Cartoon of Mohammed and "Kill All Christians"
Posted: 29 March 2006 04:25 AM   [ Ignore ]
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A while back there was a discussion of the cartoons insultingly depicting Mohammed printed by Danish journalists followed, after their reprint, by worldwide Muslim protests.

Interestingly, some argued here that the West was at fault somehow - I can’t restate their argument because I don’t understand it.

Anyway with the case of the poor Afghanistan man, Mr. Rahman, who converted to Christianity, any defense of the protestors is now pretty much pointless.

With many average Muslims, clerics and elected officials in Afghanistan demanding his death for converting, and only the pressure on the part of the "West" saving him, exactly what is unfair about such cartoons being a parody of the religious beliefs of those many persons calling for Mr. Rahman’s death?

No, not ALL Muslims around the world want him dead, just like not all Christians are Pat Robertson - some are Jimmy Carter - but we should be able to parody the religion of these bloodlusting Muslims, just like we should be able to parody the bloodlusting Jesus of Pat Robertson who condones murder and assassination.

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Posted: 29 March 2006 04:25 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]
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Cartoon of Mohammed and "Kill All Christians"

A while back there was a discussion of the cartoons insultingly depicting Mohammed printed by Danish journalists followed, after their reprint, by worldwide Muslim protests.

Interestingly, some argued here that the West was at fault somehow - I can’t restate their argument because I don’t understand it.

Anyway with the case of the poor Afghanistan man, Mr. Rahman, who converted to Christianity, any defense of the protestors is now pretty much pointless.

With many average Muslims, clerics and elected officials in Afghanistan demanding his death for converting, and only the pressure on the part of the “West” saving him, exactly what is unfair about such cartoons being a parody of the religious beliefs of those many persons calling for Mr. Rahman’s death?

No, not ALL Muslims around the world want him dead, just like not all Christians are Pat Robertson - some are Jimmy Carter - but we should be able to parody the religion of these bloodlusting Muslims, just like we should be able to parody the bloodlusting Jesus of Pat Robertson who condones murder and assassination.

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Posted: 29 March 2006 04:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]
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Neat grin

“I am perfect.
Anything I do is right.
Anything I believe is totally correct.

You are wrong.
Anything you do that “I” do not like is wrong.
Anything you believe is sick and wrong.  Unless I believe it too.

You are the cause of all my problems.
You should kiss the ground that I walk on.

You have a better life, more money, success, etc.  That is because you—ahh,  took it from me.  Its really mine.

If I kill you it is justified.
If you kill or hurt or look at funny anyone, its horriblly wrong.

etc, etc etc,”

And of course these people are totally normal and correct. : -)  Their culture has beening trying, unsuccessfully, to kill each other off for thousands of years. Now they want to kill us off too. 

Sorry, such a disturbed mind is even too much for even one as easy going as I.  :-(

Elder Norm

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Posted: 29 March 2006 05:19 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]
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Re: Cartoon of Mohammed and "Kill All Christians"

LISecHum wrote “...the case of the poor Afghanistan man, Mr. Rahman, who converted to Christianity….With many average Muslims, clerics and elected officials in Afghanistan demanding his death for converting, and only the pressure on the part of the “West” saving him, exactly what is unfair about such cartoons being a parody of the religious beliefs of those many persons calling for Mr. Rahman’s death?

No, not ALL Muslims around the world want him dead, just like not all Christians are Pat Robertson - some are Jimmy Carter - but we should be able to parody the religion of these bloodlusting Muslims, just like we should be able to parody the bloodlusting Jesus of Pat Robertson who condones murder and assassination.”

LISecHum,
I think the problem is that most Muslims are not sure who the cartoons are targeting. Perhaps most of them understand that it is only the “bloodlusting” Muslims that are being attacked by the cartoons. But perhaps most of them feel that the cartoons are directed at all Muslims. After seeing the cartoons it wasn’t clear to me exactly who was being targeted.
Anyway, I just heard that Mr. Rahman escaped death in Afghanistan and is safe in Italy where he has been giving asylum.
Bob

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Posted: 29 March 2006 03:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]
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Borders Bookstores versus the Council for Secular Humanism?

