Thursday, February 02, 2006

Muslims Against Free Speech

Do Muslims hate free speech? Well...maybe not symbolic speech like the murder of innocent human beings through suicide bombing, decapitating kidnapped peoples, terrorist attacks, burning and mutilating bodies, etc.

I don't really expect people from the middle east to grasp the importance of a concept like free speech, but what really shocks me is that supposedly advanced European countries such as France, obviously don't value free speech either. When will France get a backbone and stop with the appeasement?!

Here at home...NBC uses free speech to attack Christianity through mocking the Crucifixtion on "Will & Grace" to it's recently cancelled series, "The Book of Daniel", which slurs Christianity. The series was cancelled after airing only three episodes. Why? Because American Christians took hostages and made violent threats and protests? No!!! Instead a peaceful boycott lead to the loss of millions of dollars. Now that's progress the Middle East could learn from.\Culture\archive\200602\CUL20060202b.html

Rage at Drawings Spreads in Muslim World

The Associated Press
Thursday, February 2, 2006; 2:00 PM

GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip -- Armed militants angered by a cartoon drawing of the Prophet Muhammad published in European newspapers surrounded EU offices in Gaza on Thursday and threatened to kidnap foreigners as outrage over the caricatures spread across the Islamic world.

More than 300 students demonstrated in Pakistan, chanting "Death to France!" and "Death to Denmark!" _ two of the countries where newspapers published the drawings. Other protests were held in Syria and Lebanon.

Officials in Afghanistan, Iran and Indonesia condemned the publication. In Paris, the daily France Soir fired its managing editor after it ran the caricatures Wednesday.

A Jordanian newspaper took the bold step of running some of the drawings, saying it wanted to show its readers how offensive the cartoons were but also urging the world's Muslims to "be reasonable." Hours later, the owners of the weekly, Shihan, said they had fired its editor and withdrawn the issue from sale, and the government threatened legal action.

Foreign journalists, diplomats and aid workers began leaving Gaza as gunmen there threatened to kidnap citizens of France, Norway, Denmark and Germany unless those governments apologize for the cartoon.

Gunmen in the West Bank city of Nablus entered four hotels to search for foreigners to abduct and warned their owners not to host guests from several European countries. Gunmen said they were also searching apartments in Nablus for Europeans.

Militants in Gaza said they would shut down media offices from France, Norway, Denmark and Germany, singling out the French news agency Agence France-Presse.

"Any citizens of these countries, who are present in Gaza, will put themselves in danger," a Fatah-affiliated gunman said outside the EU Commission's office in Gaza, flanked by two masked men holding rifles.

If the European governments don't apologize by Thursday evening, "any visitor of these countries will be targeted," he said.

The furor over the drawings, which first ran in the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten in September, cuts to the question of which is more sacred in the Western world _ freedom of expression or respect for religious beliefs. The cartoons include an image of Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb with a burning fuse.

Islamic law, based on clerics' interpretation of the Quran and the sayings of the prophet, absolutely forbids depictions, even positive ones, of the Prophet Muhammad in order to prevent idolatry.

The drawings have prompted boycotts of Danish goods, bomb threats and demonstrations against Danish facilities.

The Danish newspaper defended its decision to publish the caricatures, citing freedom of expression, but apologized to Muslims for causing offense.

France Soir and several other European papers reprinted the drawings in solidarity with the Danish daily. Jyllands-Posten also had put some of the drawings briefly on its Web site, and the images still can be found elsewhere on the Internet.

The Israeli newspaper Maariv published a tiny version of the Muhammad-bomb caricature Thursday, on page 16.

Foreign journalists were pulling out of Gaza on Thursday, and foreign media organizations were canceling plans to send more people in.

Norway suspended operations at its office in the West Bank town of Ram after receiving threats connected to publication of the cartoons by the Norwegian Christian newspaper Magazinet.

"There were threats from two Palestinian groups, the Popular Resistance Committees and the Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades, against Danish, French and Norwegian diplomats," Norwegian Foreign Ministry spokesman Rune Bjaastad said.

Jan Pirouz Poulsen, the Danish representative office's deputy head, said there were six Danes in Gaza and about 20 in the West Bank, and that all had been urged to leave.

Raif Holmboe, the head of Denmark's representative office in the West Bank town of Ramallah, said the office would be closed Friday and no decision has been made whether to reopen Monday. Holmboe said shots were fired at the Ramallah office earlier this week while the building was empty. No one was hurt.

