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Cartoon Carnival - Sense, Nonsense and Hysteria about the Cartoons of Muhamed

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Cartoon Carnival - Sense, Nonsense and Hysteria about the Cartoons of Muhamad

It started with some cartoons of Muhamad (Mohamed to Westerners) published in a tiny Danish newspaper, and reprinted in French, German and Norwegian newspapers. Just cartoons! It has become an international crisis. As the cartoon hate fest continued, it became uglier and uglier for Jews. The "Zionist" provenance of the cartoons, which has no basis in fact, is becoming firmly established in all the Muslim lands.  The cartoons cannot just be cartoons - works of art in bad taste. They have become instruments of Zionism and colonialism and the Devil himself.  In Jordan Times, Musa Keilani asked 'Who stands to gain?'. He  explains that it was true that the violence against embassies and foreigners damaged the image of Islam. This was the intention of the Israelis and Americans who hatched this plot according to Keilani:

We have known that for nearly two decades, and particularly after the collapse of the Soviet Union, there were stepped-up Israeli effort to single out Islam as the next enemy of the West, after communism. Our leaders and many of our learned men and women repeatedly sought to fight the anti-Muslim drive by emphasising the peaceful nature of Islam and by highlighting the fact that non-Muslim forces had a vested interest in showing Muslims in a bad light. Now I don't think that it is an exaggeration to assert that there could indeed be a link between Islamophobia and the cartoons that have deeply hurt our religious sentiments.

Like WOW! Osama Bin Laden was making all those efforts to emphasize the peaceful nature of Islam, and all the time the Israelis were working against him.

Others were much more direct, citing the dubious assertions of American Free Press that Flemming Rose, culture editor of the Jyllands Posten, was a "Zionist" fan of the "War of Civilizations" promoted by Daniel Pipes. It is to no avail to point out that Pipes is not the inventor or promoter of "War of Civilizations,"  that there is no real indication that Rose is an ardent Zionist other than his name, and that the cartoons were reproduced elsewhere. 

In the Daily Star, Rami Khouri gives us correct scoop from his point of view. The cartoons have to be suppressed because they are part of Western neo-colonialism and the riots express indignation at this neocolonialism, as he writes in The Danish cartoons: a neo-colonial slap. Could it be that Khouri doesn't understand that the very same hands that attacked the Danish Embassy in Beirut are those that killed Gebran Tueni, editor of an-Nahar, and wounded Mai Chidiac? Doesn't he know  that the Baathists and the Hizbullah have him on their list as well? Or perhaps he knows only too well. It is very bad for your health to criticize Islam and to criticize those riots, that were carried out by citizens of "Sister" (Syria) and their friends.

The articles below provide important sources for the record - of what happened and why it happened and who really did it, and why, as well as documentation of atrocious anti "Zionist" cartoons that appeared in Arabic/Muslim Media.

Ami Isseroff

Introduction is copyright

Jews in Arab world cartoons

Al-Watan (Qatar), May 13, 2003: - The U.S. and Israel are eating  two sides of an apple that represents “the Arab states”. From Arab News (Saudi government corporation publication), this tolerant and respectful cartoon shows Jewish rats sporting Stars of David and skullcaps, scurrying back and forth through holes in the wall of “Palestine House.” The cartoon may be inspired by a  scene from the Nazi film “Jew Suess,”   in which Jews are depicted as vermin to be eradicated by mass extermination.
 From Al Awatan Oman - In this tolerant and liberal cartoon,  the Nazified Jew is stabbing the poor Arab fellow The evil Jew in this cartoon from Akhbar al Khalij in Saudi Arabia has a parrot in the form of George Bush (or Bush in the form of a parrot. The Jew is teaching Bush Parrot "Say 'I hate the Arabs'" and the Bush parrot says 'I hate the Arabs.'

