||In the same vein the paper continues: 'in the world which is dominated by christian values, religion is something personal.' The paper thinks it belongs to the individual and reasons, 'whereas legalistic islam comes in one package which you can't go botanizing with, and that with all due respect, as long as we respect the difference and people try not to enforce their values upon others.' |
The paper perceives a lack of self-irony amongst muslim readers. It appears as if, it goes further, 'their daily work consists of creating mischief. Their motives, it points out, are numerous, but incoherent. The paper accuses these forces for the current crisis. It sums up: 'innocents are taken hostage, and all sorts of methods are used which are a long way from the religious feelings of the individual muslim. Feelings, the paper ends its editorial, it does 'not want to hurt now, or in the future'.
The cartoon crisis has rapidly become an international affair of major importance. Islamists have stormed the offices of the Danish representative and islamic hardliners in Pakistan have burned Danish flags.
Prime-minister Fogh Rasmussen has tried to calm the storm during a 25 minute interview he gave to Al Arabiya. In this interview Fogh Rasmussen reiterated his views on the freedom of the press but underlined that the Danish Government has a deep respect for all religions. The reactions to this interview have been mostly negative in the Arab coutnries, as - they say - there were no apologies and Fogh Rasmussen did not 'try to save face' and please the Arab viewers. Danish imans have said that they are pleased with the interview.
Fogh Rasmussen however must apologize, they say. Salman Al-Aodah in Saudi-Arabia told Danish reporters: 'I did not hear an apologee and Jyllands Posten has not published an apologee on its front page. I have been in touch with the Islamic community in Denmark and they think it is not enough, it is not an apologee. Freedom of speech does not mean you can embarras or humiliate people.'
Imam Akkari seems to agree with Salman Al-Aodah and though Fogh Rasmussen has convinced Danish Muslims, he has not convinced the arab world, Akkari says. Apologees must be given, he repeat to Ritzau.
Imam Abdul Wahid Pedersen chairman of the muslims 'landsorganisation in Danmark is pleased with the prime-ministers interview. The instignator of the latest row, imam Abu Laban, who headed the cartoon-delegation to the Arab countries, has denied he is glad about the boycot of Danish products. He is, he emphasized in a statement, only glad about the attitude behind the boycot.
Laban handed out a presssheet. It read: 'In a long constructive interview with Al-Jazeerah I said: 'if islamic governments boycot Danish products, that is up to them. And if muslim individuals desire to do the same, I will be glad to see their support for the prophet Mohammed status. I admire the support and the attitude but not the boycot. This is the reason why we are interested in emphasizing to the West ideas about respect for Mohammed.'
In his presssheet Imam Laban has not reacted to the death-threats and the violent reactions to the cartoons.
Fogh Rasmussen told Arab viewers that he had a very important message for them. He said: 'the Danish people have defended the freedom of speech and religion during many generations. We have a profound respect for all religions and the Danish people have no intention to insult muslims.'
When he was asked why his government did not demand the papers not to publish such images, Fogh Rasmussen answered: 'I can tell you that, in my country, the government is often criticized by the papers and the media. I have been criticized very often, and this I must accept, because this is customary in our society. We enjoy the freedom of speech which is a vital and an inescapable part of our democracy. And this is why I cannot control what the media are going to publish.
Fogh Rasmussen is deeply concerned about the threats to Danes and he admits there is the increased risk of terrorist attacks but he wants everyone to dampen their spirits and unwind. 'We must do everything,' he says, 'to solve this crisis peacefully.'
In Denmark Fogh Rasmussen was lauded for his invitation to the ambassadors. The parliament itself has been evacuated wednesdayevening after a bombthreat was received. The police told reporters that this case was related to the cartooncrisis. The individual who soon was arrested has told the Copenhagen police that he was frustrated about the cartoons. He is facing up to two years imprisonment.
The meeting with the ambassadors of all nations will be held today, the Danish foreign ministry told the press. The party DF underlines that this is not a prostration.
Søren Espersen (DF): "The prime-minister does not have to apologize, but inform the foreign representatives and give them the possibility to comment on the case.