Borders won’t carry magazine containing prophet cartoons
 
By CAROLYN THOMPSON
Associated Press Writer

March 29, 2006, 5:54 PM EST

BUFFALO, N.Y.—Borders and Waldenbooks stores will not stock the April-May issue of Free Inquiry magazine because it contains cartoons of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad that provoked deadly protests among Muslims in several countries.

“For us, the safety and security of our customers and employees is a top priority, and we believe that carrying this issue could challenge that priority,” Borders spokeswoman Beth Bingham said Wednesday.

The magazine published by the Council for Secular Humanism in suburban Amherst includes four of the drawings that originally appeared in a Danish newspaper in September.

“What is at stake is the precious right of freedom of expression,” said Paul Kurtz, editor-in-chief of Free Inquiry. “Cartoons often provide an important form of political satire ... To refuse to distribute a publication because of fear of vigilante violence is to undermine freedom of press _ so vital for our democracy.”

Bingham said the decision was made before the magazine arrived at the chain’s stores. The company operates more than 475 Borders and 650 Waldenbooks stores in the United States, though not all regularly carry the magazine.

“We absolutely respect our customers’ right to choose what they wish to read and buy and we support the First Amendment,” Bingham said. “And we absolutely support the rights of Free Inquiry to publish the cartoons. We’ve just chosen not to carry this particular issue in our stores.”

Tens of thousands of people have protested the cartoons in Pakistan, Turkey and elsewhere since they first appeared. Islamic tradition bars depiction of Muhammad to prevent idol worship, which is strictly prohibited.

In the magazine, the cartoons are accompanied by three articles: one by editor Tom Flynn tracing the controversy and explaining the decision; a commentary by R. Joseph Hoffmann, director of the Council for Secular Humanism’s Committee for the Scientific Examination of Religion; and a historic look at representations of the prophet.

Among the four caricatures that appear is one depicting Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban with a lit fuse and one showing horns coming out of the prophet’s turban.


On the Net:

Free Inquiry: http://www.freeinquiry.net

Borders: http://www.bordersgroupinc.com

Copyright 2006 Newsday Inc.

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Posted: 04 April 2006 06:48 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]
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I must say that I was at first a bit dismayed that Free Inquiry would publish these inflammatory cartoons ... I couldn’t see any real point to it. But having received the issue, I’ve changed my mind. I was expecting very harsh, truly offensive material. Instead I find four (or five depending on how you count) milquetoast-y drawings which, taken individually, are actually much more staid than one could find in any weekly political cartoon in this country.

Seeing the cartoons reinforces the point that they could not have been the real issue: clearly the violence was fomented by people who had never seen them or who were simply unfamiliar with the genre.

The article that went along with them, and Ibn Warraq’s necessary piece on depictions of Mohammed in Islamic art, were both quite level-headed and on target.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 07:46 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]
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Can somebody show me this cartoon. I still haven’t seen it.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 08:06 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]
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[quote author=“theatheistheretic”]Can somebody show me this cartoon. I still haven’t seen it.

I’d guess they’re on the web somewhere ... maybe they’re Googlable. At any rate they’re published in the most recent issue of Free Inquiry.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 08:39 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]
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Is free inquiry issue on the web? I don’t rember seeing it in their email they send out.

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Posted: 07 April 2006 09:21 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]
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[quote author=“theatheistheretic”]Is free inquiry issue on the web? I don’t rember seeing it in their email they send out.

I don’t think so.

FYI their website is here .

It may be in a library near you, or you can subscribe I guess.

8)

But as I say, the cartoons are probably somewhere on the web too. They’re pretty anemic though, for all that. Hardly worth the effort.

