Whose fault is the Danish boycott?

When I look at analysis of the Danish cartoon controversy, I’m struck by how so many otherwise well informed and intelligent commentators simply don’t get what’s really going on.   The basic reasons for and issues involved in this  crisis are pretty easy to grasp, but conspicuously absent from most discussions of this saga.   Instead, one finds ethereal discursions on freedom of religion and freedom of speech, ideals that actually have precious little to do with this lamentable turn of events, as his is about politics and prejudices, not constitutional rights.

Mona Eltahawy writes in MuslimWakeUp.com:

Can we finally admit that Muslims have blown out of all proportion their outrage over 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad published in a Danish newspaper last September?

Umm, no we can’t.  At least not in the way you mean.

The author, like so many other liberal Muslim commentators at the moment–it seems everyone’s working overtime to prove to non-Muslims how secular and progressive they are by defending the Jyllands-Posten outrageous and irresponsible attacks on the Prophet Muhammad–overlooks  basic political and cultural context to those cartoons, and ignores the significance of the openly contempuous way this supposedly high minded defense of freedom of speech was made.

In recent years, Denmark has been lurching rightward and turning increasingly hostile to Islam and Muslims (who now make up about 4% of the population).  It is becoming distressingly commonplace to see headlines about prominent Danish figures openly expressing prejudice against Islam, and mainstream parties are working increasingly closely with hardline nationalist (and, of course, Muslim-baiting) parties that were once rightly viewed as beyond the pale.  It’s gotten so bad in Denmark–and I’m sorry to say so as someone whose maternal side of the family is there and who has long taken pride in Denmark’s once enlightened policies–that a prominent pundit in neighboring Sweden declared Denmark the most xenophobic country in Europe.  By all accounts, inter-communal relations in Denmark (which for the most part are Muslim/non-Muslim relations) are becoming worryingly strained and beset with prejudice and misunderstandings.  This is the essential political and social backdrop to Jyllands-Posten’s attacks on the Prophet, and it missing from the Muslim WakeUp piece and so many other discussions.

Again, there’s also the way this so-called defense of free speech was launched by those idealists at Jyllands-Posten.  They didn’t simply exercise their right to ignore the traditional Islamic discomfort with visual portrayals of the Prophet, which is not universally shared by Muslims–as any lover of Persian art knows, there are many classics of Islamic art which also completely ignore this taboo; a few mundane sketches of the Prophet by aren’t going to roil the Ummah–with the kinds of caricatures one expects of revered political and religious figures.  Instead, they chose to slander him, portraying him as a bloodthirsty killer and misogynist.   They really went for the jugular.

Not so long ago during the 1980s, many American Christians were up in arms for much, much less in Martin Scorcese’s infinitely more respectful rendering of a religious icon in “The Last Temptation of Christ”.

There’s another fundamental weakness to all this apologia.  It rests on a demonstrably false assumption that other religions are routinely treated in this manner.  For all this, if you’ll forgive the ironic choice of words, pious talk by the secular intelligentsia about how other religions are supposedly subjected to the same harsh treatment that Islam and Muslims are now suffering in the public square, you’ll be hard pressed to think of many comparable examples.

For example, how many times have you seen Jesus Christ portrayed in a deliberately offensive and controversial manner in a Western publication that is read by millions?  How many times have you seen a portrait of Christ that is remotely uncomplimentary?  The closest analogy I can think of to this controversy in recent American history is the furor over the  “Piss Christ” art exhibit (which, while admittedly disgusting and offensive, pales by comparison to the bile of Jyllands-Posten’s “defense” of free speech)?  Did the New York Times include an insert of photos of a crucifix in urine?  Was it the exhibit televised, or even dispassionately debate, on ABC?  Has it since been repeatedly republished by other media outlets in a show of solidarity for the artist’s freedom of speech?

How about Buddha?  Moses?  Abraham?  Can’t recall  any public sniping at them in the mainstream media?  Okay, how about lesser known religious figures, like Guru Nanak (the founder of Sikhism), Joseph Smith (Mormonism), or Mary Baker Eddy (Christian Science)?  Still no potshots?  Hmm, how about our controversial contemporary and founder of Scientology, L. Ron Hubbard ?

Really, try to find deliberate, open assaults on these revered figures that were dignified with publication by major media outlets.  Find a case where a person revered as a spiritual guide by many millions of people is intentionally and openly pilloried in a major newspaper.

