I’m Sick of the Word Cartoon

Writing on this subject this past week has felt longer than the OJ trial.

Yesterday the French paper France-Soir published the cartoons in an attempt to either promote free speech or thumb their nose at Muslims. Today the editor was fired from his job.

“We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication” of the cartoons,” Egyptian-born Raymond Lakah, the paper’s owner, said in a statement to Agence France-Presse. He decided to “remove Jacques Lefranc as managing director of the publication as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual.” [source]

Around The World:

In Jordan, Shihan newspaper published the cartoons to show how offensive they were and urged reason to prevail. However the editor was fired by the company and the issue was pulled from the market. On their website is a letter stating what actions were taken and their condemnation.

In a more targetted boycott Morocco banned all sales of France Soir on its territory.

In Indonesia, dozens of people picketed the governor’s office in the South Sulawesi provincial capital of Makassar during a visit by Danish Red Cross secretary-general Jorgen Paulsen.

“Please tell your country that we condemn the action,” protest coordinator Das’ad Latief was quoted by Detikcom news Web site as telling Paulsen.

Speaking to the protestors, Paulsen, who was to discuss assistance related to the handling of floods in the province, described the publication of the drawings as a “stupid action,” according to the state Antara news agency.

Joining the outcry, Pakistan’s madrassahs (religious schools) called for withdrawing ambassador from Denmark over the cartoons.

“We demand the Pakistani government withdraw its ambassador from Denmark for allowing blasphemous cartoons of the Holy Prophet Muhammad,” Qari Hanif Jallundhari, a senior leader of the Ittehad Tanzeemat Madaris (madrassahs union), said in a statement.

“These blasphemous caricatures have hurt millions of Muslims in the world. We demand a clear and public apology from the Danish government for the crime which had hurt Muslims,” he said.

“If Denmark failed to act, we would be forced to call for a boycott of Danish products like other Muslim states,” the federation leader said. [source]

One of the craziest reactions has come by way of Palestine where…

On Thursday, two armed Palestinian resistance groups threatened to target Danish, French and Norwegian nationals in the occupied Palestinian territories unless their governments apologize for insulting cartoons.

“All nationals and those who work in the diplomatic corps of these countries can be considered targets of the Popular Resistance Committee and Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades,” the two Palestinian groups warned.

“We give the Danish, French and Norwegian governments 48 hours to present their apologies,” the two groups added.

From Jordan:

Columnist Mohammad Kharoub in the Jordanian daily Al-Rai agreed.

“They promote their hatred under the pretext of freedom of expression and turn a blind eye to the crimes that are committed in the name of Christianity and more dangerously Judaism.”

But one of the best quotes I’ve seen today…

“It is discouraging that the collective energy of the Muslim world is consumed punishing a small European country over a drawing, while US military bases infest the heart of the Arab world,” Palestinian-American Ramzy Baroud said in Egypt’s English-language Al-Ahram Weekly.

Well what more is there to say. I’m secretly relieved that more European newspapers are publishing these cartoons just to get back at Muslims. It sort of balances out the reactions of the Muslim world a little. It would’ve seemed more absurd to have all of this rage be concentrated on just one newspaper somewhere in Denmark. So now it’s more of a combined effort to provoke and react. Hey, who says the east and west don’t play well together? As far as the provoking goes, I don’t know if that will end soon or if it’s just begining. The U.S. media has just started to pick this up so I expect this to hang around for awhile but hopefully I’m wrong. As far as reactions, Friday prayers are tomorrow so I expect more demands and protests. Some Imams will call on Muslims to practice common sense such as suggested here. And other Imams I’m sure will call on Muslims to invade Denmark. It all depends on where you live, who you listen to, and just how illiterate you are.

