Monday, January 30, 2006

Denmark cartoon fury explodes

EU: If this was a social experiment to see who has a spine, who is for freedom of speech, press and expression. It has shown great results.

COPENHAGEN - Denmark warned its citizens on Monday to avoid Saudi Arabia, and gunmen in Gaza said any Scandinavians there risked attack, as Muslim fury mounted over newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. Denmark‘s Jyllands-Posten newspaper, which published the cartoons, issued an apology late on Monday in a statement to Arab countries sent to the Jordanian news agency Petra. The drawings, that seemed to portray the Prophet as a terrorist, were published in September, but the row erupted this month after diplomatic efforts to solve the issue failed. One drawing shows Mohammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb. Some Muslims, who deem images of prophets disrespectful and caricatures blasphemous, have threatened Danes and demanded an apology. "The drawings are not against the Danish law but have indisputably insulted many Muslims, for which we shall apologize," the newspaper said in the statement. An Iraqi militant group called on Monday for attacks on Danish and Norwegian targets, according to a statement attributed to the Mujahideen Army. A Norwegian paper has also run the drawings. The Internet statement called on fighters to "hit whatever targets possible belonging to these two countries and others that follow their steps." It could not be authenticated. Denmark has around 530 troops serving in Iraq . A roadside bomb exploded near an Iraqi police car driving around 150 metres (500 ft) in front of a Danish forces patrol, wounding one Iraqi, the Danish army said on Monday, adding it had no reason to conclude the attack was connected to the cartoon row. As the diplomatic and economic impact has spread, Saudi Arabia has recalled its envoy from Denmark and its religious leaders called for a boycott of Danish products. Across the Gulf, several supermarkets pulled Scandinavian foods off the shelves after consumers complained. Sudan said it had told a Danish government minister he could not make a planned visit and said it had also called for a boycott of Danish goods. Jamal Ibrahim, a Sudanese Foreign Ministry spokesman, said: "This is an insult to the Prophet Mohammad. Furthermore, we have asked our national companies to boycott all Danish goods." Libya has closed its Copenhagen embassy, and thousands of Palestinians marched in protest on Monday. Denmark‘s Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen welcomed the paper‘s apology but did not apologize himself. "The Danish government cannot apologize on behalf of a Danish newspaper. It does not work like that ... and we have explained that to the Arab countries. Independent media are not edited by the government," Rasmussen said.
Bill Clinton being the toady suck up sides against freedom of the press.
Bill Clinton, the former US President, added his voice, telling a conference in Qatar that he feared anti-Semitism would be replaced with anti-Islamic prejudice. He condemned “these totally outrageous cartoons against Islam”. Per Stig Moeller, Denmark’s Foreign Minister, insisted in Brussels last night: “We condemn blasphemy. We want respect for religions. But we cannot intervene. We have sent explanations but, as we have said before, freedom of expression is a matter for the courts, not for the Government.”
Update# EU Austrian presidency has come out in support of freedom of the press and expression.
The EU's Austrian presidency rallied Monday to the defense of the freedom of the press and expression amid growing Muslim anger about controversial Danish cartoons portraying Prophet Mohammed. "We have reiterated our belief and our attachment to the freedom of the press and freedom of expression as part of our fundamental values," Austrian Foreign Minister Ursula Plassnik told journalists Monday after chairing a meeting with her European Union colleagues. "We have equally referred to the religious beliefs that are to be respected in our societies as fundamental values as well," she added.
Update#2 Speaking of freedom of expression, the idiotic religious hate bill in the UK is being reviewed yet again for more changes. If this whole cartoon fiasco doesn't prove this sort of bill is the worst thing that can happen in the UK, nothing will.
A coalition of politicians, writers and artists is trying to persuade ministers to accept changes made by peers to the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill. Demonstrators are expected outside Parliament when the bill returns to the Commons on Tuesday after being substantially amended in the Lords. Peers voted to restrict terms of the bill to threatening words or behaviour. But ministers want it to include insults and abuse, which critics say could unfairly target comedians. 'Right to criticise' At a press conference on Monday, comedian Rowan Atkinson, who has been a prominent critic of the bill, said: "No one deserves a right to freedom from criticism." Government attempts to include an offence of being "reckless" about stirring up hatred could affect performers, he added. Mr Atkinson said of artistic work: "If it generates dislike of that religion's followers, they need to accept that. "They cannot deny responsibility for their practices. They should defend them, justify them or amend them." ....Labour backbencher Bob Marshall-Andrews said the legislation was "going to have a chilling effect on not just religion but on the whole spectrum of freedom of speech". He said he did not know how many of his party colleagues would vote against the government but that many would "make their minds up very, very late". Liberal Democrat human rights spokesman Evan Harris said Tuesday's vote on the bill would be parliament's last chance to protect free speech. "These freedoms to speak and to argue, to criticise and indeed to ridicule, once lost, are very rarely got back. "And I think it will be a sad day if the opposition parties and indeed some brave backbench Labour rebels are not able to defeat the government and maintain the House of Lords' position on this bill. " He said the new law would create a "chilling effect that would stifle free expression".

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