On air: Is it still too early to study the Danish cartoon row ?

cartoon burningFour years on from the international storm created by the publication of caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed by a Danish newspaper, the story continues with an academic book explaining the furore deciding not to reprint the pictures.

‘The Cartoons That Shook the World’ published by Yale University Press examines the reaction of the Muslim world to the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed and Muslims.cartoon paper

This sparked mass and sometimes violent protests in many Muslim countries, and a boycott of Danish goods.

The author of the book – Jytte Klausen – says

 “I am sad personally because I feel it is a loss to the book to be published without the illustrations. It is also sad that we have a circumstance where an academic press feels compelled to go ahead and remove these illustrations.”

Director of Yale University Press John Donatich says they took advice from a number of diplomats, security experts and academics, and this was no longer a censorship issue, but a security one.

It’s also being reported that a Saudi lawyer is seeking an apology from several Danish newspapers for reprinting the original cartoons in Feb 2008.

So with the story and the controversy refusing to go away, did the world learn anything at all? Mona Eltahawy says it’s a victory for right-wingers on both sides of the argument. However, this blogger says we don’t need to see pictures to understand the full extent of the story.

Is an academic book explaining and discussing the incident bound by the same rules as a newspaper cartoon?

If something turns into a news event by it’s very nature, is it enough to discuss it, without examining the pictures that caused the controversy?

And after the protests, and continued debate about free speech on both sides, did the world learn nothing at all?

131 Responses to “On air: Is it still too early to study the Danish cartoon row ?”

  1. 1 Dennis Junior
    August 31, 2009 at 10:18


    I don’t think that the world learned anything following the controversy of the
    story four years ago…..

    =Dennis Junior=

  2. 2 Ted - CA
    August 31, 2009 at 10:52

    Consider someone reading this book at some point in the future – say 25 years from now – they’d be asking themselves why a critical piece of information was left out and if so does the book as as a whole make any sense?

  3. 3 Roberto
    August 31, 2009 at 11:10

    RE “” Director of Yale University Press John Donatich says they took advice from a number of diplomats, security experts and academics, and this was no longer a censorship issue, but a security one. “”

    ——————- Excellent news.

    Now that the truth is out, the west can move towards admitting there is indeed a very oversized elephant in their rooms that they’ve been ignoring, the massive security issue of Islamic immigration and integration into western countries.

    If they don’t take hard actions they will be exposed for the lack of intestinal fortitude and intellectual honesty that has put them in this position to begin with.

    The status quo is that many in the western press are willing to sacrifice freedom of the press to coddle Islamists and brutal Islamic states where Western business interests and diplomatic safety would be endangered during these jihadic rampages.

    All this globalization & immigration has been poorly managed and caused massive unneeded cultural transgressions as disparate cultures are forced into contact with each other. Time to start bleeding these business interests of their profits to make them pay the true cost of security required because of their aggressive expansions into these medieval cultures.

    • 4 gsw
      September 3, 2009 at 07:32

      I agree. However, the ONLY way we are going to be able to get our governments to react is to make the massive import of oil unnecessary.

      As long as our economy, and indeed our well-being, is dependant on the oil reserves of saudi etc., no government is going to risk insulting them.

      Our own supplies are sufficient for chemical engineering etc. but we need technological advances in solar power and efficient batteries to run private transportation vehicles and electrical power stations.

      As long as pissing off the east means the west could be sitting in the dark, nothing decisive can, or will, be done.

  4. August 31, 2009 at 11:17

    My question has always been why did the artist feel compelled to create something that he knew would be offensive to others? Sure, in his country he has the right to express himself any way he wants. But there is a difference between what is legal and what is moral. It is wrong to insult what others hold dear, such as their family members, their religious beliefs.

    As for the reaction to the cartoons… outrageous!

    • 6 Tom K in Mpls
      August 31, 2009 at 16:23

      The censoring of science and history is wrong. This is as absurd as Holocaust denial. It needs to be recorded. The book features many other cartoons. The one receiving attention is a side note.

  5. 7 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 31, 2009 at 11:58

    I think some muslims over- reacted. It’s simple if you believe in a god who is all powerful then the question is- Why can’t he(god) take care of himself and those he loves like prophet Mohammed? I’ll really be concerned if I believed in a god who wants me to constantly defend him and his prophets using violence against fellow humans.

    A most disturbing issue is this- If all the other religions react the way some muslims react to anything said about their prophets or god this world will be in perpetual war.

  6. 8 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 31, 2009 at 12:04

    The Cartoons That Shook the World

    After reading this it just shows that in the world of news not everything is as simple as it appears. There always seem to be undertones of geopolitical intrigue and finance. Hence its interesting to go below the surface of these issues.

  7. August 31, 2009 at 12:04

    So, let me ask; what lesson was it that the west had to learn then? Just a few days ago sweden did what seemed outrageous. I won’t dwell much on it now. However, along side enjoying your freedom, remember it should never infringe on another’s freedom. The problem in the west is that, it only seems to be their freedom that matters and not other countries. Many of them don’t know the value of freedom, since those who actually sacrificed for it are no more.

    And truth be told, today the western world doesn’t appreciate the value of freedom, what a shame.

    • 10 Joshua
      August 31, 2009 at 19:01

      The west doesn’t need to back down and coward away from ratical threats. By doing so, we lose freedoms. I love, and have a great appreciation for, the freedoms I have here “in the west”. and allowing fear to censor us goes against what people have fought and died for.

  8. August 31, 2009 at 12:12

    Salaam… As a practicing Muslim person who considers the Prophet Mohammed the greatest, dearest, and most precious creature in this universe, I do believe that any means of protesting against the publication of those totally stupid, pointless, outrageous and absurd cartoons (if fully peaceful and non-violent) is 100% legitimate, but also as a person who holds scientific research dear to her heart I do believe that the publication of those cartoons in that book you guys are talking about is justified and shouldn’t be condemned by anyone at all if it had happened, b/c the story here is completely different, it’s not about insult, offence, and trying to prove a totally stupid and nonsense point, no, it is about scientific research and knowledge, anyway, I guess that the only winners in the midst of all this mess and madness are fanatics, on both sides of the argument. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad.

  9. 12 VictorK
    August 31, 2009 at 12:24

    @Nanook: you want to have it both ways – freedom to express oneself so long as nobody is offended. An emasculated liberty. The Muslim response was not outrageous, so long as it happened in a Muslim country. The outrage lay, and lies, in Muslims trying to force West-erners to honour what is sacred to Islam. Yale might as well declare that it’s converted to Islam and that that’s why it won’t be reproducing the illustrations, which are ‘haram’. Same diference.
    *Muslims whose sensibilities are repulsed by living in a Western society have the simple option of going to live in one of the world’s many Islamic countries, where they ought to be much happier.
    *The lesson that Muslims should take from the Danish incident is that they don’t have to put up with that kind of thing & can leave infidel societies like Denmark as easily as they came there. Or dare they make the true but supremely blasphemous admission that it is Muslim societies that they obviously find repugnant, and repugnant precisely because of the presence and overwhelming influence of Islam?

  10. 13 Jennifer
    August 31, 2009 at 12:46

    Re: And after the protests, and continued debate about free speech on both sides, did the world learn nothing at all?

    We learned don’t mess with muhammad. It’s the only thing muslims are willing to protest for…

    And, what Roberto said too.

  11. 14 Steve in Boston
    August 31, 2009 at 12:56

    The cartoons should not be re-published because they are insulting to Muslims, who are the fastest growing religion in Europe.


    To avoid further violence the West must learn to peacefully change and adapt to the ways of Islam, as Muslims gradually change the face of Europe through immigration and colonization.

    August 31, 2009 at 13:05

    Cartoons of the prophet Mohamed are not Mohamed himself. This world too is not for Muslim everywhere and our planet is a biodiversity one. Having said that, what one reads they do so by choice. The same applies to what one wants to views. If you don’t like don’t pay attention to the material.

    Religious grave diggers? They are on both sides for reasons most of us do not know. Religion is a mystery to me. However I have constantly been listening to Muslim preachers distorting Bible teachings in my town and no one asks them to stop. There is no profit I would get by seeing cartoons of Mohamed or anyone else nor do I understand the furor of those opposed to those materials.

