Archive for September, 2006

Motoons – one year on

A year ago today the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published the 12 infamous Motoons. The Guardian marks the occasion with an article in which it is revealed that, while many Muslim nations boycotted Danish products causing a drop of 15.5% in sales to those countries, exports to the USA rose by 17%, which more than made up the difference.

Both the Danish PM, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, and the Jyllands-Posten stood admirably firm throughout the crisis in their refusal to apologise for the publication. In an upcoming book by Per Bech Thomsen entitled “The Mohammed Crisis – what happened”, Rasmussen says:

The believers, no matter of what religion, cannot demand that others outside their believers’ circle should observe their rules of conduct, order, dogma and doctrines that apply to the individual believer.

The book also contains interviews with some of the original 12 cartoonists, 10 of whom still have not reappeared in public.

One thing is certain. The effect of the Muslim reaction four months later ensured that those 12 cartoons were reproduced in the press all over the world, and spawned several websites devoted entirely to displaying pictures of Mohammed in varying degrees of humiliation. It also resulted in the deaths of 139 people.

The BBC report on this anniversary asks “has Denmark learned its lesson?”

It is not Denmark who has lessons to learn.

French philosopher in hiding from Islamothugs

A French philosopher and schoolteacher, Robert Redeker, has been forced into hiding under police protection because of death threats he received in response to an op-ed piece in Le Figaro.

The article, entitled “What should the free world do in the face of Islamist intimidation?”, described the Koran as “a book of extraordinary violence, and Islam as “a religion which […] exalts violence and hate”. So, naturally, he received several emailed death threats, and his address details were published on various websites. What better way to counter such foul Islamophobic accusations?

There is a very clear map of how to get to my home, with the words: ‘This pig must have his head cut off’

The article had earlier led to Le Figaro being banned in Tunisia and Egypt, along with Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung and The Guardian Weekly – all charged with carrying articles “offensive to Islam”. This followed condemnation the Redeker’s piece by friend-of-Livingstone Yusuf “Throw gays from clifftops” al-Qaradawi on Al Jazeera TV.

Meanwhile, Redeker is forced to change address every two days and receives round-the-clock police protection. Speaking on Europe 1 Radio, he said:

I cannot do my job. I have no freedom of movement. I am in hiding. Already they have succeeded in punishing me … as if I was guilty of holding the wrong opinions.

Why is this story receiving no coverage here in the UK?

UPDATE: The BBC has a report on the web now. Oh, and so has The Times.

“Macho” George seeks private prosecution against GPA

Just when you think things are looking up. The Gay and Lesbian Humanist Association has learned that the Rev “Macho” George Hargreaves, leader of Operation Christian Vote, is seeking a private prosecution of the GPA for their bloody bible ad.

The Crown Prosecution service dropped the case last week, dismayed the writer of Sinita’s 80s disco classic So Macho:

I believe there is a case to answer in this matter, and that there is sufficient evidence to prove the necessary legal test set out in the Public Order Act (not least the evidence of the 40,000 people who lodged official complaints with the police). I also believe that it is not in the public interest for this case to be dropped – to do so would give the impression that Police officers are above the law

One small matter you seem to be overlooking, Georgie: no law was broken.

He has the backing of the whinging hypocrites at the Christian Lawyers Association, a group that thinks that the right to free speech applies only to themselves.

(Thanks to Feòrag at the Pagan Prattle)

German Muslims against self-censorship

The Telegraph reports on a conference between the German government and Islamic leaders – scheduled long before the Mozart scandal – where it was agreed that the opera should be performed.

Interior Minister Wolfgang Schäuble:

The Muslim representatives at the Islamic conference today agreed with me that the opera should be performed — and that we should go to see it together.

Opera director Kerstin Harms must be regretting her decision by now. Time to backtrack, perhaps.

CPS drops case against Stephen Green

Confirming a rumour we heard yesterday, a Christian Institute mailshot reports that the CPS has dropped the case against Stephen Green.

This is good news all round. Not only was the charge of using “threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” a specious one, given that SG was merely distributing leaflets at a rally, but this will also scupper the “double standards” charges aimed at the CPS who recently refused to pursue the case against the Gay Police Association for its bloody bible ad.

Common sense has prevailed this time, but it is unlikely that this will stop competing groups from trying to prosecute each other for saying things that upset them.

UPDATE: To make up for his disappointment at missing out on his day in court, publicity-hungry Stephen Green has vowed to take civil action against the police for infringing his freedom of speech. And so it goes on… So much for turning the other cheek – why not help waste a bit more public money, Stephen? As long as it keeps your name in the papers, eh?

Going round in circles

The Sun today has one of its periodic pieces berating the BBC for spending large sums of money. This time its about the new “ident” which runs in between programmes. The replacement for the current dancer clips is a series of images based on circles including hippos swimming in a circle, fishermen off Croatia, and surfers in Mexico.

