It was a misunderstanding, they say. The secular West had no idea that such cartoons as the Danish Jyllands-Posten published would offend Muslims and arouse their anger. In the West, the argument goes, people make fun of Jesus even. Or so the popular justification goes. Yet how can this justification explain the fact that the same newspaper had refused to print cartoons of Jesus, explaining that some readers might find it offensive? Using this logic and the fact that the Muhammad cartoons were printed, we can safely conclude that Jyllands-Posten did not even consider the possibility that there would be some Muslim Dane readers who might be offended…
Wait, there is an even more outrageous claim. This one is by none other than an editor of the newspaper in question – the same man who had refused to publish the Jesus cartoons. Guardian Unlimited reports the following:
Mr Kaiser, told MediaGuardian.co.uk that the case was “ridiculous to bring forward now. It has nothing to do with the Muhammad cartoons.
“In the Muhammad drawings case, we asked the illustrators to do it. I did not ask for these cartoons. That’s the difference,” he said.
So the editor refuses to draw a comparison between the two, because in the previous case the cartoons were presented by the cartoonist whereas in the current case the staff themselves had requested the cartoons. It seems that Mr. Kaiser forgets that the justification for refusing to print the Jesus cartoons was not that it was not requested; rather, it was that it would offend some readers.
Of course, that is not to say that the worldwide Muslim reaction was appropriate. Yet even here, there is an attempt by world media to defame Islam by pointing to the violent behaviour of some – by no means a large number, let alone the majority of – Muslims. Recent events do not prove that the cartoons were right. On the contrary, they prove that the cartoons were xenophobic in that they stereotyped an entire group of people based on the actions of a small minority. Now imagine world reaction if a Danish newspaper portrayed the Jews based on the behaviour of the Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Not only would the editor be fired and charged with incitement of hatred, there would also be a special session in the Security Council over the rising anti-Semitism in Europe… What message is the world sending to people, then? That Islamophobia is not that bad; after all, the Muslims – if one can speak of it as one entity – “showed their true colours” by burning down embassies. Turning a group of people into a faceless mass that thinks, feels, and behaves unanimously and engages in barbaric acts – and therefore, according to some people’s distorted logic, deserves all that it suffers from – is not a new phenomenon.
Some have rightly accused the Muslim and Arab world of hypocrisy. They are right, it is hypocritical to show so much outrage over those cartoons and be silent over anti-Jewish cartoons. But that is a miserable excuse for the publishing of the Islamophobic cartoons and the wish to silence complaints and protests. As the saying goes, one wrong does not make another one right. Furthermore, whereas the world routinely condemns such hatred and vilification of Jews (at least in the West), it has so far done little – if anything at all – about the anti-Muslim/Islamic cartoons. The reaction of the Danish government has been rather poor as well. It has failed to take a firm position and clarify what it deems more important: freedom of speech for all or persecution of all hatemongers, whether anti-Semitic, Islamophobic, anti-black, etc. I am deeply suspicious of the agenda of the Europeans in publishing and re-publishing these cartoons, even after written complaints. Could it be that it is related to Turkey’s EU accession hopes and the fact that many Europeans consider Muslims a “demographic threat”?