  13. 16 patti in cape coral
    August 31, 2009 at 13:32

    I find this whole issue really annoying. It isn’t the first time a group of people are offended at something published. Let’s assume God really exists and Mohammed is his prophet for a moment (for those that don’t already believe). If God is our creator, he must have a sense of humor, because we have one as well. Also, if he is not amused by the cartoon, or any other jokes, I’m sure he is able to make his displeasure known all by himself. I mean, he is God, right?

    Another point is, how much sense does it make to right a book about something and not include the something it is about in the book? Ugh, this is almost as frustrating as the christian groups who were banning the Harry Potter books before they actually read one!

    • August 31, 2009 at 14:20

      Salaam Patti sweetie… After reading your comment, I do have a number of points to direct at you : If I do love someone so dearly and consider him/her to be the most important and precious thing in the whole world to me, then of course any mean, stupid, senseless and cheap insult to that someone will seriously outrage me and make me angry and upset, and if I express my anger and rage in a fully peaceful and non-violent manner then it is my legitimate right eh ?! I just want you to think of how much you love and care about your parents, your children, your husband, ect., ect., imagine how angry and upset you’d become if anything wrong happens to them or if someone hurts them or senselessly and cheaply offends them (God forbid!) then please multiply the amount of all that love and passion by billions of times, then what you get is how much I, Lubna who lives in Baghdad and proudly practices Islam, love the Prophet Mohammed, so I do hope that my stances as a practicing Muslim woman regarding this issue are now understandable to you… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna…

      • 18 patti in cape coral
        August 31, 2009 at 15:07

        Salaam Lubna – I’m afraid there is too big a gulf in my thinking and yours to be bridged, and we will just have to agree to disagree on this one. There is a very big difference in loving God, who is omnicient, eternal, all-powerful, and needs absolutely nothing from me, and loving my family, who are not all-powerful, eternal, or perfect, and actually do need and depend on met. And you are absolutely right, my first impulse when someone cheaply offends my children or my family is to defend them; however, after a certain age, I had to stand back no matter how difficult it was, and let my kids defend themselves, because I won’t always be here to do it. If my daughter can take care of herself, how much more can God?

        It is absolutely your right to express your anger in a peaceful manner, as it is the right of everyone else to express their opinions in a peaceful manner, even if it offends. However, you did convey very well with your analogy how strongly you feel, and I can respect that.

      • 19 Bent
        August 31, 2009 at 20:07

        Salam Alaikum

        I understand your emotions very well when you wrote: ” If I do love someone so dearly and consider him/her to be the most important and precious thing in the whole world to me, then of course any mean, stupid, senseless and cheap insult to that someone will seriously outrage me and make me angry and upset,”

        I am sure many Christians felt exactly like you when they saw angry Muslims burning 1000s of pieces of cloth decorated with the cross; in other word the Danish flag, with a red cross on a white background.

        I am sure you see can the absurdity here that Muslims burn and destroy the “most important and precious thing in the whole word” for Christians: THE CROSS to protest the cartoons? Where were the respect for sacred images during the burning and desecrations (like tramping on the Cross) as Muslims demands?

        Did you know that an Egyptian newspaper called El Fagr published the cartoons in its 21st edition, dated October 17, 2005,on its front page (one cartoon) and page 17, a total of six cartoons portraying the Prophet. This were during the Ramadan and nobody was offended at all.

        Something to ponder don’t you agree?


  14. 20 Maccus Germanis
    August 31, 2009 at 14:09

    This line of questioning does, four years later, exactly mirror the climate of repression that first led to Jyllands Posten’s call for artists. A writer of what was intended as a children’s book detailing the life of mohamed, relayed their difficulty in finding an artist willing to illustrate. Covering that story, Jyllands Posten checked this claim experientially by calling for artists to participate. Some (principally 2) of the original 12 cartoons were pointedly critical of islam, but one in particular was critical of the newspaper, with the balance being rather innocuous. In determining whether one agrees with my assessment, one may appreciate the reprinting of the discussed illustrations. But still publishers yield to fear.

  15. 21 Methusalem
    August 31, 2009 at 14:56

    Yes! The World has learned a great deal since, which is, people could say anything they want against Christians, Jews, Budhists, Hindus, but, they must remain silent if they think something negative about Muslims. Fear rules the World!

  16. 22 Ann
    August 31, 2009 at 15:08

    It really saddens me that there seems to be a growing climate of ridicule, mockery, satire and offensiveness in the West towards Islam and even religion in general. I think this approach is flawed in that it only creates more defensiveness, feelings of persecution, hatred and ultimately rage and violence. If the West wants to be seen as rational, tolerant and capable of naunced debate, then it really needs to get it’s act together and start behaving in a grown up manner. Of course offense caused by cartoons such as these does not justify the terrible reactions that we have seen. No one in their right mind would say that violence like that is morally justified, but I would suggest however that deliberately provoking offense is not a wise nor morally just strategy either.

  17. 23 anu_D
    August 31, 2009 at 15:11

    The pictures are not published not because the book is sufficient even without the pictures…as some people are making failed attempts to justify….

    BUT because of the fear of the right winger Islamists threatening violence, boycott and Fatwas.

    Moral of the story…..threatening works!

  18. 24 Denise in Chicago
    August 31, 2009 at 15:13

    Who would buy the book without being able to see the cartoons? You can’t put the issue in its proper context. If muslims would be offended by the cartoon image, they can simply not buy it. It’s time we stopped walking on eggshells where muslims are concerned.

  19. 25 T
    August 31, 2009 at 15:18

    No. It’s one thing to practice your faith. But isn’t part of many faiths showing tolerance for other views?

  20. 26 helen in usa
    August 31, 2009 at 15:24

    I think you can accurately and freely examine and discuss any item or idea without stating the subject directly or having a concrete representation in the subject matter. After all it does severely limit the conversation when the one point that would consume everyone’s attention is how offensive it is;there is always more to a topic than the obvious;more to it than the most intense characteristic. It actually expands the conversation and allows attention to be focused on other important themes that are never considered when the only idea people concentrate on is upset. Sex might be a more intense feature in a loving relationship;but if you never gave a word to someone’s beautiful eyes or beautiful nature you really lose sight of the whole.

  21. 27 Bert - USA
    August 31, 2009 at 15:32

    I am outraged by the Islamic outrage. I am outraged that western values are being corrupted for the sake of pandering.

    The West has a long history of ridiculing what some revere. Just look at political campaigns to see this ridicule in action. It is essential to preserve this tradition, or risk sinking to the depths of those mores we gladly left behind in the Middle Ages.

    Yale shows it has no spine.

    • 28 patti in cape coral
      August 31, 2009 at 16:01

      @ Bert – I agree that here in the US there is a more irreverent attitude towards most things in general, and religion in particular, just watch Family Guy once or twice! I don’t think this is just directed only at Islam or muslims. I can’t speak for the Danes or the Swedes, however.

  22. August 31, 2009 at 15:32

    I cannot see the point in writing a book about a specific and then deliberately leave out the specific.Other posts say the same. To answer the question,no, it is not too early,why should it be?
    Lubna seems a breath of fresh air,as does Deryck and VictorK. Why should I have to respect religeon? The human brain will not accept a contradiction,therefore, if one religeon, is the one and only,all others must be wrong and cannot deserve respect due to that fact. If faith is offended it could suggest that that faith is not as srong as it should be.

    Apologies to Lubna,I addressed you as a he in a past post. You mentioned all your girlfriends and I took you for an Iraqi Don Juan! The penny dropped later. Sorry.

    • August 31, 2009 at 17:43

      Salaam David, and thanks a million for the good laugh my good friend ! :)… Anyway, I have always thought that it is actually so obvious that I am a woman, not a man, may be because my blog posts are always “girlie” in attitude, like using “With my love”, “Yours forever”, and stuff alike, but it is really alright David, never mind ! :):)… I do love the idea of an “Iraqi Don Juan” though, it is quite interesting eh ?! :):)… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  23. 31 Ann
    August 31, 2009 at 15:37

    @Denise in Chicago – It’s time we stopped walking on eggshells where muslims are concerned.