You won’t succeed.  My guess is that you’ll struggle to even find a case of such an icon being affectionately parrodied with a fake nose and glasses, so reverent is mainstream media coverage of religious figures.

There’s a reason for this double standard (and it certainly is one).  As Edward Said pointed out long ago, Islam and Muslims are the perennial exceptions to the rules of consistency, objectivity and scholarly rigor in contemporary Western policy debates.  The reasons are complex, but the pattern is unmistakable and recurring.  A newspaper can crudely and deliberately malign the Prophet Muhammad at a time when Muslims are increasingly being mocked and discriminated against throughout the West–and in a manner guaranteed to stoke the flames of prejudice and hatred, to boot–and we’re all supposed to stand by it in the name of freedom of religion?  Give me a break.  Get back to me when Jyllands-Posten
runs comparably offensive cartoons about Jews, Christians or even Rastafarians.  Then I’ll understand the “bigger picture” here.

Eltahawy observes:

Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen was right not to intervene, insisting the government has no say over media – the argument used by Arab leaders when they are asked about anti-Semitism in their media, by the way. But in a New Year’s speech, Rasmussen condemned “any expression, action or indication that attempts to demonize groups of people on the basis of their religion or ethnic background.”

To portray this as a simple choice between state intervention or freedom of speech is to miss the whole point, I’m afraid.

It’s also an example, in my opinion, of how blind liberal Muslim commentators can be to the dynamics of power in Muslim/non-Muslim relations today.  Like a white  intellectual discussing American race  problems in abstract categories of right and wrong (“Black racism is just as wrong as white racism!”), such cerebral and idealistic analysis overlooks the messy ethical nuances and pyschological twists introduced by great disparities of power and the impact of long, depressing histories of discrimination and marginalization.  It is always tempting to discuss such thorny problems in a historical vacuum–in fact, this is the preferred tactic of Muslim bashers, who prefer to cast Muslims as savage natives inexplicably prone to irrational behavior and random acts of violence–but this condemns the analysis to irrelevance in the real world. But that’s another discussion.

The problem was not Prime Minister Rasmussen’s stance against censorship–a policy I support and doubt many would find this policy terribly shocking–but his unwillingness to openly disavow this outburst of rank prejudice and xenophobia by a major Danish publication.  His refusal to meet with the host of ambassadors from Muslims states worsened the situation greatly, sending the message that the Danish government was utterly indifferent, if not hostile, to the concerns of Muslims around the world.  In the process, Rasmussen gave Muslim hardliners and political opportunists the perfect pretext for stirring up conflict.

An aside:  This is where I have issues with the shows of solidarity by various other European media in republishing those cartoons recently.  Not only are they allowing Jyllands-Posten to duck  responsibility for sparking this crisis–its actions displayed grievously poor judgment, if not outright bigotry– in running those cartoons, but these other European media are creating the impression in the Muslim world that, you guessed it, Europe is united in supporting  attacks on Islam and spitting on Muslim sensibilities.  It is doing so at the very same time that it’s incessantly preaching to Muslims about religious extremism, anti-Semitism and other unsightly social phenomen in Muslim societies.  Muslims will understandably wonder at their silence on open prejudice and Islamophobia.

I understand the desire to support freedom of speech, but I’m not sure this was a particularly constructive move  and, moreover, I doubt it’ll make all that much of a difference for Denmark in the long run, anyway.  Unforunately, negative impressions born of terrible press like this is hard to undo.  This damage can only be done through diplomacy that demonstrates that this has been a colossal misunderstanding.  I don’ t think the spectacle of European media rallying to not only implicitly endorse but to greatly increase the distribution of the scurrilous drawings that caused the rift in the first place will help much.  Jyllands-Posten’s tawdry case is unworthy of this grand and politically risky gesture.

Also, it must be noted that this cause is being exploited by Middle Eastern governments to burnish their often dubious credentials of respect for religious tradition.  As one Danish commentator Rune Engelbreth Larsen noted , Jyllands-Posten should rather have exercised its vaunted right to freedom of expression not to denigrate Islam, but to mock these dictatorial and hypocritical regimes, which are now cynically exploiting this crisis for domestic political consumption.  But that fact that doesn’t change anything.  Two wrongs, as they say, don’t make a right.

