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Freedom of expression must be non-negotiable

Flemming Rose, an editor from Denmark’s largest newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, reacted to news that Danish cartoonists were too afraid of Muslim militants to illustrate a new children’s biography of the Prophet Muhammad, by doing exactly that, putting Denmark’s policies of tolerance to the test by commissioning a series of illustrations of Muhammad.

In response thousands of Muslims in Denmark marched in protest demanding the newspaper be “punished”, though interestingly an Iranian woman, Nasim Rahnama, has organised counter-protests in support of the editor, managing to secure one hundred and fifty signatures affirming freedom of expression.

As I have mentioned before, when I see more people like the commendable Nasim Rahnama taking a stand then I may conclude that things are improving and perhaps modern Islam is not a blight on any tolerant society it comes into contact with. But as it stands, clearly it is the ignorant bigots who can put the largest mobs on the streets and that is why the actions of editor Flemming Rose need to be strongly applauded. It is hard to overstate the importance of confronting intolerant Islam on a cultural as well as a political level.

So when Muslim scholars attack the newspaper for its cartoons:

Lawyer and author Shirin Ebadi, who received the Nobel peace prize in 2003 for her fight for human rights and democracy in Iran, told daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten that its decision to call for and print twelve caricatures of the Muslim prophet might have been a well-intentioned attempt to prompt a dialogue on democracy between Muslims and non-Muslims in Denmark. The effect, however, had been the opposite, and in fact risked harming democracy’s cause in Islamic countries.
‘I would like to stress that I do not personally have any problems with cartoons like these,’ said Ebadi, who is a devout Muslim. ‘The problem is the way the subject is approached. It splits more than it unites.’

But that is exactly the point: it is intended to ‘split’ rather than ‘unite’ and the importance of unity is vastly overrated. No one who values tolerant pluralistic western values should be seeking some sort of compromise with bigotry. There should be no attempt to ‘unite’ with the people who marched in Denmark demanding the government ‘punish’ Jyllands-Posten, in fact they must be confronted.

And please, the scholar is making a category error because it has nothing to do with ‘democracy’. Even if a democratic majority do not want to see cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad appear in the newspapers, it is still wrong to try and use the force of law to prevent it. Dislike the idea? Fine, do not buy the damn newspaper. The issue here is liberty and democracy is far from a synonym for that.

48 comments to Freedom of expression must be non-negotiable

  • Joshua

    No one who values tolerant pluralistic western values should be seeking some sort of compromise with bigotry.

    Right.

    And please, the scholar is making a category error because it has nothing to do with ‘democracy’. Even if a democratic majority do not want to see cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad appear in the newspapers, it is still wrong to try and use the force of law to prevent it.

    This is a point that gets brought up from time to time on Samizdatat (esp. by Perry) and is absolutely right. I agree that people put too much stock in “democracy” when it is really “individual rights and freedoms” that are important. Democracy is a means to achieving the end of a just and free society – but it is not perfect and certainly should not be sacrosanct. Specifically, as noted in the quotation above, it carries with it the potential also to work against the goals of a free and just society – as it would if the muslms protesting really were the majority in Denmark and the paper was (legally) “punished” at their whim. Of course there should be a feedback loop between government and the governed – but one would hope that the governed (as well as the governors, it goes without saying) would show adult restraint and call for legal force only in carefully prescribed circumstances. As said, “if you don’t like the damn paper, don’t buy it.” If a majority of people “don’t buy it,” it will cease to be an influential paper. No police force necessary.

  • Chris Harper

    Short of an anarchy, democracy is the only mechanism I know whereby a free people can govern themselves. HOWEVER, any democratic decision which reduces that freedom reduces the legitimacy of the democratic process.

  • Verity

    As to Shirin Ebadi, the minute I read that someone has won a Nobel prize for some made-up subject, I am confident that they will be issuing a stream of tranzi drivel, and I wasn’t disappointed. It isn’t clear why she is commenting. Is she an expert in Western democracy? Or is her area of expertise more “peace”?

    As the Danish prime minister, who refused a meeting with 11 accredited ambassadors from Islamic countries, said, the Danish press is free, he has no control over it, and their request for a meeting demonstrated a failure to understand the nature of the country to which they had been posted. I admired this statement for its bald lack of diplomacy.

