Saturday, February 11, 2006

Iran says Israel to Blame for Danish Mohammed Cartoons, will be Removed

Ahmadinejad was back in the press today after a fiery speech to hundreds of thousands of Iranians marking the 27th Anniversary of the Islamic Revolution in a state organized event Saturday. He said that Israel was behind the Danish Mohammed Cartoons, and that soon Israel would be removed from the region.

"I ask everybody in the world not to let a group of Zionists who failed in Palestine (referring to the recent Hamas victory in Palestinian elections) to insult the prophet. Now in the West insulting the prophet is allowed, but questioning the Holocaust is considered a crime," he said. "We ask, why do you insult the prophet? The response is that it is a matter of freedom, while in fact they (who insult the founder of Islam) are hostages of the Zionists. And the people of the US and Europe should pay a heavy price for becoming hostages to Zionists," he declared.

He went on to speak about Muslim retribution, saying Palestinians and “other nations” will remove Israel from the region, and urging Europe and the US to remove Israel themselves before the Islamic world punishes the Western world for leaving Israel in the region.

"We ask the West to remove what they created sixty years ago and if they do not listen to our recommendations, then the Palestinian nation and other nations will eventually do this for them," Ahmadinejad said in a ceremony marking the 27th anniversary of the Islamic revolution. Do the removal of Israel before it is too late and save yourself from the fury of regional nations," the ultra-conservative president said.

Further, he talked about the need for investigations into the Holocaust, a favorite stomping ground for Ahmadinejad.

"How comes that insulting the prophet of Muslims worldwide is justified within the framework of press freedom, but investigating about the fairy tale Holocaust is not? The real Holocaust is what is happening in Palestine where the Zionists avail themselves of the fairy tale of Holocaust as blackmail and justification for killing children and women and making innocent people homeless," Ahmadinejad said.

And, in case this wasn’t enough to keep us up nights, he addressed the country’s nuclear program. Natanz, the nuclear enrichment facility reopened in January, is pictured here. Ahmadinejad said that it is Iran’s right to develop nuclear energy, and threatened to revise its acceptance of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if Western countries try to interfere with Iran’s development of nuclear power.

"So far, the Islamic Republic of Iran has been after nuclear research based on the NPT and within the rules of the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency), but if you want to violate the Iranians' right with the same regulations, you should know that the Iranians would revise their policies," Ahmadinejad told the cheering Iranians assembled in a square in Tehran to celebrate the 27th anniversary of the Islamic Revolution.

All this was said to a chorus of our favorite changes “Death to America”, “Death to Israel”, “Death to Denmark” and “Nuclear energy is our undisputable right”. While even Islamic leaders around the world attempt to quell the passion of protests occurring throughout the world, Ahmadinejad is trying again to whip up as much heat as possible. Don’t look now, world, but whether or not the president has seen it, the United States has a new public enemy #1, and his name is Ahmadinejad.


Posted by Scottage at 3:52 PM / | |  

Friday, February 10, 2006

Bush and the United State’s Involvement in Iraq: Did the Bush Administration Lie to Promote the War?

Many times on this site I have expressed concerns with the War in Iraq. I firmly supported the first war in Iraq, as I felt it was important to respond to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. But I have long believed that, in the absence of any overt immediate threat from Iraq, the United States had no justification for entering the country. Further, I felt that it spread our military very thin at a dangerous time, a time when our military could be called on at any time protect the nation from dire threat.

The time seems to have become much direr in the past few weeks, and still our resources are deployed in the tumultuous nation of Iraq. Are our forces deployed correctly? Is this deployment justified? A few news pieces have been released over the past few days that reinforce my questioning of this deployment, and bear viewing by any person who wants analytically questions the policies of the United States.

First, Paul Pillar, national intelligence officer for the Near East and South Asia from 2000 to 2005, said that the Bush government opted to collect data that would support his going to war with Iraq as opposed to collecting accurate data that would evaluate the risks and pitfalls of engaging in a war in Iraq. Further, he indicates that the Senate Intelligence committee and a presidential commission overlooked evidence that the Bush administration altered data to support the administration’s intended policy.

"If the entire body of official intelligence analysis on Iraq had a policy implication, it was to avoid war — or, if war was going to be launched, to prepare for a messy aftermath," he said. Referring to the two commissions who exonerated the Bush administration, Pillar said “the method of investigation used by the panels — essentially, asking analysts whether their arms had been twisted — would have caught only the crudest attempts at politicization.”

Pillar accused the administration of “cherry-picking”, selecting pieces of raw intelligence that seemed most favorable to its claims that Iraq possessed Weapons of Mass Destruction, as well as intelligence linking Iraq to al Qaeda. However, the body of work did not present these conclusions. The White house ignored reports that Iraq was not ready for democracy, and that any war would require a long, turbulent post-invasion period marked by resentment and guerilla warfare from the citizens of Iraq. Pillar spent 28 years in the CIA.

Add this to last night’s report that Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, was authorized to leak information to the media to support the potential war in Iraq, and we are talking of a much bigger set of issues. Did the Bush administration intentionally leak false information to gain public support for the upcoming war in Iraq, or did the administration leak information it thought to be true despite the warnings of key people in the intelligence community?

Finally, today Al-Jazeera published its special report, “Iraq Under Occupation”. This very informative group of articles on the situation in Iraq not only illustrates the disparity between the Muslim perspective and the Western perspective on the war in Iraq, But also gives a valuable glimpse into the frustration felt by the Islamic world at the role the United States and England has taken in the Middle East. Take a look at the opening passage for the special report:

US and British occupation of Iraq is regarded as the re-emergence of the old colonialist practices of the western empires in some quarters. The real ambitions underlying the brutal onslaught are still highly questionable - and then there are the blatant lies over weapons of mass destruction originally used to justify the war. There were no great victory marches by the occupiers, nor were they thrown garlands of flowers and greeted in triumph. More US soldiers have died in Iraq since George Bush declared an end to the war on 1 May 2003 prompting the question: Will Iraq turn into a new Vietnam eventually bringing the US to its senses ... or perhaps to its knees?

Iraq's history, and along with it that of the Arab Muslim world, speaks of several similar encounters. In the past, enemies attacked from East and West before they were swallowed by the moving sands of the region, or forced to retreat, leaving behind a phoenix-like people who adore life and still accept to die for their freedom.

The escalating Iraqi resistance seems to be setting the stage for another act which might usher in a new Arab World or set the clock ticking for the end of yet another empire.

