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Sunday, February 19, 2006

Warning - Prepare to Be Offended 

While going through my blogroll, I found a cartoon that depicted a major religious figure and referred to one of the major events in this religion's history, an event that resulted in the liberation of an entire people. And this cartoon reduced this major event to a silly joke.

After viewing the cartoon, I made the following comment:

Uh oh. Will we be seeing riots now? :)

Needless to say, any offense generated by the cartoon (and someone, somewhere in the world is bound to be offended) will be minor, and will be unreported by the media.

Which raises the question - did the media, intentionally or unintentionally, contribute to the furor over the Danish cartoons? Let's look at excerpts from the BBC timeline. Please note that the original article listed the events in reverse chronological order, but I've switched the order.

30 September: A series of cartoons, some depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist, are published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten.

Note that no Christians were killed on this day.

17 October 2005: Egyptian newspaper al-Fagr reprints some of the cartoons, describing them as a "continuing insult" and a "racist bomb".

I did not know that the Muslim world had noticed this on 17 October. Note that this newspaper appearance is anti-cartoon.

20 October: Ambassadors from 10 Islamic countries complain to the Danish prime minister about the cartoons.

I didn't know this, either. But note that (at least as far as the BBC is concerned) nothing happened for a couple of months after this.

10 January: A Norwegian newspaper reprints the cartoons.

As we all know, this newspaper appearance is pro-cartoon, and is supposedly the event that would eventually result in mass rioting and death. For now, it just results in that terrible action - the recall of ambassadors. Oh, and a raid on the EU offices in Gaza.

1 February: Papers in France, Germany, Italy and Spain reprint the caricatures, defying Muslim outrage.

From here on in, we had a lot of papers supporting the cartoons, a lot of papers talking about the cartoons but not daring to print them, and a lot of papers opposing the cartoons. If nothing else, this whole thing has helped to revive the newspaper industry.

Enter Jacques Chirac:

8 February: French magazine Charlie Hebdo publishes the cartoons along with other caricatures. French President Jacques Chirac condemns decisions to reprint the cartoons as "overt provocation".

Not sure what he said about the gunmen raiding the EU offices in Gaza, or the people dying in Afghanistan or Nigeria. Perhaps that's not "overt provocation."

13 February: A leading Iranian newspaper, the Hamshahri Daily, launches a competition asking people to submit cartoons about the Holocaust, which the paper says is to test the boundaries of free speech for Westerners.

Don't know if Jacques Chirac has commented on these either. I don't think that these are necessarily overt provocations, since Zionism is equivalent to racism and all that. Time to insert an old Chevy Chase joke:

On Saturday Night Live, Chevy Chase reading the Weekend Update: "After UN Secretary Kurt Waldheim equated Zionism with racism recently, Sammy Davis, Jr. was heard to say, "Wow, what a breakthrough! Now I can hate myself!"

Enter Kofi Annan, defender of the faith:

“The fight against anti-Semitism must be our fight, and Jews everywhere must feel that the United Nations is their home, too”, Secretary-General Kofi Annan today told a seminar entitled “Confronting Anti-Semitism: Education for Tolerance and Understanding”.

The day-long programme, moderated by the Under-Secretary-General for Communications and Public Information, Shashi Tharoor and Raymond Sommereyns, Director of the Outreach Division, Department of Public Information (DPI), is the first in a DPI series entitled “Unlearning Intolerance”....

Explaining that future seminars would deal with other specific groups against whom intolerance was directed in many parts of the world, Mr. Annan said that anti-Semitism was a good place to start because, throughout history, that had been a unique manifestation of hatred, intolerance and persecution. The rise of anti-Semitism everywhere was a threat to people everywhere. In fighting it, the world was fighting for the future of all humanity.

It had been rightly said that the United Nations had emerged from the ashes of the Holocaust, he said. Acknowledging that the United Nations’ record on anti-Semitism had, at times, fallen short of its ideals, he urged that, this time, the world must not, could not, be silent. Everyone must be prepared to examine the nature of today’s anti-Semitism more closely, which was the purpose of the seminar. There was no more fitting time for Member States to take action on the need to combat anti-Semitism in all its forms, in action comparable perhaps to the resolution on apartheid or the admirable recent resolution of the Commission on Human Rights concerning the protection of Arabs and Muslims.

Holocaust survivor and Nobel peace laureate Elie Wiesel said that anti-Semitism was the oldest collective bigotry in recorded history. Anti-Semitism had even managed to penetrate the United Nations’ atmosphere....

Had it not been for Mr. Annan’s courageous intervention, the infamous resolution comparing Zionism to racism would still be in effect, he said. At the 2001 Durban World Conference against Racism, the Secretary-General’s efforts had been less successful, however. Instead of being a conference against hatred, it had become a conference of hatred — for Israel, the State and the people....

You know what this means, don't you? The UN will officially deplore pictures of Moses in a bathtub. Dang.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

You and I both have a common interest in Cox and Forkum cartoons. It helps that you've put a play-by-play chronology on this issue.
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