    The northern European press is robust. Those 11 ambassadors were free to write a group letter to the paper, setting forth their fascist reasons for wanting to control the content of a newspaper in a foreign country. The letters editor would most certainly have run it. Yet, apparently misunderstanding the nature of democracy, they thought they were “going over the head” of the press to the top man himself. God! these people just don’t get it, do they?

    And with regard to this Shirin Ebadi, she’s clearly another one who doesn’t understand the freedom of the Western press. Who is she to assume that the editor’s decision to run the cartoons “might have been a well-intentioned attempt to prompt a dialogue on democracy between Muslims and non-Muslims in Denmark? This is a self-centered, infantile view of the world. (It’s all about meeee!)

    I have a feeling “prompting a dialogue” was the last thing on the editor’s mind. He was demonstrating the independence of the Danish press. He had been challenged and accepted the challenge, like a true Viking.

  • mike

    Re: the point about liberty as distinct from democracy, I lose count of how many times I hear the two confused in casual conversation, e.g. the american press is not as free as the british press because it is owned by a handful of people, whereas the british press has the state-owned BBC which makes it more free because it is somehow democratic…

    Wasn’t there an episode of the Simpsons in which the owner of the Itchy & Scratchy cartoons, upon hearing an employee make a similar confused argument capatalism and profit, grabs a nearby picture (of whom I cannot recall) hanging on the wall and repeatedly beats him over the head – and, perhaps unusually for such a popular cartoon, this scene continues past the point where it is no longer funny. Which on one level kind of makes it even more funny!

    That’s exactly how I feel when I hear people come out with this ‘democracy = freedom’ pap. Fools.

  • Verity

    Also, Flemming Rose. What a great name!

  • Joshua

    This story is actually better than I thought. On the content of the cartoons, The Age reports that

    One depicted the Prophet’s turban in the shape of a bomb. Another showed him brandishing a scimitar with two women in burqas behind him. In another, he stands in heaven as a trail of still-smoking suicide bombers approaches. He cries: “Stop, stop, we’ve run out of virgins.”

    HAHAHAHA!!!!!

    Right on!!!

    So that settles it – it was deliberately intended to provoke – and quite right at that. The local muslim population took the bait and exposed themselves (as if it really needed doing) as enemies of democracy.

    From the same article:

    “This type of democracy is worthless to Muslims,” said imam Raed Hlayhel. “The article has insulted every Muslim in the world.”

    One needn’t wonder what type of “democracy” would be acceptable. Constitutional “democracy” is perfectly compatible with Islam – provided, of course, the constitution enshrines certain islamic laws as virtually untouchable the way the US Constitution enshrines certain individual rights as untouchable. This alone should serve as ample demonstration that democracy, while perhaps a necessary condition for a free society, is not exactly a sufficient condition.

  • Chris Harper

    Joshua,

    Sorry, democracy is not a necessary condition for a free society. You are, I think, presupposing the necessity of a central decision making body, something which I believe is unnecessary.

    All a free society needs is a mechanism for enforcing contracts between consenting parties. That is it. No democracy needed.

  • jdm

    Verity, that the press in the northern European countries is “free” is what the Danes might term “en sandhed med modificationer” (a modified truth or, perhaps, a little white truth).

    The Danish press is free. Mostly.

    The Swedish press, however, in its capacity as the mouthpiece of the Swedish elite has been very hesistant to reveal just how bad things have gotten there. Danish blogs term Sweden, Sveristan (Sverige, the Danish name for Sweden, -stan) and the known (and/or presumed) state of the Swedish society as “den svenske tilstand”, the Swedish condition. There is a blog devoted solely to examining this condition, Danske øjne på svenske forhold (Danish eyes on conditions in Sweden).

    I’ll admit I’m not sure about the Norwegian press, but from what little I know, I’d split the difference between their two Scandinavian brother-lands.

  • Joshua

    Chris-

    OK – I’ll buy that. Democracy is the best mechanism I know for creating a free society on the level of millions – but as you say, there may be others, and in any case there is no obivous principled reason why Democracy should be better suited to the enforcement of contracts and the like than some other systems.

