February 6, 2006 (Updated Feb 9)
The Wisdom Fund

The Cartoons of Prophet Muhammad

'All freedoms, including the freedom of speech, come with responsibility. . . . Having the right to cause offense does not make it right to do so'

by Enver Masud

Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper that first published the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, has ignited a firestorm akin to that during the Salman Rushdie affair.

It's Sunday editor, Jens Kaiser, had in the past rejected Jesus cartoons saying: "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry."

The paper's culture editor, Flemming Rose - who commissioned the cartoons of Prophet Muhammad, said in an interview: "This is about the question of integration and how compatible is the religion of Islam with a modern secular society."

It is not. It is about civil society. It is about double standards. It is about hypocrisy. It is not about a free press - which we support.

"Islam," said HRH Prince Charles, The Prince of Wales, in a speech some years ago, "is part of our past and present, in all fields of human endeavour. It has helped to create modern Europe. It is part of our own inheritance, not a thing apart."

"What we presumptuously call 'Western' culture is owed in large measure to the Andalusian enlightenment, wrote Christopher Hitchens, in his review of Maria Rosa Menocal's, "The Ornament of the World: How Muslims, Jews and Christians Created a Culture of Tolerance in Medieval Spain."

The Christian reconquest of Spain in 1492 CE led to the expulsion of its Jews and Muslims, their forced conversion to Christianity, or death.

In India - the country with third largest Muslim population (Indonesia is first, Pakistan is second, Bangladesh is fourth), the Muslim Emperor Akbar [1542-1605 CE], according to Nobel Laureate Amartya Sen, laid the foundations of a secular state.

Written in 622 CE, the "Constitution of Madinah," a treaty among Muslims, non-Muslim Arabs, and Jews of Madinah has been compared with the Mayflower Compact of 1620 CE.

Islam is compatible with a modern secular society. The West's double standards, hypocrisy, and injustice fuel Muslim anger. For example:

On March 6, 2001 the European Court of Justice ruled that "the European Union can lawfully suppress political criticism of its institutions and of leading figures, sweeping aside English Common Law and 50 years of European precedents on civil liberties."

Article 5 of the Basic Law, the constitution of the Federal Republic of Germany, "sets out the possibility of limitations on the freedom of expression."

A challenge in 1990 to the publication of Salman Rushdie's "The Satanic Verses" on the grounds that it contained "a blasphemous libel concerning Almighty God (Allah) the Supreme Deity common to all the major religions of the world" was rejected because Britain's blasphemy law was restricted to "scurrilous vilification of the Christian religion."

A Paris court on February 27, 1998, fined Roger Garaudy, former Deputy Speaker of the French parliament and a convert to Islam, $40,000 for statements made in his 1996 book "The Founding Myths of Israeli Politics." The European Court of Human Rights declared inadmissible his appeal lodged in the case of Garaudy v. France.

Ernst Zundel, Germar Rudolf and David Irving are serving time in jail in Europe for their views about the holocaust.

It has been reported that Jyllands-Posten's Rose, "a devotee of the Zionist Neo-Con cult," traveled to Philadelphia in October 2004 to visit Daniel Pipes, whose web site Campus Watch seeks to undermine academic freedom and dissent. President George W. Bush nominated Pipes to the board of the U.S. Institute of Peace.

It has been reported that changes to the Patriot Act sought by President Bush would make illegal at certain gatherings signs that have not been previously approved.

Would a U.S. president invite Zundel, Rudolf, Irving, or Garaudy to dinner at the White House as then President Clinton invited Salman Rushdie? Why doesn't the press support Zundel's, Rudolf's, Irving's, or Garaudy's right to free speech?

"The principle of secularism, in the broader interpretation endorsed in India, demands symmetric treatment of different religious communities in politics and in the affairs of state," writes Prof. Sen in The Argumentative Indian.

Muslims are fed up with the double standards, and the almost daily attacks on Islam. "Muslims live their religion. We do not," writes veteran, Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk.

The violent demonstrations - which, it is reported, followed months of peaceful protest, and rejection of requests by Muslim ambassadors to meet with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen - may not be the path Prophet Muhammad would have chosen, but they are understandable.