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Posted: 03 May 2006 10:24 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 10 ]
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Do you know what edition it’s in?

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Posted: 02 September 2006 07:44 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 11 ]
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Response to Gerry…

The “long war” and Islamophobia

by Takis Fotopoulos

The past few weeks have been marked by two important developments which forebode painful and long-lasting consequences for many people on the planet. These developments refer, first, to the evolution of the present “war” conducted by the transnational elite from a war against “terrorism” into a “long war” (the term used by the American Pentagon) and, second, to what could be the first skirmish in this long war, which developed with the Danish anti-Islamic cartoons—an event that could be an indication of the transnational elite’s intention to cause some sort of ‘clash of civilisations’.

The long war, which became known with the publication of the Pentagon’s Quadrennial Defence Review,[1] is planned to involve not just the elites of the US and UK—the usual leading players in similar wars—but the entire transnational elite, as well as the military and intelligence forces of as many of its ‘allied’ elites as possible. The war is envisaged to take the form of an ongoing conflict unlimited by time and space, as it could be fought in dozens of countries and for decades to come, in a life or death struggle (for which the US defence budget for 2007 is estimated at $513bn) comparable to those against fascism and communism. As Donald Rumsfeld put it: “the enemy have designed and distributed a map where national borders are erased and replaced by a global extremist Islamic empire.”(!) At the same time, Brigadier General Mark Kimmitt, deputy director of US central command covering the Middle East, has been declaring in London that “an extremist ideology seeks to go back to the era of theocratic dictatorship, repression and intolerance while employing the latest technology to do so”.[2] And it is hilarious indeed that these assertions were made by someone representing one of the most religious countries on earth (not much less religious than Iran!) in which over 80 percent of its people believe in miracles and its president declares that he consults God before deciding which country to invade next!

The long war of course necessitates its own ideology to ‘justify’ it, and this is provided by the ‘theory’ of the clash of civilisations supported by the ideologues of the system, a theory which now seems to have been upgraded to become the ideological basis of the new ‘war’, in place of the ideological fiascos of the previous wars (Kosovo’s genocide, Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction etc). Within this framework, one could also explain the production and reproduction of the anti-Islamic cartoons by the transnational elites’ media as a deliberate challenge to Muslim sensitivities, rather than as a conflict between western freedom of speech and the press on the one hand and the obscurantism of Islamic fundamentalism on the other, as it has been presented by the world media,a view which, unsurprisingly, was immediately adopted by many in the “Left,” the Greens etc!

The facts, as were presented in the world press, are well known. A Danish newspaper published last September a series of supposedly satirical cartoons portraying the prophet Mohammed, which led to a storm of protest all over the Islamic world when it became widely known that the neoliberal government of Denmark refused to meet ambassadors from 11 Islamic nations who demanded an apology and the punishment of those responsible. Of course, when an economic boycott of Danish products in the large Islamic market seemed to be looming, the good bourgeois government was compelled to perform an abrupt U-turn, expressing its regrets and admitting that the cartoons have hurt the sensitivities of Muslims worldwide, while the editor of the Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper which had started the row, issued his own apology. However, to add salt to the previous wound, it was at this very moment that some of the transnational elite’s main mass media in Europe (with the exception of the British), taking the view that the Danish apologies amounted to a capitulation, decided to intervene by reproducing the cartoons in widely circulated papers like Die Welt in Germany, France-Soir in France and La Stampa in Italy. Their aim was, supposedly, to defend freedom of speech and freedom of the press which were being threatened by Islamists. Inevitably, this caused further escalation of the conflict, leading to the burning of western embassies and mass demonstrations, with dozens of dead victims throughout the Muslim world.

However, some crucial elements, usually not mentioned by the western mass media, are missing from the above account of the recent events. It would, therefore, be worth examining them in order to form a clear picture of these events.