    For practical reasons, however, I am not in a hurry to get rid of it – because I am afraid of what kind of governing body would take its place. I would need sufficient guarantees against abuse of power on the part of the enforcers, etc. You might argue (and you might be right) that there are also not sufficient guarantees in a democracy – but the transition period itself is dangerous.

  • Verity

    “This type of democracy is worthless to Muslims,” said imam Raed Hlayhel Yeah. We’d kind of intuited that.

    “The article has insulted every Muslim in the world.”
    And? You have a right not to be insulted?

    The problem with these people is, they just don’t get it. They are not capable of getting it. There are some very sophisticated Muslims, but beyond a certain point, they just have a total blank-out. They seem Western on the surface, they can be witty, they can have a fine sense of the ridiculous, but they can’t get past a certain point. If you are brought up totally indoctrinated in a religious construct which says you will die if you stop believing, you will probably never get over it.

  • Chris Harper

    Verity,

    I think the long term solution is to have a good laugh, often, over a long period of time.

    The problem is that our political lords and masters seem determined to choke off that laughter by appeasing the hatemongers and persecuting the dissenters.

  • Verity

    Chris Harper – Consider the Indians who wrote and acted in “Goodness Gracious Me!” and then consider the Muslims. In all honesty, who would be the most welcome in your home?

    Incidentally, I get a cold chill every time I hear a Brit referring to “our political lords and masters”, because it points to a mindset I find sickening. I know it is supposed to be said ironically, but it is the truth. This forelock touching is how you really do think of your politicians.

    The more robust and aggressive Americans know damn’ fine who is the boss, and it’s not the politician. That is why President Bush addresses normal citizens as “Sir”. He knows who’s the boss. Tony Blair thinks he has been encoronated as an absolute monarch.

  • Robert Alderson

    Perry writes:

    But as it stands, clearly it is the ignorant bigots who can put the largest mobs on the streets

    Absolutely right.

    In my part of the world even a suggestion of a possible plan to maybe open an “adult business” (strip club) brings the local Christian fundamentalists out on the streets.

    Muslims in Denmark get upset about newspaper cartoons.

    Hindus in England get a stamp they find offensive withdrawn.

    Everybody’s at it! The state and judiciary need to have a strong comittment to liberty to stand up to “democratic’ tendencies to control others’ behaviour.

  • Short of an anarchy, democracy is the only mechanism I know whereby a free people can govern themselves.

    Contrary to the impression I sometimes give, I really have no problem with some sort of limited democratic component to various forms of governance, it is just that I am utterly opposed to the prevailing “more democracy is better than less democracy” dictum. Ain’t necessarily so.

    Moreover, democracy is not a method for a ‘free people’ to govern ‘themselves': democracy is a just a way of deciding whose turn it is to wield the collective means of coercion, so talk of ‘free people’ and ‘themselves’ mean a great deal less to me that they obviously do to you. I am subject to a great many impeccably democratic laws that make me far from a truly ‘free person’ though they sure as hell govern me.

    HOWEVER, any democratic decision which reduces that freedom reduces the legitimacy of the democratic process.

    Not sure I follow you there. Every abridgement of civil liberties and confiscation of property in Britain springs from Tony Blair’s unquestionable mandate derived from an election and based upon the political machinations of the democratically elected Parliament. There is nothing undemocratic about imposing tyranny if a majority supports that tyranny. That is why people like Polly Toynbee, Tony Benn and George Monbiot are impeccably and genuinely devoted to democracy. What they advocate (and in truth Tony Blair wants) is nothing less than populist authoritarianism. On the surface it looks nothing like communism or fascism, but the end point is every bit as dire and not really that dis-similar.

  • Stevey

    Hans-Hermann Hoppe’s “Democracy: The God that Failed” is a good libertarian-skewed anti-democracy book

    (Link)

  • Stevey: as it happens I am not a great fan of Hoppe.

  • James of England

    Perhaps the greater minds here can clear something up for me. My understanding is that Muslims are not allowed to create these images (or many others) because of the risk of idolatry. I’m not aware of a koranic ban on others making images. Indeed, at the time it was written, they were surrounded by people who revered icons, and who were permitted to continue to create such even after the caliphate took over.

