Danish daily Jyllands-Posten published last September 12 cartoons about Islam’s Prophet Muhammad, and a Norwegian magazine published them again last month (you can find some of the cartoons here). The last days, a Muslim anger over the drawings swelled all over the world. What is the problem? Muslims follow the doctrine of aniconism concerning the portrayal of Muhammad. That is, Muslims do not believe that Mohammad should not be depicted in any type of art, regardless of the intent of the piece. So the Danish cartoons may have caused Muslims offense.
Several violent reactions happened around the world. People demonstrated in Indonesia, Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, Turkey, Yemen and many Arabic countries. Saudi Arabia and Syria have recalled their ambassadors to Denmark. On January 30, Lybia has said it is closing its embassy in Denmark on January 30. Many Muslim demonstrators have called for a boycott of Danish products, so that Arla, the dairy company based in Denmark, admitted on Thursday its sales in some Middle East countries had fallen to zero. Carrefour, the French retailer, said it had removed Danish products from shelves in its Middle East operations. Other Danish companies targeted in the boycott include Lego, the toymaker, and Novo Nordisk, the pharmaceuticals company. Many European Muslim councils, such as the Multi Council in Russia and the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman in France condemned European newspapers for reprinting the drawings. In the Gaza Strip in Jerusalem, Palestinian Hamas supporters surrounded the European Union offices during 30 minutes. Jyllands-Posten received two bomb threats in the past few days. Many terror threats were made against Denmark, Norway and all the countries who published the cartoons.
In the meantime, several newspapers in Europe entered the fray in the name of freedom of press by publishing some or all of the caricatures, including the Czech Republic’s Dnes, French daily France-Soir, Germany’s Die Welt, Italy’s Corriere della Serra and La Stampa, Netherland’s De Volkskrant, De Telegraaf and NRC Handelsblad, Spain’s ABC and El Periodico and Switzerland’s Blick. Note that Raymond Lakah, the Egyptian-born French businessman owner of France Soir, fired its managing editor after the publication of the cartoons.
I agree that one of the cartoons portraying Muhammad with a bomb wrapped in his turban reinforces the confusion between Islam and the Islamist terrorism that the vast majority of Muslims abhor. Whatever. What about press freedom? What about free speech? Are Muslims so untolerant so they can’t understand the meanings of those two terms? I know that there is a cultural clash between the West and Islam, but I can’t understand their reactions about little cartoons. They can have their beliefs and their laws in their Islamic countries. But who are they to tell others what to think, what to read and what to do? Don’t they know that everyone is not Muslim in this world, especially in Denmark? Listen to me folks. Mollahs doesn’t rule the world. There are some democratic places where women don’t wear a hijab or a burqa, where people eat pork and where artists can draw cartoons about anything they want to.
As a conclusion, here is a little cartoon that I made with Inkscape just for you:
See also the Muhammad image archive.