What is interesting however is that most of the media has switched to arguement over to freedom of speech. I’m watching pundits on TV discussing whether or not these cartoons are actually offensive or not. None of them are Muslim of course but all of them evidently have art majors so they sit there on live tv desecting the cartoons. All the media seems to focus on is the fact that sharia law doesn’t apply to freedom of speech in the west; that just because Muslims are not allowed to depict the Prophet doesn’t mean the west can’t. Yeah, I don’t think at this point Muslims are too worried about the west depicting the Prophet, but if I were to take a wild guess I’d say it has something to do with just how he was depicted.

No one is suggesting that these cartoons are just a little tiny bit anti-Islamic in nature. The most aggressive word used to describe these cartoons that I’ve heard thusfar? “A Little Mean”.

I think Jordanian cartoonist Emad Hajjaj makes a valid point in today’s cartoon:

top right: “This is Anti-Semtic!”
top left: “And this is Racism!”
Bottom: “And this is Freedom of Speech!!”


  • Personally, I’m all for the cartoons. I thought they were actually quite funny. Whether or not they are truthful representations of the muhammed and his ideology is arguable, however, I do think that they are a semi accurate description of the modern day mainstream manifestation of Islam that is actually quite barbaric and reactionary.

    Aso the ignorance of the Arab world astounds me. How can they ask for the Danish, French, Spanish, etc, governments to apologise on behalf of the free press.

    I salute the former editor of Sheehan for his timely remarks. I think what he did took a lot of courage and what he said was extremely insightful.

  • Could the world stop being insane for a minute?

    I would like to congratulate you, Naseem, on the new layout. It is clean and simple, and very eye-friendly. Love it, a job well done.

  • Thank you for your thoughts and the translated version of the cartoon. These cartoons are hateful and are simply made to create controversy. I am an American student and I am ashamed of Western culture today.

  • Tololy, thanks 🙂

    Steve, thank you for your comment. as for western culture, it, like any other culture, has its ups and downs so do not feel shamed by the actions of some who revel in the “down”. i dont feel ashamed of Islam because of Bin Laden and neither should any other Muslim. The same applies to the west. take care

  • Dear Nas,

    Thanks for the post. I have so far refrained from writing about this for many reasons. While I agree with most that the cartoons are offensive, I feel that the conversation that is taking place is merely a waste of energy and time. Had the discussion been focused on actual racism and Islamophobia in the post-September 11th world which have triggered the publication of these caricatures, this would perhaps be an interesting and valid discussion.

    What bothers me, however, is that the voices of so many of us are lost when it comes to the occupation of Iraq, the illegal Apartheid Wall Israel is building in the West Bank, the daily humiliation of Palestinian civilians at Israeli checkpoints, the rising poverty levels in Jordan, the globalization of the world over, and the increasing hegemony of an uncontested American Empire.

    I realize that all this may sound repetitive in light of your excerpt from Al-Ahram Weekly but I am astounded at the muteness and cowardice that characterize our silence when it comes to these issues: Where is peopleâ??s anger (and indignation) when it comes to these issues? How come we have stood silent about Palestine? How come we have allowed ourselves to become complicit in the pain and suffering of Iraqis? How come we have not opposed American imperialism and power which have manifested themselves in our own backyards?

    I feel like this silence â?? and our insistence on busying ourselves with inane discussions â?? is becoming far too debilitating.


  • Nas, I’ve really enjoyed this discussion the last couple of days and I think I have gained a better understanding of the reaction from many Muslems following the publication of the Danish cartoons. And while I agree this discussion has seemed to outlive itself I’m still compelled to throw in my two cents.

    One of the first things that came to mind for me when this whole mess started was, “here we go again with another Salman Rushdie.” I make this point today because several times you have suggested that one of the reasons that these cartoons are hate speech is because they don’t have artistic merit. This case can hardly be made for the works of Mr. Rushdie, yet the backlash from Satanic Verses, seemed similar to what we’re seeing today. But that is merely a side note.

