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  #226  
KevinTheOmnivore KevinTheOmnivore is offline
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 04:33 PM       
Washington post:

Why I Published Those Cartoons

By Flemming Rose
Sunday, February 19, 2006; B01


Childish. Irresponsible. Hate speech. A provocation just for the sake of provocation. A PR stunt. Critics of 12 cartoons of the prophet Muhammad I decided to publish in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten have not minced their words. They say that freedom of expression does not imply an endorsement of insulting people's religious feelings, and besides, they add, the media censor themselves every day. So, please do not teach us a lesson about limitless freedom of speech.

I agree that the freedom to publish things doesn't mean you publish everything. Jyllands-Posten would not publish pornographic images or graphic details of dead bodies; swear words rarely make it into our pages. So we are not fundamentalists in our support for freedom of expression.

But the cartoon story is different.

Those examples have to do with exercising restraint because of ethical standards and taste; call it editing. By contrast, I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out. The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter.

At the end of September, a Danish standup comedian said in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he had no problem urinating on the Bible in front of a camera, but he dared not do the same thing with the Koran.

This was the culmination of a series of disturbing instances of self-censorship. Last September, a Danish children's writer had trouble finding an illustrator for a book about the life of Muhammad. Three people turned down the job for fear of consequences. The person who finally accepted insisted on anonymity, which in my book is a form of self-censorship. European translators of a critical book about Islam also did not want their names to appear on the book cover beside the name of the author, a Somalia-born Dutch politician who has herself been in hiding.

Around the same time, the Tate gallery in London withdrew an installation by the avant-garde artist John Latham depicting the Koran, Bible and Talmud torn to pieces. The museum explained that it did not want to stir things up after the London bombings. (A few months earlier, to avoid offending Muslims, a museum in Goteborg, Sweden, had removed a painting with a sexual motif and a quotation from the Koran.)

Finally, at the end of September, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with a group of imams, one of whom called on the prime minister to interfere with the press in order to get more positive coverage of Islam.

So, over two weeks we witnessed a half-dozen cases of self-censorship, pitting freedom of speech against the fear of confronting issues about Islam. This was a legitimate news story to cover, and Jyllands-Posten decided to do it by adopting the well-known journalistic principle: Show, don't tell. I wrote to members of the association of Danish cartoonists asking them "to draw Muhammad as you see him." We certainly did not ask them to make fun of the prophet. Twelve out of 25 active members responded.

We have a tradition of satire when dealing with the royal family and other public figures, and that was reflected in the cartoons. The cartoonists treated Islam the same way they treat Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. And by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims.

The cartoons do not in any way demonize or stereotype Muslims. In fact, they differ from one another both in the way they depict the prophet and in whom they target. One cartoon makes fun of Jyllands-Posten, portraying its cultural editors as a bunch of reactionary provocateurs. Another suggests that the children's writer who could not find an illustrator for his book went public just to get cheap publicity. A third puts the head of the anti-immigration Danish People's Party in a lineup, as if she is a suspected criminal.

One cartoon -- depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban -- has drawn the harshest criticism. Angry voices claim the cartoon is saying that the prophet is a terrorist or that every Muslim is a terrorist. I read it differently: Some individuals have taken the religion of Islam hostage by committing terrorist acts in the name of the prophet. They are the ones who have given the religion a bad name. The cartoon also plays into the fairy tale about Aladdin and the orange that fell into his turban and made his fortune. This suggests that the bomb comes from the outside world and is not an inherent characteristic of the prophet.

On occasion, Jyllands-Posten has refused to print satirical cartoons of Jesus, but not because it applies a double standard. In fact, the same cartoonist who drew the image of Muhammed with a bomb in his turban drew a cartoon with Jesus on the cross having dollar notes in his eyes and another with the star of David attached to a bomb fuse. There were, however, no embassy burnings or death threats when we published those.

Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.