First, the cartoons’ target was neither religion nor God in general,something that could indeed raise the issue of defending the principles of the Enlightenment from the theocratic obscurantism of religious bigots all over the world. Not only did the Danish cartoons have as their target one particular religion and one particular deity but, also, in showing the prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban, they identified Islamism with ‘terrorism’. As Robert Fisk aptly pointed out, “had that cartoon of the Prophet shown in≠stead a chief rabbi with a bomb-shaped hat, we would have had “anti-Semitism” screamed into our ears”.[3] Furthermore, when the British political journal The New Statesman published its front page in January 2002 displaying a shimmering golden Star of David impaling a union flag with the words “A kosher conspiracy?,” the cover was immediately condemned as anti-semitic.

What followed draws some very interesting comparisons with the present situation. Peter Wilby, the then editor of The New Statesman, promptly apologised and, as Gary Younge stressed,“I do not remember talk of a clash of civilisations in which Jewish values were inconsistent with the western traditions of freedom of speech or democracy. Nor do I recall editors across Europe rushing to reprint the cover in solidarity”.[4]

It is, therefore, clear that the aim of the cartoons was to identify with ‘terrorism’ all those among the 1.5 billion Muslims across the world who do not adopt the New World Order and who, consequently, do not submit to the transnational elite. In other words, the aim was to enhance further the Islamophobia presently cultivated by the western mass media, given that it perfectly suits not only the Zionist plans unilaterally to impose a ‘two-state’ solution involving the creation of a ‘Greater Israel’ (taking into account the demographic constraints) and a Palestinian Bantustan[5] but, also, the transnational elite’s plans to integrate as fully as possible the Islamic countries into the New World Order and also to coerce into submission the millions of Muslims living in the metropolitan centres, who increasingly challenge the role of the transnational elite in the Muslim world.

Second, Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of the Danish paper whose initiative it was to publish the cartoons, is a self-declared supporter of the ‘theory’ of the clash of civilisations. In addition, it is not accidental that Jyllands-Posten has been accused in the past by the European network against racism for its frequent negative treatment of ethnic minorities. Furthermore, Denmark has been moving, for several years now, towards xenophobia and racism—especially with respect to its Muslim inhabitants; inevitably, it has been transformed into a country of “intolerance and a deep-seated belief in its cultural superiority”.[6]

This has been a slow process which began with the social democrats in the 1990s who, seeing the change in their electoral clientele brought about by neoliberal globalisation, quickly realised that the rhetoric of solidarity and social reforms no longer impressed its mainly middle-class voters. This process was accelerated in this decade by the present neoliberal government, which has been relying on the support of the xenophobic and anti-Islamic Danish People’s party which openly promotes the view that “the issue is not one of cartoons, but concerns rather a titanic struggle of values between totalitarian, dogmatic Islamic regimes and the freedom and liberty beloved of western democracies”.[7] No wonder the 200,000 Muslims living in Denmark still do not have a single Muslim cemetery in the country and have been denied a permit to build a mosque in Copenhagen!

Third, it is simply a joke to talk about freedom of speech and freedom of the press when the international mass media are completely controlled by political and economic elites which systematically manipulate public opinion in the West, so that a consensus can be manufactured for the launching of the repeated wars of the transnational elite. And it is an effrontery to talk about such freedoms when in several western countries (e.g. France, Austria) even the historical questioning of the Holocaust is penalised, while in others (e.g. the UK) the support for resistance against the occupying powers in Palestine, Iraq or Afghanistan is considered ‘a glorification of terrorism’ and penalised as such ”

* The above text is based on a translation of an article which was first published in the fortnightly column of Takis Fotopoulos in the mass circulation Athens daily Eleftherotypia on 18/2/06

[1] Simon Tisdall et al. ‘America’s Long War’, Guardian, 15/2/06

[2] Simon Tisdall, ‘Washington digs in for a ‘long war’, Guardian, 7/2/06

[3] Robert Fisk “Don’t be fooled, this isn’t an issue of Islam versus secularism”, ?ndependent, 4/2/06