    I don’t see much walking on eggshells from where I am standing. But I do see a lot of prejudice, ignorance and fear of Islam. And a great deal of stereotyping. The vast majority of Muslims are law abiding and tolerant people. Of course there are extremists and there are human rights abuses with Islam that these should be addressed from within and outwith the Muslim world. But engaging in deliberate provocation seems counter productive – if we truly want to bring an end to Islamic extremism, mocking and insulting Muslim reverence of the Prophet Mohammed is not the way to go about it.

    • 32 Denise in Chicago
      August 31, 2009 at 18:59

      Ann, the fact that this book is being published without the cartoons clearly indicates ‘walking on eggshells’. So what if someone wishes to engage in deliberate provocation or even mock and insult the muslim religion? If muslims can only respond with extremism to any slight, real or perceived, that’s pretty ridiculous.

  24. August 31, 2009 at 15:37

    Religion often creates controversy. The cartoons ignited Islamic sentiment unnecessarily. Obviously the time is still not ripe to publish these pictures as the publication would unleash massive anger among the Muslim community. Rightly or wrongly, one should be extremely cautious as this could be a religious time-bomb which could inflame hatred and encourage xenophobia. Nobody in their right minds would want a clash of cultures in the 21st century. We should learn to respect the feelings of others.

  25. 34 steve
    August 31, 2009 at 15:53

    @ Ann

    And in response, they violently protested and burned flags that had christian symbols on them. is that exactly being “tolerant”? What you write is proof off the eggshell approach.

  26. 35 Mohamed Malash
    August 31, 2009 at 16:01

    As Muslims, we had hoped the world would have understood our opinion after the Danish Cartoons. It seems not. Our message was clear “Any depiction, whether good or evil, of the prophet will offend Muslims and Islam”. So why bring it up again. The author, who I think is Danish, has no real reason to open this subject again and Yale University went through the proper steps by not publishing these images. Why disgrace 1.5 billion people as a view to the actions of a minority ? We hope the world media will not react to these issues in a gentle way due to the pressure of security risks and so on, but out of respect and trying to understand the real Muslim upbringing and the love we have for our prophet.

    • 36 David Meyer
      August 31, 2009 at 21:51


      What should Christians do when Christ is continually mocked? Even the Muslims call Christ a prophet, do they not? Yet where is the outrage? I love Christ, yet I forgive when people mock Him and me for my faith.

      Muslims who would react violently in this manner need to realize that the world is tired of this type of behavior. If I bring a Bible to Saudi Arabia I risk getting my head cut off. If you bring a Koran to the US, we welcome you and your right to read it, share it and everything else…and you need not fear.

      To many other people, the Muslim intention is to invoke fear. I’ve spent a great deal of time in the Muslim world, and I have many close friends from there. I understand the love you have for your Prophet, but I don’t respect anyone that riots and makes threats because they don’t like what someone says or does.



  27. August 31, 2009 at 16:02

    Salaam again Patti sweetie… Just to make this point clear : I wasn’t at all trying by any means to compare Allah (God-the Creator) to immortal creatures… The Prophet Mohammed according to my faith was created by Allah-God, and he’s a servant of God… And it’s not really about defending someone who cannot otherwise stand up for him/herself, when I protest strongly against those cartoons I do it b/c it does really mean a huge deal to me, and hopefully it’ll mean something, even very little both to Allah and to his most loyal servant, the Prophet Mohammed… When I made my analogy in my reply to your original comment, I was trying to make you understand the real amount of love and passion present in my heart for the Prophet Mohammed, and b/c I do love him and adore him that much, I have to stand up and protest, shout by my loudest voice “No, stop, enough is enough, ANYTHING BUT MOHAMMED!”, and I do all of that b/c it does really mean a great deal to me, and hopefully it’ll mean something to the Prophet too (which is really the greatest award!), whether the Prophet can or cannot stand up for himself isn’t even an issue here, that’s me Patti, that’s how I love and that’s how I express my love and passion. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  28. August 31, 2009 at 16:04

    Lee Siegel has written a column on the Daily Beast on this subject. He thinks it would have been “criminally negligent” to publish the pictures.

  29. 39 Maccus Germanis
    August 31, 2009 at 16:26

    What of “Fitna?” Siegel’s assertions are more prejudiced than any of the supposed right-wingers. If I recall correctly, “Fitna” was broadcast with relatively little unrest immediately following. It would almost seem that despite what the tradition has been, recent demonstrations of such, and the assumptions made by Siegel, nominal muslims really do have enough independent thought to choose to honor the laws to which they’ve immigrated. But as, Steyn did correctly point out, you can’t assimilate to a nullity. The sooner the West makes it clear that freedom of speech is non-negotiable, the more time shall be afforded to nominal muslims to get accustomed to that idea.

  30. August 31, 2009 at 16:28

    How could a book be written titled “The Cartoons that Shook the World” without the cartoons? And the excuse of the issue being a security threat is a lame excuse for censorship. If the issue is such a security issue, the book should never have been written then? The excuse of security concerns remind one similar security concerns that led to the silencing of the press in The Gambia for example.
    Maybe what all this points out is that there is a sacred non-violable boundary between what falls in the domain of free speech and so could be discussed freely, and what falls in the faith domain and so not open to free discourse.
    If this book is edited and re-printed in 2029, the editors will take a wise cue from the editors of today not to include the cartoons. Perhaps if Yale hadn’t published this book now, the world could be open-minded enough for someone else to publish the full book (with the cartoons years to come), but now no one will.
    Thats science in progress; only backward.

  31. 41 Chip Shirley
    August 31, 2009 at 16:28

    If anyone published the same kind of hateful crtoons about Jesus or Moses the outrage would be even stronger.

    The only reason anybody would bother bringing this up again is to upset Muslim people.

    • August 31, 2009 at 16:42

      Beside the point that there isn’t a portrait of Jesus and Moses, it may interest you to know that Jesus has been the subject of some lame jokes and debasing publication, such as Dan Brown’s DaVinci code and a lot of others.
      I am not saying the Christian community welcome this, but on my part, I laugh about them and I get my description of Jesus from the Bible not from the cartoon page of the newspapers.

    • 43 David Meyer
      August 31, 2009 at 21:54


      NOBODY gets bent out of shape when Jesus or Moses gets mocked. Christ called us to forgive. He did not call us to riot and threaten people. The mocking of Christ has gone on for years, in the open, and nobody has any problem with it, accept for Christians, and we’re told to shut up and get back under our rocks.


  32. 44 Ann
    August 31, 2009 at 16:29


    I didn’t say that the reactions such as the one you are describing were tolerant. I am not in any way defending the violent reactions. I am saying however that I believe it is offensive, immature stupidity to deliberately provoke hatred in the way these cartoons did. And I can assure you that I am not ‘walking on eggs shells’ – I have no fear of Islam as a religion. But these cartoons serve no purpose other than stoke up more rage and offend all Muslims regardless of whether they are law abiding or extremists. I personally feel that a lot more respect, tolerance and listening would go a long way in defusing the tension between the Muslim world and the West.

  33. 45 Linda from Italy
    August 31, 2009 at 16:30

    I think the argument has been put pretty well already by Deryck and Patti et. al, but here’s my three-pennyworth.
    Everyone should be free to believe what they want: the Earth is flat, the Moon is made of green cheese, an old man with a long beard sitting on a cloud somewhere is to be worshiped, etc. etc. BUT, kindly keep your beliefs as your own business, don’t ram them down other people’s throats and allow the rest of us to ridicule them as we please, if the law of the land we live in so permits.
    I live in Europe where the media is supposedly free, OK in Italy, there are some issues of control, but even if a certain Italian Prime Minister wants to take the world’s press to court, that is precisely what he does. Even he doesn’t indulge in screaming, yelling, stone throwing, flag burning and other acts of violence.
    Lubna, I see your point about feeling hurt by others ridiculing someone you love, and by extension insulting you, but how on Earth are we ever going to get on with each other and combat the really serious threat facing our own planet, a situation largely caused by the human race, definitely not an “act of God”, if we are so incredibly thin skinned? That’s no different from someone getting into a punch-up in a pub if some drunk insults his wife (or vice versa), can’t all you ostensibly non-fanatical Muslims just rise above the insult, secure in the knowledge that you’ll be going to Heaven and the equivalent of the pub drunk is going to burn in Hell?