This is exactly why Karl Popper, in his seminal work "The Open Society and Its Enemies," insisted that one should not be tolerant with the intolerant. Nowhere do so many religions coexist peacefully as in a democracy where freedom of expression is a fundamental right. In Saudi Arabia, you can get arrested for wearing a cross or having a Bible in your suitcase, while Muslims in secular Denmark can have their own mosques, cemeteries, schools, TV and radio stations.

I acknowledge that some people have been offended by the publication of the cartoons, and Jyllands-Posten has apologized for that. But we cannot apologize for our right to publish material, even offensive material. You cannot edit a newspaper if you are paralyzed by worries about every possible insult.

I am offended by things in the paper every day: transcripts of speeches by Osama bin Laden, photos from Abu Ghraib, people insisting that Israel should be erased from the face of the Earth, people saying the Holocaust never happened. But that does not mean that I would refrain from printing them as long as they fell within the limits of the law and of the newspaper's ethical code. That other editors would make different choices is the essence of pluralism.

As a former correspondent in the Soviet Union, I am sensitive about calls for censorship on the grounds of insult. This is a popular trick of totalitarian movements: Label any critique or call for debate as an insult and punish the offenders. That is what happened to human rights activists and writers such as Andrei Sakharov, Vladimir Bukovsky, Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Natan Sharansky, Boris Pasternak. The regime accused them of anti-Soviet propaganda, just as some Muslims are labeling 12 cartoons in a Danish newspaper anti-Islamic.

The lesson from the Cold War is: If you give in to totalitarian impulses once, new demands follow. The West prevailed in the Cold War because we stood by our fundamental values and did not appease totalitarian tyrants.

Since the Sept. 30 publication of the cartoons, we have had a constructive debate in Denmark and Europe about freedom of expression, freedom of religion and respect for immigrants and people's beliefs. Never before have so many Danish Muslims participated in a public dialogue -- in town hall meetings, letters to editors, opinion columns and debates on radio and TV. We have had no anti-Muslim riots, no Muslims fleeing the country and no Muslims committing violence. The radical imams who misinformed their counterparts in the Middle East about the situation for Muslims in Denmark have been marginalized. They no longer speak for the Muslim community in Denmark because moderate Muslims have had the courage to speak out against them.

In January, Jyllands-Posten ran three full pages of interviews and photos of moderate Muslims saying no to being represented by the imams. They insist that their faith is compatible with a modern secular democracy. A network of moderate Muslims committed to the constitution has been established, and the anti-immigration People's Party called on its members to differentiate between radical and moderate Muslims, i.e. between Muslims propagating sharia law and Muslims accepting the rule of secular law. The Muslim face of Denmark has changed, and it is becoming clear that this is not a debate between "them" and "us," but between those committed to democracy in Denmark and those who are not.

This is the sort of debate that Jyllands-Posten had hoped to generate when it chose to test the limits of self-censorship by calling on cartoonists to challenge a Muslim taboo. Did we achieve our purpose? Yes and no. Some of the spirited defenses of our freedom of expression have been inspiring. But tragic demonstrations throughout the Middle East and Asia were not what we anticipated, much less desired. Moreover, the newspaper has received 104 registered threats, 10 people have been arrested, cartoonists have been forced into hiding because of threats against their lives and Jyllands-Posten's headquarters have been evacuated several times due to bomb threats. This is hardly a climate for easing self-censorship.

Still, I think the cartoons now have a place in two separate narratives, one in Europe and one in the Middle East. In the words of the Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the integration of Muslims into European societies has been sped up by 300 years due to the cartoons; perhaps we do not need to fight the battle for the Enlightenment all over again in Europe. The narrative in the Middle East is more complex, but that has very little to do with the cartoons.

