president, Franco Frattini, said in a statement issued Thursday: “I can understand the feelings of indignation, frustration and sadness of the Muslim communities. Such events do not facilitate dialogue between faiths and cultures and provide barriers to the integration process to which the member states of the Union are committed.”

However the EU official, responsible for integration policy as well as the promotion and respect of fundamental rights, recalled that “one of the founding principles of our Europe is freedom of expression, including the right to criticize.”

“A difference of opinion, even if it is bitter and disrespectful, often feeds into free polemic debate, in which satire plays a full part,” he added.

“I personally regard the publication of the cartoons as somewhat imprudent, even if the satire used was aimed at a distorted interpretation of religion, such as that used by terrorists to recruit young people to their cause and turning them into fanatics, sometimes to the point of sending them into action as suicide bombers,” Frattini said.

He sharply criticized reactions and calls for boycott against Denmark and others, including the European Union.

More newspapers in France, Germany and Spain have reprinted Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, saying press freedom was more important than protests from the Muslim world.

(Yossi Lempkowicz contributed to the report.)


“War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!” (& Oprah visits Auschwitz)

February 01, 2006

* France Soir challenges sharia law with a new picture of Mohammed on its front page today, along with Christian, Jewish and Buddhist gods. Muslim groups threaten the paper.

* Germany’s Die Welt, along with papers in Spain, Italy, Holland and Switzerland, republish the controversial Danish cartoons today.

* No Muslim protest over these cartoons.

 

CONTENTS

1. Newspaper cartoons of Prophet Mohammed lead to death threats
2. “We have run out of virgins!”
3. French and German newspapers depict Mohammed on front page today
4. Denmark warns its citizens
5. Fatwa against Danish troops in Iraq
6. Jyllands-Posten apologizes
7. “War on Denmark, death to Denmark”
8. Norwegians and Swedes “told to leave Gaza, or else”
9. Boycott hits Arla foods and Lego toys
10. “Is Islam capable of coping with satire?”
11. Iran invites Tony Blair to its Holocaust (denial) conference; Blair says Iranian president should visit Auschwitz to see for himself
12. Oprah visits Auschwitz
13. “Denmark faces international boycott” (Times of London, Jan. 31, 2006)
14. “Gulf shoppers protest Danish slur against Prophet” (AFP, Jan. 30, 2006)


[Notes below 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.

 

JYLLANDS-POSTEN APOLOGIZES

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


FULL ARTICLES

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

www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,3-2017195,00.html

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.