Part of leadership is distancing yourself and your government from unhealthy trends in your society, even if only rhetorically–Had those cartoons been of Ariel Sharon with horns on his head you and matzoh dripping with Gentile blood, you can be sure he would have said something for the record, and rightly so.–and leaders speak out all the time on far less weighty matters.  Leaders also meet constantly with representatives of important constituencies (and, as the calamitous impact of this brewing boycott has shown, those ambassadors definitely represented an important constituency). Unfortunately, the government under Rasmussen sent a clear political message to Danish Muslims and Muslims around the world by refusing to take these concerns  seriously until it was far too late.

The other thing that many observers fail to understand is that this is basically a case where hardliners lashed out, as they periodically do, at an already scapegoated and vulnerable minority and, for a change, found themselves on the receiving end.    It’s not unlike a bully who makes a habit of picking on the smallest kid in the schoolyard finding himself in hot water when he happens to pick a child who unbeknownst to him enjoys a large family.  Zealots picked a fight that they thought was safe and now we’re supposed to fret when they, in a stroke of poetic justice, suddenly find themselves hugely outnumbered?

I’m very saddened by this surreal crisis, which is as unnecessary as it is unfortunate, but we need to think about who started it.  It is exceedingly tragic that Danes around the world and the Danish economy are being caught in the crossfire and it is my fervid hope is that this bizarre episode will be defused quickly, but Danes need to understand how this came about. Is it fair that Denmark should be in this pickle for the actions of a few?  (A question that has a familiar ring to Muslims.)  Certainly not.  But neither is it fair that the founder of Islam should be singled out for such singular abuse, nor that such outbursts of contempt for Muslims and Islam should be increasingly commonplace in Danish politics. It’s a sure-fire recipe for confrontation.

It’s also my hope that Denmark, whose political climate has really taken a nasty, xenophobic turn in recent years vis-a-vis its Muslim minority, learns something from it.  As they quite understandably rail against Denmark’s suddenly precarious situation–Danish business leaders are in a panic at the prospect of a boycott, security officials are increasingly worried about the risk of terrorist attacks in retaliation, and there are cases of hackers indiscriminately attacking websites in Danish–I think rank and file Danes ought to stop in the midst of all this mayhem and ask themselves, “Have I played a role in bringing this confrontation about?  Do I tacitly support the denigration and scapegoating of immigrants?  Did I condone Jyllands-Posten’s entirely unnecessary expression of contempt for Muslims and their beliefs?”  If you did, I submit with all due respect you’re not a completely innocent bystander after all.  Some would argue that the proverbial chickens are coming home to roost.  Perhaps, you need to reexamine your attitudes towards your Muslim neighbors to ensure that you’re not part of the problem that landed Denmark in this bizarre mess.

Finally, regardless of what side we come down on, let’s get something straight:  We all have a right to boycott the products of those who we feel
insult us.  This insight applies especially to all these pie-in-the-sky libertarians who  promote the Free Market as the solution to all the world’s problems.   If that describes you, realize that boycotts are your omniscent Invisible Hand at work.  A boycott is not extremism or terrorism. (I’m reminded of all the claptrap by pro-Israeli apologists in the American media in the past about the great “injustice” and “extremism” of the old Arab boycott against Israel, as if Israel had a right to Arab money while it built settlements on Palestinian land and regularly ignored Palestinian human rights.)  In all but the most unusual of circumstances, boycotts are a peaceful and legitimate protest. In fact, they are often the only effective means of protest left to the masses in our day of globalization, unresponsive governments, unrestrained multi-national corporations, and co-opted media.   It’s often the only way the little guy can be heard (just ask Rosa Parks).

The bottom line is this:  Shortsighted leadership by an administration beholden to hardliners let what should have been a minor local hiccup in
inter-communal relations mushroom into an international, geopolitical cause celebre and icon of Muslim frustrations.  Prime Minister Rasmussen’s ham-handed response has made Denmark, no doubt unfairly, into the latest poster child for the Clash of Civilizations.  Frankly, it should come as no surprise that a boycott should be in the works, tragic though its consequences for normal Danes may be.

Muslims didn’t start this fight–obnoxious hardliners on the other side did.  Hopefully these unsavory elements in Denmark (and bigots and xenophobes everywhere) will remember this lesson next time they’re tempted to score cheap points at the expense of a small, embattled community.  It’s a small, interconnected world.  Like in kindergarten, you never know when your bullying might backfire on you.