flemming.rose@jp.dk

Flemming Rose is the culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.
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  #227  
Pharaoh Pharaoh is offline
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 07:09 PM       
I don't really see how the integration of Muslims into European societies has been sped up by 300 years due to the cartoons. I'd say it's shown that they'll never integrate, and that it's going to have to be us infidels doing the integrating by submitting to Islam.
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  #228  
ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 07:26 PM       
I think the litmus test of that article's validity would be finding a Danish Standup comedian..
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  #229  
ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 07:46 PM       
Quote:
Those examples have to do with exercising restraint because of ethical standards and taste; call it editing. By contrast, I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out. The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world. Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter.
You know what would really comment on self imposed censorship and intimidation by radical musilms? actually commenting on self imposed censorship and intimidation by radical musilms. But instead the newspaper chooses to be disrespectful and directly insult the religion of islam instead of muslims. i think it's bullshit that they insult Islam and then say "hey guys seriously it was symbolism. We were trying to show how people shouldn't be intimdated by disrespecting islam, not that we wanted to disrespect islam, we just wanted to make a point, but we didn't want to be obvious so we didn't actually make the point, but we didn't mean to disrepect anyone"
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  #230  
Abcdxxxx Abcdxxxx is offline
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 09:39 PM       
See, one would think killing 40 people in the name of the supposed "desecration of Muhhamed's image" would be far more insulting to Islam then any cartoons.
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ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 10:08 PM       
We've gone over how it is very insulting to Islam, and if you post an article saying that it isn't I'll quote it and type up a schpeel about it too. As I have been over and over and over and over again..

Seeing as how the article was justifying the cartoons publishing in the first place I don't think I deviated too far from the point.
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ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Feb 19th, 2006, 10:08 PM       
double post
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  #233  
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 12:17 AM       
i don't see why it would matter if this newspaper insulted the religion or some of the people who follow the religion. why does it bother you? do you feel all insults of your religion should be suppressed? or just within the confines of a newspaper?
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  #234  
ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 12:52 AM       
Because I think that the stuff in the article is BS.

I don't see how the picture of the prophet mohammad with shady eyes and bomb wrapped in his turbin can be seen as anything but making the prophet look like a terrorist. and If not that one then how's about the one with the black bar over his eyes and holding a saber.

I think there are better ways to criticise self censorship then printing those comics. ie making comics about how people are being scared by muslims, instead of picture directly portraying the prophet mohammad

and the only part that does bother me is that it insults religion. I don't know if its unreasonable to be a little bit offended by some one depicting my religion as inherently evil. but if it is I'm sorry.

but most of all I don't think this should have even been this big of a deal. I think there shoulda been like 20 angry letters to the newspaper which they would use them as toilet paper and everyone would call it a day. But muslim people in the middle east are being stupid and for some reason there's a 10 page thread about this on I-mock
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 12:55 AM       
I just had to explain to Chojin that I was laughing at this because Scru is being the only level headed person in this thread.

I think that's pretty funny and all. Y'know, cause he's muslim, and shouldn't he be the one reacting and all? Cause he's not.
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  #236  
Abcdxxxx Abcdxxxx is offline
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 02:31 AM       
This particular religious taboo seems incredibly inconsequential in relation to everything else going on in the world.

When did screaming about religious blasphemy start being mistaken for "level headed", and why is a religious prophet above political satire anyway?

More importantly...can someone PLEASE tell me why signs like this one, in Palkistan, are in English ?
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 08:14 AM       
presumably because its far more likely to be covered by western TV and give them lots more publicity.
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  #238  
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 12:45 PM       
I suppose they're trying to offend us back, in the the hope that we'll riot and shoot our children and burn down buildings.
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davinxtk davinxtk is offline
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 06:18 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by ScruU2wice
I think there are better ways to criticise self censorship then printing those comics. ie making comics about how people are being scared by muslims, instead of picture directly portraying the prophet mohammad
It's a power play, Scru. It gets the attention of every muslim, not just activist muslims and not just radical muslims. The point was to engage specifically more moderate muslims (the ones who, as it's been said in this thread, don't seem to speak out enough). It effectively gave sane and reasonable muslims something to use to seperate themselves from their foaming-at-the-mouth reactionary counterparts in the eyes of the public. It just went too far.