In the section entitled “War on Iraq”, there is a section named “Deceptions & Lies” broken down into two sub-categories: Justifications and Motives, and WMDs: Circle of Lies. The first article deals with the the desire to depose Saddam Hussein, stemming back to George Bush Sr., the links between Al Qaeda and Iraq, and the tyranny of the Hussein administration. The second article tackles the issue of Weapons of Mass Destruction.

I don’t agree with all the points in either of the articles, but I do have difficulty finding the flaw in the author’s logic. Yes, it is well known now that Saddam Hussein and Osama bin Laden had a longstanding feud, and had taken blood oaths against each other, meaning no alliance between the two leaders would ever have been possible. Of course, no weapons of mass destruction were never found, and the state of military preparedness found in Iraq indicated it was little more than a nuisance to the United States unless we occupied their soil, where terrorism could take hold. Still, I don’t agree with the author’s theories of a long standing conspiracy to topple the Hussein government.

But put together, there one can’t help but question our continued involvement in Iraq. Would Iran and Syria be making the overtures they are now if the American military wasn’t spread thin by our involvement in Iraq? Would Iraq have really been an ally in an axis of power with Iran and Syria, or would they have remained the foe which Iraq has fought for over 100 years? If things continue to get worse with Iran, I for one will want to know whether our involvement in Iraq was truly justified, or if Bush pushed the American government and people into a war with Iraq with false information illegally disseminated to sway our opinion.


Posted by Scottage at 11:38 PM / | |  

Iran, Islam, Imperialism, and Mehdi: What are Bush’s Responsibilities?

I received an excellent response to one of my posts, “Should Bush Bomb Iran? To Late” from a woman in Iran named Mehdi. This is the response:

I’m mehdi, a 21 year old from Iran (sari city).Bachelor of Science (civil engineering)
sorry . I can not speeking english very good because my language is persian...
tanyour belog is useful for me...
Ahmadinejad is not my president ..........
we need people of world help for reach democracy and freedom in iran ...and salvation from molas regime.....
freedom is not free (Ganji Akbar )
" Iran is Prison with 70 million Prisoner "

It raises some interesting questions, doesn’t it? I mean, on one hand, we have just come out publicly (State of the Union) and said that we are going to promote freedom and democracy everywhere, and as such, shouldn’t Mehdi expect to receive the support of the US in her struggle for freedom?

On the flip side, if we go rushing into countries like Iran to help the Mehdis of the world, and to help the oppressed majorities find their voice in fundamentalist societies, aren’t we becoming the very imperialists that the Muslim world accuses the United States of being?

And just because the philosophy the United States is purporting is one of peace and equality, does that make the United State’s cause better than that of the Iranians? Aren’t we guilty of the same crimes, pushing our policies on governments around the world who don’t necessarily want to make a change?

I know that I believe that America’s imperialism is not correct, and that the more we force other nations to utilize our system of government the more resentment we will build around the world. Eventually, the United States will pay for their imperialism. But I also believe in helping the Mehdis of the world, and that we have an obligation to support people who can’t help themselves, as individuals and as a nation.

What’s more, I think that the United States, like Israel, has the right to defend itself, and that defending the US against certain regimes mean preventing those regimes from acquiring too much power, even if that means being imperialist. In a world that has become smaller very quickly through advancements in transportation and communication, such action sometimes becomes necessary. Unfortunately, those actions breed more nations that we will have to defend ourselves against.

I readily admit that I don’t have the answers to these tremendously difficult issues. I think you have to examine each situation, in a case by case manner, and hope that our leaders make good choices, only using force where absolutely necessary and remembering that dialogue helps peoples understand each other better, and helps prevent these situations in the long run. And along the way, I guess you hope that Mehdi and others like her are taken care of.


Posted by Scottage at 2:24 PM / | |  

The Olympics

One final post before crashing. Many of my posts have been very serious of late, reflecting the very serious events affecting our world today. But it’s also nice to reflect on something cheery from time to time.

Today is the beginning of the Olympics, and I just wanted to extend my hopes and prayers that these Olympics will go off without a hitch, that they will be safe and competitive, and be a symbol of the wonderful things that can occur when people of the world work together, as opposed to against each other.


Posted by Scottage at 2:25 AM / | |  

Corruption in Bush Administration: Libby told to Leak Information

Lewis “Scooter” Libby, VP Dick Cheney’s former chief of staff, told a grand jury today that the leaks he made were authorized by his boss, Cheney. The White House refused to comment.

Libby is charged with leaking to the media reports that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction. The leaking of these reports greatly eased Bush’s difficulties in convincing the government and the American populace to go to war in Iraq, and to date Bush has claimed he had nothing to do with the leak. The authorization of these leaks by Cheney, if substantiated, would bring the investigation to the highest point on the totem pole it has reached to date.

Take note that a week and a half ago, January 31st, George Bush gave his State of the Union. At the time, she wore a shirt which said “2,245 dead”. Today, that number has increased by 20, making 2 deaths a day. Would we be experiencing that had this report not been released? Maybe I’m just too anti-Bush, to a fault, it is certainly possible. But doesn’t there come a point where we have to question our leaders, and ask if they are working in our best interest? Because I’m not sure George Bush is.


Posted by Scottage at 2:21 AM / | |  

Bush a Disgrace to his Office and to the Country

I had a conversation today with a friend where we discussed Bush’s reaction to the Mohammed Cartoons. Bush tried to balance a fine line, to speak in favor of free speech but to condemn the Danish cartoonists and publishers for their insensitivity. And much of the world congratulated Bush on his response, some even emulated him.

President Bush, you have forgotten what this country is about, and you have done irreparable damage to the cause of freedom because of that. And while some may praise your tact and handling of this sticky situation, I have to question your actions, and wonder what message it sends to the hundreds of thousands of patriots who have died for the ideals we hold sacred.

1. Freedom means complete freedom, and there can be no abridgement of that freedom. Telling people they have to moderate their comments is to say “abridge your freedom of speech, or of the press.” Compare the values that the late Coretta Scott King represented to the values Bush showed in this case, and it truly is an embarrassment.

2. We never negotiate with terrorists. We never let terrorists intimidate us, and we never make decisions with a gun pointed at our collective head. This only reinforces terrorism, and will prompt more terrorists to act assuming they can sway government policies.

3. Never abandon your friends. While the world looked to the US for the correct statement to make about the cartoon issue, Bush chose to leave his allies in Denmark out in the cold, condemning them and isolating them from any country that followed the United States’ prompt. Our alliance and friendship with Scandanavia and the EU is important in these tumultuous times, and we should have backed our friends this time.