Update (2006-02-07): See this subsequent post for overwhelming evidence of Jyllands-Posten’s hypocrisy.

Also, click here if you want to see all the posts on the topic of the Danish cartoons on a single long page.


  • http://eteraz.wordpress.com eteraz

    good, insightful post. we had a bunch of discussion the matter on my blog, but your points about looking at the domestic element of the debate have, indeed, been overlooked. in a way the huge rebuttal might temper future voluntary acts of psychological aggression as this one was.

  • fahad

    I’m all for boycotting them. I also believe, however, that the best response in some ways would be to not respond. We should not dignify their insolence with an answer. When dogs bark at you, you don’t bark back. Clearly, then intent behind their actions was to incite a provocation. I don’t want to give them the satisfaction of knowing that they’ve succeeded.
    The optimist in me also sees a potential positive side effect arising from the whole fiasco. I do believe there is some truth in the canard that any publicity is good publicity. The cartoon may prompt some to learn about Islam, and God willing, find the truth as an unintended consequence, in the same manner that the 9/11 attacks caused many to learn about our faith.

  • http://higher-criticism.blogspot.com/ sheilaX

    Shalom
    Jyllands-Posten is merely continuing a long tradition of the “Baphomet” mentality.
    Your article is an impressive rebuttal, but will not change mindsets.
    I say this not out of cynicism, but frustration.

  • http://jamesrmaclean.com James R MacLean

    The essay is brilliant. I have to be honest with you: you really honest-to-God persuaded me. It was a pretty stunning feeling, changing one’s mind while reading this, but man, what a great piece!
    However, I think this part detracts from your argument:
    A newspaper can crudely and deliberately malign the Prophet Muhammad at a time when Muslims are increasingly being mocked and discriminated against throughout the West–and in a manner guaranteed to stoke the flames of prejudice and hatred–and we’re all supposed to stand by it in the name of freedom of religion? Give me a break. Get back to me when Jyllands-Posten runs comparably offensive cartoons about Jews, Christians or even Rastafarians. Then I’ll understand the “bigger picture” here.
    Christianity is often mocked pretty savagely (e.g., Betty Bowers; or google “Marilyn Manson” and “Christianity”). That’s not the same as a scurrilous attack on a sacred figure, which is far more rare. For the case of the psychopathic Jerry Falwell [*], a person whose self-regard is quite frankly blasphemous, his pronouncements are clearly intended to stimulate the sorts of outrage that Jyllands-Posten did. So, if Muslims demand that Western nations sacrifice freedom of speech to propitiate their sensibilities, then people like Falwell can easily lead Muslims and non-Muslims alike by the nose.
    That’s not really the point of the rest of your essay, which is that Rasmussen, et al. has allowed the Jyllands-Posten to pose as a champion of Danish weltanschauung.
    —————————-
    ADDENDUM: I had a lot of HTML italics and stuff in this post, which was yanked. I referred to a bio of Falwell, so I’ll put the link here:
    http://www.rotten.com/library/bio/religion/televangelists/jerry-falwell/
    And here’s Betty Bowers:
    http://www.bettybowers.com/

  • http://jamesrmaclean.com James R MacLean

    BTW, in case it wasn’t clear, I’m NOT equating the Betty Bowers site with the J-P cartoons. NOT, NOT, NOT.
    As-salamu-alaikum

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com Svend

    Thanks for the comments, people.
    Thanks very much for the kind comments and for catching the typos, James. Spelling isn’t my forte, especially when I’m hammering something out during a lunch break (that’s my story and I’m sticking to it).
    I understand and accept your point about the sometimes problematic treatment of Christianity as well. There’s no question that hostility to Christian faith (or just about any serious religious commitment, for that matter) rears its ugly head at times in American life.
    What I was trying to get at is that it is rare for the attack to be so overt and so personalized (i.e., directed at an individual,whether it be Muhammad or Christ). For example, even when questioning the place of religion in society, secularists will generally profess great respect for Jesus, which is the complete opposite of what we saw here in the case of Muhammad.
    I certainly don’t WANT to see Jesus or any other revered religious icon vilified. My point here is merely that the the “Jylland-Posten treatment” is hardly routine, even in the secular West, as some have implied when they accused Muslims of being hypersensitive.
    There have certainly been overreactions–some criminal, as in the case of the now depressingly routine bomb threat routine we saw–but Muslims aren’t making this out of thin air. The slight is real and calculated and their offense understandable.
    I certainly don’t want to see the boycott continue. The lesson has been learned and the tables have been turned. For the boycott to continue would not only hurt the economic wellbeing of a lot of people in Denmark, but it would surely generate an *enormous* new wave of anti-Muslim prejudice there and Danish Muslims would have to deal with the consquences.
    Yeah, eteraz, my guess is that a lot of people have learned a lesson in spite of themselves. It’s a shame that the only thing that could get through to them was force.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/ummabdullah/ Ann