More cartoons at http://www.tomgrossmedia.com/ArabCartoons.htm

Bonfire of the Pieties

Amir Taheri
The Wall Street Journal, 8 February 2006
Editorial note: Many commentators have framed the recent furor over Danish newspaper cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad as a harbinger of a clash of civilizations, a sign that Islam and Western secular and religious traditions are incompatible. But, as author Amir Taheri writes, the violent protests over the cartoons do not reflect true Islamic theology or practice. The rioting is largely the result of incitements from groups like Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood and the supposedly secular Syrian Baathists, whose chief motives are political and not religious. In fact, Islam has a rich tradition of artistic depictions of Muhammed in a variety of postures and mediums, displayed in museums and even at the US Supreme Court, where the prophet is honored as one of the great"lawgivers" of mankind. The supposed Muslim ban on images of all kinds is actually a result of medieval interactions with Christian iconoclasts and the adoption of Mosaic traditions. Religious Islamic lore also contains many stories of its holy figures being treated with irreverence and humor. In sum, there is nothing inherently Muslim about the angry mobs burning down Scandinavian embassies across the world; rather, their actions represent an egregious breach of the Muslim creed of tolerance more so than the cartoons themselves. - YaleGlobal
"The Muslim Fury," one newspaper headline screamed. "The rage of Islam sweeps Europe," said another. "The clash of civilizations is coming," warned one commentator. All this refers to the row provoked by the publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper four months ago. Since then a number of demonstrations have been held, mostly -- though not exclusively -- in the West, and Scandinavian embassies and consulates have been besieged.

But how representative of Islam are all those demonstrators? The "rage machine" was set in motion when the Muslim Brotherhood -- a political, not a religious, organization -- called on sympathizers in the Middle East and Europe to take the field. A fatwa was issued by Yussuf al-Qaradawi, a Brotherhood sheikh with his own program on al-Jazeera. Not to be left behind, the Brotherhood's rivals, Hizb al-Tahrir al-Islami (Islamic Liberation Party) and the Movement of the Exiles (Ghuraba), joined the fray. Believing that there might be something in it for themselves, the Syrian Baathist leaders abandoned their party's 60-year-old secular pretensions and organized attacks on the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus and Beirut.

The Muslim Brotherhood's position, put by one of its younger militants, Tariq Ramadan -- who is, strangely enough, also an adviser to the British home secretary -- can be summed up as follows: It is against Islamic principles to
represent by imagery not only Muhammad but all the prophets of Islam; and the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. Both claims, however, are false.

There is no Quranic injunction against images, whether of Muhammad or anyone else. When it spread into the Levant, Islam came into contact with a version of Christianity that was militantly iconoclastic. As a result some Muslim theologians, at a time when Islam still had an organic theology, issued "fatwas" against any depiction of the Godhead. That position was further buttressed by the fact that Islam acknowledges the Jewish Ten Commandments --which include a ban on depicting God -- as part of its heritage. The issue has never been decided one way or another, and the claim that a ban on images is "an absolute principle of Islam" is purely political. Islam has only one
absolute principle: the Oneness of God. Trying to invent other absolutes is, from the point of view of Islamic theology, nothing but sherk, i.e., the bestowal on the Many of the attributes of the One.

The claim that the ban on depicting Muhammad and other prophets is an absolute principle of Islam is also refuted by history. Many portraits of Muhammad have been drawn by Muslim artists, often commissioned by Muslim rulers. There is no space here to provide an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most famous:

A miniature by Sultan Muhammad-Nur Bokharai, showing Muhammad riding Buraq, a horse with the face of a beautiful woman, on his way to Jerusalem for his M'eraj or nocturnal journey to Heavens (16th century); a painting showing Archangel Gabriel guiding Muhammad into Medina, the prophet's capital after he fled from Mecca (16th c.); a portrait of Muhammad, his face covered with a mask, on a pulpit in Medina (16th c.); an Isfahan miniature depicting the prophet with his favorite kitten, Hurairah (17th c.); Kamaleddin Behzad's miniature showing Muhammad contemplating a rose produced by a drop of sweat that fell from his face (19th c.); a painting, "Massacre of the Family of the Prophet," showing Muhammad watching as his grandson Hussain is put to death by the Umayyads in Karbala (19th c.); a painting showing Muhammad and seven of his first followers (18th c.); and Kamal ul-Mulk's portrait of Muhammad showing the prophet holding the Quran in one hand while with the index finger of the other hand he points to the Oneness of God (19th c.).