These demonstrations may be compared to the 1965 riots in the Watts district of Los Angeles. The riots, said the Commission set up to investigate them, "weren't the act of thugs, but rather symptomatic of much deeper problems."

State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said the cartoons were "offensive," but that "we vigorously defend" individuals' right of expression reports the Washington Post. Why didn't the U.S. object when France banned headscarves in schools?

Freedom of expression is not the message President Bush sent to Muslims when he bombed Al-Jazeera's news staff in Afghanistan and Iraq.

"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable," said President John F. Kennedy. The virtual, and sometimes violent, exclusion of Muslims' views from mainstream debate risks "violent revolution."

Civil society requires more than merely observing the law. Language acceptable in a book or tabloid is not necessarily acceptable from society's leaders - be it from the head of state, or in a major newspaper.

"All freedoms, including the freedom of speech, come with responsibility. . . . Having the right to cause offense does not make it right to do so," said Terry Davis, the head of Europe's leading human rights watchdog, the Council of Europe.

[Enver Masud is the founder of The Wisdom Fund - a nonprofit corporation. An earlier version of this article was sent today as a letter to the editor and ombudsman of The Washington Post.]

[Prodigy eventually settled on an editorial policy of not allowing comments that were 'grossly repugnant to community standards'.--Avi-Jacob Hyman, "A Draft of a Legal Policy Paper on how to Deal with the Dissemination of Racist and Holocaust-Denial Information via Electronic Media, particularly the Internet," March 1995]

[Like the legal codes of other nations, Article 5 also sets out the possibility of limitations on the freedom of expression.--"Freedom of Speech and Recent Legal Controversies in Germany," The German Embassy, Washington, DC, June 2001]

Jonathan Power, "War of Civilizations?," International Herald Tribune, October 29, 2004

[At the forefront of this movement is David Horowitz and his academic watchdog organization, Students for Academic Freedom (SAF).--Vanessa Dern and Theodora Ruhs, "Conservative Plan to Override Academic Freedom in the Classroom," Project Censored, April 4, 2005]

["Identity is thus a quintessentially plural concept, with varying relevance of different identities in distinct contexts. And, most importantly, we have choice over what significance to attach to our different identities."--Amartya Sen, "The Argumentative Indian," Farrar, Straus and Giroux, October 12, 2005]

"Longer, Broader War on Islam," The Wisdom Fund, October 17, 2005

Enver Masud, "Oxymorons in News Media," The Wisdom Fund, October 23, 2005

Kevin Maguire and Andy Lines, "Bush's Plot to Bomb Al-Jazeera," Daily Mirror, November 23, 2005

[Flemming Rose (the cultural editor of Jyllands-Posten who commissioned cartoonists to produce the blasphemous images) traveled to Philadelphia in October 2004 to visit Daniel Pipes, the Neo-Con ideologue who says the only path to Middle East peace will come through a total Israeli military victory. Rose then penned a positive article about Pipes, who compares "militant Islam" with fascism and communism.--Christopher Bollyn, "European Media Provokes Muslims to Inflame Zionist 'Clash of Civilizations'," American Free Press, February 2, 2006]

It was reported to The Wisdom Fund that the German newspaper Die Welt, part of the Axel Springer conglomerate, published the cartoons three times. Die Welt's editor-in-chief Roger Koeppel said that Mathias Doepsner, CEO Axel Springer, showed "strong support" for publishing the cartoons. Doepsner is a good friend of Haim Saban, whose Saban Capital Group, according to the New York Times, bought a chunk of German media about two years ago in order to change German opinion in favor of Israel.

Alan Cowell, "More European Papers Print Cartoons of Muhammad, Fueling Dispute With Muslims," New York Times, February 2, 2006

[Mr Griffin, 46, and Mr Collett, 24, had denied using words intended to stir up hatred in West Yorkshire in 2004.--"BNP duo to face race hate retrial," BBC News, February 3, 2006]

[For Muslims, the Prophet is the man who received divine words directly from God. We see our prophets as faintly historical figures, at odds with our high-tech human rights, almost cariacatures of themselves. The fact is that Muslims live their religion. We do not.--Robert Fisk, "Don't be fooled, this isn't an issue of Islam versus secularism," Independent, February 4, 2006]

[. . . as soon as the row about the cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed in Jyllands-Posten broke, angry Muslims popped up in Gaza City, and many other places, well supplied with Danish flags ready to burn. . . .