    My second point goes to what I think is at the root of this whole situation and that is that although we don’t often say it, people in the West are increasingly looking at all Arabs as possible terrorists. There’s an islamophobia that is spreading throughout the Western world and no one is doing anything about it. These cartoons are just one example of how the West is increasingly coming to view Arabs and I think the Arab world wants the governments of the West to do something to stop this trend.

    Regulating free speech seems like an unlikely solution to this problem to me. It took most European states centuries of fighting and millions of lives to get the freedoms they have and they’re only going to create new regulations in the gravest circumstances. I think a better tactic would be to go after the Western media instead of Western governments. Here I’m not just talking about the newspapers that publish cartoons, but all the media: radio, tv, internet, and print. They are what is creating the hostile image of Islam and that image is what needs to be changed. Even the way they have reported this story seems to make the Muslims protesting in the streets look crazy. And that only encourages the West to be afraid of these “crazy terrorists.” I want to see someone protesting in the streets burning a CNN flag next time I watch CNN, it is only then that I think the real issues might begin to be understood by everyone.

    Thanks for providing this forum; this has been a great discussion.

  • I think Danish leaders can condemn these drawings in public without endangering the freedom of speech. Judging someone verbally does not violate any rule of freedom of speech, after all freedom of speech contain possibility to criticize Islam as well as criticize the sacrilegious criticism of Islam.

    Intensions by some major newspapers in Europe to publish these cartoons I found very childish. Why can not they just support freedom of speech and Jyllands Postens right to publish whatever it wants without publishing the pictures again and raising more anger?

    I do not support USA liberal`s opinion to go chase western media about creating the hostile image of Islam (for me this is again matter of freedom of speech). Anyway I absolutely hope that the most responsible medias in West start to show also positive images of Islam. Islam is not just a religion followed by handful of terrorist but also religion followed by more than 1 billion peaceloving people. Quoting Aldous Huxley: “Great is truth, but still greater, from a practical point of view, is silence about truth. By simply not mentioning certain subjects totalitarian propagandists have influenced opinion much more effectively than they could have by the most eloquent denunciations.” Far from that I associate western media with totalitarian propagandists eventhough there are some irritating similarities. It is just that newsmedia are always there were some action happens not where peaceful people do there everyday routines.

  • They shouldn’t have published pictures like that.

    In Islam we’re not even allowed to draw pictures of the Prophet peace be upon him.

    We dont draw pictures of Jesus or Moses, we respect all the prophets.

    We love our prophet peace be upon him.

  • hehe.. yes.. enough is enough.. but the circus has come to town.. what can we do about it? I suppose all we can now do is just sit back and wait for the clown to come and do something silly 😉

  • Nas and other muslims reading this,

    Perhaps if I relate a story that happened recently. A soldier from a small town 20 miles from where I live died in Iraq.

    At his funeral, protesters showed up to denounce his participation in the war. Phelps was the guy who led this protest.

    Now, I betcha that the parents of this man loved thier son as much as some muslims love thier prophet. However, at their sons funeral, they were subjegated to this circus of people yelling and screaming about the war in iraq, and strangely, how homosexuals are sinning against god.

    Now that is offensive free speech at a funeral, and yet it was allowed to happen.

  • The logic in the above cartoon is flawed. While anti-Semitism or racism (of any kind) is hatred or intolerance towards a race of people, the infamous cartoons depicting Mohammed are directed not towards a race, but rather towards a religious belief system.

    And while there is no justification for the artist’s needless insensitivity towards those of the Islamic faith, it appears that he is acting under his right to freedom of speech to illustrate how the Islamic faith has portrayed itself to the rest of the world over the last several years.

    The rub:

    1. A Danish artist depicts how much of the world views Islam in light of various atrocious acts committed by extremists over the past several years.

    2. Muslims around the world protest and the most vocal vow retribution.

    3. Extremists burn churches, kidnap and harm innocent foreigners, and jeopardize political interests in an inane attempt to discredit and disprove the allegations made by the cartoons (which, ironically, do more to prove the point than to disprove it).

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