    Is there some reason that Islam would dictate that these images should be banned as images, rather than as blasphemy? Because this gives a religious basis to the complaints, I’m slightly sad that ms. Rose chose not to directly support the cartoonists with some illustrations that would attempt to portray the Prophet in a lifelike manner. It seems like doing so would have expanded freedom by helping to make it acceptable for Gentiles to create such images. It would also have weakened those Islamic movements that objected as it would have exposed them to ridicule and to the charge of being unislamic.

  • James, I suspect it is Mr. Flemming Rose not Ms.

    It seems like doing so would have expanded freedom by helping to make it acceptable for Gentiles to create such images. It would also have weakened those Islamic movements that objected as it would have exposed them to ridicule and to the charge of being unislamic.

    I cannot speak for the editor but my guess is he was demonstrating that here in the west anyone, be they gentiles, atheists or apostate ex-muslims, can draw pictures of Muhammad and Muslims had better get used to idea. Like I said, the object is not be conciliate but to confront.

    Of course you will have to ask Mr. Rose if you really want to know what his intentions were.

  • Chris Harper

    Perry,

    In fact I agree with you. The point I was trying to make was that democracy is not a good thing in and of itself.

    Given that the validity of the democratic process is determined (amongst other things) by the amount of information posessed by the individual voter then any decision which limits the freedom of the individual to act, and thereby be informed, reduces the quality, and therefore the validity, of the decision made.

    It follows that a democratically imposed tyranny has no legitimacy.

    In other words, the fact that something has been deceided democratically doesn’t mean that it isn’t complete bullshit.

    And of course democracy is just another means of determining who does the coercing, and the more coercing it does the more I decline to differentiate it from any other form of government.

    Verity,

    These days I use the term “our political lords and masters” not with irony, but with venom, because it is becoming true.

    These people are divorcing themselves from the rest of us and more and more treating those they govern as infantile.

    I am not in the UK any more, but in Oz, and I find the politics here to be both more robust and much more mature.

  • It is rather interesting to see how well Islamists are at manipulating the system to get their own way in things. I do rather agree with the headline of this piece.

  • Verity

    Chris Harper – I’m another one who’s not there any more, to my regret in so many ways. But I will not subject myself the toxic slime of Blair crap and the Islamic crap enabled by Tony Crap.

    Seven hundred new offences that I have escaped! I didn’t even know that there were 700 offences in the entire world – even if you include the fashion police.

  • Chris Harper

    Verity,

    Does this make us cowards for not staying to fight? Should we be proud of seeking freedom elsewhere or ashamed of being part of the white flight?

    I am aussie by birth, but brit by choice. Went there for a six month holiday and stayed 23 years. My last act on leaving was to apply for brit citizenship, which libidinous dave blunkett kindly granted.

    Now, moral conundrum. As I choose to be brit don’t I have an even greater responsibility to stay and defend the principles which I cleave to?

  • RAB

    Well I’m still here.
    Locked and loaded, despite what the troublesome regulations say.
    It’s my home. It MATTERS to ME!
    The dislodgement of the Blairite buffoons is not long in coming.
    Then Brown will lose the next election cos he is able to induce sleep in even his closest friends and hasn’t been anywhere near as smart with the economy,as his pubicity would like to make out.
    “Look it hasn’t crashed yet!” funny angry smile, drooling tongue licking periodic spasm of self congratulation.
    Despite the fact that he’s screwed the UK pension funds and sold half our gold deposits for those little flexible friends Euro’s shortly before the price of gold doubled on the International market.
    Considering what the opposition is, Well it dont look good.
    But I’m still staying and fighting( well there is the villa in Cyprus, but that’s for emergencies not Labour Govts! Unless they find out about it ! HE&HER might want to stay , gratis like! Oh I shiver! I really do!
    Carry on you serious people.

  • Verity

    Chris Harper – stay and fight?

    Why? Let the people who voted them in deal with it. Few voters turned out, and a majority who did were hustled to do so by the ZaNulab machine. They voted in Slime-R-Us. The Conservatives didn’t see the danger and thought they’d teach them a good lesson by staying aloof.

    Let them deal with it.

