Archive for February, 2010

Brazil Catholics sue Hollywood for crumbling Redeemer image

The Catholic Church of Brazil seems to be under the impression that it owns any image of the famous Christ the Redeemer sculpture which stands high above Rio de Janeiro, and is suing Columbia Pictures for using it in last year’s blockbuster 2012.

Jesus Crumbling Christ!: The Redeemer goes to pieces in 2112.


The apocalyptic film shows Rio being destroyed by a tidal wave, and the 40-metre statue crumbling under the water.

The Archdiocese of Rio de Janeiro, who commissioned the sculpture in 1931, refused permission to Columbia when they asked to use the image in their film, but Columbia went ahead anyway. The Archdiocese’s laweyer, Claudine Dutra, explained:

many faithful have said they are shocked and offended by the images of the destruction of this sanctuary that the archdiocese wanted to preserve.

We want Columbia Pictures to publicly declare that it did not intend to cause offense.

They are also seeking undisclosed damages.

Funnily enough, director Roland Emmerich wanted to include a scene which showed the destruction of the Kaaba – the holy rock-in-a-box towards which devout Muslims point the crown of their head five times a day. But he feared a fatwa.




“Sorry you were offended” Danish paper concedes to Saudi lawyers

In a move condemned as “crazy” and “disgraceful” by politicians and journalists, the Danish newspaper Politiken has issued an apology to a team of Saudi lawyers acting on behalf of “94,923 of the Prophet mohammed’s descendants”.

Last August, the Jeddah based law firm AZ Yamani approached the eleven Danish newspapers which republished the Turbomb cartoon after an attempt on Westergaard’s life.

What they demanded was that apologies be printed in Danish, English, Arabic and French, that the newspapers undertake never to publish the cartoon again, and – most amusingly – that the cartoons be removed from the internet in perpetuity.

What they got from Politiken was a “sorry you were offended” apology. The newspaper did not apologise for printing the cartoon, nor did it give up its right to publish the cartoon again.

However, judging from the reactions of other editors, it is highly unlikely that the complainers will get that much from any other newspaper. Berlingske Tidende, Jyllands-Posten and Kristeligt Dagblad have all said they have no interest in a settlement which includes an apology. Jørn Mikkelsen, Editor-in-Chief the Jyllands-Posten, says:

Politiken has betrayed the battle for freedom of speech. They’ve given up and bowed to threats. That is, of course, disgraceful.

Danish politicians are also angry. Social Democratic Leader Helle Thorning-Schmidt:

It’s crazy. The media carries offensive material every day. That is what freedom of speech is about.

Socialist People’s Party Leader Villy Søvndal:

freedom of speech is not up for negotiation

The Danish People’s Party Leader Pia Kjærsgaard:

It is deeply, deeply embarrassing that Tøger Seidenfaden has sold out of Denmark’s and the West’s freedom of speech. I cannot distance myself enough from this total sell-out to this doctrine.

It is good to see such widespread condemnation, even if the Politiken apology is such a non-event. It shows they care.

(Hat tip Islam in Europe)




WordPress.com caves to censorship pressure again

WordPress is great blogging software if you are self-hosting, but their dedicated hosting solution at wordpress.com has proved once again to be weak-kneed and prone to collapse at the first whiff of controversy.

The latest episode involves a blog about a deluded cancer quack by the name of Andreas Moritz. The self-described “medical intuitive” was upset when a student by the name of Michael Hawkins put up a critical post on his wordpress.com site. Andreas Moritz is a stupid, dangerous man is still available on an older site, but a complaint by Moritz to WordPress was enough to get the the “For the Sake of Science” site shut down.

There are few more sensitive to criticism than the self-deluded, but Moritz managed to make himself even more contemptible by writing a gloating email to Hawkins

Michael Hawkins,

You may blame me for having your blog pulled. WorldPress had to remove your blog because otherwise it would have faced a hefty lawsuit, given the nature of the defamation campaign you had launched against me, and having positioned your blog link second place on the search engines.

Of course, now that he has kicked up a fuss and the story has appeared on both Pharyngula and Respectful Insolence, a Google search for “Andreas Moritz” now throws up highly critical results in second and third placess. It can’t be long before one reaches the top spot.

As PZ Myers points out,

I hate to give hints to kooks, but really, you should study the Streisand effect. Attempts at legal intimidation, threats to silence web sites, and those kinds of nasty shenanigans to squelch bad publicity always backfire on the internet.

The last time WordPress.com caved to pressure from offended kooks was when they pulled some educational cartoons about the life of Mohammed in late 2008.

UPDATE: (Feb 23) The original article is back, and at number 2 in a Google search: Andreas Moritz is a stuped dangerous man. Well done, WordPress.com.




Dagbladet newspaper hit by Turkish DDoS attack

Dagbladet, the Norwegian newspaper at the centre of the latest Mohammed cartoon tantrums (see below), was last night hit by a distributed denial of service attack which left the site offline for two and a half hours.

Turkish hacker group 1923TURK has claimed responsibility for the attack. The Mo-loving script kiddies explained:

Dagbladet’s attack against our prophet is disrespectful, Norwegians have no respect for anything. Therefore we attack the paper.

Dagbladet’s editor is unsympathetic:

If what they say is correct, it’s a terrible violation of publishing rights that any media should have.

According to the report, several other Norwegian sites have come under attack.

There are demonstrations planned for today. Islam in Europe has a good round-up of newspaper reports with quotes from various leading Muslims.

UPDATE: About 3,000 showed up, and the demo passed apparently without incident.

Mohyeldeen Mohammed, a spokesbeard for “The Volunteers” group which organised the demo, said:

If this will be allowed to continue in the end it will be too late. Then we’ll get a September 11th and a June 7th on Norwegian soil. This is not a threat, but a warning.




Norwegian imam doesn’t get apology, mutters threateningly

He doesn’t want trouble, you see. He just wants an apology.

Imam Malana-hafiz Mehboob-ur-Rehma met with the editor of Dagbladet, and was disappointed to find the newspaperman standing by his principles. In other words, no apology was forthcoming for the Norwegian daily’s printing of a Mohammed cartoon to illustrate an article.

The imam of the Islamic Cultural Centre said:

I was very glad when Dagbladet wanted to have this meeting, but am very disappointed because Dagbladet want to stand their ground.
[...]
This time we fear that there can be bigger problems than when the cartoons of Muhammed were printed in 2006. Then it was the communities and the Islamic council who demanded an apology. Now it’s not organizations, mosques and communities, but individuals and then the situation can get out of control.

But of course, he says he cannot take responsibility for what comes next.

The meeting was set up by Conservative Party politician on the Oslo council Aamir Sheikh, who had hoped both parties would “give and take” in order to “reach a compromise.” (ie, give us an apology, and we’ll take it).

The acting editor says he does not regret printing the cartoon:

I don’t regret it, they can think what they want, but I think Dagbladet should have the right to illustrate the new in it’s own way.

There as a demonstration planned for Friday, organised by ex-con Arfan Bhatti.

They are already burning Norwegian flags in Pakistan.




Another Motoon scandal brews in Norway

Islam in Europe reports an odd story brewing in Norway.

The country’s Police Security Service (a bit like MI5), has a Facebook page which allows comments and links from anyone who joins. One link led to a cartoon which depicted Mohammed as a pig writing the Koran. This led to the story being reported in the newspaper Dagbladet, accompanied by a shot of the image as it appeared on screen.

The photo published in Dagbladet


It was this reprinting of the image which then led to a protest by 1000 taxi drivers, who in a spontaneous demonstration of outrage, arranged to stop their cars between 2am and 4am in downtown Oslo. The demonstration passed peacefully.

However, liberal party MP Abid Q. Raja, a self-confessed moderate Muslim, has been making the usual dark noises. He has called on the PST heads and the justice minister to apologise for the original publication on Facebook. He said he was “afraid of the consequences” if they do not – but that he would very kindly try to calm down the community.

Think when this reaches the closed communities. Think when the mullahs see this. They’ll tear out their beards.

The original cartoon was drawn by a Jewish woman living in Hebron. She was sentenced by an Israeli court to two years in prison for trying to affix it to an Arab-owned shop front.

UPDATE (14:30) Oslo cabbies are continuing their protest today. One said:

We live in 2010 and we ought to expect that people had learned to show more respect. Why provoke such reactions when you know what happened after the caricatures in Denmark.

The newspaper Dagbladet tried patiently – but no doubt vainly – to explain in today’s editorial:

The drawing was used in a news report to illustrate that the Facebook profile of the PST (Police Security Service) contains links to Mohamed cartoons. Therefore it’s meaningless to claim – as the protesters do – that this is a provocation against Muslims in Norway and all over the world.