Yesterday the Danish government apologised to the Muslim world for cartoons that appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. The cartoons depicted the Islamic Propher Mohammed, one which depicted Mohammed wearing a suicide belt, that caused offense to Muslims. The cartoons caused not just outrage in the Muslim world but violence, anger and rioting. The offices of Jyllands-Posten received bomb threats and Gazans burned Danish flags and chanted 'Death to Denmark'. There were calls across the Muslim world for a boycott of Danish goods and the Danish Ambassador was called in to explain their country's actions in Iraq, Iran, Saudi Arabia and Sudan to name but a few. Danish citizens were subsequently warned not go into Gaza and other 'outraged' areas.
Here at KIC we do not condone political cartoons which can be seen as religiously offensive or blasphemous. What we would like to know is where all the calls for freedon of expression and the non-interference of governments are?
Frequently we have witnessed political cartoons depicting Israelis or Jews with extremely offensive religious imagery but we are told that is freedom of expression.
In 2003, a cartoon of Ariel Sharon biting the heads of Palestinian children raised the spectre of the antisemitic 'blood libels' which have plagued the Jewish people for nearly a thousand years. Not only was this cartoon never withdrawn it even won the presigious United Kingdom's Political Cartoon Society cartoon of the year and the award was presented by a British cabinet minister. Many other examples include the deicide accusation which depicts the Jews killing Jesus (represented by the Palestinians), most famously by the Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera.
Other themes that have made political cartoons in the West are Jews as money grabbers, Jews controlling the world, and the Star of David as concentration camp. This is not even to mention the frequent antisemitic imagery that regularly appears in the Arab and Muslim press.
There have been occasions where newspapers have been taken to court or have apologised for the content in their periodicals. However, Israel or the Jewish people have never had a head of state publicly stand up before the world to apologise on behalf of his government and nation. There are clearly double standards at work here. When Israel complains about an antisemitic cartoon in the international press we are told that freedom of press exists and governments do not get involved.
It just goes to show that money and violence do work. This sets a very bad precedent for the western press that demonstartes how western governments can be bullied into apologising for any offence caused to the Arab world.