The Vatican has asked Israel to ban a gay pride parade due to take place tomorrow in Jerusalem. Thousands of gay activists are expected to march in Jerusalem even though violence is expected.
This, in and of itself, is not such a big deal. The Holy See has always claimed that the catholic Church has the right, the duty even, to interfere with other peopleâ€™s lives. If you have some time, you can go and read the official social doctrine of the Holy See. No, the really interesting part in the article is this:
â€œThe Holy See has reiterated on many occasions that the right to freedom of expression … is subject to just limits, in particular when the exercise of this right would offend the religious sentiments of believers,â€ the Vatican said.
And, on a not entirely separate topic, French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo (no website, not that kind of paper) is republishing the images, along with one on its cover of Mohammed crying “It’s hard to be loved by fools”. An effort by the Conseil franÃ§ais du culte musulman to stop publication through the French courts was rejected on a technicality.
Chirac, however, has demonstrated that he is not, contrary to widespread belief, the biggest fool in Europe. Unlike the Danish Prime Minister, he has “condemned all manifest provocations that are liable to dangerously arouse passions.” Alas, he has only retreated to the number two slot in European political idiocy. He also said, “Anything susceptible to harm the convictions of others, particularly religious convictions, should be avoided. Freedom of expression should be exercised with a sense of responsibility.” Right on count two, wrong on count one. Responsible freedom of expression means that when you go out to offend people, you can’t claim to be surprised when they are offended. But there is little point in free speech if it is forbidden from trying to change convictions.
Iran newspaper Hamshahri came up with an original plan to counter the release of Danish cartoons making fun of the prophet Muhammad and decided to hold a little cartoon contest to test the limits of free speech:
The daily paper Hamshahri said the contest was designed to test the boundaries of free speech — the reason given by many European newspapers for publishing the Prophet Mohammad cartoons.
Fair enough, youâ€™d say? Well, not quite. The theme of the contest is the Holocaust, incidentally called an â€œincidentâ€:
A serious question for Muslims … is this: â€œDoes Western free speech allow working on issues like America and Israel’s crimes or an incident like the Holocaust or is this freedom of speech only good for insulting the holy values of divine religions?”‘ the paper said on Tuesday.
The Guardian is running a story which seems to cast Jyllands-Posten Jens Kaiser editor in a very sorry light indeed. If this story is confirmed I think the expression would be ‘rank hypocrisy’ rather than ‘free speech outpost’.(Many thanks to commenter Hans for drawing this to our attention).
Jyllands-Posten, the Danish newspaper that first published the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad that have caused a storm of protest throughout the Islamic world, refused to run drawings lampooning Jesus Christ, it has emerged today.
The Danish daily turned down the cartoons of Christ three years ago, on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.
In April 2003, Danish illustrator Christoffer Zieler submitted a series of unsolicited cartoons dealing with the resurrection of Christ to Jyllands-Posten.
Zieler received an email back from the paper’s Sunday editor, Jens Kaiser, which said: “I don’t think Jyllands-Posten’s readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them.”