Muhammad is not good-looking

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 the same day. 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 Mufties Council in Russia and the Conseil Français du Culte Musulman in France condemned European newspapers for reprinting the drawings. In the Gaza Strip, 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:
muhammad
See also the Muhammad image archive.

Canadian federal election: everybody wins

Obviously, the major winners of the Canadian federal election are Stephen Harper’s Conservatives. Harper will be the new Prime Minister of Canada, after 13 years of Liberal governance. Harper can now dream about promoting good christian values and saying « God bless you » when he speaks in an English speaking province, revoking the rights of the homosexual community, supporting the US National Defense Missile (NMD), fighting against contraception, helping the USA in the war against Iraq, making Canada leave the Kyoto Protocol… For the new sachem of Canada, the sky is entirely blue, and soon the country of Mi’kmaqs and their friends will be the 51th state of the USA. Above all, the congratulations of George W. Bush that he received on the phone this morning are probably the hottest thing for Harper.

Even if the filmmaker Michael Moore is disappointed, as I am, Canadian people are also winners. Harper’s victory was given by all the surveys the past weeks. Everybody knew that he would lead the country. But the good thing is that he failed to win a majority of seats. With 124 seats, the Conservatives will have to rely on the support of at least one opposition party to survive in the 308-seat House of Commons, and every piece of legislation will probably have to be negotiated. Plus, no member of the Conservative Party was elected in the biggest cities (Toronto, Montreal, Vancouver).

The Liberals of Paul Martin were presented in the medias as the big losers. When I think about all the evidences showing that the Liberal Party of Canada is corrupted, such as the sponsorship scandal, they were lucky in winning 103 seats at the House. They are now a strong opponent to Conservatives, they can clean their image and seem to have modern ideas compared to Harper’s party. The Bloc Québécois took 51 seats – a little less than in 2004 when they had 54 -, they also lost some seats in Quebec’s area, but they won new important seats elsewhere. For “le Bloc”, those federal elections seem to be a neutral result. For the Quebec sovereigntists, the election of the conservatives could be a good way to promote a Quebec society with different values. The NPD won 29 seats, their best result since 1988, and 9 more than the last election. Still a new winner, the Green Party of Canada gained 4.49% of popular vote. This gives no seats, but the party achieved its higher percentage since its beginning, and it will now receive over $1.1 million CAD per year until the next federal election.

In my view, everybody won those elections. Everybody, except perhaps the strange Marijuana Party which won 0.06% of popular votes (vs. 0.25 in 2004 and 0,52% in 2000).

DADVSI, a new threat to our freedom

Probably you have heard about the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), in USA. In European Union is a DMCA-like directive called EUCD (the French version is called DADVSI), on the harmonisation of certain aspects of copyright and related rights in the information society.

Only Czech Republic, France and Spain have not implemented this Directive to date, but the French government wants now to implement it fast in the 22-23 December night. I tell you about this bill here because you can help EU citizens, and because this kind of bill will probably comes to your country one day.

Why do we fight the DADVSI bill ? An answer is on the http://eucd.info site : « Creating your own compilations from a CD, extracting your favourite piece of music to listen to it on your computer, transfering it on a MP3 player, lending a CD to a friend, reading a DVD with free software or duplicating it to be able to enjoy it at home and in your country house : many common practices, perfectly legal, which the French government plans to forbid in fact. The copyright and neighbouring rights in the information society bill (DADVSI) (n°1206) which the French government will try to force through in the coming weeks by using an emergency procedure, actually legitimates the technical devices installed by CD and DVD editors and producers to control their use. And above all, the bill plans criminal penalty against people who would dare to remove those. »

There is a petition, some big groups signed it, such as Mandriva or Sun Microsystem. Perhaps your organizations could sign it too, and all of you who want to fight against this kind of restrictions against citizen’s freedom, free software and free art. The petition is there (at the top it is for individuals, at the bottom for organisations).

Iranuclear

Some days ago the USA accused Iran of seeking to develop nuclear weapons. First, Iran always claimed that its nuclear program is peaceful and that it has the right to civilian nuclear energy. Iran ratified the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1970, and since February 1992 has allowed the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect any of its nuclear facilities. Prior to 2003 no IAEA inspections had revealed Tehran’s violations of the NPT. Iran’s nuclear program was supported by a lot of countries around the world, including USA in the early time. Some offers was made to Iran to help in his civilian nuclear program and in 1993, Iran and Russia signed an agreement for the construction of Russian reactors at Bushehr. The thing is, all experts are explaining that it’s very easy to develop nuclear weapons when you control the art of producing civilian nuclear energy. But the possession of nuclear reactors is not a proof of having nuclear military intentions. For example, a lot of nuclear capable states such as Japan or Canada are using nuclear technology only for civilian purpose.

But, even if Iran plans to have nuclear weapons – and it’s probable that the mullahs want nukes – it’s not necessary bad. I find that the Nonproliferation Treaty is not really fair. Why some countries should have the right to possess nuclear weapons and not the others? Who are USA, Russia, France, UK and China to tell their neighbours what to do? When USA and Soviet Union started to developed their first nuclear weapons in the 40’s, they opened a Pandora’s box. Since this treaty, some new countries have developed those weapons, such as Israel, India, Pakistan or North Korea. Why not Iran? In my view, the best thing to fight against nuclear proliferation is to start nuclear disarmament, that is undeployment and dismantling of nuclear weapons. Plus, Iran has many foreigners with nuclear weapons: Israel, Russia, India, Pakistan and China.

I don’t know if the claim of USA about Iranian weapon is right. It could be a pretext to fight against Iran, such as weapons of mass destruction were for Iraq invasion. Iran is not in Bush’s so-called “axis of evil” for nothing. Since many years, Iran are deriding USA. And for USA, Iran is the big uncontrolled area in Middle-East. In fact, United states have military bases all around, in Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Georgia, Iraq, Koweit, Kyrgyzstan, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, Turkey, Uzbekistan. So the power in Middle-East is in the hands of USA, Israel and Iran. If Iran had nuclear weapon, it would change all geopolitical influences in this area, and USA will lost a part of is power.


Note: Thanks to Sholeh & Dawood.

Madonna frozen out

On November 18, the Belgian court of Mons found the singer Madonna guilty of plagiarising some of the contents of her single Frozen. The song, which is taken from her 1998 album Ray Of Light, has been withdrawn from all record shops in Belgium, as has the album itself. She was sued by Salvatore Acquaviva, who claimed Frozen contained four bars of his own song Ma vie fout l’camp. According to Acquaviva, Madonna first came in contact with his song back in the 70’s when she was working as a backing singer for Patrick Hernandez in Belgium.

First of all, Madonna says that she has no knowledge of the Acquaviva song. It is probably true, because nobody knows Ma vie fout l’camp, Acquaviva is a totally unknown singer, even in Belgium! Secundo, Madonna did not composed the bars of music under question herself, they were written for her in 1996 by Patrick Leonard. But the thing incredible, is the four bars. I listened to the two songs. The intro is just a little bit similar, it is not the same music nor the same speed, lyrics are different. It is most probably just a coincidence and Acquaviva wants cash.

How many songs in the world have one second in common? How many songs in the world have four bars in common? If I am a singer and I find a good melody for a song, should I verify that all singers (famous one, but also those who are playing in the subway and those who are singing under the shower) all around the world, in Peru, in Estonia, in Japan, have never sing a part of this melody before? I am sure that every four bars have already played somewhere.