Who built up the stockpile so that they could be quickly dragged out right across the Muslim world and burnt where television cameras would come and look?--Charles Moore, "If you get rid of the Danes, you'll have to keep paying the Danegeld," Telegraph, February 4, 2006]

"Freedom v faith: the firestorm," Sunday Times, February 5, 2006

[The malicious, false depiction of Prophet, Muhammad (P), in defamatory cartoons published in Denmark's Jylland-Posten then deliberately re-published in other European papers can only be understood as a renaissance of the Inquisition. Such defamation of the Prophet must be met with a civil lawsuit. A civil lawsuit squarely meets the legal requirement under Denmark's and Europe's "Defamatory Law."--Mohamed Khodr, "Europe's Defamation of the Prophet," Media Monitors Net, February 5, 2006]

Robert Fisk, "Religious fury threatens to wrest control from secular governments," Independent, February 6, 2006

[Zieler received an email back from the paper's Sunday editor, Jens Kaiser, which said: "I don't think Jyllands-Posten's readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them."--Gwladys Fouche, "Danish paper rejected Jesus cartoons," Guardian, February 6, 2006]

"Rolling Stones agreed to censor Super Bowl show: NFL," AFP, February 6, 2006

[He was also convicted of three out of four charges under the Public Order Act 1986 of "using threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour with the intention of stirring up racial hatred".--Simon Freeman, "Abu Hamza guilty of inciting murder and racial hatred," Times Online, February 7, 2006]

[At the core of the row is the Islamic tradition which holds that any depiction of the prophets is sacrilegious. . . . the Quran, the Islamic holy book, does not explicitly prohibit the depiction of human figures, . . . Within Islamic history there have been periods when certain pictorial representations existed or even flourished. . . .

In the current furore - aside from the pictorial representations of the prophet - what has caused grave offence to Muslims are attempts to equate him and Islam as a whole with terrorism.--Humayun Chaudhry, "The taboo on picturing the prophet,", February 7, 2006]

[Is this what freedom of the press is all about - the freedom to insult the faith of a billion people and start a religious war?--Patrick J. Buchanan, "Secularist Stupidity and Religious Wars,", February 7, 2006]

logo [Have a look at their logo: the yellow star - they got it, as soon the neswpaper was overtaken by a consortium, who also is involved in the "Danish" Newspaper Politiken (also called "Jerusalems Stiftstidene") and Extrabladet.--Thora Pedersen, Germany, February 8, 2005]

Matthew Rothschild, "VA Nurse Investigated for "Sedition" for Criticizing Bush," The Progressive, February 8, 2006--Matthew Rothschild has been with The Progressive since 1983. His McCarthyism Watch web column has chronicled more than 150 incidents of repression since 9/11.

Hassan M. Fattah, "At Mecca Meeting, Cartoon Outrage Crystallized," New York Times, February 9, 2006

[GERMAN cops will use sweeping powers to collar England fans doing Basil Fawlty-style Hitler impressions at the World Cup. . . .

If convicted of inciting hatred they will face jail terms of up to THREE YEARS.

Wearing joke German helmets or any offensive insignia will also result in a stretch behind bars.--Nick Parker, "Don't mention the walk," The Sun, February 9, 2006]

Tamara Traubmann, "U.S. Jews block conference set to include anti-Israel professors," Haaretz, February 10, 2006

"Sweden shuts website over cartoon," BBC News, February 10, 2006

"Coulter: Islam is 'a car-burning cult',", February 10, 2006

[Demonstrators marched in at least 13 countries -- Kenya, Iran, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Indonesia, the Philippines, Egypt, Israel and Jordan--Kevin Sullivan, "Muslims' Fury Rages Unabated Over Cartoons," Washington Post, February 11, 2006]

