Toon In, Toon Out

Trouble way Down Under:

New Zealand diplomats in Muslim countries have been warned to take precautions against possible threats to staff and property.

The Danish. New Zealanders. Who woulda thought?

It used to be suggested that Islamic fundamentalist-fueled violence, though generally not condoned, was at least directed at "legitimate" grievances: imperialism, foreign troops, hubris, meddling, concentration of wealth, monarchy families, etc. Even well before Iraq and 9-11. I recall declarations that fanatical rioters weren't against West's "freedoms", as the likes of Bush and conservative columnists would often repeat as a mantra. After all, if they hated freedom so much, why was their anger directed almost solely to the United States, Great Britain and Israel, and not at such other Western countries as, say, Denmark, Norway and New Zealand?

The cartoon frenzy and subsequence media coverage may well prove to be a good thing, in a way. While it's obvious that US foreign policy has caused a lot of anger over the years (to put it mildly), this cartoon fiasco will wake many people up to the fact that this all goes beyond anger toward US military escapades and the activities by, if not the very existance of, Israel.

Lest we forget that a similar event and reaction happened three years ago. Although since the violence didn't leave the confines of Nigeria, it didn't necessarily grace the world's headlines:

The BBC's Haruna Bahago in Abuja says people armed with sticks, daggers and knives set fire to vehicles and attacked anyone they suspected of being Christian.

The northern city of Kaduna is now quiet after two days of rioting in protest at the Miss World beauty contest, which left at least 100 people dead, according to Red Cross officials.

The protests began after a newspaper suggested that the Prophet Mohammed would have probably chosen to marry one of the Miss World contestants if he had witnessed the beauty pageant - which Nigeria is currently hosting.

And Theo van Gogh and Shaima Rezayee knew the price of Freedom of Expression all too well.

UPDATE: In similar - though not cartoon related - news, a Koran was found dirtied up in a drain in Pakistan, and... need I say more?

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The cartoon fiasco is little

The cartoon fiasco is little more than political sleight-of-hand. The populous is oppressed, poor, ignorant and generally unhappy. In an effort to misdirect attention from themselves, the powerful point the finger at Jews and the West (much like Hitler did in Germany) convincing the masses that the west hates them and that all of their problems are the fault of others. Conveniently, Israel and the West have acted in a way to make such accusations, at least superficially, plausible. So muslims get all worked up about the west and don't have time to think about how their own government is screwing them.

If the west wants to "solve" the problems in the middle east it can only do so by removing oppressive governments.

I read some commentary

I read some commentary somewhere yesterday that implied that of all the Muslim rioting, violence, and death threats, that almost all of it was centered in Muslim areas that did have political and other greviances, and that areas that didn't really have any political beef with the West were mostly quiet other than one or two minor demonstrations (which you could tell were being overblown just by looking at the fact that all the camera angles were from so close in that you couldn't see how big the crowd was--normally if it really is a huge crowd, you'll get at least a few pictures of the crowd itself).

Not saying that anything ever justifies someone in threating to kill someone because of what they wrote (no matter how offensive, bigotted, or just plain tasteless it was), because nothing does. Just saying that the whole "now we see that their anger really has nothing to do with our past actions" meme going around is just about as bogus as the "all their is due entirely to our past actions" meme that some on the left like to trumpet.

Life's more complex than that.

~Jon

Also, the situation today

Also, the situation today doesn't give solid evidence one way or the other about the reasons why the Muslim world was pissed off at the west in the first place. They may be extra-sensitive and easily manipulated by their rulers to condemn the west now, but was it always that way?

Please, can we have a

Please, can we have a little honesty here, and report the rest of the story

Media present, including Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst and The Press's Paul Thompson the two papers to publish the cartoons in NZ, apologised for the offence caused – but did not resile from the decision to publish.

"They (Muslim leaders) for their part, recognised freedom-of-the-press issues, but we also accept that does not come without responsibilities," Mr Pankhurst said. Twenty-four countries had published the cartoons and in the context of international reaction it was appropriate to print them.

"Our view was that our readers would not be fully informed if they didn't see what the fuss was about and we stand by that."

Federation of Islamic Associations president Javed Khan said the meeting's outcome was highly significant. "I think this will be very positive and . . . something that will help the federation put forward the case for New Zealand to be exempt from (trade blocks) with any Muslim country," he said. "In the scheme of things I think we have gone a long way. We are very satisfied with that."

As for any backlash against NZ, we stand to lose about $75 million p.a. if a blanket embargo is applied against NZ goods. Will that happen? Time alone...

And in the meantime, there are the expected moves to crank up the tension against "popular enemies"...

WASHINGTON: United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice accused adversaries Iran and Syria of inciting Muslim anger against the West over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad that have sparked deadly protests.

President George W Bush said governments should stop the violence that has erupted over the cartoons, including attacks on Western embassies in parts of the Muslim world. At least 10 people have been killed in protests in Afghanistan alone.

"Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes and the world ought to call them on it," Rice said at a joint news conference with Israel's Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni.

Well, I reckon that will go a looooong way to reducing tensions.

Who knows now what might have happened had the Danish idjitator thought to ring the local Imams and say "Look, I had no idea that you would be so offended by these cartoons. Would you be happy for me to place in tomorrows edition with your name alongside of mine an apology for the offence and an acknowledgement of the right to publish. Can we work something out?"

Those who want to use this

Those who want to use this justify the war should think twice. The fact that our "democratic" allies in Afghanistan and Iraq threw aside any alleged "pro-liberty views" and joined the anti-Dane lynch mob is probably the strongest recent evidence (along with the Hamas win in Palestine and Shi'ite electorial victories in Iraq) to the contrary. The reaction to the cartoon shows,once again that Bush's Wilsonian crusade to reform the Middle East is a pipe dream and a gigantic waste of our blood and treasure.

The cartoons in question

The cartoons in question were published in Egypt first, in the Egyptian newspaper Al Faqr, LAST OCTOBER during Ramadan!!!! ... not a peep out of the islamofascists, not till they were published in Denmark.

I didn't realize but the

I didn't realize but the Jyllends-Posten on September 30. So they had to work themselves up to this. Still doesn't answer the question as to why they are not protesting Egypt.