  • Verity

    James of England says: It seems like doing so would have expanded freedom by helping to make it acceptable for Gentiles to create such images.

    Three things here, James of England. One, I am not a Gentile. I am not defined by another tribe in my own country, so dump that.

    Second, that is a Jewish term for us and none the less unacceptable when applied to me in my own ancient country which is full of us indigenous folk.

    The term the Islamics use is infidel, which is also unacceptable. In my own country I will define them. Stone-Agers would be my starting offer, but I can go down from there.

  • guy herbert

    Chris,

    All a free society needs is a mechanism for enforcing contracts between consenting parties.

    No; we do need a bit more than that. Quite a bit more. The world is a complicated place, and even contracts aren’t all that simple.

    You need a framework for deciding what is a valid contract and what constitutes consent. Then there are the rules-of-the-road, including (perhaps I ought to write, without limitation) the actual rules of the road, the arbitrary explicit conventions that need to be set and generally enforced to allow the world to work.

    Few people who come here regularly would really be happy to dispense with a rigorously maintained standard positioning and labeling of positive, earth and neutral, even if we most of us view Part-P building regulations with contempt.

    There is inevitably a compromise and a judgment to be made on some things and one needs a mechanism to decide what those some things are and where the compromise should be. A genuinely liberal constitution still needs some means of selecting those who make such decisions.

    I’m content that election is a good means of doing so. My struggle is to see how to embed liberal values in the system and the society with negative feedback so that we have a polity that is conservative in the most general sense–sustainable, if you like. And how we get there from here. It is plain that Aristotle was right about democracy. Putting total power in the hands of a plurality opens society to positive-feedback populism driving towards mob rule.

  • Joshua

    On the general subject of confrontations with Islam –

    After 17 days, the uprising in France seems to be dying down. Polls indicate that 71% of the electorate doesn’t believe Chirac can or has handled the problem. The article seems to want to say that more think LePen could have, but the number cited (“nearly a quarter”) is not convincing.

  • Verity

    Joshua – That’s the “nearly a quarter” who are prepared to admit to it. No one voted for LePen at the last general election, yet he ended up with 20% of the vote. Odd that.

    After the disgraceful performance by Chirac, the languid deVillepin and other assorted establishment odds and sods, my guess is, if there were an election tomorrow, LePen would get around 40% of the vote.

    Once Jean-Marie steps down, next year, probably in the spring, if his daughter wins the leadership contest, voting for the FN will surge. Marine has softened many of her father’s stances and stresses that she is from a different generation. In other words, she is making it easier for people to vote for the FN with a clear conscience.

  • On a slightly related note, Bat Ye’Or is endorsing Ur-feminist Phyllis Chesler these days, in particular Chesler’s most recent book, The Death of Feminism.

  • Joshua

    The BBC seems to think that the riots are over, so maybe they even are.

    Insurance claims are now estimated at 200million Euros. The EU is offering 1billion in aid (“eventually”), for “job creation” and “to help social cohesion.”

    So why didn’t France think of that? I mean – all this time they were spending billions on rundown housing projects and welfare payments, when they could have been spending the money on “job creation” and “social cohesion.” Just to think, with all the effective “job creation” and “social cohesion” agencies in the world, and France was wasting their money on housing and welfare! Come to think of it – maybe we could use some more “social cohesion” around here. I should go out and buy some.

  • Verity

    Joshua, Job creation! I want to create a job! Run by the French government on the – increasingly few – backs of people who actually turn a profit for the country. The French government is going to create a job doing … uh, the same thing the British government has been doing for eight years – inventing a toy job! Whose “salary” will be recycled in and out of the economy created by the private sector, until the little shit retires and gets on a pension.

    We need a little more unrest in Europe.

  • James of England

    Perry:
    I agree, both on the gender and likely position of Mr. Fleming. It just strikes me that telling Muslims that Western Society is godless is less likely to be helpful than splitting Islamic society. Whilst the diplomatic response was depressing, I’d be surprised if many people were made more sympathetic to the cause of free speech by the actions. It’s not always helpful to play to the base when your positions are being reported across the board.

    Verity:
    I think that you will find that the word has a considerably broader meaning than you claim. Note, for instance, Aquinas’ “Summa Contra Gentiles”, a category in which he does not include himself. Back when I was studying Theology at St. Andrew’s, we had several Muslim speakers who used the term gentile to describe those outside the faith.

