So – today it is five years ago the original Muhammad Cartoons were originally printed. I remember that at the time I was living in a students residence in the western part of Aarhus (where Jyllandsposten, the newspaper that printed the cartoons, has its headquarters) with a bunch of international students – by sheer coincidense we (the Danish students) actually had a subscription for Jyllandsposten – and I vaguely remember having the feeling that it was a weird thing to do with the muhammad cartoons.
Not that is was not relevant, the basic idea behind printing them – that artist and/or people who wanted to voice a dissenting opinion would be scared of critizising Islam/the Quran/Muhammad would be scared of doing so, based on a number of incidents (Van Gogh, Rushdie, Fortuin, etc.) in Europe – is all too relevant, even to this day.
But what I found weird was that it wasn’t a normal newspaper story, nor was it an editorial or an opinion… And I remember thinking something like (scratches head…) – “what WILL people think about this? whatever will people think???” – and genuinely not being able to imagine what the reaction would be.
I also remember being a bit unimpressed with the cartoons – some of them was of a pretty poor quality, both in regards to content and drawing – but I suppose the whole idea was separated from any aesthetic ideals, and the main point was just to prove/disprove a point.
Anyways, I think we should all review the cartoons once more – and see them for what they are;
The 12 “horrible” cartoons are really quite diverse – some are not even showing Muhammad the prophet – one is apparently showing a 12 year old boy that the cartoonist knew in front of a black-board that reads “the editors of Jyllandsposten are old bigoted assholes” or something like that. Some are without any form of humour and strangely enough I think that the one I would have found most offensive if I had been a devout Muslim didn’t really get that much attention. (It is the one with Muhammad holding a sword in front of two burka-clad ladies…)
The one that got all the wrath was this one by Kurt Westergaard:
It is of course offensive to muslims, just as the cartoons of any newspaper with any real journalistic intent should or could be offensive to some party. But it is NOT similar to ‘Der Stürmer´or hardcore racist propaganda. Not by a longshot. It has a harsh point, but not one that can really be contested – that some persons are committing horrible acts of terror based on their reading of the Quaran and interpretation of the will of Allah.
Is this worth killing for?
Apparently to some.
Since the publication a number of people have died in demonstrations in various parts of the world, the Danish embassy in Pakistan have been bombed (killing only Pakinstanis with absolutely no afiliation with the cartoon) Kurt Westergaard has cleared an assasination attempt by escaping to a secure roon in his house, and several terror plots have been exposed against Jyllands Posten. Several responsible people from the newspaper are now living under constant police protection. Just a few days before this five year anniversary a guy was apprehended in Copenhagen with a small bomb and a map of Aarhus where Jyllandspostens headquarters had been circled in.
Happy anniversary – we must never give in to unreasonable pressure. We must review the cartoons and clearly recognize that the reaction is out of proportion. We must not give in.