Palestinian security officials said they would try to protect foreigners in Gaza, but police have largely been unable to do so in the past, with 19 foreigners kidnapped _ and released unharmed _ in recent months, mostly by Fatah gunmen.

Emma Udwin, a European Union spokeswoman in Brussels, said security measures have been taken in light of the threats.

Outgoing Palestinian Prime Minister Ahmed Qureia condemned the caricatures, saying they "provoke all Muslims everywhere in the world." He asked gunmen not to attack foreigners, "but we warn that emotions may flare in this very sensitive issues."

Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the Islamic militant Hamas also demanded an apology from European countries. However, he said foreigners in Gaza must not be harmed.

Thursday's events began when a dozen gunmen with ties to Fatah approached the office of the EU Commission in Gaza. Three jumped on the outer wall and the rest took up positions at the entrance. The group demanded the apologies and urged Palestinians to boycott the products of Norway, Denmark, France and Germany.

A leaflet signed by a Fatah militia and the militant Islamic Jihad group said the EU office and churches in Gaza could come under attack and urged French citizens to leave Gaza. The gunmen left after about 45 minutes. Palestinian employees of the EU Commission had not come to work Thursday, and foreigners working at the office are based outside Gaza, and only visit from time to time.

In Multan, Pakistan, more than 300 Islamic students chanted "Death to Denmark!" and "Death to France!" and burned flags of both countries near an Islamic school.

Iraqi Islamic leaders called for demonstrations from Baghdad to the southern city of Basra following prayer services Friday.

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai condemned the images, calling the publication an "insult ... to more than 1 billion Muslims."

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Yuri Thamrin said that while his country upholds free expression, "such freedom cannot be used as a pretext to insult a religion." The Indonesian newspaper Rakyat Merdeka put the Muhammad-bomb caricature on its Web site to illustrate its story about the uproar but covered his eyes with a red banner to avoid making the image "vulgar," a caption said.

Iran summoned Austrian Ambassador Stigel Bauer, representing the European Union, to protest the publication, the Islamic Republic News Agency reported. Bauer expressed "sorrow" and promised to convey Iran's protest to his government and other EU countries, IRNA said.

The Jordanian newspaper Shihan reprinted three of the caricatures to show readers "the extent of the Danish offense." Next to the drawings, the weekly said: "This is how the Danish newspaper portrayed Prophet Muhammad, may God's blessing and peace be upon him."

Later, its owner, the Arab Publishers Co., fired editor Jihad al-Momani, saying he had caused a "shock to the firm and those responsible for it," the official Petra news agency reported. It said the issue was withdrawn from the market and opened an investigation to determine if other staff were involved. A spokesman for the publisher confirmed the report.

Government spokesman Nasser Judeh said Shihan committed a "big mistake" by reprinting the drawings.

"The government strongly denounces this issues, which it considers extremely harmful, and demands an immediate apology from the newspaper," Judeh said. He said the state is reviewing "all options, especially legal action" against Shihan.

Al-Momani declined comment. Earlier, he had told The Associated Press he decided to run the cartoons to "display to the public the extent of the Danish offense and condemn it in the strongest terms."

"But their publication is not meant in any way to promote such blasphemy," al-Momani added.

An editorial signed by al-Momani and titled "Muslims of the world, be reasonable," noted that the Danish paper had apologized, "but for some reason, nobody in the Muslim world wants to hear the apology."

The director of media rights group Reporters Without Borders, Robert Menard, called for calm. "We need to figure out how to reconcile freedom of expression and respect of faith," he said.

Vebjoern Selbekk, editor of Norway's Magazinet, said he had received thousands of hate e-mails, including 20 death threats, since printing the drawings and was under police protection.


B2 said...\Culture\archive\200602\CUL20060202b.html

NBC Offends Christians Again

By Susan Jones
February 02, 2006

( - A conservative advocacy group accuses NBC of "hitting back" at the Christian community in an upcoming episode of "Will and Grace."

The April 13 episode will mock the crucifixion of Christ, the American Family Association said.

AFA pointed to wire reports saying that Britney Spears will make a guest appearance on the April 13 "Will and Grace," playing a conservative Christian sidekick to Sean Hayes' homosexual character, Jack.

When Jack's fictional TV network, Out TV, is bought by a Christian TV network, Spears hosts a cooking segment called "Cruci-fixin's."