    Assalaamu alaikum,
    Great post, masha’allah. Thank you.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/KSAtheist/ Kevin

    Thank you for this post. I’ve been trying to explain this on other blogs and message boards and to friends and acquaintances who are not familiar with how deeply anti-Muslim Denmark has become.
    I am one of these white Westerners, and we are not all silent about xenophobia. I’ll be blogging this link and adding you to my blogroll.

  • http://profile.typekey.com/mr100percent/ Sulayman

    Wow, awesome post, Masha Allah. Thanks for writing it and may Allah reward you.

  • cindy

    Nothing serious.I just want to be nasty… English is not the only language in this world. How can we ruled out there is none in reading materials other than English?
    I am also thinking of the saying: picture worth a thousand words. Well, these cartoons are pictures. Different cultures interprete things differently. Did the moslim world looks at the same pictures dipicts the same meaning as me a non-moslim, non-westerner but live in the western world most of my life? Different level of education, or exposure to other cultures influence one’s judgements etc. etc. How about written words that are just as nasty or worse, but do not make one feels the same?

  • http://againstthemall.blogspot.com/ Oskar Shapley

    Interesting post.
    But maybe you could also clarify how the rights of religious minorities are respected in Saudi Arabia.
    Oh, wait, they don’t?!

  • ayesha

    oskar, and that has something to do with this… how?
    akram, my somewhat-danish family member, great post, a great relief to read in many ways… :)

  • Svend White

    Thanks for the comments and support, folks.
    Oskar, you’ll get no defense from me of Saudi Arabia–which is in so many ways an embarassment to Muslims everywhere–but that doesn’t change anything.
    I should hope Western governments aren’t going to start taking civics lessons from Middle Eastern dictators and thugs (even though in most cases Western governments have supported those nasty regimes for decades).

  • http://www.marion.blogg.no Marion

    Hello Svend,
    I am a blogger from a peace-seeking country trying to find out why my embassy was burned down after a small, extremist right-wing newspaper that the average newsreader had hardly heard about re-published Jyllandsposten’s twelve satirical drawings.
    I’m Norwegian, not Danish. I’ll allow myself to comment on your post.
    First of all I want to say that although I had no idea that it was seen as terribly wrong by many people to print pictures of your Prophet, I do not think publishing the images was a very clever or nice thing to do; even though it’s perfectly legal here. It is obvious that very religious people will take offense by satire like that. And I am truly sorry it did offend people this much. But I am shocked by the extreme reactions it has created.
    Now to your post:
    “Can we finally admit that Muslims have blown out of all proportion their outrage over 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad published in a Danish newspaper last September?
    Umm, no we can’t. At least not in the way you mean.”
    I realise you wrote this on February 1st. Do you now agree it’s gone out of proportions, or are death threats, burning of embassies, repeated demands that a government punishes its independent press, or else… perfectly acceptable ways of demonstrating that the Prophet Muhammed cannot be disrespected? If all this is in order, is there any kind of reaction, in your opinion, that is not in order?
    You are right that our beloved Denmark has become more rightwing-oriented. This is sad. To say that it is now the most xenophobic country in Europe, though, is either extremely uninformed or based on the idea that Europe is only the Nordics. See, in Europe we’ve got something called the Balkans. And something called Russia. And something called Turkey.
    The reason why Jesus isn’t often portrayed as a terrorist, well… Some people in the West have this idea that extremist Muslims are extremist because they are Muslims. While it is obvious to a lot of us that most terrorism have several other causes – suppression, poverty, insecurity and so on, Muslims against violence really need to speak up loud so that everyone can hear them. It is a lot more interesting for the tabloids to focus on the negative stuff. I don’t know if I can emphasise this strongly enough. We really need to hear the voices of non-violent Muslims.
    As far as I know, the Muslims in Denmark asked Fogh Rasmussen to meet them in order to get an apology from him. I can see why he found it hard to apologise on behalf of a press he does not, and should not, control.
    Here in Norway, our Foreign Minister has met with the Muslim leaders and is in a dialogue with them. We’re run by a much more left-wing government, and we are a more immigrant-friendly country. Has been, that is. Until now. People are finding it hard to believe that these twelve drawings cause such violent reactions. We are worried and scared. This is a country where you can make jokes about everything – Jews, though it admittedly does not happen a lot, Muslims, though it doesn’t happen a lot either, and Christians, which happens constantly, and very few people take offense, because religion here is seen as something private. And because satire is seen as a perfectly ok way of communication. Few things are regarded as holy here. There’s no Patriot Act to be afraid of.
    We’ve been more of a pro-Palestinian people than most non-Muslims. We’ve pumped no-strings-attached-aid money into Muslim countries. We’re trying to bring peace not only to the Middle East, but to Sudan and Sri Lanka. For the sake of peace itself. We’ve allowed for mosques to be built in our capital. I am really worried that the extreme over-reactions of so many Muslims and their governments will create enhanced support for our right-wing parties. Any suggestions, Svend, as to how we counter that?

