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“Death to Denmark”: Freedom of Speech And Thought Under Fire

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For once, it’s not American or Israeli flags burning in the sands of the Middle East. The cross of Denmark is aflame and “Death to Denmark” is a chant commonly heard from the Gaza Strip to Pakistan.

My, my, what has the Scandinavian country, well known for its social liberalism, done to inflame the Muslim world?

They exercised their civilized Western right to free speech. Those evil Danes!

In September, the Copenhagen-based newspaper Jyllands-Posten published an editorial cartoon depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammed with a time-bomb in place of a turban on his head. In response, Saudi Arabia boycotted Danish goods and recalled its Danish ambassador and Libya has closed its embassy in the Danish capital. Ministers from most Muslim countries have threatened punitive action in one form or another. And, as could be easily predicted, Islamofascist terrorists are issuing fatwas and promising a jihad against Denmark.

Without bending over backwards, Denmark has tried to smooth things over. But a recent poll found that the great majority of Danes feel they have nothing to apologize for. Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen did suggest to Jyllands-Posten that they should apologize, but has refused to offer his contrition on behalf of the Danish people. And recently, in an act of solidarity with their Danish counterparts, papers across Europe have reprinted the offending cartoon, specifically France, Germany, Spain, Italy and The Netherlands. A Norwegian magazine was the first to republish the cartoon last month.

Jyllands-Posten’s editor-in-chief, Carsten Juste, recently apologized: “These cartoons were not in violation of Danish law but have irrefutably offended many Muslims, and for that we apologize.”

The most relevant phrase is These cartoons were not in violation of Danish law. A free-thinking, independent, Christian-secular country has the right to exercise its freedom of speech and thought without answering to anyone. Of course the Muslim world, for which freedom in any form is anathema to their way of life, doesd not understand this.

The one country to separate itself from the European group hug is Great Britain which, with its deeply entrenched and out-of-control political correctness, will see Muslim-led protest marches in its capital while its foreign minister, Jack Straw, criticized the European decision to promote free thought. This is the same country, remember, that just passed a Religious Hatred bill, a ruse to give British Muslims immunity from their jihadistic actions, so it’s hardly surprising.

Apparently, it is our responsibility to placate these Muslims even further. An apology is not enough, now we must get on our hands and knees. At least according to Egypt. Well, I have a suggestion for Egypt and all these other like-minded Islamic countries: Why don’t you do more to placate us? Stop denying equality to women, jailing and torturing dissidents and all those who advocate reform and a liberal interpretation of Islam, electing terrorists and jihadists to positions of power, and denouncing Israel. Hold genuine, not jerry-rigged, elections and play your part in the War on Terror. Once you change your ways, we will have no reason to criticize your religion, your prophet or anything about you.

As blogger Robert Spencer has written here, “But if we cannot speak openly about Islamic militancy, we cannot combat it. And freedom of speech is certainly dead.” And how.

That editorial cartoon was making a point. Apparently, it’s lost on those in the Muslim world. And therein lies the real tragedy.

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  • Gordon Hauptfleisch

    And while engaged in the exercise of futility to get the Islamic countries to indeed plactate us, let’s see if they can change the way they protest–verbally, not violently. Nobody took to the streets here over Sinead O’ Conner tearing up a picture of the Pope on TV, or over the Piss Christ “art” (government funded, too–our tax dollars at waste). I’m thinking that it won’t take, though.

  • Exactly, Gordon. We accept outrageous slight after slight against Jesus and Christianity all the time, but, infantile as these actions are, it’s free speech. And there may be a fine line between freedom of religion and freedom of speech, but I think the two go hand in hand. There is no separating them. If you accept one, you accept the other.

    Muslims, however, have no such concept as free will as Christians do – except for liberal Muslims who will, we can only hope, become the majority in their religion sooner than we might expect – so this violent reaction on their part is unfortunate, but totally unsurprising.

  • Ron Jackson

    It seems to me that the Europeans are practicing their usual brand of “I’m better than you.”

    The fact is, there are laws in many European
    countries that dictate what anyone is allowed
    to say, write or publish about Jews and the
    holocaust. Furthermore, European countries
    have sued EBay for allowing the auctioning of
    Nazi paraphernalia (trading in Nazi paraphernalia
    is illegal in many European countries). Some
    countries, like France, are even trying to control
    what kind of garb Muslim women can wear in public.

    I’m sure you are aware that “freedom of the press”
    is a big laugh in the UK, where the government
    keeps a tight leash on what can be said about
    government affairs.