Some of these can be seen in museums within the Muslim world, including the Topkapi in Istanbul, and in Bokhara, Samarkand and Haroun-Walat (a suburb of Isfahan). Visitors to other museums, including some in Europe, would find miniatures and book illuminations depicting Muhammad, at times wearing his Meccan burqa (cover) or his Medinan niqab (mask). There have been few statues of Muhammad, although several Iranian and Arab contemporary sculptors have produced busts of the prophet. One statue of Muhammad can be seen at the building of the U.S. Supreme Court, where the prophet is honored as one of the great "lawgivers" of mankind.

There has been other imagery: the Janissaries -- the elite of the Ottoman army -- carried a medallion stamped with the prophet's head (sabz qaba). Their Persian Qizilbash rivals had their own icon, depicting the head of Ali, the prophet's son-in-law and the first Imam of Shiism. As for images of other prophets, they run into millions. Perhaps the most popular is Joseph, who is presented by the Quran as the most beautiful human being created by God.

Now to the second claim, that the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. That is true if we restrict the Muslim world to the Brotherhood and its siblings in the Salafist movement, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda. But these are all political organizations masquerading as religious ones. They are not the sole representatives of Islam just as the Nazi party was not the sole representative of German culture. Their attempt at portraying Islam as a
sullen culture that lacks a sense of humor is part of the same discourse that claims "suicide-martyrdom" as the highest goal for all true believers.

The truth is that Islam has always had a sense of humor and has never called for chopping heads as the answer to satirists. Muhammad himself pardoned a famous Meccan poet who had lampooned him for more than a decade. Both Arabic and Persian literature, the two great literatures of Islam, are full of examples of "laughing at religion," at times to the point of irreverence. Again, offering an exhaustive list is not possible. But those familiar with Islam's literature know of Ubaid Zakani's "Mush va Gorbeh" (Mouse and Cat), a match for Rabelais when it comes to mocking religion.

Sa'adi's eloquent soliloquy on behalf of Satan mocks the "dry pious ones." And Attar portrays a hypocritical sheikh who, having fallen into the Tigris, is choked by his enormous beard. Islamic satire reaches its heights in Rumi, where a shepherd conspires with God to pull a stunt on Moses; all three end up having a good laugh.

Islamic ethics is based on "limits and proportions," which means that the answer to an offensive cartoon is a cartoon, not the burning of embassies or the kidnapping of people designated as the enemy. Islam rejects guilt by association. Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.

Mr. Taheri is the author of "L'Irak: Le Dessous Des Cartes" (Editions Complexe, 2002).

Source: The Wall Street Journal

Rights: Copyright © 2006 Dow Jones & Company, Inc.

February 9, 2006
The Protests
At Mecca Meeting, Cartoon Outrage Crystallized

BEIRUT, Lebanon, Feb. 8 - As leaders of the world's 57 Muslim nations gathered for a summit meeting in Mecca in December, issues like religious extremism dominated the official agenda. But much of the talk in the hallways was of a wholly different issue: Danish cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad.

The closing communiqué took note of the issue when it expressed "concern at rising hatred against Islam and Muslims and condemned the recent incident of desecration of the image of the Holy Prophet Muhammad in the media of certain countries" as well as over "using the freedom of expression as a pretext to defame religions."

The meeting in Mecca, a Saudi city from which non-Muslims are barred, drew minimal international press coverage even though such leaders as President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran were in attendance. But on the road from quiet outrage in a small Muslim community in northern Europe to a set of international brush fires, the summit meeting of the Organization of the Islamic Conference - and the role its member governments played in the outrage - was something of a turning point.