Meanwhile in France, the presidential candidate and Home secretary Nicolas Sarkozy has attacked muslims for overreacting. He finds, he told LCI-TV, it very shocking that muslims have attacked Jyllands Posten and Anders Fogh Rasmussen. Sarkozy praised Denmark as a peaceful country and posited that there will be no negotions about the freedom of speech. He said also that he can understand that feelings are hurt, but added Sarkozy 'I see no reason why we should give a specific religion a special treatment.'
Sarkozy told the reporters of LCI-tv also that the catholic church has endured ridicule, and that is has been the subject of cartoons many times. Sarkozy: 'They didnot ask to close down a paper, neither have they threatened. It is up to the courts to decide whether these cartoons are unlawful or not, it is not up to religious authorities or Arab nations.' 'Europe will not impose censureship on behalf of muslims,' Sarkozy promised. He also said that 'though we must respect the faithful, we live in France.'
Sarkozy: 'I have always fought for a French islam, not for an islam in France.
HIzbollah had promised suicide attacks in Denmark and Norway. Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah told the Libanese Daily Star: 'If you say freedom of speech is absolute, okay. If anyone wants to blow himself up in a place in Norway or Denmark, that is fully up to him.'
In the newspaper Al-Quds, based in London, the Abu Hafes al-Masri Brigade notified in a form of prose that seems common to all terrorists: 'your security is endangered, and the next days will mean bloody war and attacks on you.'
The cartooncrises has widened the gap between Europe and the Middle East, Ole Wøhlers Olsen has noticed, former ambassador and senior consultant of the Danish Institute for International Studies. Olsen: 'This may stir up feelings in the islamic world, who perceive this as conspiracy against their part of the world, a clash of civilizations.'
Lars Erslev Andersen, lector at the Center for Middle East studies at Syddansk Universitet has warned that the cartooncrises may reinforce the case of the islamists and radicalize certain circles. The cartooncrisis highlights that values are at stake, he says. Lars Erslev Andersen: 'there is a global struggle between western and islamic values, and that spawns radicalism.'
Oscar Laurens Schrover
Independent News Sourcing
Norwegian Christian paper editor regrets exposing countrymen and family to danger .
Vebjørn Selbekk, editor of the Norwegian christian paper Magazinet deplores having printed the Mohammed-cartoons.
If he would have known the uproar this caused he would not have done so he told his newspaper. Selbekk: 'It is obvious that I have exposed Norwegian civilians, myself, and my family to danger. I do, however, not deplore having used my freedom of speech, as guaranteed by the constitution. The question arises if there is truly freedom of speech in Norway or not. But the fact remains that I now am forced to say that I would not have published these cartoons, and that indicates that the freedom is speech is the real loser.
In the meantime Swedish extremists promise to publish their own Mohammed cartoons. The readers of the magazine SD-Kuriren have been asked to send in their own drawings.
The Swedish union of muslims protest and threatens to boycot Swedish goods if the drawings are published. They will seek support from the government. Mahmoud Aldebe: "If they do not protect us, we will seek support elsewhere, in Muslim-countries and from muslim organisations.
De Danish foreign secretary awaits eagerly the friday prayers in Mosques. he says that we must anticipate 'an expansion of the boycot now that France, Germany and Austria have printed the cartoons. This may have consequences, according to Per Stig Møller.
The Danish prime-minister Fogh Rasmussen says that the government will not apologize. 'The framework of the Danish society does not allow a government to apologize for a free and independent newspaper.
Sükrü Ertosun, chairman of the council for ethnic minorities, criticizes Det Islamiske Trossamfund (Islamic church association) as their demands go to far.
Ertosun: 'This is not a matter of more apologies, but of a dialogue between Denmark and the countries in the Middle-East.
Ertosun believes that imam Abu Laban, who headed the cartoon- delegation that travelled to Islamic countries, has gone too far.
'He is speaking with two tongues. He says one thing on Arab TV, supports the boycot, and another on Danish television.'
Tim Jensen, a researcher of religions, says that the Islamic churches in Denmark have overreached themselves, speaking with two tongues. The historian Karen-Lise Johansen agrees. She says: 'They wanted to provoke an apology and win prestige, but they didn't and it went altogether in another direction. Now they have to pay the price for this tactic.