Posted by Scottage at 2:02 AM / | |  

Should Bush Bomb Iran? Too Late!

I was looking around at articles out there tonight, seeing what controversial topic to write about. While searching, I found 6 articles and 2 surveys with about the same topic: should Bush Bomb Iran? All the articles talk about the rapidly advancing nuclear program in Iran, the removal of the cameras, and all the evidence which has come out linking Iran to the Mohammed Cartoon controversy. The thing is, the articles are asking the wrong question. They should be asking if it’s too late to bomb Iran.

A bit over a month ago, people, me included, began calling for a quick strike on Iran’s nuclear enrichment plant, preventing Iran from gaining a nuclear weapon. But most people indicated that this solution was a radical one, and that the Iran issue could be maintained with diplomacy. Most people, including George Bush, underestimated the motives of Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, which I addressed in a post yesterday. They instead allowed the Iranian Prime Minister to continue enriching Uranium, and contemplated referral to the UN.

While the US and EU-3 contemplated potential sanctions against Iran, Iran removed its monies from European banks, spread their uranium enrichment program over multiple (maybe hundreds) of distinct locales, and removed all capability for the UN to monitor the Iranian nuclear program. At the same time, they’ve threatened to curtail oil exports in the event of sanctions, instigated global protests over the Mohammed Cartoons found in Danish paper Jyllands-Posten, and greatly sped up their nuclear enrichment program, as some experts are now estimating that Iran could have a nuclear weapon in less than 12 months.

So do we really have the capability to retaliate against recent actions by the new Iranian regime, or has that time passed? How effective could a US or Israeli strike against Iran’s nuclear program be if the enrichment is being conducted in multiple sites. What damage could the US do to Iran that would be worse than the damage they could do to US society by refusing to export oil, which they can now do since the UN cannot take hold of Iranian funds? Remember, Iran is responsible for 25% of the oil imported by the US.

If the protests of this past week+ were a warning shot fired by Iran and Syria, it’s clear that an all-out attack on Iran would provoke much worse protests than we just saw. And the benefits of the attacks would be limited. I suspect that we had a narrow window to prevent Iran from achieving a nuclear weapon, and that window closed this past week.


Posted by Scottage at 1:34 AM / | |  

Thursday, February 09, 2006

The Mohammed Cartoons, Islam, Ahmadinejad, al-Assad and the Muslim People - Background

History has been defined by great warriors and great diplomats. And while today Western society puts a higher value on the diplomat, that certainly has not always been the case, and may not be the case now in the Islamic world. The United States Currency represents a balance between the country’s evaluation of statesmen versus warriors, as 3 warriors (Washington, Jackson, and Grant) and 3 statesmen (Jefferson, Hamilton, and Franklin) are portrayed on US Bills. The fifth bill shows Lincoln, who was revered both as a warrior and as a statesman.

Other countries have not shown the same balance. Russian cities are all named after the warriors from their past. In Israel’s short history, every Prime Minister has been a hero of one of the major Israeli wars. In France, the great warriors of the past are revered in the monuments and artwork that define the country, but the same reverence is shown for the thinkers, philosophers and artists that came from the country. And Germany continually grapples with issues derived from their reverence of military success versus the atrocities committed by their military heroes.

In the Islamic world, warriors are also revered. For a modern example, look at Yasser Arafat, who was treated as a minor deity for much of his life out of respect for his continual struggle against Israel. After the destruction of Hama, Syrians may have hated Hafez al-Assad, but Islamic leaders honored him for his swift approach to a mounting insurgent crisis.

But the region has been searching for the big leader of modern times, the one person who can mobilize the collective force of the Islamic people, and create a world power to rival any in the world, and show the real superiority of Islam. I know, you’re thinking this would only be the views of extremists. Well, I have news for you: this is the dream of oppressed people everywhere, and it’s justifiable. The Torah, Bible, and Koran all say that all men are created equal in God’s eyes (I’ll take that to mean all people), and any time people are not treated as equals they wish for the day when they will be on top. This is natural.

Along those lines, the Islamic world has been looking for one of it’s own to fill the vacated seat as the world’s second super-power. They certainly have a valid claim to that position; the world Muslim population is a considerable portion of the overall world population, they have been an active player in the world political scene over the past century, they were allies in the second world war, donating previous lives to protect freedom around the world, and they represent a strong force in the UN. But no Islamic country has risen to the superpower level, predominantly because the US is protecting their position.

It has long been my view that one leader can, and at some point will, rise from the Muslim people and unite the Muslim populations against a common enemy, probably the West. But I believe to accomplish this the leader must prove to the Islamic people that he can compete with the West and that he does not fear Israel or the United States. Further, I believe that the attack on Kuwait in 1990 was Saddam Hussein’s way of trying to prove to the Muslim people that he could defy the US, and that the attacks on the World Trade Center and Pentagon in 2001 were Osama Bin Laden’s way of saying he could defy the US.

In both those cases, The US acted swiftly and brutally, and showed that there were consequences for attacking a super-power. This not only acted as a deterrent to the leaders trying to grab power, but it also made an emphatic statement to the Muslim people that the leader was not strong enough to tangle with the West. But now I believe a 3rd leader, or group of leaders, has engaged the US, this group being led Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and this time they have not been checked by US retribution, and have actually made swift retribution an impossibility.

If this is the case, we are watching the first scene of what could be, and I think will be, a long conflict between the acting super-power, the United States, and the newly emerged super-power, a Muslim coalition. I will site the evidence for my argument in the next article, and will then address the specific implications of the Mohammed Cartoon controversy in the last article.

Two final statements. First, it should be noted that of course this is all my opinion, and I hope that I am wrong. Please, I beg you to come up with your own conclusions, but think about the issue. If I am right, you may se no greater issue for a long time. Second, I am publishing these articles so they will appear in the correct order on the web site, and be easier to read. This will put them in reverse chronological order as far as the time stamps. I hope this makes it easier to read these articles, as opposed to harder.


Posted by Scottage at 3:32 AM / | |  

The Mohammed Cartoons, Islam, Ahmadinejad, al-Assad and the Muslim People – Supporting Evidence

Perhaps the biggest piece of supporting evidence for my theory is the timeline of the whole event. When these cartoons were released in September, there was some minimal outcry from the Danish Muslim population. But most accounts that I have found show this as a few letters being written to the editor, and a petition. When Jyllands-Posten ignored the protests, most people gave up the issue. But a few began writing to, and finally speaking to, Muslim leaders. For months, they got minimal response. That is, until they were received personally 3+ weeks ago by Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in Iran.

