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Danish editor tests right to violate Muslim taboos

Old 11-10-05, 07:35 AM
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Danish editor tests right to violate Muslim taboos

http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/1110/p...oeu.html?s=hns

COPENHAGEN When Flemming Rose heard last month that Danish cartoonists were too afraid of Muslim militants to illustrate a new children's biography of Islam's Prophet Muhammad, he decided to put his nation's famous tolerance to the test.

The cultural editor of Denmark's largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, then recruited cartoonists to depict Islam's Prophet Muhammad and published them in the paper.

Since then, thousands of Danish Muslims, whose religion strictly prohibits depictions of the prophet, have demonstrated in protest, though some have rallied in support of the paper, too. Ambassadors from 11 Islamic countries including Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey signed a letter demanding that the Danish prime minister "punish" the newspaper. In contrast, a young Iranian woman started a petition in favor of the move.

"This issue goes back to Salman Rushdie. It's about freedom of speech and Islam," says an unrepentant Rose, who feels a culture of fear and self-censorship has taken hold across Europe since Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh was murdered for criticizing traditional Islam's treatment of women.

As accusations of racism and discrimination fly amid the ongoing unrest in France, European countries are being pushed to pinpoint the causes of - and solution to - the social exclusion of their significant Muslim populations. A key ingredient to the dialogue, Rose says, is making room for a frank discussion of the compatibility of democratic principles such as free speech, and traditional Islam.
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"Some Muslims are asking for an apology pointing to a lack of respect," he says. "They're not asking for respect; they're asking for subordination - for us as non-Muslims to follow Muslim taboos in the public domain."
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Although Rose expected some complaints, he was unprepared for the deluge of criticism.

Among those who attacked the newspaper's lack of sensitivity was prominent Copenhagen imam Raed Hlayhel, saying "I will not tolerate this. If this is democracy, we disagree with democracy."

But despite the barrage of criticism, Rose defends his decision, which coincided with the arrest of seven Danish Muslims two weeks ago for planning a terrorist attack - the first evidence of Islamic militancy among Denmark's 200,000 Muslims. As evidence of the Islamic pressure for censorship, he points to several events in the last month. The individual who translated a new book by Van Gogh's collaborator, Dutch MP Aayan Hirsi Ali, has requested anonymity. A London art gallery removed a modern art exhibit "God is Great," which featured a Koran, for fear of retaliation. While in Copenhagen, a delegation of Danish imams asked the prime minister to force Denmark's media to supply "more positive coverage" of Islam.

For its part, the newspaper has found Muslim allies. When the controversy first broke, hundreds of Danish Muslims demonstrated in Copenhagen in support of the newspaper. Among them were refugees that right-wing, anti-immigration parties would like to see turned away at Denmark's borders.

"People have a right to say what they want without being killed," says Nasim Rahnama, the 20-year-old Iranian woman who started a petition in support of the newspaper. "These Islamic groups have to be stopped. I just can't sit down and do nothing."

So far Ms. Rahnama, who moved here from Tehran four years ago, has collected over 150 signatures from Danish Muslims who support the paper's stance but says that she would have got many more if it weren't for people's fear that Islamic groups would find out.

"I am so happy here," she says. "I have learnt the language. I have a lot of friends. I live in freedom; I love it."

But some warn that the newspaper's actions might push other young Muslims in the opposite direction by fueling their sense of persecution and obliging them to defend even the most anachronistic aspects of their religion.

"The cartoons seem to have been a deliberate move by the newspaper to provoke Muslim sentiment in a totally legal manner," says Bjorn Moller, a senior research fellow at the Danish Institute of International Studies, who says that public expressions of racism are increasing, citing one right-wing member of parliament who compared Denmark's Muslim community to cancer.

"Things which people wouldn't have been allowed to say a couple of years ago are now being said openly," says Mr. Moller. "It's becoming more socially acceptable to use that kind of language and that's bound to alienate Muslims and create fanaticism."

But already Danish voters are flocking to the right-wing Danish People's Party, which has pointed out that crime in general and the rape of Danish girls in particular are disproportionately committed by Muslim immigrants.