"To further denigrate Christianity, NBC chose to air [the episode] the night before Good Friday," AFA Founder and Chairman Donald E. Wildmon complained.

"NBC does not treat Jews, Muslims or other religions with such disrespect. Yet the network demonstrates a deep of hostility toward followers of Christ."

NBC recently cancelled a series called "The Book of Daniel," amid loud complaints from conservative Christians who saw the series as a slur on Christianity. (See related story)

The series was canceled only three episodes into its season; NBC blamed low ratings, but Wildmon said it went away because "NBC had to eat millions of dollars each time it aired."

Now AFA is urging Americans to wage a similar protest against the upcoming "Will and Grace" episode.

"Call your local NBC affiliate and ask them not to air the April 13 episode of "Will and Grace," AFA said in a message to supporters.

The group also wants concerned Christians to send a letter of complaint to NBC Chairman Bob Wright, and to spread the word about NBC's latest insult in church bulletins and newsletters.

B2 said...

Iran daily holds contest for Holocaust cartoons

Tue Feb 7, 2006 10:31 AM ET

TEHRAN (Reuters) - Iran's best-selling newspaper has launched a competition to find the best cartoon about the Holocaust in retaliation for the publication in many European countries of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.

The Brussels-based Conference of European Rabbis (CER) denounced the idea and urged the Muslim world to do likewise.

The Anti-Defamation League, which fights anti-semitism, described the competition as "deliberately inflammatory".

The Iranian daily Hamshahri said the contest was designed to test the boundaries of free speech -- the reason given by many European newspapers for publishing the cartoons of the Prophet.

"Does Western free speech allow working on issues like America and Israel's crimes or an incident like the Holocaust or is this freedom of speech only good for insulting the holy values of divine religions?" the paper asked.

Davoud Kazemi, who is in charge of the contest, told Reuters that each of the 12 winners would have their cartoons published and receive two gold coins (worth about $140 each) as a prize.

In Paris, CER President Joseph Sitruk, who is also Chief Rabbi of France, said: "The Iranian regime has plummeted to new depths if it regards the deaths of six million Jews as a matter for humor or to score cheap political points.

"Sadly, we are not surprised by this action," he said, recalling Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's calls last year for Israel to be "wiped off the map" and his dismissal of the Holocaust as a myth.

In a statement issued by the CER, which represents chief rabbis from over 40 European countries, Sitruk said the Iranian government menaced Jews and the whole international community.

Sitruk noted that European religious leaders had condemned the publication of images likely to offend Muslim feelings.

"This is a test for the Muslim world to react immediately to condemn their own co-religionists in Iran for such obscene behavior as we condemned those who sought to insult them," he said.

Iranian protesters hurled petrol bombs and stones at the Danish Embassy in Tehran for a second successive day on Tuesday and Tehran announced it had cut all trade ties with Denmark.

A Danish newspaper published the cartoons in September, and newspapers in Norway and a dozen other countries reprinted them last month, citing the need to defend freedom of speech.

A former Iranian parliamentarian argued that freedom of speech should also apply to those who questioned the Holocaust.

"Why do you make fuss or shout if a country or the head of a government expresses his doubt about the Holocaust? Why do you lie about the existence of freedom of speech in your countries?" the conservative Resalat newspaper on Tuesday quoted Ali Akbar Mohtashamipour as telling a gathering at Tehran University.

Arieh O'Sullivan, spokesman of the Anti-Defamation League's Israel office, said it was committed to free speech and a free press but that did not mean a license to foster hatred.

"What bothers us this incident has been used by the Arab world basically as an excuse to stick it to the Jews," he said.

"Iran is doing a dare to see how free the press is in Europe. This is deliberately inflammatory," O'Sullivan said, accusing newspapers in the Arab and Muslim world of frequently running cartoons of Jews that recalled Nazi propaganda.

B2 said...

What REALLY bugs me is the fact that all of these Arab nations who are supposedly protesting the Muhammad cartoon are attacking US embassies and chanting death to America and are also attacking Israel and not surprisingly pushing blame on the Jews!!??!!?? Where is the freaking connection?!

Not a single media outlet in the US published the cartoons, no American endorsed the cartoons, no Israeli endorsed the cartoons, yet Iran holds a contest to mock the Holocaust and publishes cartoons demeaning Anne Frank and other Jews. They burn American and Israli flags!

It all just leads me to believe that the protesting really isn't so much about the cartoons, but rather just another excuse to excercise extremist anti-semetic and anti-American views!!!