Europe Adopts The Danish Model

News is coming in that France Soir and Germany’s Die Welt have now reprinted the Danish cartoons from Jyllands-Posten. From the freedom of Speech point of view there is no doubt that they have every right to do this, whether the action is well- or ill-advised is obviously another matter altogether. I guess we are about to find out.

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About Edward Hugh

Edward 'the bonobo is a Catalan economist of British extraction. After being born, brought-up and educated in the United Kingdom, Edward subsequently settled in Barcelona where he has now lived for over 15 years. As a consequence Edward considers himself to be "Catalan by adoption". He has also to some extent been "adopted by Catalonia", since throughout the current economic crisis he has been a constant voice on TV, radio and in the press arguing in favor of the need for some kind of internal devaluation if Spain wants to stay inside the Euro. By inclination he is a macro economist, but his obsession with trying to understand the economic impact of demographic changes has often taken him far from home, off and away from the more tranquil and placid pastures of the dismal science, into the bracken and thicket of demography, anthropology, biology, sociology and systems theory. All of which has lead him to ask himself whether Thomas Wolfe was not in fact right when he asserted that the fact of the matter is "you can never go home again".

109 thoughts on “Europe Adopts The Danish Model

  1. Frans Groenendijk drags out the hackneyed neocon timewarp song and dance where every year is 1939 and everyone who does not see the urgency of bombing Tehran is Neville Chamberlain. Read something about Lord Halifax and the policy of the Foreign Office before you go banging about with Chamberlain. Unfortunately the threadbare Islamic terrorists can only be compared to the Third Reich (or for that matter the Soviet Union) in a fantasyland where Khomeini, Hizbollah and the death of Theo van Gogh are all connect to an ideology of Islamofascism. This hydra-headed concoction is an exaggerated ahistorical narrative where the struggle of Middle Easterners against Western Imperialism, Israeli appropriation of land, and just plain poverty and rootlessness play no part. In truth, the Islamic radicals are no different from the bomb-lobbing anarchists of the 19th century or the red brigades of the middle 20th century- unconnected historically, politically and institutionally. They do not form a unified front against the West, they have not capital, no army and no goal. As much as Mr. bin Laden would like it.

    The cartoons are a classic propaganda technique and are nothing more than race baiting and provocation. They are handy in preparation for a more strident war against Middle Easterners. Through it, ALL Muslims, no matter how diverse that group of people may be, are cast as anti-liberal, anti-Western and in the eyes that are glued to the TV, violent sympathizes with terrorists who are in no need of understanding, compassion or human solidarity. This is good for nativist Euro-cons, Israel in its struggle against the Palestinians and other enemies in the region, and the United States. There is also an election this year in the United States in need of a theme.

  2. Frans, I really don’t get what you wish to say. It reads like a description to me. I can’t recognise the conclusions you are drawing from your description.
    It seems like you are saying that most places in the Muslim world are bad and backwards places. Yes, there’s a large amount of truth in that. But what are the consequences?

  3. A number of points.

    @ everyone

    Sorry, we have a tech glitch. Please type “F” not “A” to have your comments posted.

  4. @ Claus

    I have been silent for the last 24 hours because I admit to being in two (or three, or four) minds here. I think the situation is extremely serious, and the utmost prudence and the clearest and camlest of minds is what is now called for. I think what is done is done, and now there are no easy answers.

    When this is over Europe will be a different place. I just hope the getting there won’t be too painful.

    “This is like raising a child … if you are in the store and your child wants a candybar she will scream and shout until you finally put the candy in the basket … will you cave in? Most likely not! This is the case in a nutshell! If we do not stand firm here, we are sending a message that a roar from the Middle-East can make the West compromise on their principles.”

    I am not sure that this argument cannot be turned the other way round. Maybe it is Flemming Rose and his co-thinkers who are the children in the store wanting their candybar. Lets think about this possibility for a bit.

    Are they not, basically, like those people who regard the law making it compulsory to fasten the seatbelt when you ride to be an infringement of liberty. Don’t they, after all, have the right to do dangerous things if they want to? They will only risk their own life, won’t they.

    Well, OK. But in both cases someone else gets to come along and clean up the mess.

    I never did have much time for this sort of argument in any event, but isn’t it the case that some people have been suggesting we are in a global war on terror? I resist using this vocabulary, but there is no doubt that we have an ongoing global terrorism issue, and it is impossible not to see the issue of the limits of self-restraint in this context. Hasn’t Flemming Rose heard about this up in Jylands?

    Our own lives and the lives of others may be put at risk.

    So in this sense as well as driving without a seat belt, Flemming Rose wants to smoke in a designated no-smoking zone. The noxious effects of passive smoking for others don’t seem to concern him.

    Basically, as we all know, there is a huge debate going on right now about how to get the balance between individual liberty (eg e-mail surveillance, video cameras in tubes) and freedom of expression (Londistan) right. I don’t think we will do this at the first attempt, but I really don’t think the cartoons debate is a helpful new dimension.

    The cartoons seemed to have been directed at a much more local argument about models of integration in Denmark, surely some much more local set of themes could have been chosen without anyone having the disagreeable sensation that they were being ‘gagged’.

    Now Flemming Rose has woken up to the fact that the world is bigger than Jylands, and that he was intervening in a global debate, a debate where the other interlocuter isn’t Denmark’s muslim community, or even the religious authorities in the majority of muslim states, but non-state actors like OBL, Zarquawi etc, and rogue state representatives in places like Iran, Palestine, Darfur.

    I think its high time he stopped eating candy grew up.

  5. “Frans Groenendijk drags out the hackneyed neocon timewarp song and dance where every year is 1939 and everyone who does not see the urgency of bombing Tehran is Neville Chamberlain.”

    Well let me drag it out too.

    And let me also remind Frans that one of Churchills great merits was that he knew when there was no alternative to an alliance with Stalin.

    Basically I don’t think the Chamberlain/Churchill analogy is appropriate in the cartoons case (petulant schoolchildren comes more to mind as I indicate in my previous comment), but I do think the analogy will become increasingly more appropriate in the Iran context, with the provisio that the Churchill/Chamberlain debate will probably be going on inside the heads of each and every one of us (at least if we have any sense it will).

    And just to be clear bellumregio I do not see any urgency in bombing Iran, I don’t even know whether bombing Iran would be a good idea, but I do fear that war with Iran, in one form or another, is now more or less inevitable.