    • August 31, 2009 at 16:57

      Salaam Linda sweetie… I think that I have made myself perfectly clear about this matter in my two replies to Patti, but yet again, let me repeat what I said earlier that ONLY fully peaceful, non-violent forms of protesting are legitimate to me, also there’s a huge difference between protesting and spreading hatred… You obviously do not believe in God, and I do believe in God, yet you and I are totally able to communicate our differences in a highly respectful and understanding manner, and the same thing goes for me and Patti, which is actually a supermarvellous thing eh ?! :)… As long as you show respect for me and for my values then you can expect from me to do the same for you, only by mutual respect this world can be a better place… With my love… Yours forever, Lubna in Baghdad. PS, I must go and break my fasting, bye ! 🙂 forever, Lubna in Baghdad…

  34. 48 Bert - USA
    August 31, 2009 at 16:32

    I read the article on supposed “criminal negligence,” and it sounds like pandering in so many words.

    Here is a simple suggestion. Why couldn’t a special edition of the book be published for the sake of Moslem readership? Simply provide a version with the cartoon removed. Similar to Catholic Bibles, which are slightly changed from the King James version, and include an imprimatur.

    Mohammed Malash, as you say, “we had hoped the [Islamic] world would have understood our opinion after the Danish Cartoons.” Our opinion is, those who want to live in the west have to live by western customs. Those who don’t want to, are certainly free not to immigrate.

    • 49 Tom K in Mpls
      August 31, 2009 at 16:44

      They believe that the image is severe sacrilege, the where and why doesn’t matter. The simple fact that it exists is enough. If you draw a stick figure and label it as Mohamed you will have done the exact same wrong as the cartoon.

    • August 31, 2009 at 16:56

      Yours is the wisest suggenstion about this issue. There should be a version for the anti-cartoon folk and another version for the free speech camapaigners just as there are translations to other languages.

  35. 51 patti in cape coral
    August 31, 2009 at 16:33

    @ Lubna – OK, I understand how you feel, even though I do not agree, not being a religious person myself (believe in God, don’t believe in religion). Also, as I mentioned above, I have grown up in the US, where there is a more irreverent attitude towards most things, so obviously, that colors my views as well.

    Also, I mistakenly mentioned the Swedes in one of my posts. I do realize it is a different situation altogether, don’t know what I was thinking.

  36. 52 John in Salem
    August 31, 2009 at 16:33

    As long as a distinguished publishing house like Yale University Press can allow itself to be intimidated into telling less than the full story there will NEVER be a suitable time to study it.
    And with all due respect to the feelings of Lubna and others –
    If there is something on TV that offends you, change the channel.
    If something is being said that offends you, don’t listen.
    If you hear about something being printed that might offend you, don’t read it.
    Most importantly – whether I think it is trash or not, don’t try to tell me I can’t watch it or listen to it or read it if I want to.

    • August 31, 2009 at 17:01

      @John in Salem,
      If that’s the way Yale thinks and publishes, I wonder what to expect of religious publishers (Islamic, Christian Judaism etc) publishers should they decide to publish a similar book.
      If I bought a book about cartoons without the cartoons inside, I will ask for a refund!

  37. 54 Tom K in Mpls
    August 31, 2009 at 16:39

    The two greatest sources of the troubles in the world are the love of power/money and fundamentalist religious views. And the line between them is often so blurred that one usually looks like the excuse for the other. Right now, the Muslim faith stands out, drawing the most attention. Christianity has had it’s day and Judaism has tried, but has never really had the power.

    Until people believe that peaceful coexistence is more important than personal or religious pride, we will continue to see more of this stupidity.

  38. 55 helen in usa
    August 31, 2009 at 16:41

    Unfortunately people too often suppose that freedom of the press or the right to free speech is only designed to mean, “the right to offend”. I disagree completely with this concept;people seek to offend most often when offense is taboo. The sexual revolution sprang from a long history of sexual repression;which that repression defies belief when the reality so much is out of accord with the fantasy of denial. But people have the right to disagree. People have the right to defend a point;and to defend honor and respect on the plane of intelligent discourse:that is how arguments and debates evolve. It is no longer a discussion when physical violence becomes involved,then it becomes the unthinking rage of an individual incapable of reason. Words are used for communication;and the intent of brutality is for destruction only. The decision to communicate and not to offend creates a constructive platform;continued offense is to feed the fire of violence.

    • 56 Roy, Washington DC
      August 31, 2009 at 18:38

      @ helen

      Part of the cost of having free speech is that some people will inevitably be offended from time to time. There are things like the “fighting words” doctrine that limit this, but censorship in the name of being inoffensive contradicts what free speech is all about.

  39. August 31, 2009 at 16:47

    The book should be designed to reach people of different persuasions. The cartoons provoked a clash and the book shouldn’t seek to create a clash between Muslims and Non-Muslims. The publication of the cartoons will be seen by many Muslims as a deliberate provocation and a revival of an incident which has been forgotten.

    What matters is the message of the book. It should be balanced and try to explain what has been learnt from the reactions to the publication of the cartoons across the Muslim world and non-Muslim world.

    Let’s be fair. The Western media generally doesn’t publish graphic pictures of soldiers who die, say, in Afghanistan, especially if they are blown up into pieces- out of respect for them and their families. The same should apply for the cartoons, out of respect for the Muslims. I understand the aim of the book is to deal with why a violent reaction occurred after the publication of the cartoons. It’s better the book continues to raise this question instead of why it should or shouldn’t include the cartoons as an illustration. Those who are curious about these cartoons can find them on the internet. At least the book should be “clean” of them to keep clean vis-à-vis the Muslim community.

  40. 58 Nigel
    August 31, 2009 at 16:51

    Why must we judge everyone by ourselves? The relationship between practicing Muslims and Allah and the Prophet Mohammed is different to the relationship between Western Christians and God and Jesus. Additionally the meaning of freedom to publish in the Muslim world is totally different to ours and in many cases our defence of the cartoons seems hypoctritical to Muslims who are told in parts of the democratic West that they cannot wear Hijab, or free thinking Western people are not allowed to to question the Holocaust on penalty of law. We must accept that our press freedoms and its global reach will cross swords occasionally with others who do not share our values and we should seek to undesrstand the reason and type of reaction and not joust against them in the arrogant way that we have developed over recent time.

  41. 59 steve
    August 31, 2009 at 16:53

    @ Chip

    That’s untrue. Here in the US, we have art exhibits where they have figurines of the virgin mary in a bottle of urine, or jesus made out of chocolate so people can eat, displayed in museums.

  42. 60 Linda from Italy
    August 31, 2009 at 17:04

    Now to answer the question;-)
    It is always time to “study” a phenomenon, even the day after, let alone 4 years. The study of history will naturally change with the times as history itself moves on and perspectives change, the causes of WW2, for example, could be in part attributed to the outcome of WW1, as the Allies realised when instituting the Marshall Plan.
    Time seems to move much faster in the 21st Century because communications are so much more instantaneous and wide-reaching, something that may in itself carry a cost in reflection time. However, we live in such a world and so serious academic inquiry has to move with the times and if the book is published without the offending content it cannot possibly be taken seriously.
    The rise of religious fundamentalism, of any hue, is a danger we should all beware of, and an academic study of the reason why one group or another is moved to such extremes of behaviour and belief is an urgent priority for study, and such a lily-livered approach makes one wonder if indeed the West is morally bankrupt through not having the courage of its “freedom of thought and speech” convictions. Publish and be damned I say.

  43. 61 Bert - USA
    August 31, 2009 at 17:06

    Ann, I think you’re missing an important. How can society ever move forward, if we allow certain elements of it to be isolated from public sentiment? Does this not just perpetuate ignorance?

    Permitting irreverence is essential. It makes us question our beliefs every single day. It would be a sad day indeed if we cave in to the demands of intolerant segments of society.