Two days after the conference, Ahmadinejad went on a planned trip to meet with Bashar al-Assad of Syria, and it was immediately apparent that the two hit it off. Syria came out vocally for Iran’s nuclear program, and supported the Iranian president’s call for an inquest into the Holocaust. And Ahmadinejad supported al-Assad against claims al-Assad assassinated Lebanese Prime Minister Rafiq Hariri. Today Condoleezza Rice accused Iran and Syria of instigating this crisis, and I can’t help but wonder if the two leaders didn’t decide two weeks ago to use the cartoon controversy to move Islamic people to protest around the world.

"Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes, and the world ought to call them on it," Rice said at a joint news conference with Israel's foreign minister, Tzipi Livni.

Syria’s response to Rice’s accusations illustrates another supporting argument for my treatise: that Iran, Syria, and terrorist groups are direction where the violence is pointed, further showing their power and defiance of the West:

"We in Syria believe anti-Western sentiments are being fueled by two major things: the situation in Iraq and the situation in the occupied territories, the West Bank and Gaza," Imad Moustapha Syrian ambassador to the United States, said. “We believe that if somebody would tell Secretary Rice that Syria is not the party that occupies Iraq and is not the party that occupies the West Bank and Gaza, then probably she would know it is not Syria who is actually fueling anti-Western sentiments."

This statement is clearly telling protestors that the target should be the US. No surprise then that protestors marched on a US military base in Southern Afghanistan yesterday, spouting the propaganda of the Iranian and Syrian regimes.

The U.S. base was targeted because the United States "is the leader of Europe and the leading infidel in the world," said Sher Mohammed, a 40-year-old farmer who suffered a gunshot wound while taking part in the demonstration in the city of Qalat." They are all the enemy of Islam. They are occupiers in our country and must be driven out," Mohammed said.

Note that when Ahmadinejad called for a rebuttal cartoon series, he didn’t attack Europe or Christianity; he attacked the Jewish people by calling for cartoons about the Holocaust. Nothing links this issue to the Jewish people, but by controlling where the frustration is being vented, Ahmadinejad is proving that he is in control of a massive violently-protesting force.

It also appears that Iran and Syria were not alone in instigating these attacks. Members of Al Qaeda are now reportedly being linked to the instigation of various specific incidents of violence, using mass media to organize protests. Hundreds of Muslims in Denmark received a text message saying that Danish people were planning to burn the Koran in a specific day in Copenhagen’s City Hall Square. The text message was false, but hundreds of people showed up and violence, logically, ensued. Similar techniques appear to have be used in a variety of Muslim communities, and the messages are being traced back, in some cases, to Al Qaeda.

In Afghanistan, the cartoons have never been published or broadcast. Most of the Afghani protestors have never seen the cartoons. But the radio has been consistently talking about the cartoons, and has been inciting the Afghani people to riot. Violence in Afghanistan over the issue has been extreme. A website,, features photos of beheadings and calls for an embassy burning day to protest the Mohammed Cartoons. It further offered wording supporters could use in a text message urging people to throw Molotov cocktails and storm embassies.

Finally, it must be noted that these are not the first cartoons of Mohammed, and that many of the cartoons have been created by Muslims. Some have been less than flattering, including the very disparaging South Park episode from a few years back, and none has ever incited these types of protests. To me it is obvious that someone wants these protests to occur now, and I believe that the protests are desired because it will elevate the stature of the people behind the protests, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Bashar al-Assad, and to some extent Al Qaeda.


Posted by Scottage at 3:26 AM / | |  

The Mohammed Cartoons, Islam, Ahmadinejad, al-Assad and the Muslim People – Ramifications

Mahmoud Ahmadinejad of Iran and Bashar al-Assad of Syria, January 19th in Damascus."

Being able to “organize” such a large-scale protest does elevate the stature of the groups we’ve been speaking of. It shows that they have the ability to tangle with the US and other Western powers, without real fear of reprisals. The groups have all recently cited the weakness of the US military, as it is spread thin with the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. This further reinforces the notion that the US does not have the level of control that it has enjoyed for the past 15 years.

Another advantage for the instigators of these protests was brought up to me by a friend: this served as a test run for how Muslim people could be mobilized in the future. It showed the leaders what was effective and what was ineffective, how long they could expect the fervor to last, and the approximate casualties of a battle of this sort.

The controversy also served as a warning to the West, that this type of event could be instigated again if Iran, Syria, or Islam in general is provoked. This represents a ground war that is much more winnable for the Islamic people than any direct troop-on-troop conflict that is expected by the Western powers. It also gives the West a small taste of what would happen if we decide to bomb Iran’s nuclear program or halt it through UN pressure, or if we try to arrest al-Assad for the assassination of Hariri.

While this controversy has raged, Iran has removed all IAEA cameras from their nuclear facilities without so much as a peep from the UN. Uranium enrichment has continued, and with tempers flaring, the world is afraid to reprimand Iran for these latest actions. And of course al-Assad has used the time to free himself from the accusations afore mentioned, and to put down any talks of rebellion that had been advanced in the streets of Damascus.

And finally, perhaps worst of all, the instigators of this protest forced the United States and other Western powers to denounce basic freedoms for fear of the Islamic world. If I am correct in my interpretations, this is the first step towards a new balance of power in the world, and perhaps will be another turning point in the ever changing history of our society.


Posted by Scottage at 3:22 AM / | |  

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Radicals are Exploiting the Backlash over Mohammed Cartoons

First off, kudos to Al Jazeera for being the first media outlet to run this story. Hasan Wirajuda, Din Syamsuddin, a Muslim leader in Indonesia, admitted what we are all witnessing: that the minority radical elements of Islam are exploiting the protests of Muslims around the world.

"All Muslims feel that their hearts have been wounded, because this matter is really contempt against the Prophet Muhammad who is loved by all Muslims," he said. But do not go overboard and get trapped into a situation that can be used by elements bent on painting an image of Indonesia's Islam as an intolerant, rigid and anarchic society."

Are the cartoons of Mohammed a form of discrimination, a form of racism towards the Muslim community? I believe every person would agree that yes, these cartoons are. Do they go against the tenants of the Islamic faith? Yes they do. We differ only when we come to the question of should they have been printed in the papers, where Islamic law is in contradiction with the secular laws of free countries around the world.

But extremists have moved the issue to one of hatred towards their community, when in reality I believe hostilities on both side of the Muslim/Western conflict have only been thinly veiled. And by moving this issue, extremists have found an issue that can mobilize the Muslim people to action, and maybe towards war. It is not like there have not been anti-Muslim cartoons, commentaries, articles, movies, television debates, and other widely distributed statements over the past 15 years (or past 50, or past 500).