Who better to comment on the fact that the BBC is “splashing out” £1.2m on these than our favourite smut-campaigning media expert “Massah” John Beyer of Mediawatch-UK?

Why does the BBC need to fly all the way to Mexico? If it wants to film a campaign based on circles, it could go to the London Eye or Big Ben?

Indeed. In fact, why does it have to go to the London Eye or Big Ben? It could just draw circles on a piece of paper. Or film the committee of Mediawatch-UK in jerking formation.

German politicians condemn self-censorship

The Director of the Deutche Oper, Kirten Harms, was hoping for support for her decision to cancel a controversial production of Idomeneo (see story below):

We know the consequences of the conflict over the (Muhammad) caricatures. […]
We believe that needs to be taken very seriously and hope for your support.

To the credit of German politicians, that support has not been forthcoming.

Berlin’s mayor, Klaus Wowereit, said the director had made the wrong decision:

Our ideas about openness, tolerance and freedom must be lived out on the offensive.[…]

Voluntary self-limitation gives those who fight against our values a confirmation in advance that we will not stand behind them.

Deputy parliamentary speaker, Wolfgang Theirse:

Has it come so far that we must limit artistic expression? What will be next?

And Peter Ramsauer, head of the Bavarian Christian Social Union, called it an act of “pure cowardice” and Interior Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble called the decision “crazy” and “unacceptable”.

Note that the Christian Social Union tried and failed to prosecute MTV for “disparaging Christianity” when it showed Popetown – but we don’t expect consistency from religious leaders.

At least German politicians are speaking out. There are precious few in the UK who would do the same.

UPDATE: Chancellor Angela Merkel has added her voice to the protests:

We must be careful that we do not increasingly shy away out of fear of violent radicals. […]Self-censorship out of fear is not tolerable

Kenan Kolat, a leader of the German Turkish community, said it was time Muslims accepted freedom of expression in art:

This is about art, not about politics. […] We should not make art dependent on religion — then we are back in the Middle Ages.

The leader of Germany’s Islamic Council, however, welcomed the decision, as the depiction of Mohammed’s severed head “would certainly offend some Muslims”.

Mozart opera dropped over safety fears

The DPA reports that one of Germany’s leading opera houses, The Deutche Oper Berlin, has cancelled a production of Mozart’s Idomedeo out of fear that it might offend Muslims.

Hans Neuenfels’s production was first shown in 2003, when it caused controversy by introducing a scene the depicts the decapitated heads of Jesus, Buddha, Mohammed, and the Greek god Poseidon. King Idomeneo is shown bringing out the four heads and placing them on chairs. Neuenfels intended the production to be an attack on world religions.

The latest production was cancelled on advice from security authorities, who said it posed an “incalculable” risk.

It should be noted that the opera house received no threats from anyone. The decision is a case of self-censorship.

Bloody Bible ad – GPA not prosecuted

Those swivel-eyed homophobes of the Christian Institute do have their uses. In their latest mailshot they reveal that they “have been told” that the Crown Prosecution Service will not go ahead with the case against the Gay Police Association for publishing their bloody bible ad.

No doubt this is because no crime was committed.

The CI, of course, are devastated. They do, however, make a valid point when they complain that Stephen “Dog Shit” Green is still being prosecuted for handing out anti-gay leaflets at the Cardiff mardi gras. He shouldn’t be, and MWW hopes that the case will be dropped at the next hearing on Sept 28th. The CI’s complaint wouldn’t sound so hollow if they hadn’t clamoured for the GPA to be prosecuted for exercising their freedom of speech.

Still, good news from the CPS. Let’s hope the Advertising Standards Authority, and the Police Complaints Commission come to similarly sensible conclusions.

Well, crucify my corpse!

Christians are up in arms about a Channel 4 show by controversial TV anatomist Gunther von Hagens. Entitled Crucifixion, the show will use a real body to explore the mechanics of this method of execution.

The reason some Christians are upset is because they believe their religious leader was executed by this method. It is not clear why they think that this means they have the right to prevent people from making TV documentaries about it. Crucifixion was once a common method of execution.

Simon Jenkins, spokesman for the Church of England, said:

This will upset and offend a lot of Christians as it seems he is using the Crucifixion simply to grab attention.

Stephen “Dog Shit” Green, who had only recently been converted to the cause of free speech, has sadly reverted to his censorious former-self:

This sounds gratuitously offensive and blasphemous. It could well be we would want to take some action against it.

MWW wonders if Christian Voice will take this legal action before or after the blasphemy prosecution of the BBC for which they started begging funds back in March 2005. It just that we’ve been waiting for that particular sideshow for 18 months now, and they are still soliciting cash for it. Surely they must have enough by now?