    This weekend, we went to see the movie Inglorious Basterds [sic]. I recommend it highly. It shows what a society looks like, when everyone is made to adhere to ridiculous and intolerant beliefs. Let’s not give the message to the rest of the world that we are all happy to cave in. PLEASE.

  44. 62 Deryck/Trinidad
    August 31, 2009 at 17:10

    No matter what you do or say you will offend someone. What I’d like to see is the the true character of god showing up in the muslims when they get offended like wisdom, patience, self control, love for humanity, forgiveness, tolerance.

    Muslims shouldn’t expect non-believers to follow the tenets of Islam through fear and coercion, that in itself is a sin because it denies each human being freedom of choice.

  45. August 31, 2009 at 17:12

    The pains are still fresh in our memory and i think the time is not right for the study as it could spark more protests. A lot of people lost their lives in Nigeria and houses, churches and properties were burnt beyond recognition.That cartoon sparked off religious crisis in the nothern part of Nigeria. I was in the North at that time,doing my compulsory service. I could easily have been killed beacause some writer in Europe was a intruding on the beliefs of others or how else can you expain a cartoon of Mohammed?. We must learn that our freedom ends where the other person’s own begins.

  46. 65 Tom D Ford
    August 31, 2009 at 17:15

    Wouldn’t you think that a man wise enough to write the Koran would have had a sense of humor and could have laughed at himself?

    I would bet that there is humor in the Koran, would one of the Muslims who participate here on WHYS, please post about that?

    I wonder who wrote the prohibition against depicting the prophet and when they wrote it. It doesn’t make sense to me that the Prophet would write it about himself, would one of our Muslim WHYS family please post about that?

    Thanks, in advance.

    • August 31, 2009 at 18:15

      Salaam Tom… 1stly, we as practicing Muslims do believe that the Holy Quran is the sacred word of Allah, and it was NOT written by the Prophet Mohammed or by any other human being, but if you believe in something different then that’s your absolute right and I do totally respect it… 2ndly, our Muslim Sunni brothers do believe that drawing a picture of ANY prophet including the Prophet Mohammed is strictly prohibited, and that prohibition extends also to drawing pictures of Imams like Imam Ali or Imam Hussein, while we Shia Muslims think that it is OK to draw pics of Imams as long as those pics show them in a highly respectful and sacred manner, but we share with our Muslim Sunni brothers the concept of the strong prohibition of drawing pics of the Prophet Mohammed. The Prophet Mohammed spoke strongly against drawing a pic of his b/c many prophets before him were worshiped as gods by their followers after their death and their drawn pics used to be used as symbols of that worshiping. The Prophet Mohammed always concentrated on the fact that he was no god, and that he’s the servant of Allah and his messenger. Thanks a million for your question Tom.. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  47. August 31, 2009 at 17:21

    The pains are still fresh in our memory and i think the time is not right for the study as it could spark more protests. A lot of people lost their lives in Nigeria and houses, churches and properties were burnt beyond recognition.That cartoon sparked off religious crisis in the nothern part of Nigeria. I was in the North at that time,doing my compulsory service. I could easily have been killed beacause some writer in Europe was intruding on the beliefs of others or how else can you expain a cartoon of Mohammed?. We must learn that our freedom ends where the other person’s own begins.

  48. August 31, 2009 at 17:29

    This is certainly not the right time to whip up hysteria especially as the cartoons touched a raw nerve. Perhaps time is the best healer. Let a few years pass. Ideally one should step back from the brink and ask oneself whether it is worth shedding blood over comments said at the heat of the moment. In practically every religion there are extremists who have their own axe to grind. Perhaps the moderates should stress on the healing powers of religion and emphasise that all religions are basically good. The aim should be to maintain inter-religious harmony not create unrest.

  49. August 31, 2009 at 17:30

    @ Deryck/Trinidad ‘Muslims shouldn’t expect non-believers to follow the tenets of Islam through fear and coercion, that in itself is a sin because it denies each human being freedom of choice’.

    Nobody is asking you to follow the tenets of Islam, i have lived among Muslims and i believe all they require of us is some respect and understanding of their religious beliefs. You have a right to believe anything, but we must learn to respect their religious beliefs.

  50. 70 viola
    August 31, 2009 at 17:33

    No, it’s not too early for academia to analyze muslim reaction to the publication of the Danish cartoons. The passions will never cool so, if not now, when?

    Understanding can come only through analysis.

    As for publishing the cartoons again, I would ask: Are human beings so short of visualization skills that they cannot “see” the cartoon in their mind when it is clearly described with words? I can. I will admit the artist did a better job than my visualization skills did.

    What’s next? Jokes about Mohammed will be protested? Personally, I love religious jokes because they point out absurdities far better than the most nit-picking analyses do. The cartoons were jokes.

    Also, as Islam is a part of the political arena of the world, it becomes fair game for political cartoonists. To use an old saying: “If you don’t like the heat, get out of the kitchen.”

  51. 71 Jack
    August 31, 2009 at 17:36

    Caricatures of hanged black men in the Southeastern United States have been published in history books (at least they used to be), not to further the horror of white supremacy, but to indict it. These graphic representations remind us as a nation of our gradual evolution toward true liberty as we’ve surrendered such callous attitudes that have undermined the admonition that ALL men (and women) ” . . . are endowed by their creator with certain inalienable rights[:] LIFE, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

    Were the Danish cartoons depicting Mohammad racist? Ultimately, that will be for history to decide, but the notion of hiding our past is somewhat Orwellian, whether our reasoning is that history is unpleasant or unpopular or that it simply doesn’t work to the ends of those in power. Since when has the process of documenting historic events (or images) fallen under the rubric of popular will? The prejudice toward Islam in Judeo-Christian society is pervasive; whether benign or malignant, shouldn’t a society confront its cancers in the open?

  52. 72 RAJPUT
    August 31, 2009 at 17:39

    Cartoons are only lines on paper.

  53. 73 patti in cape coral
    August 31, 2009 at 17:45

    I also have a question from any of our Muslim WHYS. From what I understand, the cartoons were not included in the book not out of respect, but because of fear of violent reprisal. Does the reason matter at all to the Muslim community, or is it content that the cartoons are not included for whatever reason? I understand that the majority of Muslims believe in non-violence, but as others have stated above, the threat of violence seems to have worked in this case.

  54. 74 helen in usa
    August 31, 2009 at 17:50

    The point Tom D Ford brings up about the prohibition of depicting a messenger of God isn’t limited to Islam only. It may be a cultural dictate or a point brought up in the holy writings themselves. I think there are also references in Christianity against making an image. Once you bring in the word’idolatry’ it then becomes a more clear established practice. As for the many,many comments about irreverence being good and having a sense of humor;there is a time and a place for everything. If a person wants to be entertained,there are many places to go to and find distraction and laughter. We don’t need to respect God and invoke the angels when we use the bathroom. It makes sense equally so to keep the toilet out of religious worship. We wouldn’t have a stable society if it was not for the dedication to a concept and purpose beyond the needs of the passing moment or the frivolous nature of the mundane world. Life isn’t all happiness or fun or all eating and drinking;once you end the need for these things you realize there is more in life than material nature.

  55. August 31, 2009 at 17:51

    Here my question to Author Jytte Klausen:

    1- If the cartoons were to be published, would it make a difference if the names and pictures of their authors were also published with them?

    2- What lessons have been learnt following the publications of the cartoons in 2005 in the West? Do you think the major Western media have become more cautious in dealing with Islamic issues, especially those involving Prophet Mohammed?

    3- If the book targets both Muslim and Muslim audiences, do you envisage to publish it in the major languages spoken by Muslims, for example Arabic and Persian?

  56. August 31, 2009 at 18:01

    Illustrations at this point of time will only add fuel to the fire. We could analyse the pros and cons when the hoopla has died down. Now is the time for calm reflection.

    • 77 Tom K in Mpls
      August 31, 2009 at 19:47

      As long as certain fundamentalist beliefs are observed any such illustration will ‘add fuel’. Debatably, the time for debate is now, because the issue shows no sign of going away or easing.

