Cartoons of Mohamed

Source: FSSPX News



 The facts

On September 30, 2005 Jyllands-Posten a Danish daily with a wide circulation published 12 cartoons caricaturing the prophet Mohamed. On January 10, 2006, the Norwegian Evangelical newspaper Magazinet, with limited circulation published these 12 satirical cartoons of the prophet – whose representation is forbidden by the Muslim religion -, in the name of "liberty of expression". The French daily France-Soir did likewise, still in the name of "liberty of expression", under the header: "Yes, we have the right to caricature God".

Then newspapers in Germany, Spain, Italy, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic, Great Britain or Switzerland, chose to publish one or several of the cartoons objects of the complaint. Dominique von Burg, chief redactor of the La Tribune de Genève, stated he wanted to publish the cartoons in order to "fuel up the debate by showing the corpus delicti".

On February 8, in Paris, Le Canard enchaîné, a "satirical newspaper" called itself a "satanic newspaper" and published the cartoons as did the leftist paper Charlie Hebdo. In the February 2nd edition of le Nouvel Observateur, Jean-Marcel Bouguereau claimed liberty of expression and the right to blaspheme: "Maybe it should be recalled that liberty of the press is complete as long as it complies with the law. In France, everybody has the right to criticize religions. Even blasphemy is allowed. Until the contrary is proved, we perfectly have the right to vomit religions, to judge them deceitful, besotting, stupefying. Unless you want to re-establish the crime of blasphemy? Many glories of our literature from Lautréamont to André Breton did blaspheme. And Voltaire was the first to do so, he who certainly ran serious risks by attacking this omnipresent temporal as well as spiritual power which the Catholic Church then was.


The reactions in the Muslim world

A dozen Arab countries asked Denmark to apologize threatening to boycott its  products in the Middle East. Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu, secretary general of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), declared to the press, on January 29, that the organization was going "to ask to the General Assembly of UNO to adopt a resolution forbidding any attack on religions", adding that "instead of condemning the publication of the cartoons defaming the prophet Mohamed, the Danish and Norwegian authorities rather defended that act". According to him, these cartoons are "an incitement to Islamophobia, an offense to the Prophet of Islam". "Muslims who make up one fifth of the world’s population are expecting apologies from those who performed that act", he stated.

Ahmed Ben Helli, auxiliary secretary general of the Arab League announced that the League was "currently having contacts at top level with Arab countries and OIC to ask UNO to adopt a constraining resolution, forbidding contempt of religions and making provision for sanctions against the countries or institutions which would contravene to this resolution". On February 4, Hassan Basrallah, head of the Hezbollah in Lebanon, invited Islamic States to demand from the West a law forbidding any attack against God and his prophets; he appealed to Muslims to keep boycotting products from countries which published the cartoons of Mohamed.

Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador in Denmark. Kuwait protested to the Danish representative for the Emirate who resides in Arabia.

Arla Foods, a Swedish milk products group, announced a sudden collapse of the sale of its products exported to Saudi Arabia, since the campaign.

In the Palestinian territories of Gaza and Cisjordan, Muslim demonstrators burnt the Danish flag (red with a white cross) by way of protest.

Abdoulaye Wade, president of Senegal, "strongly" condemned "this blasphemy against the prophet Mohamed under the pretext of a so-called liberty of the press". Abdoulatif Guéye, president of the Islamist organization Jamra, left a letter of protest at the Consulate of Denmark in Senegal, because "for the sake of the principle, it is important to rise up against this abuse", and "to draw the prophet Mohamed with a turban and a bomb is an amalgam". "It is time, he explained, to stop the confusion between Islam and terrorism, if only out of respect for Muslims in the whole world". At the request of the general caliph of the Tidjane, the greatest Muslim confraternity of the country, the imams of Senegal devoted their preaching to the "crime". A preacher, in a great mosque of Dakar called Muslims in the whole world to denounced "through their acts, their tongues, in their hearts, by  their hands this unwarranted aggression against the prophet of Islam".

February 3 was decreed an "international day" of protest against the cartoons of the prophet Mohamed. In Nigeria, Sudan, Zanzibar, Somalia, Egypt, imams and faithful protested.

In Morocco, before the Parliament in Rabat, demonstrators summoned by four Islamic organizations asked all Moroccans to defend the prophet. On February 4, the Superior Council of Oulemas (religious chiefs) of Morocco condemned the "known tendency to profit from liberty" to attack the belief of hundreds of millions of Muslims.

Demonstrations against Denmark were violent and encouraged by appeal to murder. On February 4, the Danish and Norwegian embassies were attacked in Syria with shouts of "Allah is great!" On February 5, it was the turn of the Consulate of Denmark in Beirut. The Danish government then asked its nationals to leave Syria and Lebanon.