[4] Richard Norton-Taylor, “Does the right to freedom of speech justify printing the Danish cartoons?”, Guardian, 3/2/06

[5] see Takis Fotopoulos, ‘Palestine: the hour of truth’, The International Journal of INCLUSIVE DEMOCRACY, Issue no 5 January 2006, http://www.inclusivedemocracy.org/journal/is5/Takis_Palestine.htm

[6] Kiku Day, Denmark’s new values, Guardian, 15/2/06

[7] ibid.

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Posted: 07 September 2006 07:04 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 12 ]
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Pintak on Cartoons

Why all the fuss now?

Lawrence Pintak

————————————————————————————————————————

We just don’t get it, do we? And by “we,” I mean all of us—Americans, Arabs, Europeans, Pakistanis, Indonesians, you name it. The cartoon controversy is just the latest evidence of that. It’s almost as if we want to believe the worst about each other.

There was a book published a few years ago called, Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus. Sometimes I think the inhabitants of the West and the Muslim world are living in different universes.

We may not be witnessing a “clash of civilisations”—though some people certainly seem to want one—but there is a fundamental disconnect between our societies. The cartoon controversy is just the latest example of the essential gap in worldview, perceptions and communication that drives polarisation.

“These are our values and we will defend them,” German Chancellor Angela Merkel said, seemingly oblivious to the fact that Muslims around the world feel exactly the same way. But then double standards, and “holier-than-thou” attitudes, abound on both sides of this tempest.

The litany has already been catalogued elsewhere: European laws against anti-Semitism which don’t apply to Arabs, the “other” Semites; anti-Jewish cartoons that regularly appear in Arab newspapers now leading the chorus of denunciations of the European press.

Saudi Wahabis desecrated—neigh, obliterated—Prophet Mohamed’s tomb and today they protest about cartoons. The same Western journalists who today preach free speech caved in to Bush administration’s pressure not to show POWs in Iraq and Bin Laden tapes.

The list goes on, depending how many years—or centuries—you want to go back.

Meanwhile, for all the talk of dialogue and understanding, we each fail to grasp what, as we say in America, “makes the other tick”; in other words, the complex mix of factors that make us what we are and shapes how we see the world. Instead, we fall back on stereotypes and clichs, viewing each other through a bloodshot lens.

And, of course, the worst among us somehow always manage to become symbols of what we—as entire peoples, or “civilisations”—are, thus playing directly into the stereotypes on both sides.

A Boston Globe cartoon last week depicted angry Muslim crowds waving banners such as, “Kill infidels” and “Off with their heads,” as one protestor said to the other: “Watch, some cartoonist will twist this around to make us look bad.” Crude—but true. Images of rioters burning embassies become a caricature of what so many Westerners have come to expect of Islam.

“I’m programmed to look upon offence as a choice,” a Western colleague said in an email the other day. “The insult is from the outside, but in my worldview, how one reacts is largely a choice. Try though I do to get my head around the widespread response to the cartoons, it still seems like lunacy to me.”

Most rational people in the West do not think all Muslims are fanatics but neither do they understand that, as Al-Ahram columnist Salama Ahmed Salama told me recently, “Here religion is a daily food.” There are plenty of religious people in the West; some 40 per cent of Americans describe themselves as fundamentalist or “born-again”. But religion is not, to most in the West, part of the fabric of life to the extent it is in the Muslim world. Westerners often use God’s name as an epitaph; Muslims call upon Him a thousand times a day. “Insha’allah,” God willing.

Plenty of Christians were offended by Andres Serrano’s photograph “Piss Christ,” which depicts a crucifix submerged in a vat of the artist’s own urine, but few even bothered to write a letter to the editor, much less take to the streets. So the depth of insult felt by so many ordinary Muslims over the cartoons simply does not sink in.