  57. 78 gary
    August 31, 2009 at 18:07

    Correct and complete description of historic events is essential (just in case anyone might wish to avoid their repetition.). Personal feelings and religious convictions are not applicable. While censorship of an academic text treating any aspect of history is bad, denial of access to illustrative historic materials under threat of violence is especially reprehensible. Whether you study history as a professional, or are a casual observer, you have just been robbed at gunpoint.

  58. 79 Mike in Seattle
    August 31, 2009 at 18:10

    How can one study the effects of the cartoons without a reproduction of said cartoons? This is like studying medicine without Gray’s Anatomy becuase pictures of naked people might be offensive as well.

    These publishers are academic cowards. How dare they allow the uninformed opinions of others get in the way of contributing to the body of human knowledge.

  59. 80 steve
    August 31, 2009 at 18:12

    Question for the Professor, was their any consideration given to the fact that you teach at a historically Jewish University (brandeis) that repercussions against Jews were taken into account in the decision to not include the cartoon in your book?

  60. 81 steve
    August 31, 2009 at 18:16

    Honestly, omitting the comic from a book on influential comics would be like ommitting a picture from Gone with the Wind from a book on the greatest movies of all time.

  61. 82 Jennifer
    August 31, 2009 at 18:18

    Re: Here in the US, we have art exhibits where they have figurines of the virgin mary in a bottle of urine.


  62. 83 steve
    August 31, 2009 at 18:20

    Wow, her begins the self muzzling society. People are scared of the reactions of muslims, so we’re going to watch what we say. Nobody was killed in the US when a figure of the virgin mary was contained a a vial of urine, nor for the chocolate jesus on the cross, both of which were in museums in the USA, as “art” exhibits.

  63. 84 Reverend Wallace Ryan
    August 31, 2009 at 18:21

    I think not publishing these terribly offensive cartoons is actually a good thing. I taught comics and cartooning for over 10 years and impressed upon my students their responsibility to use their creative energies in a unrestricted but sensitive manner. I told them they can criticize but they could not mock a person’s religious belief.

    I have seen the cartoons and I found them extremely repulsive and without any redeeming social value…beyond inciting rioting and death. I believe in artistic freedom but not at the expense of someone else’s religion. I think the cartoons represent a twisted view of Islam, which few in the West seem to understand or respect. I found the cartoons to be, quite honest, poorly done and devoid of any intelligent social commentary.

    No cartoon is worth dying for…especially these vicious little pieces.

  64. 86 Lew in Ohio
    August 31, 2009 at 18:23

    No. It is very timely as the western world is bogged down in the Arab and Muslim sphere. We need to find out why this group is so uptight about their religion. Yet there is an avid anti-semitism & anti-christian sentiment in the area. I would have ditched Yale and published the book myself online and donated proceeds to some Islamic charity.

  65. 87 steve
    August 31, 2009 at 18:23

    I’m sorry Jennifer, I was wrong
    it is called the “piss christ”


    There was also a famous virgin mary something or other with feces smeared on it.

  66. 88 Tom D Ford
    August 31, 2009 at 18:25

    I love that old picture from the 1960s called “The Laughing Jesus”, it caused much outrage among Conservatives but was a delightful depiction of someone who was at least a great teacher. What better way to teach than with humor?

    I can imagine The Prophet laughing, even though I have no idea of what he looked like.

    Can any of our WHYS Muslims imagine The Prophet laughing, even if you have no idea of what he looked like?

    Lubna? Zaina? Pink?

    • August 31, 2009 at 18:56

      Salaam again Tom… We practicing Muslims do have an amazingly detailed written description of the external figure of the Prophet Mohammed written 1400 years ago by his cousin and most loyal follower Imam Ali Bin Abi Taleb, so yes, anyone who reads this written discription carefully can claim that he/she knows to a large extent how the Prophet Mohammed actually looked like by putting the words in his/her head and letting his/her imagination take over… According to the Sunnah, the Prophet Mohammed was reported to be smiling so many times, and BTW, I have imagined the Prophet Mohammed in my head billions of times, thinking of him always manages to give me strength and bring a huge deal of peace and relief into my heart. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.

  67. 90 Mike in Seattle
    August 31, 2009 at 18:25

    So has anyone here actually done academic reserarch before? Even a lab class during secondary schools? Would it have been appropreate in the lab report to talk about what was done without showing the actual data collected? No, of course not. A good professor would have throw out the report and given the student a failing grade.

    If this work is to be treated as a serious academic work, the data must be presented as clearly as possible. Here, that means the cartoons must be printed.

  68. 91 Jack
    August 31, 2009 at 18:30

    Here’s a response to Radwa from Cairo: the Nirvana video for “Heart-Shaped box,” in which an aging Jesus, clad in little more than a red Santa Claus stocking cap, dutifully ascends a ladder to hang himself on a cross. A lot of people thought it was blasphemy (and still do). I question that an American documentary filmmaker would keep footage of the controversial video out of the film, and in fact, it wouldn’t make sense. Why bother publishing a book about it if no one can decide if the images are offensive, based on the analysis in the book? Moreover, doesn’t this undermine the purpose of peer review, in that social scientists can’t see the data?

  69. 92 helen in usa
    August 31, 2009 at 18:31

    I find it strange that somehow cartoons have become equated somehow with history in this blog. Are the charicatures of Richard III,Rasputin and the Romanoffs,King George or Richard Nixon historical documents?They are only cartoons. Unfortunately depicting cartoons which created violence and destruction is a statement which only describes a state of chaos. There is a much better point of focus. We should also remember that there are many impotant,valid,and worthy incidents which are undocumented and undepicted,things or people more valuable than a few pictures which violent people used to exercise their violent tendencies. More in this discussion is worthy of out attention and I am so sorry that many comments here devalue and cast aside the importance of respect and sensitivity to what other people value with all their hearts.How very sad and what an unfortunate commentary on our own state of values,or lack of them,this is.

  70. 93 T
    August 31, 2009 at 18:36

    In the publishing business, we all know that something sexy, hot or “controversial” sells copies. If you don’t have the pics that started this, what’s the point of publishing the book? Avoiding talking about this is like avoiding talking about U.S. torturing people because it’s too “uncomfortable.”

  71. August 31, 2009 at 18:37

    Although I completely and totally disagree with the kind of protests that led after the Cartoons , but I do not agree with the kind of freedom of speech that comes with mocking someones beliefs, specially religious. they were printed at a time when Islamophobia was on the rise–regardless of other pictures printed–this was seen most Muslims as another attack.I think the outrage became far worse because of the statements issued by the danish Government Post-Publication.

  72. 95 Raha
    August 31, 2009 at 18:41

    the time for freedom is always now. in the history of any minority movement (gays, women, blacks, etc.), the oppositions has always used the “timing” as an excuse to delay the argument. it think this is dangerous, and not helpful.

  73. 96 Simon Halstead
    August 31, 2009 at 18:42

    If God created the whole universe and holds it in being in his mind . why does he need mortal humans on a tiny planet to protect him? i really don’t understand.

    Simon Halstead

  74. 97 John in Salem
    August 31, 2009 at 18:42

    What is the rational basis of saying that this will be easier to analyze years from now? Are there not going to be people who will be offended, or people who will not seize anything to rally around?

  75. 98 Timothy Ryan
    August 31, 2009 at 18:44

    Discussing issues such as this are incredibly important. It is crucial for us all to discuss the things that ignite a conflict so incredibly so that we can understand the tenderness of the connection between social, political, and religious issues. While the images may be in bad taste, as the center of the discussion it is important to show them in the interest of clarifying what it was that ignited such a blaze of passion.

  76. 99 Tom D Ford
    August 31, 2009 at 18:46

    @ Lubna
    August 31, 2009 at 18:15

    “Salaam Tom… 1stly, we as practicing Muslims do believe that the Holy Quran is the sacred word of Allah, and it was NOT written by the Prophet Mohammed or by any other human being, … The Prophet Mohammed spoke strongly against drawing a pic of his b/c many prophets before him were worshiped as gods by their followers after their death and their drawn pics used to be used as symbols of that worshiping. The Prophet Mohammed always concentrated on the fact that he was no god, and that he’s the servant of Allah and his messenger. Thanks a million for your question Tom.. With my love. Yours forever, Lubna.”

