Monday, February 06, 2006

But we won't know until ....

So now we have 5 people dead in Afghanistan during protests against the Danish cartoons.
I've looked at an interesting debate at, for example:
I'm quite troubled over the cartoon controversy in Denmark, not because of the cartoons themselves, which I agree are offensive, but rather, because of the absurd overreaction of Muslims worldwide. We haven't learned from the Rushdie affair - this is yet another instance where we've gone out of our way to make ourselves look stupid.

And as far as cartoons doing little harm, you should reflect on the power of imagery. What image comes to most people's mind when Jesus is mention. Proably a white man with long hair or whatever most people have seen. These images disgrace the dignity of the Prophet and will be the first thing non-Muslims visualize when they hear his name.

For once I agree with Oliver Kamm:
There is a common view that, while publication of the original cartoons was justified, their emergence as a cause of friction entails that they should not be republished. As Parris notes, this has it the wrong way round. The cartoons are indifferent, crude and unfunny, and ought not to have found editorial space when submitted. Now that they have caused widespread offence, it is imperative that they be widely published and circulated.

But I also agree with Lib Dem MEP Sajjad Karim:

"Muslims should have no issue with the Danish people as a whole - one of the most open and tolerant societies in the world. I would urge all sides now to climb down and treat this as a hard lesson in building inter-cultural ties."

I think it was right for newspapers - and bloggers - to have republished the cartoons. But newspapers can't go on republishing for ever - they are ephemeral productions. It also may be time for the images to disappear from some of the internet - if they are in a newspaper for one day, they don't need to be on a website for months or years. But they should be there somewhere, so that people can see them for themselves.
I accept that millions of people have been greatly , dreadfully, upset by these cartoons, but that's because what was a local issue in Denmark (not exactly the centre of the Islamic world) has been poisoned by the deliberate addition of three 'fake' cartoons and inflamed by people in the Middle East with a remarkable ability to procure Danish flags at short notice. It's intimidation and bullying of free speech in Europe.
Some may think it has been successful intimidation. I dearly hope not. There's no need to 'test the waters' for the sake of it. But we won't know if the intimidation has worked until someone has a good reason to produce something else that is acceptable by Western standards but not to Middle Eastern flagburners.

1 comment:

Kim Ayres said...

I must admit, that I found the first of these cartoons, the one with micky mouse, to be particularly funny

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