Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Coming Out
Free Speech

Maybe, if I curl up and play dead, those mean old Muslims will leave me alone.

The Council of Europe officially criticizes Denmark for publishing cartoons of Mohammed:

The Council of Europe (CoE), an organisation of 46 European countries, has criticised the Danish government for invoking the “freedom of the press” in its refusal to take action against “insulting” cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. The CoE Committee of Ministers discussed the case during a meeting in Strassburg last week.

In a statement the Committee said that “a seam of intolerance within Danish society is noted […] in certain media” – a reference to the
Danish cartoon case. (...)

The CoE added that it is also concerned that “[Danish] legislation, such as the
reform of the Aliens Act, and policy, such as the Government’s policy towards integration, may contribute to a climate of hostility towards different ethnic and religious groups.”(...)

The case escalated into a major diplomatic crisis, even though, apart from the Danish press, it has been
hardly been reported upon in the international mainstream media.

There were violent protest demonstrations and strikes against the cartoons in the Indian state of
Kashmir and in Pakistan, after which Denmark warned its citizens not to travel to Pakistan. Egypt cut off its talks on human rights with Denmark while the Egyptian Grand-Imam Muhammad Said Tantawy condemned the Danish government. Tantawy is the religious leader of Egypt, appointed by the Egyptian president, and chancellor of the prestigious al-Azhar University, one of the Sunni Muslims’ most important centers of learning.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticised his Danish colleague during bilateral talks last month (and
other consequences).

(...)Instead of supporting their government, 22 prominent Danish former career
diplomats criticised Prime Minister Rasmussen this week. (...)Their criticism, however, did not impress Rasmussen.

The letter by the former ambassadors was “very misguided and sad,” the Prime Minister’s spokesman Troels Lund Poulsen said yesterday. “They are willing to compromise freedom of expression by taking a moral stand."

(...)Meanwhile, Carsten Juste, Jyllands-Posten’s editor, has
welcomed efforts to end the cartoon controversy. Moderate Muslim groups in Denmark proposed to stop demanding apologies from JP and organise a “celebration” to show the moderate side of Islam. Juste welcomed the idea. “I consider it a chance at reconciliation,” he said.

“While it’s important to protect freedom of speech, there is also a need among Danes to gain more knowledge of Islam and Mohammed.”

Sounds like Carsten Juste is about to cave in. Who would want to live under a hail of death threats:

Death threats have forced daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten to hire security guards to protect its employees. Journalists and editors alike have received threats by email and the telephone. Editor Juste said the cartoons had been a journalistic project to find out how many cartoonists refrained from drawing the prophet out of fear.

'We live in a democracy,' he said. 'That's why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures. Religion shouldn't set any barriers on that sort of expression.'

Or, maybe not, huh?