    Like “infidel”, the term is generally uncontroversial in its factual content. If a Muslim calls you an infidel, he means that you’re not a Muslim, a matter on which I imagine you could find some common ground.

    It may be your country, but that really doesn’t mean that it’s sensible for you to disagree with the internal semantics of the faiths of others. Many of the others are also English, for that matter.

    I’m with you on the need to break down the Islamic hold on our media. I agree that there was probably some good done by publishing the bigotry. My argument was not that we shouldn’t fight, but that we could cause more harm by encouraging splits within their movement. The Jordanian bombings strike me as the best success we’ve had in Iraq in a long time. If any western operative managed to ensure that they took place, then I consider myself to be in that man’s debt. To attack another ideology, it often helps to think in their terms, though. To say that we must defeat their ideas without accepting any of their language is to argue for fighting with a hand tied behind our back.

  • I’d be surprised if many people were made more sympathetic to the cause of free speech by the actions. It’s not always helpful to play to the base when your positions are being reported across the board.

    My suspicion is that people like the Iranian dissident woman are far more likely to emerge if there is a clear and vocal body of like-minded people getting in the faces of the bigots and shouting back at them. I think the fundamentalists are likely to be encouraged by a seeming lack of passion and endless signals of compromise from the western establishment. What is needed is a large number of people robustly asserting that Muslims, or anyone else, have no right not to be offended and they had better get used to the idea if they intend to live in the west.

  • Chris Harper

    James of England said – “The Jordanian bombings strike me as the best success we’ve had in Iraq in a long time. If any western operative managed to ensure that they took place, then I consider myself to be in that man’s debt”

    Well, that is your opinion.

    I agree that the bombings may help turn Jordanian opinion against the insurgents in Iraq (they are NOT Iraqi insurgents) but if any western agent had any role in ensuring it happened then the cunt deserves everything that will happen to him (or her) if the Jordanians catch up. I am anti everyone who does this sort of thing, not just anti the ones who do it in London or New York.

  • But as it stands, clearly it is the ignorant bigots who can put the largest mobs on the streets

    This is very nearly a tautology.

    You can just about tell which side of a political debate has captured the ignorant and excitable by looking at which side is engaging in “street protests.”

    While there are a very few notable exceptions, in the absence of any further information I tend to adopt the default position of opposing whatever is being proposed by people marching and waving signs.

  • Joshua

    You can just about tell which side of a political debate has captured the ignorant and excitable by looking at which side is engaging in “street protests.”

    HA! Right!

  • James of England

    My suspicion is that people like the Iranian dissident woman are far more likely to emerge if there is a clear and vocal body of like-minded people getting in the faces of the bigots and shouting back at them.

    Right, but they should be “like-minded”. Particularly when you keen in mind the fact that ethnic and religious identities often blur in these matters, it seems unlikely that many muslims who are not already thoroughly westernised will feel much draw to crowds openly abusing their co-religionists. I have heavily westernised 2nd generation persian-american friends who are regularly alienated by hostile treatments of Islam. They’re not muslim and they believe in free speech, but they’re easily scared by what often seems like an ugly racial animus. Obviously, it should be clear that hate-speech and suchlike should be tolerated. I’m not saying that the paper didn’t do any good. I’m just saying that it seems like it could have done more good by seriously addressing the issue rather than engaging in over the top rhetoric.

    I think the fundamentalists are likely to be encouraged by a seeming lack of passion and endless signals of compromise from the western establishment.

    Eh, come on. It would have been genuinely easy to have been passionate about classical portrayals of the prophet. Easier than the offensive cartoons, because the newspaper staff assumedly genuinely believe in the virtue of classical portraits, whereas many of them might have mixed feelings about slander, even humorous slander, about Muslims. There’s no need to be rude to express passion. Gosh, but I feel schoolmarmish.

    I’m not sure that the portraits would be a compromise. There were people feeling afraid of creating portraits, framing the issue, right? If they published portraits, they’d be saying that portrait publishing was OK, no? Unless the children’s book was strongly hostile to Islam, which I see no reason to believe from the story.