When anti-Danish protestors started trashing embassies, those who were trying to understand simply gave up. And once those crowds started shouting “Death to America,” as they did in several countries even though few papers in the US showed the cartoons and President Bush criticised them, many in the West shook their heads in bewilderment: “The Muslims were at it again.”

But lost in all the noise is the fact that many here in the Middle East are equally baffled. “I don’t get it,” one of my Egyptian students said, when she learned the cartoons had appeared in several places last year. “Why did everyone get so upset now?”

Authoritarian regimes and religious radicals manipulate the emotions of understandably aggrieved Muslims for their own political gain. Reactionary forces in the West use the resultant chaos as an excuse to say, “I told you so.”

“I’ve long been sceptical of the ‘Religion of Peace’ moniker for Muslims—for at least 3,000 reasons right off the top of my head,” conservative columnist Ann Coulter smugly wrote on her Web site. “I think the evidence is going my way this week.”

As understandable as it is that Muslims would be deeply offended by these depictions of Prophet Mohamed, there is a degree of manufactured outrage afoot. There have been plenty of insulting cartoons about Prophet Mohamed and Islam in recent years. A quick Google search turns up images from the US and other parts of Europe at least as insulting as those published in Denmark. Why did no one take to the streets when they appeared?

In fact, Egypt’s own Al-Fajr newspaper published two of the Danish cartoons on 17 October of last year accompanied by a story headlined, “Impudence continues. Sarcasm about the Prophet and his wives through caricature.” The Al-Fajr newsroom was not sacked. The editors were not jailed. Overseas Muslims did not boycott Egyptian cotton. No ambassadors were withdrawn.

Why not? The short answer is that forces that could benefit from the backlash were not then poised to take offence. In Denmark, leaders of an alienated minority community who were eager to solidify their political base came up against an arrogant government that could not see—or did not care—why they were upset. It wasn’t the actual publication of the cartoons that ignited the bonfire, which took place in September, it was the Danish government’s snub of Muslim leaders months later, coinciding with republication by a Norwegian paper.

And, as we have seen again and again in recent years, both sides quickly proclaimed they had Truth with a capital “T” on their side. Others soon chose sides.

“Europe Can Take Pride in Defending Cartoons,” proclaimed the headline over an opinion column in The New York Times. Why? What is there about the provocative actions of some insignificant little Danish paper with a track record for anti-immigrant diatribes that we should defend?

This isn’t about censorship; this is about good sense. As I tell my journalism students, the decision on whether to use—or not to use—a given picture or frame of videotape involves a conscious choice. Just because I have the right to broadcast the image of a person with third degree burns writhing in agony, doesn’t mean I should.

When it comes to the current controversy, missing from the debate is the fact that we are different. We come from different cultures. We see things differently. We have different thresholds for what offends. Why is that a problem? Failure to recognise this is what got us to this place of polarisation to begin with.

Some of the erstwhile defenders of press freedom claim that to withhold publication of the cartoons is to set the media on a slippery slope to immobility. Everything offends someone, they say. It is a spurious argument. This isn’t about showing the Prophet Mohamed—countless Islamic publications have done that through history. It’s about showing an overtly offensive image of him.

Chancellor Merkel has every right to defend her “values,” but the world might be a bit better off if political and religious leaders spent less time defending their own values and spent more time respecting those of others—or at least recognising that they exist.

The irony is that by publishing—and republishing—the cartoons, Western defenders of press freedom provide ammunition to both authoritarian regimes and extremist religious groups that would love to censor far more than just cartoons.

Tragically, it is the media—and ultimately the people—of the Middle East and broader Muslim world that will suffer most if those forces get their way.

* The writer is director of the Adham Center for Electronic Journalism at the American University in Cairo. His latest book is Reflections in a Bloodshot Lens: America, Islam and the War of Ideas.

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