The Danish Cartoon Protests: Spontaneous Indignation or Orchestrated Hatred?

This is part I of a three part roundup on the Jyllands-Posten Cartoon Protests of February 2006.

Back in September 2005, the Danish daily periodical Jyllands-Posten apparently printed twelve cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammed.

In what you might call a “delayed reaction,” the Islamic world erupted this past week in an “international day of anger” (and another! and another! and . . .), protesting that “all images of The Prophet are prohibited in Islam.”

Flags were burned, embassies were stormed, figures were burned in effigy. On Thursday (2/2/06), Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank got a bit carried away and kidnapped a German [teacher] after demanding an apology for the offensive caricatures (The hostage, Christoph Kasten, was reportedly freed by Palestinian police an hour later).

On Friday (2/3/06), Palestinians threw a bomb at a French cultural center in Gaza City, and an imam at the Omari Mosque (Gaza City) told 9,000 worshippers that those behind the drawings should have their heads cut off. Such threats were echoed by a London protest where Muslims brandished signs “FREEDOM GO TO HELL”, “BE PREPARED FOR THE REAL HOLOCAUST,” “EUROPE, YOU WILL PAY, 9/11 IS ON ITS WAY” and “MASSACRE THOSE WHO INSULT ISLAM” (“In Their Own Words”, Michelle Malkin Feb. 3, 2006).

All in all, not a very good day for CAIR or those touting Islam as the “religion of peace.”

There are posts and commentary a-plenty for those who are following this story (and who isn’t?); in a three-part series, here are some that caught my eye. We begin, however, with some recent and suprising reports about the nature of the protest itself:

  • Creating Outrage NRO (National Review Online). Lorenzo Vidino, terrorism analyst and author of Al Qaeda in Europe: The New Battleground of International Jihad (Prometheus Books, 2005), introduces us to Ahmed Abdel Rahman Abu Laban, a 60-year-old Palestinian imam who has resided in Copenhagen since 1993 and has “cunningly orchestrated” the Muslim over-reaction to the cartoons:

    In September, the imam immediately condemned Jyllands-Posten’s cartoons and led protests at the local level. Danish politicians and media, busy with local elections, ignored him. But Abu Laban is not the kind of person who gives up easily. After having contacted ambassadors from Muslim countries in Copenhagen, he put together a delegation with the goal of touring the Middle East to “internationalize this issue so that the Danish government would realize that the cartoons were not only insulting to Muslims in Denmark but also to Muslims worldwide,” as he explained in an interview with “Islam Online”. The delegation met with, among others, Arab League Secretary Amr Moussa, Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Sheikh Mohammad Sayyed Tantawi, and Sunni Islam’s most influential scholar, Yusuf al Qaradawi. The delegation showed each of these leaders the 12 cartoons published by Jyllands-Posten, along with others that had never been published by any Danish publication. The new cartoons were every more offensive, as showing the Prophet Mohammed with a pig face or having sexual intercourse with a dog. While the delegation claimed that the differentiation was pointed out to their interlocutors, there is no other evidence, and rumors about the more blasphemous images began to circulate in the Middle East. Moreover, the booklet that was presented by the delegation contained several other lies about the “oppression” of Muslims in Denmark, claiming Muslims do not have the legal right to build mosques and are subjected to pervasive racism.

    With emotions about the cartoons mounting, Qaradawi, the real brains of the Muslim Brotherhood’s international network and a key opinion maker in the Middle East thanks to his weekly show on al Jazeera, attacked Denmark directly, warning that an apology would not be sufficient, and that “a firm stance” should have be taken by the Danish government. . . .

    As Lorenzo Vidino reveals, there is much more to Abu Laban than meets the eye, including ties to the Egyptian militant Islamic movement Gamaa Islamiya.

  • As usual, Michelle Malkin has an expansive roundup on the bogus cartoons from the the lying Danish imams February 8, 2005:

    In addition to the fake drawings and photos and the other lies included in the Danish imams’ propaganda pamphlet posted over at The Counterterrorism Blog, my reader reports that Danish radio has enumerated additional falsehoods.

    The imams reportedly spread lies that the Jyllands-Posten had 120 cartoons, not 12, and that the paper was owned by the government. (There are no state-run newspapers in Denmark.) In addition, the imams reportedly claimed that the Danish government would censor the Koran, burn the Koran, and that Danes were planning to make a blasphemous movie about Mohammed.

    And, as Michelle reports, a Danish TV reporter aggressively interviewed Danish imam Ahmed Akkari, who was part of the traveling delegation, challenging him on one of the doctored photos used as propaganda. The photo in question was revealed by blogger NeanderNews to be that of Jacques Barrot, a pig squealing contestant at the French Pig-Squealing Championships in Trie-sur-Baise’s annual festival. All in good fun or a sure sign of anti-Islamic bigotry?

  • And on a related note, the blog Freedom for Egyptians reveals that the Egyptian newspaper, Al Fager (as pronounced in Egyptian Arabic) published the Danish Cartoons five months ago, on Oct 17, 2005, during the Islamic month of Ramadan — “not a single protest was called in Cairo against Denmark or the newspaper.” Whattupwiththat?!? (Via Andrew Sullivan‘s Daily Dish Feb. 9, 2006).

(Part II: “Clash of Civilizations”? – Reactions & Commentary).

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