After that meeting, anger at the Danish caricatures, especially at an official government level, became more public. In some countries, like Syria and Iran, that meant heavy press coverage in official news media and virtual government approval of demonstrations that ended with Danish embassies in flames.

In recent days, some governments in Muslim countries have tried to calm the rage, worried by the increasing level of violence and deaths in some cases.

But the pressure began building as early as October, when Danish Islamists were lobbying Arab ambassadors and Arab ambassadors lobbied Arab governments.

"It was no big deal until the Islamic conference when the O.I.C. took a stance against it," said Muhammad el-Sayed Said, deputy director of the Ahram Center for Political and Strategic Studies in Cairo.

Sari Hanafi, an associate professor at the American University in Beirut, said that for Arab governments resentful of the Western push for democracy, the protests presented an opportunity to undercut the appeal of the West to Arab citizens. The freedom pushed by the West, they seemed to say, brought with it disrespect for Islam.

He said the demonstrations "started as a visceral reaction - of course they were offended - and then you had regimes taking advantage saying, 'Look, this is the democracy they're talking about.' "

The protests also allowed governments to outflank a growing challenge from Islamic opposition movements by defending Islam.

At first, the agitation was limited to Denmark. Ahmed Akkari, 28, a Lebanese-born Dane, acts as spokesman for the European Committee for Honoring the Prophet, an umbrella group of 27 Danish Muslim organizations to press the Danish government into action over the cartoons.

Mr. Akkari said the group had worked for more than two months in Denmark without eliciting any response. "We collected 17,000 signatures and delivered them to the office of the prime minister, we saw the minister of culture, we talked to the editor of the Jyllands-Posten, we took many steps within Denmark, but could get no action," Mr. Akkari said, referring to the newspaper that published the cartoons. He added that the prime minister's office had not even responded to the petition.

Frustrated, he said, the group turned to the ambassadors of Muslim countries in Denmark and asked them to speak to the prime minister on their behalf. He refused them too.

"Then the case moved to a new stage," Mr. Akkari recalled. "We decided then that to be heard, it must come from influential people in the Muslim world."

The group put together a 43-page dossier, including the offending cartoons and three more shocking images that had been sent to Danish Muslims who had spoken out against the Jyllands-Posten cartoons.

Mr. Akkari denied that the three other offending images had contributed to the violent reaction, saying the images, received in the mail by Muslims who had complained about the cartoons, were included to show the response that Muslims got when they spoke out in Denmark.

In early December, the group's first delegation of Danish Muslims flew to Cairo, where they met with the grand mufti, Muhammad Sayid Tantawy, Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit and Amr Moussa, the head of the Arab League.

"After that, there was a certain response," Mr. Akkari said, adding that the Cairo government and the Arab League both summoned the Danish ambassador to Egypt for talks.

Mr. Akkari denies that the group had meant to misinform, but concedes that there were misunderstandings along the way.

In Cairo, for example, the group also met with journalists from Egypt's media. During a news conference, they spoke about a proposal from the far-right Danish People's Party to ban the Koran in Denmark because of some 200 verses that are alleged to encourage violence.

Several newspapers then ran articles claiming that Denmark planned to issue a censored version of the Koran. The delegation returned to Denmark, but the dossier continued to make waves in the Middle East. Egypt's foreign minister had taken the dossier with him to the Mecca meeting, where he showed it around. The Danish group also sent a second delegation to Lebanon to meet religious and political leaders there.

Mr. Akkari went on that trip. The delegation met with the grand mufti in Lebanon, Muhammad Rashid Kabbani, and the spiritual head of Lebanon's Shiite Muslims, Sheik Muhammad Hussein Fadlallah, as well as the patriarch of the Maronite Church, Nasrallah Sfeir. The group also appeared on Hezbollah's satellite station Al Manar TV, which is seen throughout the Arab world.