  • Svend

    Thanks so much for your thoughtful response, Marion.
    First, I am shocked and distressed by the overreactions, as well. I was actually writing about that yesterday when my PC crashed and I lost a long post which addressed some of these issues.
    In medicine, you must often prioritize problems and ignore one in order to give adequate attention to another one that you consider more threatening. Also, one must focus one’s energies where one believes one is most likely to have an impact.
    I consider Western doublestandards, widespread popular complacency about those doublestandards, and ignorance of their destructive consquences to be the greatest threat facing for Westerners and Muslims alike. I also realize that as an American and an English speaker, I’m more likely to be able to make a contribution on that front. Finally, as an American and a Dane–I’m actually a dual citizen–my priority is to constribute to a discussion that benefits those societies’ safety and welfare.
    I think the best thing for Denmark right now is to take a hard look at itself and see if it’s not becoming a mirror image of the things is despises among many so-called Islamic cultures. (I am no apologist for Islamic fundamentalism.)
    Yes, I do agree things have gotten out of hand. Horribly so. But to do what many Westerners instinctively want to do–i.e., condemn Muslim extremism without acknowledging (and learning from) the *Western* extremism that contributed to this disaster–isn’t a solution, either.
    There needs to be an honest discussion of culpability. We all know the manifest faults of Muslims and Islamic societies, thanks to a sensationalistic and often myopic media, so I don’t think my time is best spent there. I think I contribute most by reminding us of the things we Westerners and intellectuals prefer to sweep under the rug to keep the discussion neat and unthreatening to our sensibilities.
    Your point about Russia, the Balkans, and Turkey being part of Europe is admirably inclusive, but I think relatively few Europeans would agree with your definition (with the possible exception of Russia).
    I understand your point about the different culturo-political context in the case of Jesus, but I think the presence of open *hostility* (which is why this case is so different from “Life of Brian”, which is an affectionate and ultimately respectful parody of Jesus Christ’s story, and one enjoyed by Christian and non-Christian alike) is what is important here.
    Also, the recent news of JP’s past objections to even mildly offensive portrayals of Jesus (see today’s post) show that JP is applying a totally different standard to Islam.
    I’m scared and horrified, too, but I realize that extremism creates extremism, especially in a region as conflict-ridden as the Middle East. We expect Muslims to react like us but forget that most of them don’t live in a world that is anything like our secure, peaceful socieities.
    The solution to these problems? There’s no magic wand. I think the most effective measure is for the US and Europe to get finally serious about conflict resolution and economic development assistance. (Which is in a lot of ways the hallmark of Norwegian policy, and even Danish policy.)

  • Mohamed

    I used to beleive in freedom of speech in the west, but after what happend in Danmark and early on during the war in afganistan and Irak and Palestine, where the westen media do not report any facts, I found out that the west is a hypocrite entity and there is no such a thing called human rights, freedom of speech or even democracy, it is the law of the powerful.