Jonas Gahr Stoere, Norwegian minister for Foreign Affairs, denounced these aggressions against diplomatic representations as very grave facts. Per Stig Moeller, Danish minister for Foreign Affairs, declared: "This is horrible and absolutely unacceptable". Numerous Western chanceries protested against these attacks.


The responses in Europe

The chief redactor of France-Soir was dismissed by Raymond Lakah, owner of the paper, himself a Franco-Egyptian Christian, who presented his "regrets to the Muslim community". On January 30, Carsten Juste, chief redactor of the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, declared: "The twelve cartoons were not meant to be offensive, but they undeniably offended many Muslims, and we apologize."

On January 31, the Ecumenical agency ENI reported the declaration of Olav Fyske Tveit, secretary general of the Council for Ecumenical and International Relations of the Church of Norway: "I strongly denounce the publication of the cartoons and caricatures of the prophet Mohamed".

Dalil Boubakeur, president of the French Council for Muslim Worship, called the publication of these cartoons "sheer provocation".

On February 3, 2006, Cardinal Achille Silvestrini, emeritus head of the Congregation for the Eastern Churches, declared in Il Corriere della Sera: "Western culture must find a limit to its claim to make of liberty an absolute". He specified that "Europe ought to rebel against the idea and the practice of scoffing at religious symbols". For "liberty is of great worth but it must be shared and not one-sided." "Liberty to make fun, he added, which offends the feelings of others and which directly attacks the feeling of entire nations hurt in their supreme symbols, becomes prevarication". "We can understand caricature of priests, but not of God" (sic), stated the cardinal, because "God is not within our reach". "If satire offends, defames, calumniates citizens, they have the possibility of having recourse to the tribunals. But if offenses take God and Allah, the Gospel and the Koran as their butt, how can these defend themselves?" (sic, again) underscored the emeritus prefect. "Secularism, concluded Cardinal Silvestrini, first supposes respect. On the other hand, the most staunch defenders of secularism maintain that offense to the national flag is inadmissible. Could we not consider religious symbols as we do the symbols of lay institutions?"

In France, Bishop Dubost together with a representative of the Muslim world and the great Rabbi of Paris condemned this publication and the relentlessness of the press to fuel up hatred.

Mohamed Bechari, president of the National Federation of the Muslims of France (FNMF), declared to France presse press agency: "Any Muslim has become a bomb in the eyes of public opinion ever since our prophet has been shown as a terrorist". "We are very much attached to the liberty of the press, he added, but we cannot admit that in the name of this liberty 1.5 billion Muslims be insulted".

Father Justo Lacunza Balda, a specialist of Islam and rector of the Pontifical Institute for Arabic and Islamic Studies, declared on Radio Vatican that the Danish had "lacked wisdom" in the use of satire. For "you must know the keys on which you hit". However, "this does not at all mean that we should put a padlock on our liberty of the press or on our civil liberties", he added, specifying that once again Islam found it "hard to accept the difference".

On February 4, 2006, in answer to the numerous questions about the position of the Holy See, Joaquin Navarro Valls, director of the Holy See press room, qualified the publication of these cartoons in Europe as "unacceptable provocation". And he added that "intolerance wherever it comes from, is a serious threat to peace". "Men’s coexistence demands an atmosphere of mutual respect to foster peace between men and nations", he continued explaining that the right to liberty of thought and of expression, established by the Declaration of the Rights of Man, "cannot include the right to hurt the religious feelings of believers", and this no matter what the religion be. The spokesman of the Holy See recalled that offenses committed by one person or one paper cannot be ascribed to the public institutions of their country. Denouncing the violent reactions, Joaquin Navarro-Valls declared: "Intolerance, real or verbal, wherever it comes from, as action or as reaction, always constitutes a serious threat to peace".

On February 5, Rev. Samuel Kobia, secretary-general of the World Council of Churches (WCC) in Geneva, declared to ENI press agency: "Media possessing liberty have a power. If this power of the media is used to oppose abuse of power in society, it is wisely used. But to use it in order to criticize the values and the dignity of people who feel helpless, as in the present case, is dangerous".

On February 5, bishops of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Denmark and Norway called for a reinforcement of the dialogue with Muslims. "To provoke and offend the religion of a person out of sheer provocation does not help any objective", explained a committee of the Danish Church. "We want to intensify meetings between Christians and Muslims at all levels, as well as Islamic-Christian dialogue", declared Colin Williams, archdeacon and secretary-general of the KEK – community of 125 Churches of Orthodox, Protestant, Anglican and Old Catholic tradition in all the countries of Europe.