[While KARAMAH fully identifies with the Islamic aversion to such representation of the Prophet, we are very pleased that Islamic contributions to law are recognized in the highest court of our land. We see that attempt in a tolerant light similar to that in which earlier Muslims saw Turkish and Persian art.--"Supreme Court Frieze Controversy," Karamah, February 11, 2006]

John Kifner, "Images of Muhammad, Gone for Good," New York Times February 12, 2006

Mary Jordan, "Muslim Crowds Decry Cartoons, Violent Retort," Washington Post, February 12, 2006

Dan Bilefsky, "Cartoon Dispute Prompts Identity Crisis for Liberal Denmark," International Herald Tribune, February 12, 2006

Fareena Alam, "Why I reject the anarchists who claim to speak for Islam," Observer, February 12, 2006

[Accustomed to the respect of Senegal's Muslim community, many Christians have been among the most outspoken critics of the controversial caricatures of the Prophet--Diadie Ba, "Senegal shows tolerant face of Islam," Reuters, February 13, 2006]

[One of the major disconnects in the present conflict is the way in which European and American analysis obsesses with the apparently anarchic outbursts of violence in the "Arab street" without taking in how brutally violent the post-9/11 "coalition" assault has been, not only physically but psychologically. --James Carroll, "Misunderstanding Muslims," Boston Globe, February 13, 2006]

[Who is the Enemy? . . . But to be sure, the same people who offended Muslims do not think twice before offending believing Christians . . .

While the Jyllands Posten of Flemming Rose is semi-fascist and neo-con, its sister newspaper, belonging to the same owner, Politiken, is liberal and humanist, . . .

The British PM Tony Blair . . . tried to pass the Internet Terror Bill, that would have given police the power to shut down websites which "promote terrorism". The House of Lords blocked it. . . .

After that, the Adversary splashed the Satanic Pictures. The predictable and predicted reaction of the offended Muslims will force the parliaments to accept the new set of 'anti-hate' laws. . . .

You do not have to care about Muslim sensibilities or Jewish prejudices - it is your freedom at stake.--Israel Shamir, "Satanic Pictures,", February 2006]

Kevin Sullivan, "British Lawmakers Vote to Ban 'Glorifying' Terrorism," Washington Post, February 15, 2006

[J-P explained to its readers: "In our society Muslims must learn to be scorned, mocked, and ridiculed."--"The State Of Denmark," CBS 60 Minutes, February 19, 2006]

[Given Mossad's long-standing penetration of the Danish intelligence agencies, and their close working relations with the right wing media, it is not surprising that a Ukranian Jew, operating under the name of "Flemming Rose" with close working relations with the Israeli state (and in particular the far right Likud regime) should be the center of the controversy over the cartoons. . . .

The Islamic-hate cartoons were published in Denmark in September 2005 as Israeli and US Zionists escalated their war propaganda against Iran. The initial response from the Islamic countries however was limited. The story wasn't picked up in the International Herald Journal until late December 2005. By early January 2006, Mossad "Katsas" (Hebrew for case officers) activated sayanim (volunteer Jewish collaborators outside of Israel) throughout Western and Eastern European media to simultaneously reproduce the cartoons on Feb. 1 and 2, 1006. One such sayanim operation would have been the decision by France-Soir Senior Editor, Arnaud Levy and Editor in Chief Serge Faubert, to publish the cartoons.--James Petras and Robin Eastman-Abaya, "The caricatures in Middle East politics," La Haine, February 19, 2006]

[One hundred and fifty-eight people have been convicted of Holocaust denial in Austria between 1999 and 2004--Roger Boyes, "Backlash at jailing of historian who denied Holocaust," Times, February 21, 2006]

[Rooted in poverty, poor education and lack of democracy, it is driven by Palestine, Iraq, oil politics, and the thoughtless demonisation of all Muslims in the post-9/11 "war on terror".--Simon Tisdall, "Cartoon row draws from well of discontent," Guardian, February 21, 2006]

"German court convicts man for insulting Islam," Reuters, February 23, 2006

Matthew Beard, "Livingstone suspended for four weeks over Nazi gibe," Independent, February 24, 2006

