‘Toon rage update: Iraq enters fray as Norway apologises
(AFP via Yahoo) Both Shiite and Sunni clerics in Iraq have joined the chorus of righteous condemnation against the Mohammed cartoons published first by Jyllands-Posten in Denmark, and then by a couple of mags in Norway.
Raging in his mosque in a Shiite district in Baghdad, Sheikh Hazem al-Aaraji described said,
They want to disfigure Islam and this we cannot accept. These cartoons directly attack the personality of the messenger of God. We say to them: they cannot attack Mohammed, nor any of the prophets […]
Mohammed is the symbol of humanity. He is not dead, he lives always among us through his teachings and through the sacred book
After the sermon, a crowd of about 100 charged through the neighourhood chanting “there is no god but God, and Mohammed is his prophet” and “Jews, the army of Mohammed and Ali will return.”
Meanwhile, an email memo to Norwegian embassies has been leaked which reveals that Norway’s government is trying to make amends by “apologising”:
I am sorry that the publication of a few cartoons in the Norwegian paper Magazinet has caused unrest among Muslims. I fully understand that these drawings are seen to give offence by Muslims worldwide. Islam is a spiritual reference point for a large part of the world. Your faith has the right to be respected by us.
The cartoons in the Christian paper Magazinet are not constructive in building the
bridges which are necessary between people with different religious and ethnic backgrounds. Instead they contribute to suspicion and unnecessary conflict.
Let it be clear that the Norwegian government condemns every expression or act which expresses contempt for people on the basis of their religion or ethnic origin. Norway has always supported the fight of the UN against religious intolerance and racism, and believes that this fight is important in order to avoid suspicion and conflict. Tolerance, mutual respect and dialogue are the basis values of Norwegian society and of our foreign policy.
Freedom of expression is one of the pillars of Norwegian society. This includes tolerance for opinions that not everyone shares. At the same time our laws and our international obligations enforce restrictions for incitement to hatred or hateful expressions.
(from Brussels Journal)
Denmark made similar noises last month, but that clearly wasn’t enough for the Saudis, Jordanians, and Iraqis who are continuing to pursue the matter. Many regard both the Danish and Norwegian apologies as examples of spineless “dhimmitude”, but in fact it is the minimal diplomatic response they could give. Simply wafting a few apologetic-sounding platitudes (we’re sorry you were offended) does appear to appease the hotheads temporarily. Indeed, the Danish apology was greeted with a certain amount of triumphalism by Turkish newspaper.
However, it is not enough to calm them indefinitely. Neither Denmark nor Norway have actually done anything concrete in response to the protests. As this fact dawns on the fundamentalists, their demands become ever more shrill and unacceptable. In this respect, even the apologies were probably misguided.
(Hat tip: The Pub Philosopher)
UPDATE: Now Libya has closed its embassy in Copenhagen.