AMMAN (JT) – Around 21 local daily and weekly newspapers on Sunday said they decided to publish a unified statement in protest against the reprinting of a cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammad in 17 Danish newspapers. In a statement issued yesterday, the newspapers said their response will be professional and objective and constitutes the first step in a major media campaign which will include a series of articles and editorials. The campaign aims to highlight that the republication of the cartoons is an unaccepted and unjustified insult to Islam and has nothing to do with the freedom of the press, the statement said. The statement called on all Jordanian, Arab and Islamic media outlets, as well as journalists, to join the campaign, which emphasises Jordanâ€™s historic role in defending Islam and Prophet Mohammad. [source]
Fellow blogger, Khalaf, who is back to blogging thank God, had an interesting take on the issue. Essentially, he argued that this new and revamped anti-cartoon campaign is meant to deliberately distract the press’s attention from the recent charter imposing more media restrictions on the Arab press.
I’m more inclined to believe that the Arab press, be it private or state, cannot ignore its basic tendencies. As much as I hate the subject of Danish-cartoons, it is at the end of the day, simply, good press. It sells. It probably sells more than that recent Arab League charter. But there are other reasons to shine yet another giant spotlight on the issue.
With the charter receiving an official state seal, it may be difficult to speak out against it. In all likelihood, governments such as Jordans’, have probably relied on a series of phone calls to ensure the passivity of the local press. While that doesn’t do well with street credibility, the Danish cartoons may be JPA’s perfect red herring.
Yes, the cartoons may be insulting and their reprinting is just plain redundant (even for art), but I long ago decided that even in the very small chance that the Prophet (pbuh) himself felt insulted, he would’ve gotten over them by now. However, what is really insulting in my opinion is that the Arab press, or let me amend that to specifically say the Jordanian press, have given the Arab League and their government’s a relatively free ride when it comes to the charter. Where are the large-scale denouncements? Where is the outcry? The op-ed after op-ed? Where is the major media campaign?
I hope there will be some degree of refocusing on the issues that really matter, especially with the media being under attack. The charter is just a small fraction of what’s available on the palette. How about the signed circular Ammonnews posted yesterday on its website, which was issued by Prime Minister Nader Dahabi, warning public employees against handing over copies of documents related to alleged administrative and financial corruption to the media*.
Cartoons are issue best left to others.