At the same time, there has been anti-Western material distributed in Muslim communities, as well as anti-Jewish and anti-Christian commentaries. Remember scenes of the streets of Iraq during the first Gulf War? There were people with nooses hanging stuffed likenesses of George Bush Senior, and placards saying “Death to the West” and other pithy slogans. In Hebron, there were the stuffed images of Moses and of Ariel Sharon at the beginning of the second Intifadah. And the list goes on.

This is not a question of hatred, the animosity between both sides has been apparent for a long time. This is Muslim extremists exploiting one particular act of hatred, and using it to push people to violence. Most of the Muslims I know don’t want violence. They abhor violence, and prefer a peaceful life. Push back, maintain the peace, and do not let yourselves be manipulated. Hatred can only be eliminated by dialogue, not through violence!


Posted by Scottage at 2:04 PM / | |  

Danish Newspaper Printed Mohammed Cartoons and Rejected Jesus Cartoons

An article has come out of Copenhagen indicating that Jyllands-Posten, the same Danish newspaper that printed the Mohammed cartoons, rejected 5 Jesus cartoons 3 years ago, stating that they were too offensive.

"My cartoon, which certainly did not offend any Christians I showed it to, was rejected because the editor felt it would be considered offensive to readers -- readers in general, not necessarily Christians," cartoonist Christoffer Zieler said in an email he sent to Reuters on Wednesday.

Jens Kaiser was the editor of Jyllands-Posten when Zieler submitted 5 cartoons of Jesus jumping out of holes in the floor and walls during his resurrection, while modern inventions such as Olympic judges and survivor-cams observed him. Jens admits that he refused to accept the cartoons, indicating they were too offensive for publication. He now claims that he said this to spare the author’s feelings, and that the cartoons just weren’t good.

"Having seen the cartoons, I found that they were not very good. I failed to see the purportedly provocative nature," he said in a statement. My fault is that I didn't tell him what I really meant: The cartoons were bad."

I believe that the Mohammed cartoons should have been printed, and I believe in freedom of the press. But I also believe that there has to be an even playing field, and that all groups must be treated fairly and equally. I know that every day a newspaper makes choices about what to print and what not to print, and that these are difficult choices. But in the interest of fairness, the cartoons should be published now, to show that this was not an issue about hatred towards Muslims, but about basic freedoms that define our society.


Posted by Scottage at 12:57 PM / | |  

Olmert Outlines West Bank Withdrawal

Ehud Olmert, acting Prime Minister for debilitated Israeli leader Ariel Sharon and front runner in the upcoming Israeli elections, has laid out his step-by-step plan for separating the Israeli and Palestinian populations. The plan is to complete the fence, which has been so contentious to date, giving Palestine much of the West Bank, and much more than they would have received in the Sharon plan. However, the plan does not give Palestine back some major settlements, and it also calls for a unified Jerusalem under Israeli rule.

Israel "will separate from most of the Palestinian population that lives in the West Bank, and that will obligate us to separate as well from territories where the State of Israel currently is," Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said.

"We will gather ourselves into the main settlement blocs and preserve united Jerusalem... Ma'aleh Adumim, Gush Etzion and Ariel will be part of the state of Israel," Olmert told Channel 2 television.

"The direction is clear," he continued. "We are moving toward separation from the Palestinians, toward setting Israel's permanent border."

Olmert indicated that Israel would keep three major settlements, Ariel, Ma’aele Adunim, and Gush Etzion, which are all teritories allong the Jordanian border, in the Jordan valley. The settlements are home to over 85,000 Israelis, and are considered essential to Israel’s defense. Israel will give back the highly contested village of Batir, but the status of the settlements Hebron, Beit El, and Ofra remain a question mark. Sharon intended to leave those settlements in Israeli hands.

Prime Minister Olmert, while I applaud your realization that Israel needs to give more land back to the Palestinians, peace can not be achieved without negotiation. As long as the Palestinians are not part of the negotiating process, they are not determining their own destiny, and that is not an acceptable answer. The Palestinians do not only need their land returned, they also need their pride returned. Talk with their elected government, and find a settlement that works for both sides.


Posted by Scottage at 1:26 AM / | |  

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Iran Calls for Holocaust Cartoons to Rival Mohammed Cartoons

Ahmadinejad and Iran spoke again yesterday, and oh, how I had missed hearing his blatantly anti-Semitic rhetoric. This time, he has created a contest for people around the world to submit cartoons about the Holocaust.

Excuse me, Ahmadinejad, but in case you didn’t notice, Israel and the Jewish people had nothing to do with the 12 Danish cartoons. None of them were drawn by Jews, none of the editors at the paper who first published the cartoons were Jewish, and Israel has steadfastly refused to reproduce the cartoons. So why spew your venom at the Jewish people? Perhaps because he doesn’t know any better.

If this contest goes forward, I will view the cartoons and comment on them, just as I have with the Mohammed cartoons. The cartoons have the right to be drawn, and have the right to be published. I will give these cartoons the same attention I gave to the Danish cartoons, and hope not to show any bias. Perhaps you can try the same, Ahmadinejad, and not attack the Jewish people every time something occurs in the world you don’t like. It’s not all our fault.


Posted by Scottage at 10:54 AM / | |  

Important Poll on Iran

A poll is being conducted by the blatantly right-wing publication NewsMax asking how Iran should be dealt wtih. The poll only includes 6 questions, and will take seconds. But it is a good opportunity to say how you view the growing threat of a nuclear Iran, and how we should deal with the situation. So take a moment and submit your vote, and let's hope our opinions can make a difference.


Posted by Scottage at 10:52 AM / | |  

Hamas as Partner for Peace: Negotiations are a Two Way Street

About a week ago, I posted a message on the blog of a person named "Soccer Dad" citing recent steps by Hamas to become a beter partner for peace when they got elected. Today, I received an excellent response from Soccer Dad, noting his skepticism on a few of the points I raised:

I must take issue with one thing that you wrote:

the fact that they [Hamas] were only considered for candidacy in Palestine when they removed the passage in their charter that calls for the destruction of Israel.

When did this ever happen? If it did, I'd love to see documentation of the change but considering that Hamas spokesmen continuously say that their view of Israel hasn't changed I don't believe such an action has taken place. The PLO also has never changed their charter. (They've held two votes but never actually physically changed their charter.)

I disagree with the following too.

Palestine has to cater to the Palestinian people first, and the Muslim world second, before in considers catering to the will of the United States and Israel.