The party's provocative slogan "Dit Land, Dit Valg" (One land, one people) for many people conjures up unwelcome reminders of Denmark's ambiguous role in the Nazi occupation.

"A growing number of people see being a Dane and being a Muslim as incompatible," says Moller, adding that the Danish Peoples' Party, the country's third largest, is behind controversial government attempts to stabilize Denmark's growing Muslim community at no more than 10 percent of the total 5.5 million population. Right now, Muslims make up nearly 4 percent of the population.

"The emphasis is rapidly becoming to keep out as many people as possible, regardless of whether they've been tortured or persecuted," says Moller.

But many Danish Muslims attempt to strike a conciliatory tone - aware that in contrast to France's rapidly increasing Muslim population of about five million - they remain a small and vulnerable minority.

"The parliament is dominated by right-wing parties," says Naveed Baig, who promotes the peaceful Sufi strain of Islam through the group Muslims In Dialogue. "They are trying to control immigrants, not facilitate them. And at the same time Muslim extremists are making things hard for the majority of Muslims who fully accept secularism and democracy."

Rose meanwhile says he is happy that he has sparked a debate about how traditional Islamic ideas often clash with Western secular and democratic ideals. He also says that the controversy has helped bring native Danes and Muslim immigrants together.

"Usually we speak about them and us, Muslim immigrants and the local population, but in this case many Danes criticized the paper while many Muslims supported the paper," says Rose. "This is actually the first time Muslims participated on a public platform alongside Danes."
For some reason the bolded line struck a cord w/ me. I think more than "they hate our freedom" this might be why some Muslims just have a problem getting along w/ everyone else (although maybe that is the freedom they hate ).
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Old 11-10-05, 08:43 AM
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About respect, the mentioned Theo van Gogh said about that in an interview:

'In Muslim culture they always talk about 'respect'. But the word 'respect' is mostly used by persons that lack any sort of respect for others. Somebody will say: hey, show some respect for the Koran, you can't mock that. But when you read what that book says about people who think differently, you must think: fuck off with that 'respect' of yours.'
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Old 11-10-05, 09:28 AM
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I'm not sure this is the best example of Muslim intolerance. This guy commissioned the creation of cartoons depicting Muhammed with the implicit goal of doing it to upset Muslims. Calls for an apology from that community are somewhat warranted, in my opinion.
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Old 11-10-05, 09:35 AM
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Eh, it's his funeral (literally).
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Old 11-10-05, 09:59 AM
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this is nothing more than a clash of cultures. the European/pagan tradition of icons and idols versus the Islamic tradition that comes from Judaism of no representations of God. Pesonally I don't care since this is in Europe, and in the US most Muslims don't care if someone makes an image off Mohammed. I don't remember any protests over PBS's special about Islam a few years ago which had someone playing Mohammed.
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Old 11-10-05, 10:12 AM
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There's a basic difference between Islam and nearly every other major religion in the amount of respect and tolerance *they themselves* show for other people and cultures. If they think they can dictate how the rest of the world behaves--particularly under threat of violence--then they should be stopped. *And* mocked, while we're at it.

Now I'm no fan of Christianity, either. Personally, I think no religion in this world is a force for good. But I have no problems saying which one clearly breeds the most violence and the least tolerance on the global stage--and it's Islam. Islam has a lot to answer for.

Last edited by adamblast; 11-10-05 at 10:28 AM.
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Old 11-10-05, 10:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Duran
I'm not sure this is the best example of Muslim intolerance. This guy commissioned the creation of cartoons depicting Muhammed with the implicit goal of doing it to upset Muslims. Calls for an apology from that community are somewhat warranted, in my opinion.
The cartoons were not commissioned to piss of Muslims. Like the art gallery in the article that had a Koran in a piece called "God is Great!" and removed it. They didn't put the Koran in there to piss off Muslims.
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Old 11-10-05, 10:34 AM
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Europe should be very interesting in this regard for the next decade. I think the French will cave and give the Muslim communities a fair amount of autonomy, but the other nations seem to recognize that they have been in water that is now finally starting to boil. I think that proves we are smarter than frogs.
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Old 11-10-05, 10:53 AM
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to Flemming Rose for pushing the hypocritical buttons of certain Muslims. And to the certain Muslims out there sticking up for Flemming Rose and his rights of freedom of speech/press.
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Old 11-10-05, 10:55 AM
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Originally Posted by kvrdave
I think that proves we are smarter than frogs.