  • Ames Tiedeman

    Islam is a complete joke. What kind of prophet do these people worship that can’t withstand a few scriblings on paper. Islam is pathetic! Islamic newpapers make the Jews look evil on a daily basis. Islam can dish it out but cannot take it! What a bunch of dysfunctional, pathetic vile savages! Fuck Islam!

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    Another principled defense of free speech.

  • Bayou Blade

    Islam sucks. Mohammed was a pedophile and murdering terrorist. These modern day Islamic terrorists are not ‘extremists’, they are simply following the teachings of Mohammed. BTW, there is no such thing as a Palestinian or Palestine.

  • Govindasamy

    Why pick on a small country-Muslims are the greatest bully after the USA-what an irony.U do not want to buy Danish products -how about stopping the sale of OIL to all these people?If U are really sincere?
    Why should I learn about your religion or any religion-I have a right also-Finally I think U encourage “FORCE” not fair discussion on a subject-U want a majority to force others to submit to your views! U think no other people exist in this world ?

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    If these sorts of sick attacks weren’t already part of the Western political and intellectual landscape, I’d delete this filth immediately. I’m leaving this disgusting and hateful comment in because it shows what this debate is really about. These are the attitudes and intense prejudices that lurk beneath the surface of so much of Western commentary on Muslims. This is the kind of thing Danish Muslims are contending with as Jyllands-Posten “defends” free speech so provocatively. Thanks, Bayou Blade, for showing the audience what this debate is really about. With enemies like you, I don’t need friends.

  • http://akramsrazor.typepad.com svend

    I’m not sure what Govindasamy’s point was, other than than he disagrees.

  • peace

    To svend–Your life is so spiritually empty that you don’t even realize it.It’s your attitude that sucks. There IS such a thing called Palestine.
    To mohmed–Before you label a religion, get your facts right-this just shows how close minded you are–we DONOT worship Prophet Muhammed(pbuh).It’s your thinking that’s pathetic.
    To Bayou Blade–Come outside your box.”Right”has nothing to do with learning about a religion.We DONOT encourage “Force”
    Islam is peace.May God bless these tortued souls with some spiritual guidance

  • Tony

    You are an imbecile. Wake up to the fact that in every country muslims immigrate to, there is trouble. You try to impose your way of life on those who take you in and give you shelter. Your youths target and rape western women as gusets, you collect welfare payments, then burn our flags, the wars and troubles they say they are fleeing, they bring with them as baggage,they neither respect our laws or us as fellow human beings. I’m an Australian and have seen many different nationalities arrive here, most make the effort to blend in, muslims just want to take over. In a christian country my children can no longer sing Christmas Carols at school, as it offends the muslims, they cannot have an easter parade, as it offends the muslims, muslim women want seperate pools, as they will not share it with “Western Sewrage”, Australian women are routinely sworn at, harrased, and bashed as they show to much skin! Is it any wonder you are hated by those taking you in? No doubt this will not stay on your blog, as the truth hurts.

  • Eru

    Sved, you said, “These are the attitudes and intense prejudices that lurk beneath the surface of so much of Western commentary on Muslims.” Well Sved, our attitudes and intense prejudices have been shaped by the actions of islamo facism. Sadly you stand by and allow your brothers, who act like children with a temper tamptrum, they kidnap, behead, burn, and kill because of words and cartoons. How should we react. ahh that’s right we should just convert.

  • anonymous

    ode for the odious
    let us pray to move the hand of God
    may He raze this modern blight of Nod
    might we see Him right the wrongs of late
    may He end their current reign of hate
    might He lay waste to this infidel horde
    and may they know the power of our Lord
    may we live to see Muhammad shamed
    might we see the evil Q’ran tamed
    may their idols go the way of Baal
    and Dagon to the depths of Hell
    might He summon His archangels legion
    to smite these wicked, East of Eden
    those living by the bloody sword
    and fell them by the Word of the Lord
    may this Ramadan be their last
    their mosques and shrines things of the past
    might we drive them from their wretched lands
    this bastard race of Abraham
    may their minarets and mullahs fall
    we pray their end once and for all
    A. Christian

  • Zoya

    This article is amazing! I am absolutley a fan of yours now, i even read all the responces to the comments, and wow what an intellect. I wish i can read more of your work.


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