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Editor's Desk

Shall We Run the Mohammed Cartoons?
By Ken Anderson
Feb 6, 2006 - 5:34:00 PM

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There is a movement afoot to persuade newspapers and magazines to run the now infamous Mohammed cartoons, whose publication by a Danish newspaper has led to rioting throughout the world, as a show of solidarity behind the principles of freedom of speech.

The drawings, which include a depiction of Muhammad with a bomb on his head, were purportedly intended as satirical illustrations included within an article on freedom of speech and self-censorship. The editor of the Danish newspaper commissioned twelve cartoonists to draw them, and then published the cartoons in response to the difficulty that another Danish writer had finding artists to illustrate his children's book about Muhammad, because the artists feared violent attacks by extremist Muslims.

Islamic teachings forbid the depiction of Muhammad as a measure against idolatry, a form of aniconism.

While the Danish newspaper maintains that the illustrations were an exercise in free speech, Muslims view them as offensive, blasphemous and violating the tenets of Islam.

In reaction to the publication of these cartoons, death threats have been made against the cartoonists and others employed by the newspaper. Seventeen Islamic foreign ministries have demanded that the Danish government take action against those involved in the publication of these illustrations, actions that Denmark has refused to take, citing “freedom of speech.”

The Danish embassies in Syria were recently set afire, and Libya closed its embassy in Denmark. Further protests resulted in the arson of the Danish General Consulate and an attack on a Christian neighbourhood in Beirut. Two Jordanian newspaper editors were arrested for reproducing the drawings.

The Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab League have demanded that the United Nations impose international sanctions against Denmark for refusing to bow to Islamic demands.

In response to what are ridiculously unreasonable demands from Islamic governments that, if acted upon, would supercede traditions of freedom of speech throughout the world, newspaper and Christian organizations are encouraging newspapers throughout the world to respond by reproducing the illustrations, thereby showing solidarity.

Most recent is an email from Randall Terry, the founder of Operation Rescue, who currently represents an organization called the Society for Truth and Justice, of which he is also a founder. In his email, Mr. Terry suggests that we use this event in order to “identify who our enemies are, as well as the champions of freedom.”

“More importantly,” writes Terry, “we should mark those media outlets in America who fade into the grey twilight; those who claim to be defenders of liberty, yet quickly withdraw from the battle of ideologies as non-combatants, and refuse to show the cartoons.”

Given that very limited criteria, Mr. Terry, I guess you'll have to count me among your enemies.

Were the United Nations to act upon Islamic demands and seek to curtail our right to publish such depictions, I would suggest that we should withdraw from the U.N. rather than give in to such a thing.

While I believe, and will insist that the Magic City Morning Star has every right in the world to republish these cartoons, given the permission of whoever owns the copyright, I choose not to do so.

I am a Christian, Mr. Terry, and not a Muslim, but I do not believe that God demands that I insult those who do not believe as I do.

I am an Anabaptist, and not a Catholic; but neither would I place a crucifix in a jar of urine, or cover a depiction of Mother Mary with elephant dung, and call it art.

I have the right to do these things, I suppose. But I like to think that I'm a better person than that, and that the Magic City Morning Star has higher standards than that.


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