    Thanks for your response Lubna, you dear, you have taught me some.

    I believe that Judaism has a prohibition against saying the name of “God”, they say some substitute word and Christianity has a prohibition against worshiping idols like “The Golden calf”, but I don’t think that either of those versions of the “One God Religion” has a prohibition against making a picture of their God or Jesus.

  77. August 31, 2009 at 18:47

    I hope someone mentions the role of the Danish imams who added fake cartoons to the ‘dossier’ they took to the Middle East in their campaign to create outrage.

  78. 101 Jack
    August 31, 2009 at 18:50

    Helen from USA,

    You are mistaken. Cartoons are published in history books (yes, even Nixon and Rasputin), and with good reason: they reflect popular attitudes of their time. Art and correspondence are some of the best documentation of these attitudes.

  79. 102 helen in usa
    August 31, 2009 at 18:51

    “Laughing Jesus”. Jesus didn’t come here to laugh. He came here to speak the truth at a time when religious beliefs were perverted to the will of men who were corrupt. God incarnates on earth at times of great evil. And God is not God and cannot have the attributes of God if he is defined by language ,a certain time period,or form of observance. If you want a laughing God,there is Buddha. God incarnates repeatedly. As all spirit lives. And God is a spirit. Or God is spirit. How can God be God as we undertand his attributes if God is limited to a warrior or avenger?Everyone is asking for open minds;So Am I.

    • 103 patti in cape coral
      August 31, 2009 at 20:09

      I feel certain that Jesus laughed at some point in his life, and it would not be inconsistent with his dignity to depict him laughing.

  80. 104 nora
    August 31, 2009 at 18:52

    Academia has its limits. Publishers lawyers have their limits. Academics ask us to substitute their perceptions for ours on a regular basis. This is simply a more absurd example.

    Too early to be serious? It is never to early to heal with good thought, but Naija in Nigeria brings us a clear perspective on the complex issue of incitement.

  81. 105 jay
    August 31, 2009 at 18:54

    Is God not almighty enough to deal with ALL his creatures, including the ones that feel free to publish such things? Apart from that it is part of humane behaviour to challange others, be it either by means of force of by means of word.

  82. 106 Keith- Ohio
    August 31, 2009 at 18:57

    Although I can see why some Muslims might have gotten mad at the cartoon, being outraged about it and demanding its removal was absurd, particularly when demanding its elimination from history books. Other religions are caricatured all the time on TV shows/other media, and with occasional exception, it is well tolerated.

    Acting as though one particular group of people is due a higher standard than other people, and that they should therefore be treated differently, is never alright, and while I would argue that this cartoon should have never been removed in the first place, it certainly should not be removed from history! Censoring history is wrong.

    And while many people argue that we “must be sensitive to people’s feelings!” I’m not arguing in favor of defamatory cartoons. However, many people are extremely “sensitive” about censoring public media to appease a particular group. Should these people be ignored?

    • August 31, 2009 at 22:53

      @ARTHUR K. This argument about having a sense of humour is flawed in itself since there is nothning funny about the cartoons. Let me see. The prophet, who is revered by 1.5 billion people as a model of human and spiritual perfection is being compared to a TERRORIST, a mass murderer!!! So what is funny? The terorist part? Forgive me but i dont thnk guys from the world trade centres,or those who used the london buses,or those living in bagdad share your Sentiments on sense of humour

  83. 108 Sebastian Daze
    August 31, 2009 at 19:02

    The publishing house that took the decision not to print the pictures made a rational decision based on the advice given and their observations. Was this the correct decision? The answer to this question might depend on your own standpoint on issues such as freedom of speech and academic integrity. However, even if you came down on the side of absolute press freedom and academic integrity at all costs, this does not mean that another person should also do so.

    I for one feel that I have an absolute right to walk down the street without fear of, say, verbal or physical abuse. However, what do I do if I perceive an imminent threat from a bunch of skin heads walking towards me? I could choose to cross the road to avoid them visitig violence upon my person. On the other hand, I could insist on exercising my right to go about my lawful business and walk straight through the shaven-headed throng, whilst singing a medley of anti-fascist songs. The former course of action might render me a coward in the eyes of some or might be perceived as a sensible path to take in circumstances, whereas the latter course of action might render me a hero in the eyes of some but would definitely be seen a foolhardy gesture in the eyes of my family. All the publishing house did was cross the road.

  84. 109 Jack
    August 31, 2009 at 19:02

    On what John from Salt Lake City said:

    Good for you. Mormon history includes the murder because of religious prejudice (including Joseph Smith). Mormons still battle with negative stereotypes that have no basis in fact and do so (overall) with a sense of humor.

    Here’s a guy who practices what he preaches.

  85. 110 Arthur K
    August 31, 2009 at 19:03

    Please, get over yourselves. I’m sure even prophets are perfectly capable of laughing at themselves — so why can’t you?

  86. 111 jay
    August 31, 2009 at 19:03

    ….and in relation to all sayings and actions toward removing the cartoons: it was one of the prophets who seems to have said “He who is free of sin, he may cast the first stone”…. As babies cannot cast stones, please let us, humans others than babies, silence and withhold our actions…

  87. 112 CJ McAuley Canada
    August 31, 2009 at 19:04

    I’d say this: it is well past the time for Islam to have its own “reformation”!

  88. 113 Tom D Ford
    August 31, 2009 at 19:12

    I have not seen those cartoons and am not interested in them.

    I just wonder about the origins of prohibitions and what their effects are.

    I understand the religious idea of not worshiping idols whether animal, human, or depictions of gods and the reasons for that prohibition and I also understand that non-believers will not feel restricted by those prohibitions.

    I don’t see an immediate resolution between them.

    Maybe the publication should just have warnings on the front for people who might take offense and the potentially offended ought to just take heed of those warnings.

  89. 114 brinda,India
    August 31, 2009 at 19:44

    Isn’t it sad of a educational institute to say its a security issue rather than saying ” the cartoon is offensive to a group of people” and hence we are trying to be considerate and are not publishing it.

    I guess there would not be a basis for this discussion then !

    Co-existence right is that not we are all trying to accomplish?

  90. 115 Keith- Ohio
    August 31, 2009 at 19:57

    @ brinda in India-

    I agree. If I were a Muslim, I would probably be more insulted by the fact that Yale considered my people a “security threat” than by an ignorant cartoon.

  91. August 31, 2009 at 20:51

    @Lubna , thanks for your thoughtful contributions to the discussion – I learned from you today.

    As for the matter at hand, there are examples of academic research which reference ugly topics but do not picture the topical item in the published literature. As an example, criminology journals and textbooks discuss child pornography without it being necessary to include images. It is possible to have a robust academic debate without including offensive material.

    On the other hand, the restriction of research is troublesome and should be resisted. I would rather leave the decision about what to publish and what not up to the author and editors rather than risk some Orwellian committee deciding what was right to publish or not.

    In this case, a private journal certainly has the right to refrain from publishing something. Freedom of speech entails the right not to speak as well, so I can respect their decision not to publish the cartoon.

  92. 117 Archibald
    August 31, 2009 at 20:56

    Any person, entity, or organization which has lost the ability to laugh at itself has lost an essential part of the perspective required for global peace. The world is full of prejudice, on all sides. If this cartoon has become a security issue, then we have succumbed to the fear which has infected everyone, all for the sake of one religious mandate and the violence its disregard will potentially bring.
    Ironically, god remains, largely, a mystery even to those most faithful. Maybe someone got it wrong? Our disagreements on religion, will be the death of us all. Sadly, being right seems to be more important.

  93. 118 Tom D Ford
    August 31, 2009 at 21:45

    I wonder if the prohibition in the Koran is worded so as to be specific to Muslims or if it is worded so as to apply to all people? If it is specific only to Muslims, which would make sense so that they don’t wrongly worship images instead of God, then it would let non Muslims off the hook.

    So. Can one of you Muslims explain the exact wording to us?