    What is needed is a large number of people robustly asserting that Muslims, or anyone else, have no right not to be offended and they had better get used to the idea if they intend to live in the west.

    Right. That should be made clear. Totally. But it should be made clear by not changing our behaviour, not by aggressively bullying them. We should not pardon the IRA. We should not ban piglet mugs. We should not burden free speech. We should aggressively and brutally enforce laws protecting those who express unpopular speech. Hell, I think that the proposition I was putting forward was saying that it should be made clear. That said, not all rights to be offensive should be used. Obviously, they should be usable, and I think I was clear in saying that the diplomatic response was vile.

    To put it another way, I’m sure that you’re not a fan of David Duke, but I’m also confident that you think he should have the right to speak, publish, and so on. He probably does some good, too, but it doesn’t mean that you or I applaud his policy decisions or his tactical decisions.

  • Verity

    Newspapers in N Europe can legally publish what the hell they like. If what they publish is libellous, they will be sued for libel. Other than that, anything goes. If what they publish displeases their readership, they will experience a drop in revenues and change their tune. Other than that, anything goes.

    We should not be finding cirumlocutions. Newspapers, especially in N Europe, are no one’s pet dogs. You don’t like it, don’t put yourself through the misery of looking at it. Don’t buy the paper. The market will always win. I doubt whether Mr Rose’s paper experienced a drop in circulation with its cartoons of Mohammad. That means lots of people were interested. The market won. Not the Islamofascists.

  • waseem ahmad

    ” I must Say Clearly That This is a slap On Faces of all Muslims!! You cannot Judge a Religion By its followers, There are Black sheep in every religion but that doesnt mean that the religion is to be blamed ?? Yaa there are extreamist muslims but does that mean every muslim is BAD!! So why to insult the Prophet?? & let me tell all of you out there that “Islam Doesnt allow To portrait Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) & i think we should respect the LAWS of every religion!! So Jyllands-Posten should get punished for what they did.

  • So why to insult the Prophet?? & let me tell all of you out there that “Islam Doesnt allow To portrait Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) & i think we should respect the LAWS of every religion!! So Jyllands-Posten should get punished for what they did.

    It is quite simple really, Waseem. Most Western people are secular and many (and I do mean MANY) are also either agnostic or atheist, which means they have no religion at all and often think all religion is absurd (not just Islam).

    However (and this is very important), do you hear many non-Muslims in the west calling for Muslims to be prevented from believing whatever things they want? You need to understand that people like me find your beliefs as horrifying as you obviously find the idea of people insulting your religion, yet unless you threaten people with violence, I have no problem with you believing whatever daft things you want to.

    I tolerate Islam but I do not accept it. You need to do the same with people who hold non-Islamic (or even anti-Islamic) views. That does not mean you cannot call them a foolish kufur jackass and poke fun at their godless ways or point out why you think they are mistaken. You can even draw cruel cartoons of the Pope and Archbishop of Canterbury and NO ONE WILL CALL FOR YOU TO BE PUNISHED.

    What you do not get to do however, is ‘punish’ people for saying things you do not like, if by ‘punish’ you mean use violence/law against them. If you will not tolerate the objectionable views of others, why should they tolerate your Muslim views if they are objectionable to them?

  • john

    I Must Say That Jyllands-Posten should get Fucked for what they did. If no body wants to do that then i must say that send them to me nd i ll………………….

  • john

    I Must Say That Jyllands-Posten should get Fucked for what they did. If no body wants to do that then i must say that send them to me nd i ll………………….

  • Albion

    John, as you don’t say why you think that or try to make an rational argument, your comment is pointless

  • Duty4islam

    All praise is due to Allah alone. May Allah’s peace and blessings be unto His servant Mohammed and unto all his brothers’ prophets and messengers of Allah, and unto all their followers to the Day of Judgment, amen.

    Allah, the Almighty reported in the Glorious Quran:
    Woe, for those (unbelieving) worshipers! They mocked every Messenger that came to them. (36:30)
    ‘Truly, those who harm Allah and His Messenger, Allah curses them in this world and in the Hereafter and He prepared for them a humiliating punishment’ (33:57)

    Do you know why people used and still mock Messengers? It is simply because they were and are still afraid of seeing the truth. Even if they reject the belief fact, and hide behind a wall called “freedom of speech or belief”, deep inside they know that they might be wrong. It all takes them an honest study of the facts. It won’t harm them if they just take a look behind this wall, and explore Islam by themselves from its true sources. Someday they will not regret what they did.