And...
Quote:
But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.
I think this quote weighs heavily on every political activist from every religion.
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(1:02:34 AM): and i think i may have gone a little too far and let her know that i actually do hate her, on some level, just because she's female
(1:03:33 AM): and now she's being all kinds of sensitive about it
(1:03:53 AM): i hate women
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ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 07:04 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abcdxxxx
This particular religious taboo seems incredibly inconsequential in relation to everything else going on in the world.

When did screaming about religious blasphemy start being mistaken for "level headed", and why is a religious prophet above political satire anyway?
I'm sorry if my loud internet yelling bothered you. I can't really seem to remember what gives you the authority to tell me what aspects of my religion I find consequential and what I don't.

Again, there is no real winning with you. There is nothing that in your eyes, any muslim can ever do to make you feel that Islam and Muslims aren't pur evil.
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 08:39 PM       
It has nothing to do with me. I'm not the reason why you think a cartoon of your prophet, exalted by your god, can tarnish his image.

I read a blog where a young Muslim went to his Imam and asked him to speak out against these idiots. Maybe if moderate Muslims became as outspoken as the non-Muslims, and stopped taking this as intolerance for your people, things would change. The problem I see, is even Moderates are against the religious reforms that every other major religion has gone through.
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 09:28 PM       
http://i-mockery.net/viewtopic.php?t=21017

I said I believe the cartoons to be effective statements, and I think they are, though scary, awesome... for the same reason Abcdxxxx just said. Maybe he's a racist or whatever, but I agree with his take on the meaning of this art.

That being said, there's no way I've read through this incredibly long thread completely, so I'm saying this based only on the last few posts.
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mburbank~ Yes, okay, fine, I do know what you meant, but why is it not possible for you to get through a paragraph without making all the words cry?

How can someone who obviously thinks so much of their ideas have so little respect for expressing them? How can someone who so yearns to be taken seriously make so little effort?!
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ScruU2wice ScruU2wice is offline
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Old Feb 20th, 2006, 11:41 PM       
Quote:
Originally Posted by Abcdxxxx
It has nothing to do with me. I'm not the reason why you think a cartoon of your prophet, exalted by your god, can tarnish his image.

I read a blog where a young Muslim went to his Imam and asked him to speak out against these idiots. Maybe if moderate Muslims became as outspoken as the non-Muslims, and stopped taking this as intolerance for your people, things would change. The problem I see, is even Moderates are against the religious reforms that every other major religion has gone through.
Yeah ok so any criticism of Islam should go by uncommented on..

"Yeah guys the prophet mohammad was a terrorist"

"That's pretty unfounded and I'll go one step further and call you stupid"

"Hey asshole, if you were really secure in your beliefs you wouldn't care what I say, and if you were a truly progressive muslim you wouldn't criticize me, you would go pull on a cape and fly across the world to fix all of the middle east."

"tousche"

See the thing is that I am more offended by the Muslim response to the situation and I have admitted it time and time again. But I don't support the cartoons which you want me to. When you bring up the topic of the cartoons being offensive. THEY ARE. tell me that I'm wrapping myself up in dogma and inconsequential doctrines of Islam, I don't care. I'm not gonna list the different times I spoke up against how many times I told my friends that the whole situation was a disgrace to Muslims around the world, because I don't need to tell you. You already know how I feel, on the subject..

I also said that the situation at hand is not a problem that I believe can be solved by religious reform seeing as how I have stated that this is a problem with people being hyper-sensitive to religious taboos. What religious reforms can I promote: Should we allow depiction of the Prophet Mohammad and Allah? what religious change other than that would make any difference in what these psychos are doing? Will my speaking out change the minds of middle easterners who probably hate me as much as any other person in the west?
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Old Feb 21st, 2006, 02:47 AM       
Yeah guys, Saad is as corrupt as we are, give the man a break. Sheesh.
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