Vatican condemns Motoons
The Vatican and the Al-Azhar university in Cairo made a joint statement yesterday condemning the republication of Westergaard’s Turbomb Motoon in Danish papers:
Both sides vehemently denounce the reprinting of the offensive cartoon and the attack on Islam and its prophet.
We call for the respect of faiths, religious holy books and religious symbols.
Freedom of expression should not become a pretext to insult religions and defaming religious sanctities.
No mention was made of the foiled murder plot against the 72-year-old cartoonist which prompted the republications.
As Flemming Rose points out, al-Azhar university does not permit Jews or Copts to enroll for their courses in theology, medicine, economics, or agriculture. So much for their “respect of faiths”.
Flemming Rose also brings news that the kindergarden where Kurt Westergaard’s wife Gitte works has asked her not to turn up after several parents expressed concern for the safety of their children.
Meanwhile Germany’s interior minister gave a welcome expression of support to the Danish editors. Wolfgang Schaeuble told Die Zeit:
I have respect for the fact that Danish newspapers have now all printed the Muhammad caricatures … on the basis (that) we will not let ourselves be divided.
Actually, all European newspapers should now print these caricatures, with the explanation: ‘We also find them lousy, but the exercise of press freedom is no reason to practice violence.’
Predictably, a spokesman was later wheeled out to do a bit of backpedalling:
Schaeuble spoke out clearly for press freedom — in Germany, in Europe and generally. In no way did he call for all European newspapers to print Muhammad caricatures.
Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen defended the editors too:
It’s important to explain that the media did not publish these drawings to hurt people’s religious feelings, but because in a democratic regime with a free press, it’s normal to be able to illustrate your story. […] it was necessary for the newspapers to print the drawing that was the cause of the terrorists’ attempt to take the life of the cartoonist.
Just in case you have forgotten, this was the cartoon: