Thursday, February 02, 2006

Mohammad Cartoon Challenges Freedom of the Press

Last September, in Denmark, multiple cartoons of Muhammad were printed by a paper in Denmark. Soon, the Arab world was protesting, going so far as to prompt diplomatic sanctions and death threats to the paper. To show solidarity, many papers from France, Germany, Spain, Norway and Denmark reprinted the cartoons.

Last night, the managing editor of France Soir was fired for his republication of the cartoon, while the paper’s owner, Raymond Lakah, said “We express our regrets to the Muslim community and all the people who were shocked by the publication. The Danish paper apologized on Tuesday for the cartoons, marking two times where supposedly free journalistic publications have pulled back from a valid story. A Jordanian paper reprinted the cartoons, amidst serious heat from Muslim groups around the region.

Other papers stood by their publication, as they should. On Monday, Islamic Jihad attacked the EU compound and closed it as a protest against the cartoons. And death threats have been issued for any Dane, Norwegian, and French person living in Muslim lands. Militants say that they expect an apology within 48 hours, or people will start dying. The Muslim world has implemented a boycott of Danish goods, and is considering the same for the countries who republished the cartoon.

The US has urged media outlets not to republish the cartoons. And I guess I can understand Bush’s thinking that he doesn’t want to risk the lives of Americans or the markets for American goods. But we’re back to the same issue as before, our freedoms, including the freedom of the press. How can we say we’re fighting for freedom when we don’t exercise it here?

It’s disgraceful that people around the EU have shown solidarity with the French paper who first printed these, but the US hasn’t. If you think that our lack of participation had nothing to do with media outlets around the EU caving, then you underestimate the power of the US in situations like this. What is the true nature of our society when we say we are pushing freedom around the world but won’t stand behind freedom when it’s shown by our allies?

Posted by Scottage at 12:02 PM / | |