    Why is this? Well I would say that there are three issues which are fusing themselves together in my head:

    1/. Iran going full tilt for nuclear armaments. These I think will be not bre used aggressively, but as an umbrella to prevent retaliation against other (eg energy related and local power-and-influence) activities. This regime could-well (and indeed due to its own dynamics, may well have to) become expansionary. Not only Southern Iraq, but equally Saudi Arabia, western Afghanistan, and, indirectly via these latter two channels, Pakistan may well come to feel threatened. Saudi Arabia will in all probabilty feel the need to develop a nuclear capacity for this reason.

    2/. The arrival of Hamas. Enough said I think.

    3/. The debate about the cartoons.

    These three issues are intereacting and almost
    fuelling each other.

    The common thread is probably Iraq. The invasion has produced these offspring. The seeds of all of them were obviously there before, but Iraq (and here comes Zarquawi, so watch out) has been a catalyst for all of them, sending them off on new trajectories.

    The Zarquawi issue is important since it is possibly he that he will provide the footsoldiers to try and have some of the anger we are seeing on our screens vented on European soil. Most of the people arrested in Spain recently were arrested for recruiting and organising people to go to Iraq. Iraq has been the training ground.

    I think most European citizens have been in denial on the Iraq thing. Most people have spent to much time thinking about and talking about oil. I don’t think it is helpful to see all this with that emphasis. The issue of oil (and of course gas) is there principally in the context of the the fear (or the ambition) that it be used as a political leverage instrument.

    But we have been in denial in the sense that most
    Europeans didn’t see the implications of a US defeat in Iraq. Or the implications of shaking up the whole can of worms in the way which has been done.

    Well now we are going to have to come out of denial. It’s funny, but Jaume Roure, the Catalan TV’s middle east correspondant, – who incidentally was a fierce opponent of the US Iraq adventure, for all the now evidently correct reasons – puts it like this : the US invaded the wrong country.

    Of course now we are going to have to pick up the tab.

  6. Frans

    “There is a lot of racism and xenophobia in Europe nowadays. It comes from muslims.”

    This does seem to resemble the debate which took place in the United States around the declarations of say Malcom X. In another post (on the Catalan Statute) Robert C likens a lot of our ‘secession’ debate to the US pre-civil war one. We do seem to be well behind the learning curve in all this.

    “There is no muslim outrage on the worst of the worst behavior of the mullahs in the “islamic republic” Iran. None. So the “religion” islam is not insulted by this acts in the name of allah and his prophet.”

    I’m not a theological scholar, but don’t the Shia seem to have a different belief about graven images of Mohammed? This should hardly be surprising since in Christianity Protestantism and Catholicism have historically fought it out over this very issue. Should we, or should we not, venerate images of the Virgin Mary, or of the numerous saints. The next middle east war could well pit muslim against muslim over exactly this sort of question.

    “But of course we can sacrifice some of our common people to the sentiments of muslims. Peace in our time.”

    Churchill would have said, I’ll talk with the devil himself if I have to to put a stop to Herr Hitler.

    If war may be coming is it really adviseable to line up all our potential allies just a tad nearer our opponents?

    I think what worries me most here is that moderate Europeans (like you Frans) seem to be getting embroiled in a war of words with extremist islamic factions and non-state actors (instead of letting our security services deal with them) rather than devoting their energies to the moderate muslims in our midst in an attempt to pull them as far as possible away from the terrorists (who they aren’t especially near) and thus make the work of the security services easier at the same time as making our societies more agreeable places to live in.

    I think the priorities are wrong here.

  7. I found it kind of odd of that those embassies were burned, in all places, Syria. That country is a genuine policestate! Why would the government let them take place at all and thenn let those riots get out of hand?

    Aqoul has a very good post on them, it seems this incident might have been a bit international posturing…”leave us be, or look what might happen”

    http://www.aqoul.com/archives/2006/02/why_do_the_syri.php#more

    “Doesn’t anybody find it at least noteworthy that the Danish & Norwegian embassies were torched in – out of all places – Damascus? That there were only small demonstrations in Cairo? That there were almost no demonstrations at all in Iran? That the number of Muslim demonstrators in Europe was – given the overall numbers of Muslim inhabitants – ridiculously low? ”

    ….

    “Syria

    The news from Damascus, however, should’ve made many a regional observer to reach for the alarm button. Syria is one of the most tightly controlled societies in the region. The secret services (that’s a plural) either know everything, or at least the population thinks that they do. Either one is sufficient to keep 99.999997% from doing something the government doesn’t want them to do. There is NO demonstration in Syria that is not approved or even organized by the authorities. And there’s no way that anybody would get even close to an embassy without the security apparatuses (again – plural) consciously deciding to letting it happen. In other words – at the bare minimum, the Syrian government let an angry mob burn those two embassies. Others will even claim that there was no angry mob, but it was all orchestrated by the regime itself. In either case (or those others in between) the question is: Why would the Syrian government let this happen? I mean – protests are one thing, but burning an embassy is quite something else.

    Again, I think that the answer lies in the local context. Syria is currently under “Western” pressure. Its ruling regime is afraid of “Western” attempts to end the “reign of the house of Asad”, maybe even through (military) force. The regime, and foremost its head – “Duktuur” Bashar al-Asad -, have argued that, should they be deposed, Syria would tumble down the path towards an Iraq-style chaos. They have also – using the latest elections in Egypt and Palestine – argued that “if we don’t hold the Islamists at bay, then they will take over Syria as well”. The Syrian public, while not particularly liking the regime, has embraced the regime’s shift from personality cult to patriotism (I blogged about it here) and one should also not forget that political brainwashing actually works, i.e. the vast majority of Syrians does believe that the “West” is bad & “out there to get them”. In this context, it is noteworthy that the slogan the protesters chanted was the generic one throughout the region – “Bil-ruh, bil-dam, nafdiik, ya (fill in the blanks: Bashar, Saddam, or – today – Muhammad), meaning “With (our) soul, with (our) blood, we defend you, oh …”. Anger at those “Danish cartoons” is as genuine among Muslims in Syria as anywhere else, but in Damascus it is compounded by a very locally-specific feeling of being under pressure and possibly attack any moment now. The Syrian authorities might very well have let the burning of those two embassies happen for a number of their very own reasons:

    1st – By letting popular anger vent itself, the regime maintains (& maybe even gains) legitimacy. After today you can say what you want about Bashar al-Asad & his henchmen, but you can’t accuse them of protecting the “Western” blasphemers against “popular sentiment”.

    2nd – By letting “an angry mob” burn those two embassies, the regime can show the “West” just how potentially dangerous “religious fanaticism” can be, even in such seemingly peaceful and secular places like Syria, and bolster its own credentials as “the secularist dam stemming the Islamist tide”.