Palestinian leadership is primarily serving the interests of the Arab/Muslim world first as this 22 year old article by Daniel Pipes makes clear.

This is the response I wrote to Soccer Dad:

Actually, on January 12th of this year, Hamas did drop the section in their charter which calls for the destruction of Israel, as you can read here.

Don’t get me wrong, the group still believes in armed struggle, and in the killing of Israelis. As an Israeli American, this is deplorable, and I consider Hamas to be a mortal enemy. But if I am to fairly analyze the situation in the region, I think it is essential to recognize the positive steps made by terrorist groups like Hamas as well as the horrible steps.

It should also be noted that two days after this announcement was made, Israel targeted the two leaders of Hamas in a targeted assassination, exhibiting how willing Israel was to work with the group. A day later Bush backed the Israeli air strike and again called for Hamas to renounce terror.

I am the biggest Zionist you may find, and I gave a part of my life over to help preserve the state of Israel. But I recognize that at times we need to take a step back, and remember that there are two sides to any conflict. In this situation (perhaps only in this situation) Hamas extended an olive branch to Israel and the Western world, but Israel and the US slapped it away.

It is for this reason, amongst others, that I believe that Hamas needs to look to the approval of their own people, the Palestinians, and to the Muslim world for approval first. As long as Israel and the US continue to deny any positive overtures made by Hamas, they have no choice but to move the opposite direction, to placate their constituency.

When Israel refused to pay the Palestinians monies owed to them this month, indicating that they feared Hamas would use the money for terrorism, did the US help? No, Hamas had to turn to other Arab nations for the aid needed by the Palestinian people for survival. When they won the election, did Hamas receive even congratulations or any overtures from Israel and the US? No, they only received rebukes for past actions as opposed to wishes for a better future.

The United States needs to recognize that every country will not do what we want just because we’re a super power. We (including I) may not like the fact that Hamas is in power in Palestine, but that is not our call. We need to work with the acting government of the Palestinian people as best we can. And until we do, we should expect that Hamas will look for support and acceptance where ever it can find it.

I don't know where negotiations with Hamas will take us, if they will take us anywhere. But I do not peace will never be achieved by bemoaning the ways of Hamas and refusing to speak with them. They represent the duly elected government of Palestine, and as such it is in the best interest of Israel, the US, and other Western nations to begin to work with this government.


Posted by Scottage at 10:38 AM / | |  

Another Chapter in Danish Mohammed Cartoon Saga

If there is one topic that has been talked about over this weekend, it has been the rising issue over the Danish Cartoons of Mohammed. One opinion included a link that I felt had to be shared.

After a fair amount of research, it appears that these are not even close to the first cartoons printed of Mohammed. Evidently there are a fair number of cartoons of Mohammed that have been printed by Muslims over the years. And there have also been some less-than-flattering cartoons along the way. I’ll so you a few of the pictures, but check out the link, it’s a good site.

This picture was a miniature of Mohammed re-dedicating the Black Stone at the Kaaba, and was from Jami Al-Tawarikh, illustrated in Tabriz, Persia, c. 1315.

This picture is from the 16th Century, and is Turkish. It is named The Prophet Mohammed in a Mosque. This is part of a genre of Mohammed pictures that do not show his face, and his sleeves are long to avoid showing his hands, though his features are somewhat visible.

The Life of Mohamet, written in 1719, was illustrated with this picture of the prophet Mohammed. It is unclear if the picture is found in the original Arabic or only the reprint in French.

This is William Blake’s Depiction of Mohammed.

South Park aired an episode on July 4, 2001 that included a depiction of all the world’s religious leaders, including Mohammed.

In 2002, political cartoonist Doug Marlette published this drawing of Mohammed driving a truck with a Nuclear Bomb.

None of these earlier depictions of Mohammed raised any reaction from the Muslim community. Yes, there is no question that cartoon of the bomb-shaped turban is offensive to the Muslim community. And absolutely, we need to explore the roots of this bias, and try to educate people to the fact that 5% of the Muslim community is responsible for most of the violence we experience from the community, and that many Muslims desire peace as much as you or I.

But there are mean spirited cartoons, articles, and propaganda against the Jews and against all other nationalities on a constant basis. And everyone knows that the media does not represent the views of their home government, and it rarely represents the views of the people they report to. If we use hatred through the media as an excuse to inflict violence on our enemies, violence would be an every day occurrence, or the media would stop being effective.


Posted by Scottage at 2:00 AM / | |  

Monday, February 06, 2006

Gaza Closure: The Forgotten Story

Wow, it’s been a hectic week in the news. In my mind the biggest story in the world this week was the Muslim reaction to cartoons printed of Muhammad. But there were other huge headlines, such as Iran being reported to the UN Security Council, and then Iran resumes Uranium enrichment, the Red Sea ferry in Egypt sank killing nearly a thousand people, ABC News Anchor Bob Woodruff was killed in Iraq, tornados hit New Orleans, Alito made it to the bench, Bush gave his State of the Union address, Cindy Sheehan was arrested, and Coretta Scott King passed away. And really there were many other stories as well.

And with the election of Hamas the week before, as well as a great deal of news coming out of Iran and Iraq and the Abramoff hearings, it’s understandable that some stories get missed, right? I mean, it’s natural. The world is in turmoil, so everyone focuses on the most immediate problems. But tell that to the people who are victims of poor timing, people who suffer because Israel and the world are focused on bigger issues. Tell that to people in the Gaza Strip.

January 14th Israel received some anonymous intelligence of “impending attacks” from Gaza, and closed the territory, including the Karni crossing into Egypt, Gaza’s only outlet to the outside world. This was strictly against the agreement brokered by Condoleezza Rice, which indicated that specific passage would operate continuously, especially during harvest season (which is now). However, only yesterday did Israel open the passage, meaning that this closure lasted over two weeks.

Palestinian produce rotted as markets for the food were closed to the people of Gaza. Nearly 170 tons of produce has been destroyed or is rotting in the streets. Another 100 tons need harvesting, and will be harvested once oil is brought into the Strip, which has been out of supplies for a few days. Unfortunately, oil was not the highest priority for the Strip today. Gaza lost approximately $7 million in sales over these past two weeks.

The highest priority was 90 containers of humanitarian supplies, including food and aid from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency. The supplies included medicine and children’s vaccinations, both of which were in short supply in Gaza this past week. Additionally, there was food and construction materials, both in short supply. Such items as dairy products, baby formula, sugar and rice were scarce by the end of the week.

