Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Islam, Denmark, and Freedom of Speech: a Learning Experience

" Five arrested in Danish cartoon murder plot" "Telegraph" (UK) (February 13, 2008)

Two years ago, the "Jyllands-Posten" newspaper in Denmark commissioned cartoons to caricature the Prophet. I think the project was in poor taste, a sort of intellectual jingoism, and a far cry from the sort of tolerance I'd like to see in a civilized country, but hardly unusual in a country where free speech is allowed.

Around the world, Muslims were outraged. I can understand that. Then, when the newspaper refused to apologize, many Muslims around the world reacted badly. Calls for the death of the offending cartoonists, riots: all the usual emotional outbursts.

Happily, nobody's been able to make good on the death threats. So far.

And, at least one Islamic group in Denmark seems to have learned about freedom of speech. As the last two paragraphs of that article put it: "The chairman of the Organisation of the Islamic Faith in Denmark said that his organisation saw the cartoon issue as 'closed'.

" 'There is freedom of speech in Denmark, and we have closed this issue,' Kassem Ahmad said. His organisation was one of the groups in Denmark that unsuccessfully demanded an apology from the Danish state and sanctions against Jyllands-Posten."

As a devout Catholic, I've frequently been disgusted at 'comic' depictions of my faith. However, I live in a country where people are free to express themselves: whether they demonstrate their wisdom or their clueless intolerance.

I can live with that.

Related posts, on censorship, propaganda, and freedom of speech.

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Note! Although I believe that these websites and blogs are useful resources for understanding the War on Terror, I do not necessarily agree with their opinions. 1 1 Given a recent misunderstanding of the phrase "useful resources," a clarification: I do not limit my reading to resources which support my views, or even to those which appear to be accurate. Reading opinions contrary to what I believed has been very useful at times: sometimes verifying my previous assumptions, sometimes encouraging me to change them.

Even resources which, in my opinion, are simply inaccurate are sometimes useful: these can give valuable insights into why some people or groups believe what they do.

In short, It is my opinion that some of the resources in this blogroll are neither accurate, nor unbiased. I do, however, believe that they are useful in understanding the War on Terror, the many versions of Islam, terrorism, and related topics.