  8. So in this sense as well as driving without a seat belt, Flemming Rose wants to smoke in a designated no-smoking zone. The noxious effects of passive smoking for others don’t seem to concern him.

    No, very much no. This is like somebody declaring your living room a no-smoking zone and fining you for smoking at home.
    If you let religious taboos determine discourse, then everything may be offensive.

  9. Does anyone here have good pointers to articles on the role of the imams from Denmark who apparently traveled to the Middle East to stir things up? That’s the catalyst here, particularly the three cartoons that the J-P did not publish, which are much cruder and much more offensive.

    If they’re Danish citizens (or even residents), it’s hard to see how they would not be eligible for prosecution under “fomenting religious hatred” statutes. Whether that would be smart is an interesting question. And what the answer to that question says about mob rule versus the rule of law is even more interesting.

  10. Does this do any good? We can hardly have a secret press. What is published here will find its way to the Middle East from now on at least, no matter what is done.
    If we want to have a consistent position on Free Speech, we’d better go through the books and strike most of these statutes. These laws are diminishing our credibility.

  11. I’ve heard on TV news that there are two embassies that the Syrian mobs could not touch: France and the USA. That suggest to me that CapTVK is right when interpreting it as an advice to the “West” on not pressing Syria to democratise.

    DSW

  12. Doug,

    The best information right now can be found over at Aqoul (Abu Aardvark doesn´t have anything right now).

    Check the comments on the other Aqoul threads . Lounsbury has a few words of his own to add about these Danish(?) imans “roadshow” in the ME. What I wonder about is the document these Danish(?) imans compiled about Denmark and what exactly they wanted to show off. From what I´m getting it included far more than just the original 12 cartoons plus the 3 “extras”.

    No doubt we´ll be hearing more about this “roadshow” in the coming days.

  13. Doug, as CapTVK indicates, via Aqoul, there was an interesting article on the subject published in Spiegel
    http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,398624,00.html

    Jylands Posten also makes the point about deliberate distortion.
    Other leading imams have also been accused of misleading Muslims outside of Denmark about the situation.Earlier this week, imam Abu Bashir appeared on BBC World showing a caricature of Mohammed with a pig’s snout and ears to representatives of the Arabic League. Bashir falsely claimed that the caricature was one of the 12 Jyllands-Posten drawings. http://www.jp.dk/english_news/artikel:aid=3533280:fid=11324/

    Does anybody know what specific images have appeared or been described on Al-Jazeera? In Arabic?

    The inclusion of the fakes indicates just how difficult it is to maintain a rational dialogue in a climate of hysteria. It’s going to be a pretty polarised world if European Heads of State are now going to be held responsible for every image that appears on the local equivalent of Stormfront.

  14. This regime could-well (and indeed due to its own dynamics, may well have to) become expansionary. Not only Southern Iraq, but equally Saudi Arabia, western Afghanistan, and, indirectly via these latter two channels, Pakistan may well come to feel threatened. Saudi Arabia will in all probabilty feel the need to develop a nuclear capacity for this reason.

    Edward, I’ve read similar postings by you elsewhere, but I haven’t heard territorial aggrandizement as being a part of the Iran’s regime’s rhetoric. Regional influence, certainly, but as to actual conquest … Iran makes no territorial claim outside its present accepted borders, and it could not expand in any direction without exacerbating existing ethnic tensions, without acquiring more Arabs, Kurds, Baluchs, etc., people not already submitted to the yoke of Tehran, and probably better armed than the minorities presently living in Iran. At the present time, separatism is not a realistic option, but listening to the statements made by Tehran after the recent bomings in Khuzestan, it is something they worry about.

  15. Doug, as CapTVK indicates, via Aqoul, there was an interesting article on the subject published in Spiegel
    http://service.spiegel.de/cache/international/0,1518,398624,00.html

    Jyllands Posten also makes the point about deliberate distortion.
    Other leading imams have also been accused of misleading Muslims outside of Denmark about the situation.Earlier this week, Imam Abu Bashir appeared on BBC World showing a caricature of Mohammed with a pig’s snout and ears to representatives of the Arabic League. Bashir falsely claimed that the caricature was one of the 12 Jyllands-Posten drawings. http://www.jp.dk/english_news/artikel:aid=3533280:fid=11324/

    Does anybody know what specific images have appeared or been described on Al-Jazeera? In Arabic?

    The inclusion of the fakes indicates just how difficult it is to maintain a rational dialogue in a climate of hysteria. It’s going to be a pretty polarised world if European Heads of State are now going to be held responsible for every image that appears on the local equivalent of Stormfront.

  16. @ Robert

    “Edward, I’ve read similar postings by you elsewhere, but I haven’t heard territorial aggrandizement as being a part of the Iran’s regime’s rhetoric.”

    In a sense you are right. I don’t have a lot of evidence, and it is just a strong hunch. I do say “This regime could-well….become expansionary” rather than definitely will.

    My reasoning is based on deduction, that they are creating so much internal energy, will not be able to do much materially to improve the lot of their home population, won’t really want to go beyond words with Israel, so the best outlet for all this is….

    More evidnce would be that they have been extensively involved ‘sponsoring’ factions in Southern Iraq and Western Afghanistan. What Iran does will in large part depend on the internal dynamic in those countries in the future.

    Also remember that Iran has been in a long running dispute with Saudi precisely over Mecca. This could surface again at some stage. Who knows?

    I’m simply saying that I am expecting trouble, and we shouldn’t be surprised if it happens.

    One more salient piece of information that I read on Informed Comment.

    It seems that the Iraq constitution provides for a 51% majority government from 2009. If the country holds together that long this virtually guarantees the majority to the Shia.

    Secondly the

  17. For those who haven’t seen it there is a wikipedia entry under the heading:

    Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy

    Claus has another post. He makes this point:

    “The most scandalous about this is that this and other recent surges in violent protests are prompted by silly rumours of coran-burning at noon in Copenhagen and that the Danish government will begin to systematically cleanse the country for muslims. Even more scandalous … who is spreading these rumours?”

    this links in with something John is saying:

    “The inclusion of the fakes indicates just how difficult it is to maintain a rational dialogue in a climate of hysteria.”

    I think the point is that the extremists don’t want rational dialogue, they want the ‘excitement’ (and I do use this word advisedly) of burning buildings down. They need this type of Catharsis, and the whole topic is now being driven by it.