"The Palestinian Ministry of Health is running short on medical supplies and has to rely on emergency stocks. Drugs for anesthetic use are in particular short supply," said the report. Gaza's main hospital is also facing a shortage of a solution used for hundreds of kidney dialysis patients.

The Gaza-based Al-Mezan Centre for Human Rights and Israel's Physicians for Human Rights (PHR) issued a statement jointly condemning the "tightening of the siege" imposed on the Gaza by Israeli occupation forces.

"Since the recent tightening of the closure by closing Karni Crossing, the Gaza Strip's residents' humanitarian predicament progressively increases from day to day; many basic foods have been consumed and are no longer available in the local market in the Gaza Strip, in addition to a drastic increase of prices of the remaining quantities of these basic goods," said the statement.

Israel indicates that they have offered the Gaza a different crossing, which could be better controlled, at Kerem Shalom. The PA has refused so far, as the Kerem Shalom crossing does not have storage facilities for Palestinian crops. Further, the PA does not want to have Israel “impose a solution” on them that could have a variety of effects. In many postings in this blog I have spoken of the Palestinian desire for self determination, and this is a perfect example of their very justified desire.

On Saturday the PA issued a story through al-Jazeera about the closure and the effect it was having on the Strip, and it was almost as if Israel had forgotten about the closure all together. Immediately the wheels started turning, and 12 hours after the article posted, the crossing was opened, and relief workers rushed to get supplies to beleaguered citizens of Gaza. Do you really think this had nothing to do with protest there this weekend, and the anger that the people of Gaza have shown recently? Think again.

Israel imposed a significant economic loss upon the Palestinian people with the closure of the Strip, despite the fact that a truce which Israel pushed for specifically indicated that a long-term closure of this nature would not occur, especially during harvest season. As such, Israel owes the Palestinian people financial remuneration for the extended closure, as well as a sincere apology.


Posted by Scottage at 2:24 AM / | |  

Monday Music Mambo

A great meme, the Monday Music Mambo provides a new topic with various questions every week. This week, the topic is reggae.

1. Name a few of your favorite reggae songs.

So many, it’s hard to know where to start. Probably my favorite Reggae Songs are all Bob Marley songs, especially Rat Race, Coming In from the Cold, and Redemption Song. Also, Peter Tosh’ Downpressor Man and Johnny Be Good are awesome, and Burning Spear’s Marcus Garvey is a great tune.

2. Have you ever been to a reggae concert?

Yep. I saw Rita Marley and the I-Threes in Philadelphia in 1982. Great concert. Also, I was at all 4 Jamaican Sunsplashes at my college, and organized Sunsplash my Junior year. That year we went all out, and got Burning Spear, and AMAZING show. I saw Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers in 1988, and a score of smaller reggae shows along the way. Plus, for a short amount of time (about 7 months) I played guitar in a reggae band.

3. Do you own Legend?

I don’t. I have a ton of Bob Marley, but don’t own that album specifically. I have every song and every version on the album, plus a ton of other versions of each song.

4. Name two of the Marley children.

I know Bob Marley has 10 children, but I only know the names of four children: David (affectionately nicknamed Ziggy), Cedella, Stephen, and Sharon, all members of the Melody Makers.


Posted by Scottage at 1:33 AM / | |  

New Way to Celebrate Super Bowl

OK, now first, let me say I’m a die-hard football fan, especially an Eagles fan. If you have read this blog before, no surprises there. Second, I do want to say congrats to the Steelers, who played great today. Anyway, as a football fan, the Super Bowl has always been a big thing for me, not only because it’s the championship game, but because it’s the last football game for 6 months. My friends and I normally get together, have a bit too much fun, and enjoy the last game of the year over wings and pizza.

This year, I am seeing someone new, a very cool woman, and she invited me for the Super Bowl. Now at first I as tentative, as this is not normally the way I would celebrate the big game. But I figured, she likes football, and she’s incredibly fun to be around, I’ll give it a try. So why not?

Folks, this was a wonderful night. She was a pleasure to watch the game with. She liked the football somewhat, and was totally into the commercials, so we could laugh about them. Plus, she cooked. And folks, I’m not saying she cooked, I’m saying SHE COOKED! An amazing London broil, these really great shrimp, and a chocolate cream pie, my absolute favorite.

Anyway, I’m sold. Maybe it means I’m getting old, but I could watch the Super Bowl this way every year. I can’t help but feel a bit bad that she went to all that fuss for me, but I must say it was an awesome day. I hope you enjoyed the Super Bowl as much as I did, and again, congrats Pittsburgh.


Posted by Scottage at 1:13 AM / | |  

The Random 10

I didn’t have as much time to listen to music this weekend, between studying for the GMATs, teaching religious school, and some football game that was on this afternoon. :-) Fortunately, the time I did listen to music the random player gave me great tunes, so I have something to print up for the random 10. Without further ado, my Random 10 from the weekend:

1. Tenth Avenue Freezeout (Live, acoustic) - Bruce Springsteen {Great version with Bruce on a Piano…BRUUUUUCE}
2. Little Red Rooster – Howlin’ Wolf {with Eric Clapton, Bill Wyman and
Charlie Watts, it rocks}
3. Exodus (Live) – Bob Marley and the Wailers
4. Born to Run (Live, Acoustic) – Melissa Ethridge {ton of energy, great
cover version of the Bruce song}
5. Chuck E’s In Love – Ricki Lee Jones {Remember this one?}
6. I’ve Got a Feeling – The Beatles
7. Hello City – Barenaked Ladies
8. Smoke From a Distant Fire – Sanford Townsend Band {Another one hit wonder}
9. Celebration – Kool & The Gang
10. Independent Women - Destiny’s Child


Posted by Scottage at 12:50 AM / | |  

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Muslim Fury over Carton

I have been looking at photos showing Muslim reaction throughout the world, and thought the slideshow really brings home the significance of this incident in the eyes of the Islamic people, and how much this incident may affect all people around the world. Take a look for yourself, and draw your own conclusions.

England: This protest is outside the French embassy, and included hundreds of people with angry signs calling for violence, as well as the ready chant of “Europe your 9/11 will come.” This was one of many protests inside England, the largest of which was at the Danish embassy in London. The London protests were all non-violent.

This is from a protest in Iran Friday. Former Iranian President Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani condemned the European press for printing the cartoons of Mohammed, but urged Muslims to respond calmly. No such renunciation of violence has come from the acting Iranian government, and some think that current President Ahmadinejad urged Syria to protest violently against the cartoons.