    I won’t bother to get into the level of self-censorship
    practiced in America, since the world already knows
    about the FOX, MSNBC, CNN phenomenon. An example:
    the U.S. military has killed untold thousands of “the
    enemy” in Iraq– but how much footage of the fighting
    have you seen on American TV? You could turn on
    any TV station during the Vietnam War and get real
    coverage of what that war was really like. Now? Nothing.
    And if you are an artist who depicts “Jesus” in anything
    but flattering terms: you can forget about getting
    exhibited in a “mainstream” American museum today.

    In fact, reporters all over the world are much more
    vulnerable to attack mainly because they are considered
    to be little more than mouthpieces for various power elites.
    No longer is the reporter considered an independent
    crusader for truth.

    Finally, giving prominent space to a bunch of anti-
    Islamic cartoons that were created by a cartoonist
    specially commissioned for the purpose– that seems
    more like propaganda, not free speech.

    “Free speech” in Europe and America? Let’s not
    get so high and mighty.

  • Ahmed

    So how does the insulting of the Prophet or the religion, which has been manipulated by terrorists, promote muslims to invoke more liberties and safety among themselves.

    This cartoon, although I personally dont find offenseive, is nothing more than a stab back at muslims in general. This is a selfish and foolish act which proves nothing, but promote more hate.

    This selfish act is the same train of thought as terrorists when they dont consider the religious or political concequences of thier actions.

    The world is stupid, and we need smarter people to understand and promote what needs to be done the PROPER way.

    The freedom of speech has limits, you cant just go down the street and insult peoples families, culture and beliefs. This was crossing the line… but atleast they got the reaction they wanted.

  • Alethinos

    [Printed elsewhere on BC]

    With regard to the Muslims: practice what you preach. Stand against the hatred and bigotry flung from the pulpits of your mosques. The Qu’ran preaches tolerance and compassion toward the People of the Book, i.e. Jews and Christians. SHOW IT.

    With regard to the political cartoonists: your behavior via your cartoons is revolting. While there is no excuse for the violence done by those in the Muslim world intent on stirring up trouble – what DID you expect? Do you show Jesus Christ in such a hateful revolting manner because of what HIS followers do – in His name? No. You do not. Have ANY of your read the Qu’ran and are familiar with the life of the Prophet and His Family? What they suffered to bring real civilization to millions of savage people – people who used to bury their daughters ALIVE in the sands of the desert?

    Muhammad nor Christ, nor Moses, nor Krishna, nor Buddha are RESPSONSIBLE for the actions of Their followers. Let’s get that clear. Let us assign the blame SQUARELY where it belongs so often: the priests, preachers, mullas, “holy men” who are ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN THEY and THEY ALONE know God’s will…

  • Ron Jackson: “It seems to me that the Europeans are practicing their usual brand of ‘I’m better than you.'”

    No, Ron, they are not. The Europeans are sticking up for a concept they invented: freedom of speech, thought and expression. And where’d they get that crazy idea? From Christianity which permits fre will. Which is not to say that Christianity encourages it, but it allows for it. Which is more than most practioners of Islam appear to do. Those cartoons were trying to make a point about Islamic intolerance and most Muslims have now, predictably, stepped right in the merde.

    About not criticizing Jews and banning Nazi images? You can’t blame them. One of the worst human tragedies and the purest expression of evil in human history originated in the heart of Europe last century. It is right for them to feel ashamed of this. They will not voice opinion that dredges up this disgusting era of their history and I cannot blame them for it. Technically, I don’t agree with denying neo-Nazis their rights to free speech, but I’m certainly not going to cry or get worked up over it.

    I see your point about free speech not being as free as it theoretically could be, in Europe, Britain and America – and it’s a valid observation on your part. I agree that it will never be 100% pure, but free speech is a lot freer in those places than anywhere else on earth and is as close to perfect as it will ever be.

  • The world is stupid, and we need smarter people to understand and promote what needs to be done the PROPER way

    That’s what Hitler thought, and Stalin, and Mussolini, and all the dictators who ever lived. Just like you, Ahmed, they thought THEY were the smart ones who knew the PROPER way everything needed to be done.

    That’s why we have Free Speech, so no one person’s or religion’s idea of what “needs to be done” becomes binding on everyone else. Everyone gets to say whatever they want to say, regardless of whom it offends.

    ANYTHING anybody says is going to offend some other people. So if your standard of what speech is to be allowed, is whether it might offend someone, then you would have to cut out everybody’s vocal chords.

  • Exactly, Richard. If only Muslims were content to riposte with their own pens as opposed to grabbing the nearest gun or sword.

    The Islamic world doesn’t want debate. It doesn’t want to express its outrage in a mature way that lends even an iota of respect to the other side. It’s just, “respect us (even if we give you no reason to) or die.”