    As Claus points out some responsibility for the scandalous rumours seems to lie with one Denmark-based Iman who appeared on TV in Saudi. Claus calls on moderate muslims to speak out, and some in Denmark it seems are doing so:

    In Denmark, a network of moderate Muslims condemned the attack on the Danish embassy in Damascus and urged restraint.”This is no longer about the cartoons, the situation is out of control,” said group spokesman Syrian-born Naser Khader.

    Also muslims in the UK seem to be reacting:

    In Britain, politicians and mainstream Muslims called for the police to deal with militants after a protest in London featured placards saying “Europe you will pay, your 9/11 will come” and “Butcher those who mock Islam.”

    “The placards that were on display were quite disgraceful and in our opinion seemed to constitute a clear incitement to violence, even murder,” said Inayat Bunglawala, spokesman for the Muslim Council of Britain umbrella group.

  18. A late entrance is always a good one 😉

    John asks …

    “Does anybody know what specific images have appeared or been described on Al-Jazeera? In Arabic?”

    Apparently it all has to do with the messages “Danish muslim society” campaigned in their round-trip to the Middle-East. I do not know exactly what the contents were but we do know for sure that some one amongst Danish Muslims are trying to stir up things. They have promised an internal ivestigation.

    One concrete drawing (as you note)which ended up on Saudi-Arabia government’s table was a cartoon of Muhammed with a “pig-nose” (i.e. this was not a part of the initial cartoons). One nice view of it has been one particular Danish Imam’s tongue twisting; On Danish television he said that he condemned the reactions whereas on Al-Jazeera he said that it made him happy that people were defending Muhammed through for example boykotts.

    The incident in Syria was apparently prompted by the infamous coran-burning campaign in Denmark, which obviously is not happening. I don’t know whether the recent events in Beirut can be pinned on this as well.

    But seriously … where is little Denmark in all this? I mean, how can 12 cartoons stir up so much calamity? Denmark has (like the US has been/is) become a symbol of the West and I don’t see why an apology from a Danish cultur editor should mean anything at this point. Extremists feel strengthened and vindicated because Denmark is the weak nerd in the class which can be easily bullied, but this also misses the point that Western countries in general should feel targeted here although the next metro bombs most certainly or probably will fall in Denmark. My question still is though; would we really want a Danish PM or Mr. Rose to go down on their knees and beg on this one!?

    @ Edward …

    “So in this sense as well as driving without a seat belt, Flemming Rose wants to smoke in a designated no-smoking zone. The noxious effects of passive smoking for others don’t seem to concern him.”

    😉

    I see your point and as the situation changes by the day (for the worse that is) perhaps it could be nice if Jyllands-Posten ate their pride and said sorry. I am not in doubt here though; no further concessions can be made! This is because I hardly think that Jyllands-Posten should apologize for embassys being burnt down.

    One question though to get the discussion moving, although I hardly doubt that would be a problem …

    Should we not also look inside the Middle-Eastern countries for reasons of this excalation? I.e. the structural dynamics which lead to riotings of this magnitude, governments unable to control the streets etc!

    And also importantly is Iran’s role as they enter the scene re-calling their ambassador from Denmark and vowing to boykott all countries whose newspapers have published the cartoons. Surely this must have something to do with the fact that they have just been bullied in IAEA, right?

  19. “Does anyone here have good pointers to articles on the role of the imams from Denmark who apparently traveled to the Middle East to stir things up? That’s the catalyst here, particularly the three cartoons that the J-P did not publish, which are much cruder and much more offensive.”

    I do, and that one of several reasons why I am so angry.
    I found them at Brussels Journal (http://www.brusselsjournal.com/node/668)
    One of the many absurd aspects is that the three fake images are of inferior quality. So at the very first sight you can see they are not by professional cartoonists.
    So some muslims are now raising their voices about those.
    But think one second longer. If infidels making just any picture (non-insulting) of Mohammed this raises hell. And now it turns out muslims actually draw intentionally insulting pictures of Mo. What hysteria would be required? A lot more. There is none.

    My reference to Churchill was not like saying we are at, or should go to war.
    It is about showing spine.
    (in fact I never liked Churchill. Especially after I read what he wrote about his view on the spanish civil wat in the thirties).
    A curious side-effect, amazing discoveries to some US-commenters like the ones at TCS, is that at this point it is “old-Europe” showing spine and the US and “new europe” showing none.
    Of course old europe is more into law, justice etc as opposed to power and ego.

  20. Frans

    You are making some valid points (in fact most people are, despite their differences in points of view), even if I don’t agree with the way you are going at this. This is a complex situation, and simple generalities won’t work. Viz:

    “it is “old-Europe” showing spine”

    Not quite correct. I remind you that in France – which could be considered the heart of ‘Ol Europe’ the editor in question was uncerimoniously sacked.

    The interesting thing is why it is that in Denmark and the netherlands there are people like Theo Van Gough and Flemming Rose who seem prepared to die for their right to express their views.

    The UK (old or new) has never been in this group, since the maxim has normally been “discretion is the better part of valour”.

    I saw Flemming Rose with the Iman that Claus mentions on the BBCs hard talk yesterday. He also has an extensive interview in today’s El Mundo. I have to say I admire his courage, and his beliefs command some respect, even if I think he is mistaken.

    I just don’t know how he will feel if innocent Danish people are killed as a result of all this. As I say in another comment, I think fighting against terrorists and non-state actors is the job of our extensive security services, and I’m not sure their work is helped by indirectly giving these people a propaganda weapon.

    Flemming himself mentions images of Mohammed for a childrens book, maybe this would have been a better way to start, publishing these images in the paper, with an editorial about why children’s book writers are afraid to publish them and inviting comments from Danish muslims to have a debate. No deaths, and an issue which draws in moderate muslims without giving a handle to the terrorists.

    The imans question raises another issue, the relations between religion and the state. It is interesting to note that Sarkozy has been proposing changing this in France, since absence of state funding means that Saudi Arabia steps in to fill the gap with radical Salafi iman’s, and maybe in denmark they are suffering from this situation. It really might be interesting to find ways of giving funding to autoctonous muslim organisations to recruit non-Saudi influenced Iman’s in order to try and avoid this. This issue is certainly being actively discussed in Spain.

    I have to admit I bought El Mundo (I think this was the first ‘real’ paper I have bought in yonks) to see whether they were prepared to admit that the Pakistani government called in the Spanish ambassador along with a number of other European ones becuase they published a photographic image of the Norwegian paper version of the drawings.

    El Mundo has no spine, btw, since they were trying to pretend that the ambassador was called in as part of a general EU dressing-down. They don’t feel the need to explain why Switzerland and Norway (non EU members were there) while some other EU states weren’t. There is a media silence here inside Spain on the fact that El Mundo published.