Danish news editor deplores defeat in face of death threats to countrymen -says if EU had shown solidarity things would have been different -"They cannot beat us all to death"
Carsten Juste, chiefeditor of Danish Newspaper has told Danish newspaper Politiken that they have won.'
The freedom of speech has been decreased as a result of the cartoon crisis, Juste told the Danish newspaper Politiken.
Juste: 'It is with pain in my part that I conclude that they have won. Having fear because you might have caused deadthreats, the burning of the Danish Flag on the westbank, that is terrible. I must say, and it is terrible to say, they have won.
Politiken: Will your paper censure itself in the near future?
Juste: We are not accustomed to, but I doubt if, in this time and generation, any Mohammed cartoons will appear in a newspaper. The freedom of speech has been curtailed.
Politiken; 'If they have won, what does this for your future at Jyllands Posten?
Juste: 'I'd rather say what it means for your paper and other papers and magazines. It means that there are certain things which they can't do in the future to come. Now we must hang large posters in our editorial officers: 'Remember you must not publish a Mohammed cartoon or insult Islam.' This is, I think, a serious cutback on the freedom of speech.
Politiken: 'What does it mean for your paper's treatment of subjects such as Islam and Integration?
Juste: 'It doesn't mean a thing. We have been dealing with a subject such as integration most seriously, and both the negative and the positive sides of it.
This policy still stands. If there is any relevant occasion to publish a Mohammed cartoon, we will consider that.'
Politiken: 'Today many European newspapers publish the mohammedcartoons, they protest the curtailing of the freedom of speech. Are you pleased?
Juste: It is nice to see that a large number of the European newspaper support us. Four months the Danish newspapers have wavered, they could not decide to print or not, and now the European papers have. I am really glad and it was about time.'
'Danish papers did not do a thing, they wrote editorials in which they mostly disagreed with themselves - and in the meantime the freedom of speech was threatened.'
Politiken; "Had you know the repercussions of publication, would you have printed the cartoons?'
Juste: 'This is a hypothetical question. If I had know that Danish soldiers and civilians would have been threatened whilst my finger hovered over the button, to print or not to print, I would not have done it. No, I would not. There is no chief-editor who would bear this responsibility if lives were at stake.
I do not want to bear this responsibility.'
Politiken; 'Are you afraid what might possible be the consequence of foreign papers printing the cartoons?
Juste: No, imagine a number of newspapers in Denmark and Europe had printed these cartoons simultaneously on the same day, we could have told the muslims: you can not beat us all to death.' That would have been a tremendous demonstrations of a resolute west that the freedom of speech is sacred to us.'
Politiken: You are saying we are also to blame?
Juste; 'I do-not want to say this, but the affair would have been different, if Danish newspapers had supported us in stead of hunting for evil motives, like they have done now.'
(translation Oscar Laurens Schrover
Mohammed drawings continue to sour Danish-Arab relations
In the last week of January the relations between the Ummah and Danmark deteriorated rapidly after Arab countries started a boycot of Danish dairy products and the Dannebrog, or Danish Flag and the effigy of Danish primeminister Fogh Rasmussen were burned in the streets of Gaza and on the westbank.
The conflict started in september 2005 when the newspaper Jyllands Posten published 12 caricatures of Mohammed. The paper invited 40 artists to make an illustration. This because the writer Kaare Bluitgen had complained that he could not find a single artist to illustrate his book about Mohammed after the brutal murder of Theo van Gogh and the assault of a filmlecturer on the streets of Copenhagen. Twelve cartoonists responded to the call of Jyllands Posten. The publication drew angry responses from the Islamic community in Denmark, public meetings were held, and moslim youth took to the streets and rioted. The greatest damage was however inflicted by the Danish Islamic Union who send a delegation to the Arab Nations. As iman Ahmed Akkari explained to the Danish press, the Union of Islamic organisations in Denmark travelled to Saudi Arabia, Libanon and Egypt, 'to give the discussion a more desirable turn.'
