Anorak News | Pen & Ink

Pen & Ink

by | 2nd, February 2006

‘THE move by a Danish newspaper to publish caricatures of the prophet Muhammad has led to protests in several Muslim countries, and a boycott of Danish goods.

Forgoing the joys of self-assembly flat-pack furniture, Lego and bacon is all very noble, but what should we make of it all?

Is it an exercise in the freedom of speech to publish pictures of a bearded Muhammad with a bomb fizzing out of his turban? Or is it offensive and designed to wound?

Ignore for the moment that the pictures, including the one depicting a grinning, knife-wielding Mohammed flanked by two veiled women, are as ludicrous as they are unfunny, and consider what it means to ban them.

The 12 cartoons, printed last September in Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten newspaper, are now so newsworthy that, as the Guardian reports, they have now appeared in Dutch, Swiss, Spanish, German and Italian newspapers.

(The cartoonist remains a heavy-handed satirist, but at least now, thanks to the extra royalties, his income has improved.)

These cartoons are big news. The Telegraph hears Roger Köppel, editor-in-chief of Germany’s Die Welt newspaper, call his decision to print one of the cartoons the “right to blasphemy”. He says that the main motive for running the cartoon is the ‘news value of the story’.

The Guardian notes how the front page of the daily France Soir has carried the headline: ‘Yes, we have the right to caricature God.’ The paper duly published a cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods floating on a cloud to illustrate its point.

It’s hard to find fault with the reasoning. This is a stand against the kind of creeping censorship that this Government tried to introduce in its Racial and Religious Hatred Bill.

So why then, as the Guardian reports, has France Soir’s managing editor been sacked? According to Agence France Presse, France Soir’s owner, Raymond Lakah, says that he dismissed Jacques Lefranc ‘as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual’.

Can the same be said of the militant Islam? The Arab League demands those responsible ‘be punished’. Saudi Arabia has withdrawn its ambassador to Copenhagen. Gunmen from al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade briefly occupied the EU’s office in the Gaza Strip, demanding an official apology.

If the cartoons are a form to religious hatred, will banning them lead us towards a more tolerant and egalitarian world. Or will censoring them create racism and division?’

Posted: 2nd, February 2006 | In: Reviews Comment | TrackBack | Permalink