  21. “Not quite correct. I remind you that in France – which could be considered the heart of ‘Ol Europe’ the editor in question was uncerimoniously sacked. ”

    Sacked by the Egyptian owner of the newspaper!
    The journalist who was asked to take the place of the sacked guy reesigned!

  22. “I just don’t know how he will feel if innocent Danish people are killed as a result of all this.”
    O boy. Will he have to feel responsible?
    Did you read that Saudi Arabia wants to stop importing insulin from Denmark while this country happens to be the producer of almost all insulin in the world?
    Are you going to hold us insulters responsible for the death of people with diabetes in Saudi Arabia?
    Yes Edward, I am very, very angry.
    Never have been so in my life before.
    It also has to do with what I experienced in preparations for running for member of the city-council of Utrecht. Maybe I will write more about that later.
    Let me give you one example of why so many common people have had it. They say: now this nonsense has to stop.
    An Amsterdam newspaper ran a story about a neighbourhood with many muslim inhabitants. A boy talked about something terrible. “They” had built a police-office right next to the mosque. The people really felt offended. People were thinking about bombing the police-station. They did not actually do, the boy told us reassuring, but they were thinking about it.”

  23. “the job of our extensive security services”
    We can not trust them.
    They lied about the WMD.
    In the Netherlands we have a service AIVD that employed exactly 3 people who can read and understand arab. One of them turned out to be a double-spy of the islamofascists.

  24. “the job of our extensive security services”
    We can not trust them.
    They lied about the WMD.
    In the Netherlands we have a service AIVD that employed exactly 3 people who can read and understand arab. One of them turned out to be a double-spy of the islamofascists.

  25. You may want to read one of my last posts
    “Why the western world cannot defeat terrorism”
    I am being shot by all sides for it
    Maybe you want to join the shooting 😉 or perhaps you can see what I mean with it.
    I don`t agree with people imposing on othe people anything.
    I think it is wrong. But how do we go to stop it and what is the cost?
    Regards
    http://niquel757.blogspot.com

    Javier

  26. Javier,

    I´ve seen those arguments you pose before and they are all explained in Occidentalism (Ian Buruma,Avishai Margalit). Short but interesting. A lot of the Islam arguments actually have their origins in the West (Romanticism/hero worshipping/Marxism/cities vs. countryside/ Organic vs. Mechanic etc..). In the west this actually exists too, but here it takes grotesque forms of guilt/selfhate about various issues. The fringe left with their hero worship of Chavez, or teaming up with some of the most reactionary bigots you can find (who stand against their very ideals) is a perfect example of this.

  27. Sacked by the Egyptian owner of the newspaper!

    Err … maybe we should give Lakah a break. His major business seems to be airlines, and France-Soir is losing money. I doubt he could risk a bomb on one of his aircraft.

    In any case, both Libé and Le Monde have subsequently published some of the cartoons.

    These flames have taken a lot of fanning, and if people get burned, it will not be the Jyllands-Posten editor, or the cartoonists, who should be held responsible.

    Perhaps we should face the fact that all this kerfuffle was an accident waiting to happen. If not these cartoons, something else . Individual fundamentalists have a career interest in promoting this kind of conflict. As good old Germaine Greer points out in the Independent on Sunday, “Once again the fanatics have won their round of pandemonium by suckering our media into representing howling mini-mobs as representative of the vast majority of Muslim people. ”

    Which brings us to the real lesson from all this, the one pointed to above by Edward. How do we make sure that this career avenue for demagogues is closed? A start might be an EU ban on Saudi funding for fanaticism in Europe, and perhaps even some move to swamp the Mosques with subsidized Muslim quietists.

  28. “O boy. Will he have to feel responsible?”

    Will he have to. No. Will he? I don’t know.

    He won’t have to since I follow Wittgenstein in thinking there are no moral prescriptions about what others should feel.

    All I know is what I would feel: I would feel some sense of responsibility. From this point on I think it is every person for themself.

    “Are you going to hold us insulters responsible for the death of people with diabetes in Saudi Arabia?”

    Not at all. First of all I don’t consider you an ‘insulter’, and I don’t even think it was Flemming Rose’s intention to insult. As he himself admits, he didn’t know much about Islam when he published the drawings, he didn’t appreciate how offensive many people might find them (at least this is what he says, and I am prepared to take the man at his word).

    Secondly, I don’t put this Saudi Arabian example on the same level as an Al qaeda attack on Denmark, or the beheading of an innocent Dane in Indonesia. As I say, I group these topics under the heading “the war against terror”, and in this sense we need to think very carefully about the contextualisation of what we say and what we do.

    Or again, if there is a civil war in the Lebanon? Each individual has to take their own decisions here. Clearly legally Flemming Rose had the right to say what he said. This is not in doubt. Was he using his freedom wisely? This is what I doubt.

    “We can not trust them. They lied about the WMD.”

    Frans, I think this is a very problematic road to go down. We know some people lied. I’m no expert on this, but I thought even the CIA were questioning the validity of the evidence being presented. Similar things seem to have been the case in the UK as revealed by the various memos which have been leaked.

    The war decision was taken by politicians, not by those people who risk their lives trying to protect us. I think if we cannot have confidence in the basic integrity of our police and military infrastructure, then really we are saying that our democracies aren’t worth a light.

    Some people, I know, are saying this. I am not. If I was, then there wouldn’t be anything at all to say about Flemming Rose since he would be trying to defend something which was – in itself – worthless. I think he is trying to defend something which is worth defending, but is going about it in the wrong way.

    “Sacked by the Egyptian owner of the newspaper!”

    Yes, but I am talking about the French state, and French civil society. How many other papers published in solidarity? John mentions some cartoons in Le Monde and Libé, but they haven’t been included on the ‘sinners list’ which is circulating, and the papers concerned haven’t demanded that they be put there. Where was the protest about the freedom of speech from the politicians when the editor was sacked? You seem to think the nationality of owner was important, I imagine the owner probably also got a discreet phone call from the Elysee Palace. I don’t think we should be too naieve about how the French system works.

    Can I also remind you that the Spanish people (apart from el mundo readers) are being basically kept in ignorance about the fact el mundo published the drawings, and even the readers of el mundo don’t seem to be being informed that anyone hasd protested about their actions.

    “Yes Edward, I am very, very angry. Never have been so in my life before.”

    Yes Frans, I appreciate this. I think though what we need here is emotional intelligence. We won’t move any of this forward by getting angry. Rather we need to stay calm, be reasonable, not get provoked, and look for solutions.