As it turns out now, they took with them a folder with the Mohammed- drawings and showed the drawings to members of the Arab League and asked these to show their displeasure. Piquant is that the delegation added a blatant forgery to her collection, a drawing which never has been published in Jyllands Posten, depicting Mohammed with the ears and nose of a pig, and added rumours that a koran had been burned publicly. A picture of the forged drawing shown during a meeting between Danish Moslims and arab officials was shown on BBC TV on the 30th of january. This evoked more rioting and deepened the conflict. A general boycot of Danish products has been declared in a number of Islamic countries. Hardest hit is the firm Arla who exports dairy products to the Middle east. Mr. Claus Birn Jensen, senior economist for the Jyske Bank told the Danish press that as a result of the boycot 1400 jobs will be lost in Denmark, and a billion kroners lost. Danish exports to the Middle-east amounts to 5 billion kroners.
The violent protests on the westbank and in the streets of Gaza started shorty after the electoral triumph of Hamas. A spokesperson for Hamas, mr. Adnan Asfour, accused the Al Aqsa brigades and claims that Hamas is not responsible. He said: 'We should all cooperate and built confidence.' He is however adamant about one thing: the Danish government should punish the artists and the paper reponsible for insulting the Ummah and the prophet Mohammed.
Asfour: 'Originally we thought this affair did not involve all the people of Denmark, but we see a government that acts not, it distances itself not from the drawings, and that is why we must reply.. For the drawings are an affront to the Ummah and our prophet. As christians perceive Jesus as part of God, Mohammed is a part of God. No one may insult God.'
Asfour continues: 'An attack on Islamic culture and the ummah increases enmity between cultures. As islamists we call upon all nations to cooperate an built trust so we may enrich eachother.'
The drawings, according to Asfour, are not very helpful for al those who desire to bridge gaps. He can not understand why the Danish Primeminister does not take any steps and does not condemn the perpretators. The paper and the artists must face legal conviction for blasphemy, he maintains.
In the meantime the council for the ministers of Interior Affairs of the arab nations, which gathers in Tunis, has given out a declaration in which it underlines its unwavering viewpoint. "The council condemns the effrontery of the Danish media which is an insult to Mohammed and Islam and requests the Danish government to punish the perpretators of this insult with utmost resolution.'
The Spokesman for the Danish muslims Akkari had told the Danish press that the Danish Moslims are not satisfied with the apoligies of the newspaper Jyllands Posten as Carsten Juste gave 'ambigious interviews to other newspaper, not distancing himself completely from the drawings'.
Akkari adds that testing freedom of speech on the expense of a vulnerable minority has been a bad choice. 'They should test their freedom on other groups', Akkari told Ritzau's press agency. He is still waiting for an unambigious statement from Jyllands Posten, he tells reporters.
Mr. Akkari did not make clear what sort of group he had in mind, but an interview on Al-Jazeerah may give us an inkling about the freedom of speech arab nations seem to enjoy, and which has a strong antisemitic undercurrent.
During a live interview on Al-Jazeerah the editor responsible for publishing the drawings in Jyllands Posten, mr. Flemming Rose, apologized for the drawings. He told the viewers that he was sorry that people in this country (Denmark), in the Middle East, muslims everywhere, that the Ummah had been offended by the drawings in his newspaper. 'That was not our intention', Mr.Rose told Al-Jazeerah.
He explained that they wanted to explore the limits of the freedom of speech, as there were several examples of artists, within Denmark and Europe, who censured their own work.
The interviewer on Al-Jazeerah reacted tot this with the question: 'pardon me, but if you want to explore the freedom of speech why did you not ridicule the Holocaust or Jesus, peace be with Him. Why did you persecute Mohammed who, as you know, is a man of distinction amongst a billion people.' \
Rose responded: 'We have published caricatures of Sharon violently dealing with Palestinians and we have printed caricatures of Jesus, whom we have ridiculed. Let me add that of the twelve drawings that were published one has ridiculed me, the paper and a well known Danish Politician. Here..'
Al Jazeerah insists: 'Pardon me, but did you ridicule the holocaust?'
Rose avoiding an answer: 'That depends on the situation. I have been asked by the New York Times what I would do when Sharon would act violently against the palestinians. That is a difficult question. If we face the choice, we will decide what to do.'
Al-Jazeerah: 'You know extremely well that Sharon is no one's prophet. In front of me lies an article, dated the 14th of april 2005, in which queen Margarethe writes with alarm about Islam and wants to mobilize opposing forces; the queen heads the Danish Lutheran church, and about 85% of the population is a member of that church. How do you explain this, what does this reveal about the developments in Denmark?'