[Austria, Belgium, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Israel, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Switzerland--"COUNTRIES WITH LAWS AGAINST HOLOCAUST DENIAL," BBC News, February 28, 2006]

[If a young, middle-class, scrupulously fair-minded, and dead, American woman, whose superb writing about her job as a mental health worker, ex-boyfriends, troublesome parents, struggle to find out who she wanted to be, and how she found that by traveling to Gaza and discovering the shocking conditions under which the Palestinians live - if a voice like this cannot be heard on a New York stage, what hope is there for anyone else? The non-American, the non-white, the non-dead, the oppressed?--Katharine Viner, "Surely Americans will not put up with this censorship," Guardian, March 1, 2006]

Xeni Jardin, "When America exports censorship," The New York Times, March 10, 2006

Robert Fisk, "The erosion of free speech," Independent, March 11, 2006

Patrick J. Buchanan, "Cultural Warmongers: Picking a fight with a faith 1.3 billion strong," The American Conservative, March 13, 2006

Matthew Rothschild, "Woman Gets $100 Ticket For "BUSHIT" Bumper Sticker," The Progressive, March 28, 2006

[University professors denounced for anti-Americanism; schoolteachers suspended for their politics; students encouraged to report on their tutors.--Gary Younge, "Silence in class," Guardian, April 4, 2006]

"Wal-Mart Sues 'Wal-ocaust' T-Shirt Seller," Associated Press, April 12, 2006

John Hooper, "Opus Dei paper prints prophet in hell cartoon," Guardian, April 17, 2006

Matthew Rothschild, "Ten-Year-Old Forbidden From Singing Pink's Anti-Bush Song at School," The Progressive, May 10, 2006

Suzanne Goldenberg, "Films on Guantanamo and Iraq face war of cuts," Guardian, May 18, 2006

Douglas Giles, "Professor Fired for Allowing Questions about Judaism and Islam,", July 13, 2006

David Ray Griffin, "The Attempt to Box In Academic Freedom,", July, 2006

Shahid Raza Burney, "India Bans Arab TV Channels Under Pressure From Israel," Arab News, August 6, 2006

Henry Porter, "The land of the free - but free speech is a rare commodity," Observer, August 13, 2006

Robert Tait, "Tehran exhibition attacks West's 'double standards' over religious satire," Observer, August 20, 2006

"US charges Hezbollah TV provider," BBC News, August 25, 2006

Brian Whitaker, "Muslims angry at new Danish cartoons scandal," Guardian, October 10, 2006

"Denmark throws out cartoons suit," BBC News, October 26, 2006

Angelique Chrisafis, "Cartoons did not incite hatred, French court rules," Guardian, March 23, 2007

[Islamic countries pushed through a resolution at the U.N. Human Rights Council on Friday urging a global prohibition on the public defamation of religion - a response largely to the furor last year over caricatures published in a Danish newspaper of the Muslim Prophet Muhammad.--Elaine Engeler, "U.N. panel OKs measure on Islam," Associated Press, March 30, 2007]

[Iran Foreign Ministry spokesman Mohammad Ali Hosseini said . . . that the knighthood showed that the process of insulting Islamic sanctities was not accidental but was being supported by some Western countries. "Iran condemns Rushdie knighthood," BBC News, June 17, 2007]

["Freedom of expression is Danish, stupidity is not"--Gwladys Fouche, "Danish-Muslim leader lampoons far-right over latest prophet cartoon," Guardian, October 26, 2007]

Mark Tran, "Dutch government could ban anti-Islam film," Guardian, March 3, 2008

Mark Sweney, "Beauty ad banned after Christian outcry," Guardian, March 12, 2008

[Freedom Party leader Geert Wilders made a controversial film last year equating Islam with violence and has likened the Koran to Adolf Hitler's Mein Kampf.--"Islam film Dutch MP to be charged," BBC News, January 21, 2009]

Steven Thomma, "Helen Thomas, under siege about Israel comments, retires," McClatchy Newspapers, June 7, 2010

Copyright © 2006 The Wisdom Fund - Provided that it is not edited, and author name, organization, and web address ( are included, this article may be printed in newspapers and magazines, and displayed on the Internet.
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