    These solutions come in two forms:

    A) Systematic police and security actions against terrorists and those who help them
    B) Untiring dialogue with moderate muslim populations, and especially a reaching out of the hand to those who are of this faith and who live amongst us.

    Incidentally, if you put a link in a comment the comment needs to be actively published by one of us (an anti-spam measure) so this was the reason for the delay in publication of one of your comments). It depends on one of us being online and checking.

  29. “Perhaps we should face the fact that all this kerfuffle was an accident waiting to happen. If not these cartoons, something else .”

    Oh yes. I think this is a very good point. There is a strong element of ritual and Catharsis here, on both sides of the ‘great divide’. Freud and Aristotle are both very relevant.

    In one sense this needed to happen. This is why, as someone pointed out at the start I am being a bit ambivalent.

    It is a bit like the debate in economics as to whether a soft landing or a hard landing is the best way of reforming an economy in need of reform. It isn’t always evident. Look at Argentina. They had a hard landing in 200/2001, and now they are up and running, and much healthier.Italy is going to have a hard landing, who is to say that this won’t be the best way to get the Italians to face up to their new economic reality.

    So we in the EU are now having a hard landing on the integration topic, and after this things will be different. I just hope the landing won’t be too hard, and since the outcome is, in principle, impossible to foresee, we shouldn’t be dogmatic about which is and which isn’t the best road to go down.

    I am reminded in all this of the situation in the UK at the time of Enoch Powell’s ‘Rivers of Blood’ speech. This was a piece of race hate, which, as I am saying, and hasten to add, Flemming Rose’s action isn’t. But the consequences are very similar. (Am I being an ethical consequentialist?).

    I went down to the house of commons the day after the speech to protest. There were a lot of London dockers there, they were very angry, and very big. I was quite frightened.

    Forty years later, if someone made this speech in the UK they would of course be prosecuted for fomenting racial hatred, but apart from this virtually nothing would happen. Hardly anyone would bat an eyelid since this debate (apart froma few maniacs in the NF) is over.

    One day the great european muslims debate will be over. There will be a before and after. In this sense, and despite all the taunting, we are in a better position than the US. We will integrate a large population who used to be practising muslims. Turkey will become a member state (the biggest member state). Our relations as a Union with those states where the muslim religion is the majority one will improve. In all of this I am optimistic. I just hope that the road between here and there won’t be too hard.

  30. I think he is trying to defend something which is worth defending, but is going about it in the wrong way.

    There is no other way. It is impossible to defend Free Speech unless it is clear what it is worth and what it is under attack from. Now you may say that these cartoons, which did not mean to offend, were not worth causing so many so much offence. That is true, but beside the issue.
    It must remain possible to attack Islam verbally. We cannot have a meaningful discourse, if we cannot state the simple (perhaps too simple) hypothesis that Islam itself shares blame for the present troubles with terrorism. Otherwise we cannot have clear thinking. All options must be discussable.

    “the job of our extensive security services”
    We can not trust them.
    They lied about the WMD.

    Unfortunate. But they report to politicians which act upon, by necessity, secret information. We can and should change politicians whose strategies consistently turn out wrong. But we cannot expect to be told what our secret services discover. Lies are a tool of war.

    But the consequences are very similar. (Am I being an ethical consequentialist?).

    Yes, you are. A side effect of being an economist? And I find it odd that you keep discussing ethics in this. Europe’s position on the worth of Free Speech used to be fairly clear. Young men in the millions were made to die for it in the last century, or so it was claimed and believed, and we were claiming to be ready to start a thermonuclear war for liberties it was a part of.

    One day the great european muslims debate will be over. There will be a before and after. In this sense, and despite all the taunting, we are in a better position than the US. We will integrate a large population who used to be practising muslims. Turkey will become a member state (the biggest member state). Our relations as a Union with those states where the muslim religion is the majority one will improve. In all of this I am optimistic. I just hope that the road between here and there won’t be too hard.

    This is, for lack of a better word, moving. A statement of unabashed optimism that is hard to argue about. But I must point out that you argue from one past example, while ignoring, albeit earlier or more distant, counterexamples. The future is uncertain. It is irresponsible to not have a plan B.

  31. Scott wrote: “There need not have been any genuine investigation, all he would have needed to do was wait for the diplomatic fuss to die down and then quietly let his “investigators” decide that it would be difficult to press charges under existing hate speech codes. That’s all that had to happen. ”

    I strongly disagree. You’re advocating political hypocrisy and sacrificing principles of independence of the press from the government. The PM was in a difficult situation. If he condemned the press and called for an investigation himself, that would have been an unacceptable interference. By not condemning it outright, his position has been construed as a defense of offensiveness. When it’s actually a defense of the separation of the executive from the press. So yes it is very much an issue of freedom of speech.

    If it had to be taken to the courts, it could have been done without bringing governments into it. The Danish imams or whoever else could have sued the paper. But of course that would have meant accepting the possibility the courts struck down the case. And of course it meant Arab governments could not have exploited the issue.

    The cartoons were indeed mild in terms of political satire or satire against a religion. Of course you have the problem that a religious figure is not just a religious figure but a sort of representative of a community. However, it was far from hate speech. There’s been many examples of actual hate speech and racist utterances by far right groups in Europe against Muslims in the past years. Many and far more heavy and offensive than those cartoons. Think of stuff said by Le Pen, by anti-immigration parties in Austria, Switzerland, Italy, the BNP, etc. Just as an example: in Italy a few years ago, one of the MP’s for the Northern League organised a protest against the building of a mosque with public financing by gathering a bunch of people to pour pig’s urine over the land where the mosque was going to be built. That was on a level of crude offensiveness that is not even comparable to the cartoons. There was widespread outrage and condemnation, much of it by other political forces and parties in Italy, by the media, etc, but no Muslim groups went ballistic and no Arab governments made a peep over this. WHY? Why all this furore now over these lame cartoons? Just look at WHO started the protests and HOW, look at the timeline. A bunch of Danish imams react after a week, demand apology from politicians, don’t get it, then go to the Middle East governments and lie about the cartoons by including three more cartoons that were never published in the Danish press and are definitely more offensive, and that’s where it all begins to get heavy, with the involvement of Arab governments, who take this opportunity to deflect attention from their own internal issues.

    So let’s not be too naive about this and reduce it to a matter of spontaneous movement of dissent. IT wasn’t spontaneous at all.

    And besides, the Arab involvement and riots are not making it easider for those moderate Muslims in Denmark and Europe (as well as in the Arab world) who surely don’t need the cliché association between Islam and radicals reinforced. The excessive reactions in the Middle East are proving the stereotype depicted in those cartoons. Nice result! Nice way to fight racism and prejudices isn’t it?

