Saturday, March 11, 2006

Mohammed Cartoon fallout continues

World: What? You thought the various groups running around sucking up to whoever demand this or that would have ended this long ago? It just keeps getting better and better.

NYTIMES: "COPENHAGEN, March 10 — Denmark sought today to tamp down the fierce Muslim protests over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad by inviting Muslim preachers and scholars to a conference that produced calls for dialogue but also fresh protests over the Danish government's refusal to apologize for their publication. Financed by the Danish Foreign Ministry, the conference prominently featured Amr Khaled, a 38-year-old preacher from Egypt who has built up a large following among young Muslims and women for his youthful style and sermons that apply Islam to the issues of modern life. Mr. Khaled sought to emphasize that "we are here to build bridges for dialogue," and suggested that a continuing boycott of Danish goods in Arab countries could stop if Danes and their government reach out with initiatives such as help for small businesses, or health care. Other participants were less conciliatory. "We are here today because we want to tell you that every Muslim in the world is very angry," said Tareq Al Suwaidan, general manager of the Kuwaiti satellite channel Al Resalah. "We request an official apology from your government to the Muslim nation as it happened in Norway," he said. He also demanded that the European Union enact a law "that forbids the insult to religious figures."
A festival in Spain which has built a rep for going after everyone is practicing a bit of self-censorship from getting anyone hurt or they could be cowards.
In the Fallas festival, giant sculptures of the high and mighty are placed in the streets for the public to mock before being destroyed in an orgy of gunpowder and flames. It has survived attacks by the Roman Catholic church, various puritanical rulers and the Franco dictatorship. This year's figures will include President George W Bush, several of the Spanish prime minister, José Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, and the Prince of Wales dancing, in Highland dress, with the Duchess of Cornwall. But self-censorship has seen Muslim and Arab figures modified to avoid offence. The Fallas season is now underway until March 19 but as it approached, Valencians watched global protests against newspaper cartoons of Mohammed with growing alarm. Last month, the mayor, Rita Barberá, urged artists to "temper freedom with a sense of responsibility" when referring to religious subjects. At least one well known local Fallas artist admitted to removing elements from his display of comic sculptures. He had sculpted three life-size figures of illegal Arab immigrants storming the Spanish border, in a reference to last year's crisis in Ceuta and Melilla, Spain's enclaves in North Africa, involving thousands of migrants. The artist has now removed details that identified them as Arabs. The artist asked not to be named, partly for fear of reprisals, partly because he did not feel proud of such "self-censorship". But this year was "different", he said. Radical Muslim leaders appeared to be looking for excuses to cause trouble. "We saw what happened in Denmark," he said. "Those artists may have had the freedom to draw Mohammed, but now they're living as virtual prisoners. They have much less freedom than before. I felt responsible not just as an artist, but as a citizen of this city."
The head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference is displeased the EU has not groveled enough.
LONDON (Reuters) - The leader of the world's largest Muslim body criticized the European Union on Friday for what he described as an unsatisfactory response to the furor over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), said that by simply regretting that Muslims found the cartoons offensive, EU foreign ministers had not gone far enough at a meeting in Brussels last week. "We expected the EU to address the issue of cartoons in a more fair way," Ihsanoglu told a news conference in London. "I must say that we are not satisfied with the result of last week's meeting in Brussels. The conclusion published by the European Union fell short of our expectations."

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