......
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Old 11-10-05, 12:17 PM
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The cartoons were not commissioned to piss of Muslims.
Sure sounded like they were to me. Maybe not "piss off" but at least tweak a bit.
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Old 11-10-05, 12:39 PM
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Originally Posted by Duran
Sure sounded like they were to me. Maybe not "piss off" but at least tweak a bit.
So because something is done to stir up a little controversy, it shouldn't be done? Interesting. In your world should there be no art or literature you would find even slightly offensive?
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Old 11-10-05, 12:53 PM
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Originally Posted by GFM
So because something is done to stir up a little controversy, it shouldn't be done? Interesting. In your world should there be no art or literature you would find even slightly offensive?
I didn't say that, nor did I say anything close. My point was merely you shouldn't do something with the intention of offending someone and then complain when they are offended. I don't have a problem with the creation of offensive content. I also don't have a problem with people being offended by it and making that opinion known.
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Old 11-10-05, 01:01 PM
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Originally Posted by eXcentris
......


You lost me.

edit - Okay, I just reread that and I think you think I was using the term "frog" to mean French people? I actually was saying that we were smarter than frogs in the sense that we are not allowing ourselves to be boiled, but rather we are waking up and noticing that the water is getting warm.

Sorry if that was taken the wrong way.

Last edited by kvrdave; 11-10-05 at 01:15 PM.
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Old 11-10-05, 01:58 PM
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So how long before a bomb goes off at his apartment building or he gets kidnapped and beheaded? I'm taking bets.
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Old 11-10-05, 02:22 PM
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So when will Iran, Pakistan, and Turkey sign a letter demanding an apology for the muslim rioters for burning down the churches and synagogues during the riot in France?
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Old 11-10-05, 02:25 PM
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This from the religion of peace too. Why is it that these Muslim leaders call for all these changes in the name of their religion when they don't respect any other religion themselves? God forbid you insult a Muslim but it's ok to insult christians and call for the deaths of all Jews. Sounds like the religion of hypocrites to me.
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Old 11-10-05, 02:38 PM
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Originally Posted by Mopower
This from the religion of peace too. Why is it that these Muslim leaders call for all these changes in the name of their religion when they don't respect any other religion themselves? God forbid you insult a Muslim but it's ok to insult christians and call for the deaths of all Jews. Sounds like the religion of hypocrites to me.
Remember, it's a minority.

(Hard to keep a straight face when typing that)
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Old 11-12-05, 01:33 AM
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Originally Posted by adamblast
There's a basic difference between Islam and nearly every other major religion in the amount of respect and tolerance *they themselves* show for other people and cultures. If they think they can dictate how the rest of the world behaves--particularly under threat of violence--then they should be stopped. *And* mocked, while we're at it.

Now I'm no fan of Christianity, either. Personally, I think no religion in this world is a force for good. But I have no problems saying which one clearly breeds the most violence and the least tolerance on the global stage--and it's Islam. Islam has a lot to answer for.
Yeah, I think that's the problem. There are too many people in this world who can't practice their religions without being assholes about it.

It's Islamic assholes who fly planes into buildings, strap bombs onto their kids, and murder movie directors.

It's Christian assholes who bomb abortion clinics, attack our Constitutional freedoms in the name of fighting "obscenity," and who can't stop picking on gay people.

It's the assholes in Israel/Palestine who would rather kill each other than just get on with their lives and not give a shit about what God and book their neighbor believes in or doesn't believe in.

To quote a very wise man, "It does me no injury for my neighbor to say there are twenty gods or no God. It neither picks my pocket nor breaks my leg."
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