    Sorry for going on so long, I’m sure it’s all been said, but I really think the whole context sould be taken into account, including the context of the chilling effect that the killing of Van Gogh and Fortuyin have had in Holland, which is only a stone’s throw from Denmark. Van Gogh and Fortuyin did not have nice views on Muslims; they were not cautious and respectful; they had radical opinions and deliberately embraced offensiveness and said ugly things. But murder is a hugely disproportionate response, just like the violence and intimidation and threats we’re seeing in response to the cartoons, even if those cartoons had been on the same level as Van Gogh’s utterances.

    Isn’t it condescending to just expect that Muslims should be protected by law or political intervention from any form of potential or actual offense, even when it does not translate into hate speech or incitement to violence? Isn’t is counterproductive to allow radicals to represent the whole of Islam? I hear people saying that, well you know, what did you expect, after Rushdie, after the murder of Van Gogh, it’s obvious you have to tread very carefully there. Fine. But nevermind the principles of democracy and free speech and alll, how’s that extra caution (when not outright fear and self-censorship) supposed to work in terms of integration of European Muslims? Sure diplomacy and tact and not setting out to deliberately offend are valid concerns; but not when it gets to the point we’re expected to think of a demand to a Prime Minister to condemn a newspaper as NORMAL. It’s not.

  32. Another thing:

    “The complaint that Europe responds instantly to the slightest hint of anti-semitism, but tolerates or even encourages gross Islamophobia is a legitimate concern”

    Again I have to disagree.

    First, from mainstream groups and non-tabloid media in Europe (and not just from the left wing) there is indeed a lot of condemnation of instances of racism and prejudice against Muslims, from the far right or otherwise. Not to mention public initiatives and programmes to promote integration and dialogue and so on, and then private initiatives too. So you have the racists and far right on one side, then the people who work to help integration on the other, and the whole spectrum in the middle. To see only the racism is to be a little disingenous here.

    Secondly, there are a lot of cartoons and satire and political attacks against Israel (often construed as antisemitic even when it’s not the case) and then yes even overt antisemitism, from the far right or far left or anyone. Why has Europe taken to respond a little more strongly than in the past to this? 1) obvious historical reasons we’d have to be lobotomized to forget about and 2) (mostly) legitimate pressures from Jewish communities who have recently saw a resurgence of attacks, now they seem to have calmed down, but let’s not forget about that.

    But we’ve never had Jewish groups recall ambassadors, demand apologies from the government from something a paper published, or burning down European embassies in Israel, or much less, obviously, kill overt antisemites or make public death threats. They express dissent through the media and political debate like anyone else. And maybe sometimes through the courts when this is possible.

    Why should we not expect the same from Muslim communities in Europe? If we expect differently, aren’t we validating the stereotype that Muslims are all extremists and incapable of dealing with free speech in a democracy?

    And what about the non-extremist Muslims who live in Europe, should we not be more concerned about their rights than those of radicals who react to cartoons with fires?

  33. Some people have suggested that this is basically a middle eastern, political phenomenon, exacerbated by tensions in Iraq, Lebanon, Iran and Israel/Palestine. Yes, there are more torchings in Gaza, Beirut, Damascus, etc. but, but it would be naive to think that religion plays no part in all of this. Protesters in India and Indonesia — not to mention continental Europe and the U.K. — are not solely motivated by politics. Marx underestimated the power of religion and we are doing the same. Having being born Muslim (in Lebanon, but lived half my life in the West) I know, firsthand, the intolerance of Islamic religious practices. I abhor all religions, but there is a vehemence in current, mainstream Islam, that one does not find in mainstream versions of Christianity (Catholic, Orthodox or Protestant) or Judaism (I can’t comment knowledgably about Hinduism or Buddhism). Where mainstream Christianity has long since abandoned literalism, mainstream Islam is still (indeed, more today than it was even fifty years ago) fundamentalist to the core. A peculiarity that has been noted by several liberal Muslim observers, most prominently Irhad Manji. This is providing the kindling for those fires we are seeing now on television.

  34. Thanks for that Dave. I, at least, find it useful and thought provoking. One consequence I might be lead to draw from what you have just said would be that more than a political separation of mosque and state (which is the most talked about issue) what is really needed is a transition from theological realism to metaphor. Fascinating.

    What you are saying, if I read you aright, is that ‘god is still alive’.

    What do I mean by this? Well here in Western Europe we can still in some meaningful sense refer to our cultures as ‘Christian’ even though the time is long since past where anyone could be imprisoned, flogged or burnt at the stake for declaring that “god is dead”: indeed, as I indicate above, nowadays it isn’t too hard to find theologians proclaim it from the pulpit.

  35. With all respect, Edward, I think you have it backwards. If we wait for an Islamic enlightenment (some have argued that Islam already had its enlightenment and has since regressed), we will be waiting for a long time. Your transition from theological realism to metaphor (I’m not sure “realism” is the appropriate word) will not occur in our lifetime, I fear. A separation of mosque and state is precisely what’s needed. Strictly enforced (in the West, of course; it would be naive to hope for anything like that in the Middle East). It can’t be purely co-incidental that non-Muslim Indians, Fllipinos, Lebanese, Indonesians, Thais, or any number of different Africans (not to mention Europeans of any cultural background) seem more able to accomodate the 21st century than their Muslim counterparts. Multiculturalism is getting the rap for what has been happening in Europe, and in many cases rightfully so. But the religious element is being overlooked at our peril.

  36. “With all respect, Edward,”

    Oh don’t worry about this part. I think it’s dialogue that matters.

    “A separation of mosque and state is precisely what’s needed. Strictly enforced (in the West, of course; it would be naive to hope for anything like that in the Middle East)”

    Sorry, to clarify, I’m certainly not against in any shape or form a separation of mosque and state, what I was reading from what you said is that it may be naieve to expect this before there is a ‘hermaneutic turn’ among some important currents in contemporary Islam. You yourself seem to acknowledge this by the statement that “it would be naive to hope for anything like that – separation of mosque and state – in the Middle East”

    This I take it is because you are not optimistic that we will see the hermeutic turn any time soon.

    In the west (unless you mean Turkey, or Algeria, or Morocco) I’m not sure what you are talking about, since here in Europe there is no possibility of not having a separation of religion and state since we are already living this.

    And I don’t imagine it is any different in the US despite the rise of religious fundamentalism.

    “Multiculturalism is getting the rap for what has been happening in Europe, and in many cases rightfully so.”

