We are in the 21st century, and religion is still a way of controlling brain of millions people. At the beginning of the month, a lot of demonstrations raised all over the Muslim world against the publishing of a series of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad. A month later, we still see people exploiting this affair.
Let’s talk about the beginning of the issue. A major Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, printed 12 drawings of the Muslim prophet Muhammad in its 30 September 2005 issue. Immediately, some Danish Muslims demanded that the Prime Minister denounce the newspaper, and raised some actions against it. Anders Fogh Rasmussen rejected this demand, stating that ‘Danish freedom of speech does not allow the government to control what newspapers print’. Since they didn’t achieve to win in their demands in Denmark – ‘a prophet is not without honour save in his own country’ – in mid-December 2005 a delegation from several Danish Muslim organizations went on a tour in Middle-East. On February 4, the Danish tabloid Ekstra Bladet has published a 43-page document allegedly used by the delegation in their international tour meant to involve the Arab world in a backlash against the ‘Muhammad Cartoons’. The document contains several extra cartoons showing Muhammad as a pig, Muhammad sodomized by a dog and Muhammad as a pedophile. These cartoons have been said to be fabrications intended to heat up the issue, and that’s probably why a sudden surge of indignation among many Muslims occurred three months after the original publication of the cartoons. That was the first manipulation.
Then, the affair of the cartoons was used by everyone to promote their fights. United States government accused Syria and Iran, the countries in the ‘axis of evil’, of organizing the demonstrations. Bush found that it was a great opportunity to convince other countries to fight with him against Iran, which is a danger for US domination in Middle-East. The newspaper Hamshari – whose name starts funnily with ‘ham’ – owned by the Tehran city council, says that he will publish cartoons which will lampoon the Holocaust, following denials by the Iranian government that the Holocaust even happened. In some other countries, the affair was used as well to promote negationism such as the signs ‘God bless Hitler’ on a placard of some Islamabad demonstration (source: Germany’s N-TV.de). What is the link between Muhammad and a historical fact such as Holocaust? On the other side, Israel profited of the violence to demonize Hamas, recently elected at Palestine’s government. Overall, the biggest manipulation was orchestrated by Islamists. They tried to spread the hate against Europe and America in Muslim countries and to recruit some kamikazes for the Jihad.
Hopefully, all Muslims are not thinking the same. Soheib Bencheikh, the former Grand Mufti of Marseille, said in Mid-February on Radio-Canada that he was strongly for the publishing of the Muhammad caricatures. He told that freedom of press was very important for him and ‘You can not force people to believe in our truth, which is only true to our eyes. Islam can’t exist if consciences don’t join freely’ (*).
(*) Original in French: ‘On ne peut pas convoquer de force les gens à adhérer à notre vérité, qui n’est véridique qu’à nos yeux. L’islam ne peut exister s’il n’y a pas de consciences librement engagées’