Rose: 'I havenot read her book, but I think you take her remarks out of their context. In Denmark people enjoy freedom of religion and freedom of speech, no moslim, christian or buddhist is discrimated against. We have a law that prohibits discrimination and blasphemy.'
Al Jazeerah; 'In Denmark and in the rest of our world our freedom goes as far as the freedoms of others. You did not answer my question about the holocaust, but came up with Sharon, Flemming Rose from Copenhagen. Thank you.'
This macabre interview shows that the Middle East is still far off from a balanced way of reporting news and facts to the Arab audiences. (Note; Al-Jazeerah has been supported by European newsmedia, and particular the Dutch NOS.)
Pia Kjaersgaard, leader of the Danish People's Party, says she is extremely annoyed by the action of Danish Imans, who should receive part of the blame for the rising tension between Denmark and the Arab nations. A member of her party, Mrs. Louise Frevelt who holds a seat in the Danish Parliament, has send sms to friends and family asking them to boycott the shops of Muslims and Muslim trades people. Peter Skaarup, chairman of the Danish People's Party distances himself from the action of Mrs.Frevelt.
(The Dutch NOS radio-correspondent in Copenhagen called Mrs.Frevelt from the Danish People's Party a right-wing extremist).
Mr.Naser Khader, member of the Radikalen, the Radical party in Parliament, has told Danish reporters this is a battle for the Danish muslim-soul. Mr.Khader has called a meeting of moderate muslims to counterbalance the imans who picture Denmark as a country where the faithful are oppressed and persecuted. Khader explains: 'This gives them (the imans) a higher standing and better opportunies to acquire donations from the Middle-east, money which they are going to use for protecting Islam.'
Khader adds he supports primeminister Fogh Rasmussen, but believes now that Fogh Rasmussen should have held a meeting with the islamic ambassadors much earlier.
Mr.Khader blames the Danish imans who took the pictures to Egypt and Saudi-Arabia. The affair, he says, 'got a headstart after Al-Jazeerah and Al-Aribiya took up the affair on the 26th of january and spread rumours. Viewers were told a Koran had been burned on Rådhuspladsen (Copenhagen Townhall square). On the 27th of January the affair was discussed during fridayprayers in the Saud and Egyptian Mosques.'
Mr.Khader has communicated with his family, living in the Middle-east and discussed the riots with them. He says it is all choreography. Khader: 'they burn flags while the camera's are running. Some people, he adds, 'get their income from filming demonstrations and selling them to international newsmedia.'
Today, the 1st of february, France Soir has published the controversial drawings, because its publisher believes it is necessary to demonstrate that a violent polemic has taken hold of Arab nations. According to Carsten Juste of Jyllands Posten there was no communication between the newspapers about the drawings. The Mohammed-drawings in France Soir, he insists, have been taken from the web. Earlier Jyllands Posten allowed a Norwegian magazine to reprint the drawings.
Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, chairman of the Danish Journalist Union told reporters that France Soir, it appears, has contacted the Union who represents the copyrightholders.
The headline on the frontpage reads: 'Yes, it is allowed to draw caricatures of God.' The paper also carries its own Mohammed-drawing with an angry Mohammed, a Jesus and a Buddha. Jesus says: Don't be angry, Mohammed, we all have been staged in caricatures.'
France Soir says it does not want to provocate, but these drawings have become the subject of a global controversy.
Carsten Juste thinks France Soir's action is a courageous gesture. Was it silly?
He says: 'No, I don't think so. France enjoys freedom of speech, like we thought we had in Denmark.'
Unknown have called a meeting on Rådhuspladsen in order to burn a Koran, Ritzau reports. An anonymous SMS called a protest against muslims in Denmark. Public opinion has been inflamed after it was reported that Danish imans travelled to the Middle East and stirred up controversy. Mr.Abu Basher, an iman working in the Danish stateprison at Nyborg, was seen on BBC showing a falsified drawing to members of the Arab League. The office of the Fogh Rasmussen protested but the deed had been done. The BBC has apologized for the pictures they said were given to them by Reuters pressagency.