    I don’t really follow this either. The only place in Europe where multi-culturalism has been actively followed is in the UK. I tend to see the Uk as some kind of model here (certainly a model which can always be improved, but still a model), and hence my rather obtuse references to pre and post Enoch Powell (also this is why John tends to disagree with me).

    Sarkozy now seems to think that the republican assimilation model in France was more part of the problem than part of the solution, and part of his reform agenda will be to address this and introduce some element of multi-culturalism in France.

    Another point of clarification, by separation of church and state I don’t think we need to understand that the state may not in any way shape or form subsidise religious or cultural activities – different European states have different models here, in Spain the Catholic Church would struggle to survive without subsidies from the state. What we mean is that the civil authority will in no circumstance send legislation for *vetting* at the hands of the religious authority.

    That doesn’t (not even in Italy, or Ireland) exist anywhere in Europe, and I don’t think there is any possibility that it is going to.

  37. Separation of Church and State is a western cultural feature and a recently developed one. Other cultures either have a large influence of religion on the state or the state controlling religion.
    There are states that accomodate multiple cultures, eg. Singapore with a separate muslim family law. I am afraid from the triplet of Separation of Church and State, Equality before the Law and Multiculturalism you can have your pick of two elements, but you can’t have all three. Sometimes you can’t even have two. There are core elements of cultures that are mutually exclusive.

  38. Et Thybrim multo spumantem sanguine cerno

    The old madman really was repulsive in his racism, but he was spot on about the demographic projection. It’s a pity that we were all so revolted by his obsession with skin colour as a marker of distinctiveness that we paid no attention whatsoever to the points he made about cultural homogeneity. When he said “communalism is a canker: whether practised by one colour or another it is to be strongly condemned.” he had a point.

    Sarkozy does indeed favour a change in the law of 1905 that forbids the State from funding any religion.

    He wants to see ‘un Islam de France parce que je refuse l’Islam en France’ He wants to see French Imams, trained in France, speaking French, educated in French universities, imbued with French cultural values, and preaching in Mosques administered by French officials, so that the French state knows what’s going on in them.

    In short he wants Muslims who are as French as the French Catholics, Jews and Protestants. Check out his speech to the Academie des Sciences Morales et Politiques : http://www.1905-2005.fr/

    The sort of multiculturalism he’s talking about makes very few concessions and is very different from the culture of communalism that is the growing reality in northern Britain – in fact it’s specifically aimed at combating it. See the link below. http://www.lexpress.fr/info/france/dossier/sarkozy/dossier.asp?ida=425577

    I wonder how Olivier sees Sarkozy’s proposals?

  39. Ooo! Oooo! Let’s go burn down the Iranian embassy! And the Saudi one too, cause everyone knows that Saudis are to Iranians as Norwegians are to Danes…

  40. The Holocaust doesnot seem like an equivalent of big mo w/ a bomb in his turban either…but who am I… If this whole series of events proves anything to me…it proves how little I understand about the islamic world. I love reading the hoops others on this blog go through to say ” ahh yes…this makes perfect sense to me”

  41. Whom will the Iranian trade go to, if economic relations with Europe are severed? What does this mean for sanctions the Security Council might impose?

  42. Edward, my understanding of multiculturalism and yours clearly differ. What I am thinking of is more de facto than de jure, and the only European country I can think of that has clearly come down on the side of anti-multiculturalism (to coin a term) is France. In the Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the Scandinavian countries, even Spain and Italy, regardless of official policies, the result has been a studied governmental “hands-off” on cultural and — especially — religious matters. As long as you behaved yourself in public — or confined your misbehaviour to foreign countries — the government wouldn’t interfere in your religious and cultural isolation. In that regard, I don’t find British social practices much different from those in the countries I named above. There were variations from one country to the next, but common to all was a reluctance to actively “shape” immigrants into citizens. As well, of course, it also meant that governments could conveniently ignore their (moral, social and financial) responsibilities in doing the truly hard work of integrating foreigners.

    What I mean by separation of mosque/church and state, on the other hand, is less legal (too many European countries still have established churches for laws to be changed) than social, an active resistance to the coercive influence of religious fundamentalism. Say via education, a strict application of civil rights (to emancipate immigrant women, in particular) and a campaign of secularization not unlike some of the French model. All coupled with a parallel campaign to eliminate anti-immigrant bias in employment, housing etc. In short, an across-the-board effort at integration that combines secularist elements from the French model with social, just-pledge-allegiance-to-the-flag elements of the American model. It may be utopian, but it is a lot better than abandoning millions of immigrants to the nefarious sway of 7th-century demagogues.

  43. A new update at Aqoul, Lounsbury gives his current take on events and adds some perspective. In particular the 2nd part is spot on in my opinion. Seeing how the events unfolded I can only make two points myself:

    One is that while the Salafist extemist fringe may form a small part of the Muslim community, together they form an intensive international network which needs to be tackled. That might cause some ruckus in the short term but eventually it should work out for the best.

    Two, Syria might really have overplayed its hand this time, if it becomes clear it was somehow involved with the riots in Lebanon. The EU must also keep on and increase the pressure on Syria.

    Ok one more, I’m all in favour with Lounsbury’s 2nd comment pasted below.

    http://www.aqoul.com/archives/2006/02/cartoon_outrage_1.php#more

    “Returning to then to the crisis, my general thesis regarding the current “cartoon crisis”, based less on substantial evidence than on my gut feeling and some bits and hints, is this is largely the deliberate provocation and manufacture of Salafiste extremist fringe that desperately wants to drive a wedge between the Islamic world and … well everyone else. The controversy has exploded at present, months after the original publication, because the Salafi extremist fringe in the Islamic community (or rather communities) saw the cartoons incident as a means of furthering their separatist no-friendship-with-the-infidels agenda. I note that the esteemed Roula Khalaf, in the Financial Times in Radicals ensure explosive reaction to cartoons provides substantive support for this, and my prior speculation in comments that Syrian provocateurs might be involved in the Beirut incident:”

    “There is meaning to this analysis:

    First, there is no reason for the despairing inevitable World War of Civilisations handwringing, although clearly certain parties very much wish for the same;

    Second, the problems posed are in many ways tractable. Perhaps in the long term, but tractable. They are more tractable if the West – which is the stronger actor here, and the one that can and should take the initiative – takes the initiative while young addled twits and older manipulators in region go banging about like morons. Short-term restraint being one. Tackling discrimination while also working to smash the bloody minded extremists is another (and not tolerating either the bloody-minded agitators such as the little clique of agents provocateurs we’ve seen in London, for example).”

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