Small protests broke out across the West Bank today, often including the burning of Danish flags and calls for Muslims to shed their own blood to avenge Mohammed. Violence has been widespread, but not organized enough to cause a serious threat to people or property.

Things are much worse in Gaza City. This rally took place on Friday, and was more violent than the protests in the West Bank. Danes have been briefly kidnapped on Friday and Saturday from Gaza, and all Europeans have been recalled from Gaza over concerns for their safety.

In Indonesia, scores of Muslim protestors took to the streets on Friday, including this large march on the Danish embassy in Jakarta. No violence occurred in Jakarta, though things were not necessarily so peaceful across the Indonesian countryside.

Lebanese protestors set the Danish embassy on fire this morning, and protestors wielding sticks and stones smashed windows in the building and ransacked it. Police eventually entered the area and broke up the protest with tear gas, but only after the damage was done.

This protestor, who marched on the Danish embassy in London, wielded a sign that spells out the fears of the entire Western world!

More protests were seen in places like New Zealand, Iraq, Afghanistan, and Germany. Dutch Islamists have posted a responding cartoon, with Anne Frank and Hitler in bed (I haven’t found a copy of that one to post yet). And Denmark shows no signs of backing down.

Is this freedom of the press or blasphemy? Are the cartoons pure hatred and disrespectful, or are they simply a commentary on the tension between the West and Islam. And will protest over the cartoons continue to escalate, making the world a far more dangerous place? I have my opinions, but your guess is as good as mine. So I would really like to hear your thoughts, and we can put them next to my prayers that tensions over the cartoons will calm down in the near future.


Posted by Scottage at 1:34 PM / | |  

The Mohammed Cartoon Saga to Date

As with any important story, every day breeds more details to the unfolding story of the Muslim outrage at 12 cartoon caricatures of Mohammed that were published in a Danish newspaper in early September, 2005. Since I had talked about this before, and because it is such an important story, I wanted to make sure I posted all the up-to-date facts, along with various perspectives I’ve read on the incident.

The whole incident began in August, when a Danish children’s writer complained publicly that he could nut get his latest children’s book, on the life of Mohammad, illustrated, as cartoonists would only draw the pictures anonymously if at all as they feared for their lives. There was an outcry in the Muslim community that the author’s statements showed a clear Islamophobia, and that a contest should be held to find the best illustrator for the book.

Cartoonists were asked to submit a cartoon of Mohammad “how they saw him”. Many cartoonists were hesitant to participate, but eventually 12 artists did make submissions, and their cartoons and names were published in the Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper, in September. Each cartoonist was paid a nominal fee (800 krone, about $130), and the artists have now pooled that money to set up a foundation which will awarn an international prize for press freedom.

In an interview with a Swedish newspaper this week, some of the cartoonists expressed their doubts about the entire episode. “It felt a little like a lose-lose situation. If I said no, I was a coward who contributes to self-censorship. If I said yes, I became an irresponsible hate monger against Islam,” one of the cartoonists said.

Another said: “I was actually angry when I first received the letter [from Jyllands-Posten]. I thought it was a really bad idea. At first I didn’t want to participate, but then I talked it over with some friends from the Middle East, and they thought I should do it.”

Initially, local Danish Muslims complained to the Danish government, noting how the Koran says that there should be no pictures drawn of the prophet Mohammad, and that drawing his likeness was heresy. Additionally, they cited one cartoon of Mohammad using a bomb for a turban an example of pure hatred towards the Muslim community, and a symbol of discrimination against Islamic people all over the world as a result of the actions of a few extremists.

The Danish government did not listen to the Muslim community, noting the freedom of the press. The government pointed to editorials that had shown poorly on other communities, including the world Jewish and Catholic communities. But the Muslim community was not swayed, and they decided to lobby other Muslim communities around the world for support. They received little at first, but that changed around 2 weeks ago, which correlates with the lobbying group’s visit to Iran, and is just before Ahmadinejad began traveling to meet with other Muslim leaders, beginning with Syria’s Bashir al-Assad.

Over the past two weeks, nearly 4 months after the publication of the cartons, momentum has steamrolled on this issue. Denmark, Germany and France have made it very clear that there can be no restriction of the freedom of the press, especially at the threat of violence. Worlfgang Schauble, German Home Minister, said: "Why should the German government apologise? This is an expression of press freedom." New Zealand just published the cartons, as Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst said: "We do not want to be deliberately provocative, but neither should we allow ourselves to be intimidated."

Some countries appear to be intimidated. Leaders of countries who have championed the freedom of the press, like England and the US, have come out against these cartoons. Jack Straw, British foreign secretary said: "I believe that the republication of these cartoons has been insulting, it has been insensitive, it has been disrespectful and it has been wrong". This from a country who’s newspapers have ran cartoons of everyone from the Queen Mother to the Pope, all very unflattering and politically incorrect. The United States also condemned the publication of the cartoons.

Perhaps these countries really felt that this was too big an affront to Islam. Or perhaps these countries had a justified fear of reprisals. Muslims have been in the streets for two days around the world. Estimates show hundreds of thousands protested since Friday. In Damascus, Syrians torched the Danish and Norwegian embassies, shown in the photo above. In Gaza, Palestinian youths tried to storm the office of the European Union in a pledge to give their “blood to redeem the prophet”. In London, protestors marched on the Danish embassy. And the Muslim world has begun an embargo against all Danish goods, closing a major market for the country.

The cartoonists are in hiding, in fear of their lives.

A spokesman for the cartoonists said: “They are in hiding around Denmark. Some of them are really, really scared. They don’t want to see the pictures reprinted all over the world. We couldn’t stop it. We tried, but we couldn’t.”

Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, president of the Danish Union of Journalists, told The Times: “They are keeping a very low profile. They are very concerned about their safety. They feel a big responsibility on their shoulders. It’s blown up so big. It is tough for them.”

The editor of the Danish paper that originally published the cartoons has been fired. A Jordanian editor who published the cartoons has also been fired, and charges are being considered. Two Danish people were briefly kidnapped in Gaza. Security has been stepped up in embassies around the world, and this story is just beginning to unfold. When we look back on this incident, I suspect we will say that Friday night through Saturday night, as is often the case in the Middle East, was the calm before the storm.

Tomorrow I will do a review of the various perspectives on this story, as it seems so many people have differing opinions in this case. But one thing is becoming increasingly clear: this incident is quickly becoming a very important incident, and one that should not be overlooked. Combined with the nuclear program in Iran, you can’t help but wonder if this won’t be the incendiary device which ignites a much bigger incident.


Posted by Scottage at 2:03 AM / | |