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The image of God : Europe's media : Islamic Sensibilities

category international | arts and media | other press author Thursday February 02, 2006 10:46author by iosafauthor address barcelona Report this post to the editors

"the freedom of expression and freedom of the press in the Occidental tradition"

This story began (for some) on the 30th of Sept. 2005 when a Danish newspaper published a series of cartoons depicting Muhummad PBUH the prophet of Islam.

For others this story began on the 14th of February 1989 when Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini then supreme leader of Iran issued a "fatwa" calling for the execution of Salman Rushdie on Tehran radio.

& for yet others more, this story began with the Quran and that no visual images or depictions of God exist because such artistic depictions may lead to idolatry and are thus disdained. A similar position in Christian theology is termed iconoclasm. Moreover, most Muslims believe that God is incorporeal, making any two- or three- dimensional depictions impossible. This prohibition is extended to the prophets of God. (peace be upon them).
doesn't look like that.
doesn't look like that.

a timeline :

30 Sept: Danish paper Jyllands-Posten publishes cartoons
20 Oct: Muslim ambassadors in Denmark complain to Danish PM
10 Jan: Norwegian publication reprints cartoons
26 Jan: Saudi Arabia recalls its ambassador
29 Jan: Libya says it will close its embassy in Denmark
30 Jan: Gunmen raid EU's Gaza office
31 Jan: Danish paper Jyllands-Posten apologises as the Arab states bitterly complain
The offices of Jyllands-Posten were evacuated on Tuesday 31 January because of a bomb threat.

This is the letter being circulated by Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten

Honourable Fellow Citizens of the Muslim World

Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten is a strong proponent of democracy and freedom of religion. The newspaper respects the right of any human being to practise his or her religion. Serious misunderstandings in respect of some drawings of the Prophet Mohammed have led to much anger and, lately, also boycott of Danish goods in Muslim countries.

Please allow me to correct these misunderstandings.
On 30 September last year, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten published 12 different cartoonists' idea of what the Prophet Mohammed might have looked like. The initiative was taken as part of an ongoing public debate on freedom of expression, a freedom much cherished in Denmark.

In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize.

Since then a number of offensive drawings have circulated in The Middle East which have never been published in Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten and which we would never have published, had they been offered to us. We would have refused to publish them on the grounds that they violated our ethical code.

Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten attaches importance to upholding the highest ethical standards based upon the respect of our fundamental values. It is so much more deplorable, therefore, that these drawings were presented as if they had anything to do with Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten.

Maybe because of culturally based misunderstandings, the initiative to publish the 12 drawings has been interpreted as a campaign against Muslims in Denmark and the rest of the world.

I must categorically dismiss such an interpretation. Because of the very fact that we are strong proponents of the freedom of religion and because we respect the right of any human being to practise his or her religion, offending anybody on the grounds of their religious beliefs is unthinkable to us.

That this happened was, consequently, unintentional.

As a result of the debate that has been going on about the drawings, we have met with representatives of Danish Muslims, and these meetings were held in a positive and constructive spirit. We have also sought in other ways to initiate a fruitful dialogue with Danish Muslims.

It is the wish of Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten that various ethnic groups should live in peace and harmony with each other and that the debates and disagreements which will always exist in a dynamic society should do so in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

For that reason, Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten has published many articles describing the positive aspects of integration, for example in a special supplement entitled The Contributors. It portrayed a number of Muslims who have had success in Denmark. The supplement was rewarded by the EU Commission.

Morgenavisen Jyllands-Posten takes exception to symbolic acts suited to demonise specific nationalities, religions and ethnic groups.

Sincerely yours

Carsten Juste
The Danish government said : "The Danish government cannot apologise on behalf of a Danish newspaper... Independent media are not edited by the government".

Then :

1 Feb: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint cartoons

This morning it is reported that the owner of French daily newspaper "Le Soir" Raymond Lakah has dismissed the editor of "le Soir" Jacques Lefranc for republishing and being instrumental in the re-syndication of those cartoons. Lakah has said "he "decided to remove Jacques Lefranc as managing director of the publication as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual". "We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all people who were shocked by the publication."
But the staff of Le Soir disagree and publish a full page advert in defence of the freedoms of creative and artistic expression, and the freedom of the press.

Now :

There are no ambassadors from Syria and Saudi Arabia to Denmark, and Libya 29 January: Libya says it will close its embassy in Denmark
the Danish-Swedish dairy giant Arla Foods http://www.arlafoods.com/APPL/HJ/HJ202COM/HJ202D01.NSF?Open
says its sales in the Middle East have plummeted to zero because of a boycott of Danish products and "The company has annual sales of $480m there. We have taken 40 years to build up a very big business in the Middle East, and we've seen it come to a complete stop in five days " said Astrid Gade Niels an Arla spokeswoman continuing "Our sales in the Middle East have come to a complete stop - in all countries in the region," "We have found ourselves in the middle of a game that we have no part in." "We have taken 40 years to build up a very big business in the Middle East, and we've seen it come to a complete stop in five days."

As out on the streets of Gaza the democrats of tomorrow burnt Danish flags.
And three days ago the EU offices in Gaza were occupied by masked gun men.