    Unfortunately, some muslims (deliberately or not) are damaging the beautiful figure of Islam. So, when people try to see what Islam is about, They only see this disfigured Image!

    Who is Mohammed (peace be upon him)? Below are some quotes by known people who dared to see behind the wall, or saw the true Image of Islam:
    “Gandhi, in an interview with Young India Newspaper, said, ‘I wanted to know the characteristics of the man who possesses the hearts of millions of people, without any doubt. I became fully convinced that the sword was not the mean by which Islam gain its positions and grounds. It was rather the simplicity of the Prophet, his truthfulness, promptness, dedication, and devotion to his companions and followers, besides his unmatched courage and his unparalleled trust and confidence in His Lord…”

    “The Canadian orientalist Dr. Zuwaimer, in his book entitled, ‘The East and its customs’, says, ‘Undoubtedly, Mohammed was on of the greatest Muslim religious leaders. We can rightly say that he was a super efficient reformer, eloquent, brave, courageous, great thinker whom we should not attribute to him any description that contradicts the above qualities. The Glorious Quran, which he brought forth for humanity, is a great testimony for this claim…’ ”

    “The British writer and critique, Bernard Show, in his book Mohammed, which was ordered to be burnt by the British authorities, says, ‘This world is in a bad need for a man with the thinking style and ability of that of Mohammed, This Prophet who always placed his religion in a respectable and honorable position.
    This religion is the strongest to digest all civilizations and be an eternal religion. I notice that many British citizens embraced Islam rightfully. This religion will find great accommodation in Europe.
    The clergy men in the Middle Ages, as a result of discrimination and ignorance, had painted a dim picture for Mohammed. They considered him an enemy for Christianity! However, after researching his personality, I discovered that he was a great man. I concluded that he was never an enemy for Christianity; rather he should be called the savior of the humanity.
    In fact, if he is given the leadership in our world today, he will resolve the entire world problems in a manner that secure peace and prosperity for the entire humanity.’ “

    I leave you in peace.
    Duty4islam

  • hooor USA

    assalam alaikom wa rahmat allah wa barakatoh:
    الهم ارنى في من تعدى على الرسول صلى اللة عليةوسلم عجائب قدرتك وانزل عليهم شر بلاء
    وامراض العصر كلها ودمرهم كل مدمر يا ارحم الراحمين
    عتى كل المسلمين نصرت الرسول فى مقاطهم والدعى عليهم فى كل صلاه وخاصة في السجود
    اللهم من رسم شحص الرسول فاصبة في نفسة وفي جسدة ومزقة كل ممزق اللهم ( أمين )
    Jyllands-Posten should get punished for what they did.
    whatever non muslim do against islam ,Allah will protect His religionand all muslims.

    allah said in holy Quran:

    إن الذين يؤذون الله ورسوله لعنهم الله في الدنيا والاخرة و أعد لهم عذابا مهينا
    sorat al ahzab

  • I find it interesting that some muslim commenters like ‘Duty4islam’ think that addressing people who are (a) not muslim (b) mostly secular… with a long and obviously heartfelt comment that does not make any ‘arguments’ as such which might make a secular non-muslim person change their mind. Are readers suposed to think that quoting religious passages from the koran is a meaningful answer, given most of thye readers here are not only just non-muslims, many are either atheists or agnostics?

    I thank Duty4Islam for responding but if he wants to change anyone’s mind, he need to stop preaching and start making an argument that makes sence.

    Which brings me to hooor USA: I would especially like to thank him for confirming the stereotype of the rabid religious fanatic with whom no rational discussion is possible. Given that people like me regard allah as something as real as the easter bunny or mickey mouse, threatening secular westerners with what some imaginary god is going to do just makes us laugh.

  • m h

    If West countries believe freedom of expression, Why prison every talks about the myth Holocaust?

  • I completely agree mh, which is why we oppose(Link) that too.