  94. 119 helen in usa
    August 31, 2009 at 22:18

    You can see by these comments that misreprentations have taken on a life of their own. And this became an issue of free speech or censorship. Everyone can speculate but if the prophet himself were here let’s remember he might choose to sue the newspaper and cartoonists for libel. That some extremists have chosen to use the prophet and the Koran to get Muslims to kill themselves is more or just as obscene and deceitful as the images. This representation of the prophet as a terrorist is not the prophet of most who are in the Muslim religion. And if this was the prophet that they were introduced to in the beginning it is a reasonable assumption they might choose another religion. It is as fair and as accurate to portray Mohamed as a terrorist as it is fair and accurate to depict YOUR mother as a streetwalker and your father as your sister’s pimp. Is that amusing?Or accurate?Or is it slanderous and hateful?

  95. 120 Marcus Laruius
    August 31, 2009 at 22:25

    To Helen USA; ( and other applicable parties)

    As for religion being necessary;

    “All religions are sublime to the ignorant, useful to the politician, and ridiculous to the philosopher.” – Lucretius (99-55 BCE)

  96. 121 Kyubi
    September 1, 2009 at 03:46

    Having visited temples in India where the faces have been smashed off statues and frescoes that pre date Islam by thousands of years because the conquering Muslim rulers were opposed to the depiction of human faces in a religious (and it seems in some cases secular) context, I wonder if there would be reparations for violating the religious freedom of the Hindu worshipers. Though time and time again I have heard that The Prophet Mohamed is just a man who was blessed with Divine vision and transmitted the words of God, and that he is not supposed to be worshiped or idolized, the fact that his image and name are so venerated and sacred that none may depict him, and that a blessing is said with his name, put him in a league of worship almost equal to God. The fact that non-believers are punished and killed in the name of protecting a prophet they do not believe in speaks volumes about the status of Mohamed in Islamic belief. In Islam Mohamed is rapidly becoming the Islamic equivalent of Jesus in Christianity, rivaling the Creator in importance. I don’t think that’s what he would have wanted.

  97. 122 Ann
    September 1, 2009 at 08:51

    @Bert – USA

    “Ann, I think you’re missing an important. How can society ever move forward, if we allow certain elements of it to be isolated from public sentiment? Does this not just perpetuate ignorance?

    Permitting irreverence is essential. It makes us question our beliefs every single day. It would be a sad day indeed if we cave in to the demands of intolerant segments of society.

    This weekend, we went to see the movie Inglorious Basterds [sic]. I recommend it highly. It shows what a society looks like, when everyone is made to adhere to ridiculous and intolerant beliefs. Let’s not give the message to the rest of the world that we are all happy to cave in. PLEASE.”

    Hi Bert, I don’t want to make assumptions, but are you the Robert that was on last night programme?

    Anyway, leaving that aside, regarding your comments above – I don’t think I am missing the point Bert. The ‘ignorance’, ‘demands of intolerant segments of society’, ‘intolerant beliefs’ that you refer to will never be quelled/beaten down/mocked into submission by perpetuating more intolerance, ignorance and offensiveness. Two wrong don’t make a right. I am not a Muslim, in fact I’d describe myself as a Buddhist, but these cartoon disgusted me when the first came out, just as the recent cartoon about Jews in Israel. Offending people is not real debate, it is a cheap, nasty shot which undermines any moral authority the critic of Islam or any other religion wishes to make.

  98. 123 helen in usa
    September 1, 2009 at 12:29

    To Marcus Laurious food also can be used as a weapon once it is established in the mind of a criminal that food,or food deprivation will be an effective weapon. People overlook the fact that the foundation articles or rules or laws in a religion are codes of conduct that allow people to live together in a society without discord or violence or disrupting the well being of others by violating their person or their property. God is absolutely a spirit but we all do not exist in absence of spirit. What we fill our minds with,what we fill our lives with,is a choice we make. If it were not for rules which establish acceptable and unacceptable behavior this world and the way we live would be very different and much worse. Or there would be less people because murder would be common and people would want to live as far away from other people as they could. This also means no radio,no plumbing and no Nirvana. No Pink Floyd,either.

  99. 124 SIMONinRio
    September 1, 2009 at 12:59

    The BBC lost a certain amount of its credibility by not showing the pictures on its website. Maybe the original decision not to show them was OK, but once the cartoons themselves had become the story it was inappropriate not to publish them. In any event, it is perfectly legitimate to say that Islam is a false religion, which it is. Those that don´t like the truth should be made to lump it. If the Muslim countries don´t want to do business with the West as a result, then that is their loss more than the west´s.

  100. 125 helen in usa
    September 1, 2009 at 13:04

    And to Lucretius(99-55 AD):”The soul of wit is brevity.”But a lack of words can also indicate a lack of understanding and a lack of thought. And if wit is indicated by an absence of explanation,we might surprise wit might be equated with the indictment that more wit is needed. And if an apparent atheist comments to ridicule religion it is apparent a longer expression cannot be communicated. Because it is difficult to comment intelligently upon subjects which one has no knowledge nor understanding of without fully appearing to be a fool;or a wit – by half!

  101. 126 Ibrahim in UK
    September 1, 2009 at 13:43

    If someone insults a dear friend or family member, you get angry and react. If someone insults a dead friend or family member, you would get even angrier. The Prophet Mohammed is supposed to be dearer to Muslims than any friend and family member. That’s about 1.2 billion people made angry. The world learnt that if muslims become offended, it will turn into an international incident with political and economic consequences. The decision to ommit the cartoon from this book was not out of politeness or courtesy to avoid insulting muslims, it was out of fear of the consequences.

    But Muslims must remember, that the Prophet suffered far greater verbal and physical abuses in his life than a cartoon. He reacted with patience, forgiveness and truth, and his is the example to follow.

    • 127 Hamidreza
      September 3, 2009 at 03:28

      Ibrahim, you dont make sense. Mohammad is a lot more than a person. Mohammad is a public figure, a historic figure, and someone who chose to claim to be the most perfect person and commanded all others to obey him, at the risk of the sword.

      To say that criticizing Mohammad, the historic and public figure, is same as criticizing a person (my mom) who has never imposed her will on society, is silly and disingenious.

      That is why in modern and progressive civilizations, it is not OK to defame a private person, but it OK to defame a public person (e.g. Bush).

      Now get on with your life, and stop telling us how to behave to fit your interests.

      Hamidreza – a proud Muslim apostate.

  102. September 3, 2009 at 05:35

    It seems that we have learned nothing.

    If censor ourselves for fear of offending Islamist extremists, we must logically censor ourselves for fear of offending any group that can gain a reputation for responding with violence to exercises of free speech that offend it. Unfortunately, we see a major university press acting in a craven way that can only encourage other groups to use violence to achieve their goals.

    • September 3, 2009 at 08:41

      Russell Blackford, Sir, the figures of Buddha and Jesus were
      depicted in Cartoons, in songs and films and when one of them ruffled feathers it was quitely settled without media focus.
      However, the slightest of transgression in the case of Prophet Mohammed raises such a row the media focuses on it and in a matter of hours in distant cities flags are burned and people are assaulted and even killed.
      That’s fact of life and we got to live with it and adjust to it as we are far above the myopic, mentally underdeveloped section of the Muslim world.
      Most Muslims take things easy just as we do.
      Only some of them do not know how to take up a joke.

  103. September 3, 2009 at 08:50

    Hamidreza – a proud Muslim apostate,

    when you say this :

    ” it is not OK to defame a private person, but it OK to defame a public person (e.g. Bush).

    Now get on with your life, and stop telling us how to behave to fit your interests.

    Hamidreza – a proud Muslim apostate.”

    I am proud to call you as my worldly sibling. Well said. Thanks and Cheers.

  104. 131 Ibrahim in UK
    September 3, 2009 at 10:27

    Dear Hamid,

    It may be legal to ridicule, offend and insult public figures, but human reaction to insult is not based on national laws, it is based on basic human realities which instinctively react defensively against provocation and offense (intended or otherwise).
    In your example, if your mom was insulted would you not be angry? Would you suddenly stop being angry if she became a public figure? Religion or absence of religion is irrelevant in that respect. But what religion defines, is how to react to these insults and provocation. In the case of muslims, it is encouraged to follow the example of the prophet who met much worse abuse than this but responded with kindness.
    “You do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness.”

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