Mr. Akkari also made a side trip to Damascus, Syria, to deliver a copy of the dossier to that country's grand mufti, Sheik Ahmed Badr-Eddine Hassoun.

Lebanon's foreign minister, Fawzi Salloukh, says he agreed to meet in mid-December with Egypt's ambassador to Lebanon, who presented him with a letter from his foreign minister, Aboul Gheit, urging him to get involved in the issue. Attached to the letter were copies of some of the drawings.

At the end of December, the pace picked up as talk of a boycott became more prominent. The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, comprising more than 50 states, published on its Web site a statement condemning "the aggressive campaign waged against Islam and its Prophet" by Jyllands-Posten, and officials of the organization said member nations should impose a boycott on Denmark until an apology was offered for the drawings.

"We encourage the organization's members to boycott Denmark both economically and politically until Denmark presents an official apology for the drawings that have offended the world's Muslims," said Abdulaziz Othman al-Twaijri, the organization's secretary general.

In a few weeks, the Jordanian Parliament condemned the cartoons, as had several other Arab governments.

On Jan. 10, as anti-Danish pressure built, a Norwegian newspaper republished the caricatures in an act of solidarity with the Danes, leading many Muslims to believe that a real campaign against them had begun.

On Jan. 26, in a key move, Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark, and Libya followed suit. Saudi clerics began sounding the call for a boycott, and within a day, most Danish products were pulled off supermarket shelves.

"The Saudis did this because they have to score against Islamic fundamentalists," said Mr. Said, the Cairo political scientist. "Syria made an even worse miscalculation," he added, alluding to the sense that the protest had gotten out of hand. The issue of the cartoons came at a critical time in the Muslim world because of Muslim anger over the occupation of Iraq and a sense that Muslims were under siege. Strong showings by Islamists in elections in Egypt and the victory of Hamas in the Palestinian elections had given new momentum to Islamic movements in the region, and many economies, especially those in the Persian Gulf, realized their economic power as it pertained to Denmark.

"The cartoons were a fuse that lit a bigger fire," said Rami Khouri, editor at large at the English-language Daily Star of Beirut. "It is this deepening sense of vulnerability combines with a sense that the Islamists were on a roll that made it happen."

The wave swept many in the region. Sheik Muhammad Abu Zaid, an imam from the Lebanese town of Saida, said he began hearing of the caricatures from several Palestinian friends visiting from Denmark in December but made little of it.

"For me, honestly, this didn't seem so important," Sheik Abu Zaid said, comparing the drawings to those made of Jesus in Christian countries. "I thought, I know that this is something typical in such countries."

Then, he started to hear that ambassadors of Arab countries had tried to meet with the prime minister of Denmark and had been snubbed, and he began to feel differently.

"It started to seem that this way of thinking was an insult to us," he said. "It is fine to say, 'This is our freedom, this is our way of thinking.' But we began to believe that their freedom was something that hurts us."

Last week, Sheik Abu Zaid heard about a march being planned on the Danish Consulate in Beirut, and he decided to join. He and 600 others boarded buses bound for Beirut. Within an hour of arriving, some of the demonstrators - none of his people, he insisted - became violent, and began attacking the building that housed the embassy. It was just two days after a similar attack against the Danish and Norwegian Embassies in Damascus.

"In the demonstration, I believe 99 percent of the people were good and peaceful, but I could hear people saying, 'We don't want to demonstrate peacefully; we want to burn,' " the sheik said.

He tried in vain to calm people down, he said. "I was calling to the people, 'Please, please follow us and go back.' " he said. "We were hoping to calm people down, and we were hoping to help the peaceful people who were caught in the middle of the fight."

Reporting for this article was contributed by Craig S. Smith from Paris, Katherine Zoepf from Beirut, Suha Maayeh from Amman, Abeer Allam from Cairo and Massoud A. Derhally from Dubai.


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