 #   Title   Author   Date 
   obliged to add     iosaf    Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:15 
   middle-sized, white circular face, black eyes, long eyelashes, thick curly hair, a beard & birthmark     stephen bates    Thu Feb 02, 2006 11:53 
   Gunmen have surrounded the EU offices in Gaza.     news alert    Thu Feb 02, 2006 12:39 
   no apologies     pat c    Thu Feb 02, 2006 12:53 
   Hate to agree with Pat C     Mark O 'Hehir    Thu Feb 02, 2006 13:27 
   then you'd oppose the Blair "religious hate" laws?     Peccantem me quotidie, et non me poenitentem    Thu Feb 02, 2006 13:31 
   ataturk     pat c    Thu Feb 02, 2006 13:56 
   Atheist     Omar    Thu Feb 02, 2006 15:42 
   I despair of anti-religious sentiment..... A german has been abducted. 5 hours to "Danish deadline"     iosaf    Thu Feb 02, 2006 21:35 
 10   Did you hear about the     Khoemeini    Thu Feb 02, 2006 21:53 
 11   Tao     Raymond McInerney    Thu Feb 02, 2006 22:06 
 12   update     ha bloody ha    Fri Feb 03, 2006 10:22 
 13   Quite a lot of reader and in house reaction.     guardian    Fri Feb 03, 2006 10:30 
 14   How the cartoons came to be published :-     iosaf    Sat Feb 04, 2006 13:26 
 15   Should we ban "The Life of Brian"?     Annabelle.    Sat Feb 04, 2006 13:33 
 16   Cartoons huh     Insomniac    Sat Feb 04, 2006 14:04 
 17   insomniac     pat c    Sat Feb 04, 2006 14:22 
 18   pat c     Insomniac    Sat Feb 04, 2006 14:53 
 19   Freedom of Speech comes first     Gael    Sat Feb 04, 2006 14:59 
 20   insomniac     pat c    Sat Feb 04, 2006 15:15 
 21   Gael     Sen Ryan    Sat Feb 04, 2006 15:36 
 22   circumspecit. = look around     iosaf    Sat Feb 04, 2006 16:05 
 23   sean     pat c    Sat Feb 04, 2006 19:25 
 24   Ironic     Sarcastic Bastard    Sat Feb 04, 2006 21:09 
 25   Oh dear. "circumspecit" = look around.     iosaf    Sat Feb 04, 2006 22:33 
 26   When Freedom of Expression becomes a Weapon     Wave    Sun Feb 05, 2006 00:09 
 27   Exactly     Sen Ryan    Sun Feb 05, 2006 06:01 
 28   Cartoonists Wanted.     @    Sun Feb 05, 2006 14:21 
 29   Christianity is a soft Target. Be provocative!     conception turkey baster    Sun Feb 05, 2006 14:34 
 30   BOTH sides are wrong     puck    Sun Feb 05, 2006 16:09 
 31   quite.... Not for the first time fascism expects us to choose between two of its options.     iosaf    Sun Feb 05, 2006 17:58 
 32   Incitement to hatred,does it apply equally?     A10    Sun Feb 05, 2006 20:22 
 33   yes...     puck    Mon Feb 06, 2006 10:20 
 34   comparisons     leonard    Mon Feb 06, 2006 11:10 
 35   Relativism     Ali H.    Mon Feb 06, 2006 12:21 
 36   Why?     historian    Mon Feb 06, 2006 14:05 
 37   cartoons     Bhuvana    Mon Feb 06, 2006 15:08 
 38   small group?     Localist    Mon Feb 06, 2006 16:29 
 39   Why indeed!     Ali H.    Mon Feb 06, 2006 18:37 
 40   Not apologising for the nonsense but....     Ois    Mon Feb 06, 2006 19:10 
 41   Staged managed protests.     By Any Means Necessary    Mon Feb 06, 2006 19:26 
 42   This is funny, from the BBC     Are Muslims Extremists?    Mon Feb 06, 2006 19:34 
 43   Idiots     Connor D    Mon Feb 06, 2006 20:07 
 44   iosaf     pat c    Mon Feb 06, 2006 20:24 
 45   oh Pat C.     iosaf    Mon Feb 06, 2006 21:32 
 46   oh iosaf     pat c    Mon Feb 06, 2006 21:44 
 47   oh your tetchy.     iosaf    Mon Feb 06, 2006 21:47 
 48   2 idiots     Bhuvana    Tue Feb 07, 2006 09:49 
 49   BELIEF: A CONCLUSION FORMED ON A LACK OF DATA     Stef Stargazer    Tue Feb 07, 2006 10:17 
 50   bit of clarification. and the transcript of the Danish PM's last interview.     iosaf    Tue Feb 07, 2006 12:27 
 51   The Life of Brian was banned in Ireland!!     glennser    Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:12 
 52   not so long ago...     duffy    Wed Feb 08, 2006 13:42 
 53   Depictions of Mohammed Throughout History (not just at Chester Beatty)     redjade    Wed Feb 08, 2006 14:25 
 54   well things have taken a twist.     iosaf    Fri Feb 10, 2006 13:27 
 55   the litigation & criminal angle     .:. / .    Fri Feb 10, 2006 22:55 
 56   Why RACISM??     a7mad    Mon Feb 13, 2006 20:47 
 57   happy valentine's day.     iosaf    Tue Feb 14, 2006 08:55 
 58   Do Two Offensive Images Make a Right? (yes.)     redjade    Tue Feb 14, 2006 12:30 
 59   Tariq Ali     pat c    Tue Feb 14, 2006 16:41 
 60   pat c. (how are you doing matey?)     iosaf    Tue Feb 14, 2006 16:51 
 61   iosaf     pat c    Tue Feb 14, 2006 16:57 
 62   what makes you think I can't give him my own regards?     iosaf    Tue Feb 14, 2006 17:06 
 63   "clipping wings" = there is no "right to mock"     iosaf ipisphi    Wed Feb 15, 2006 14:28 

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