Friday, November 10, 2006

Winner Iranian cartoon contest

The winner of the Iranian anti-cartoon cartoon contest is the Moroccan artist Derkaoui Abdellah. The winning cartoon shows depicts the construction of the wall build by Israel, in front of the As-Aqsa mosque. The wall itself depicts an image of the concentration camp Auschwitz.

It is noticeable that the winning cartoon is less confrontational than most other cartoons in the contest. Neither does it explicitly reiterate the claim that the holocaust is a myth, nor does it suggest a Zionist conspiracy to deceive the UN and the international community. The winning cartoon suggests instead, that the holocaust is instrumental in the occupation of Palestine, but leaves room for interpretation.

Monday, October 09, 2006

The pope and reason

In the turmoil that surrounded the speech of the pope, it was somehow lost that the purpose of the speech was to criticize the notion that god and reason are separate concepts, or the even more radical notion, that faith and reason are in opposition. Although this notion is apparently present in some branches of Islam, the pope actually aimed at evangelical Christianity, liberal Christianity, and secular society. Since, all of them are based on the assumption that there is a tension between faith and reason.

Evangelicals obviously choose faith above reason, because they wouldn't rule out a god who deceives us (like a god who plants dinosaur bones). Liberal Christianity chooses reason above doctrine, but want to stick to Jesus as some kind of benevolent revolutionary. And secular society rejects religion entirely, because it contradicts reason.

The pope argues in contrast that god is the only reasonable thing, that he is actually one with reason, but to understand this self-evidence we need to expand our restricted notion of reason. That, in a nutshell, is his line of reasoning.

Anyway, why he quoted the Byzantine emperor remains probably a mystery, but what the pope was after is to criticize those in the west who are in opposition to his catholic belief. If you want to read it for yourself, the Vatican published the full text of the speech.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

The Danish Pope

After the commotion that was caused by the Regensburg speech of the pope Benedict XVI, it couldn't take long before some cartoonist made the connection with the Danish cartoon crisis. Here is a small collection.

Signe Wilkinson, Pennsylvania, The Philadelphia Daily News

Emad Hajjaj, Al-Ghad Newspaper, Amman

Jeff Koterba, Omaha World Herald

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Danish blasphemy laws.

An argument hat has been reiterated numerous times is that Denmark has a double standard, because its blasphemy laws protect exclusively Christianity, but not Islam. Others allege that free speech in Denmark is absolute, and there is are no provision to protect religions or minorities from mockery and discrimination.

Both arguments are not true. Under Danish law everybody has the right to publish freely, but he can be hold responsible for it in a court of law. There are two provisions that might be applied to the case of the Danish cartoons. One prohibits mockery of lawful religious communities (this includes Islam) in public, and the other prohibits hate speech against religious, ethnic, or sexual minorities. The director of prosecutors decided that the cartoons do not violate these provisions, mostly because they either don't mock at all, don't mock a religion, don't discriminate at all, or don't discriminate a minority. They ridicule, if at all, a political movement.

If you want to read the decision of the director of prosecutions yourself, it is posted in an FAQ on the cartoon crisis on the site of the Danish ministry of foreign affairs. It is a good and accessible read, and describes the context and content of the cartoons.

Monday, June 26, 2006

More recent cartoon provocation.

Indonesian Dingo cartoon.

Australian counter cartoon.

Equal Opportunity Discrimination?

Piss Christ by American photographer Andres Serrano.

A parody, now with Mohammed cartoon superimposed.
More parodies and images here.

Entering Public Space

Graffiti in Hamburg. It reads: 'Hello Middle Age '06".

Illustration on fence UNSW

Depicting Muhammad in Islam

Turkey, 16th century, painting on paper.

From the Apocalypse of Muhammad, written in 1436 in
Herat, Afghanistan.

Thursday, June 15, 2006

Further provocations

Entry to a Draw-Mohammed contest on

Postcard by German magazine Titanic. Main caption "
nobody tells us not to picture". Caption under photo: "Mohammad
and his girlfriend Uschi (right)".

Israeli antisemitic anti-cartoons anti-cartoons

Holocaust/Hollywood cartoon published by Israeli
Cartoon contest.

Cartoon picking up the Matze myth, said to be popular
in Arab countries.

Antisemitic anti-cartoons cartoons

Holocaust/Hollywood cartoon published by Arab-European
League, to expose free speech issues is the west.

Anne Frank and Hitler cartoon published by
Arab-European League.

Friday, May 12, 2006


Iran asked on 14-02 for an official German apology for a
Tagespiegel cartoon depicting the Iranian soccer team as
terrorists. It commented the proposed use of armed forces during
the Soccer World Cup.

Absurdists views

Non Sequitur on 20 Feb. "Kevin finally achieves his
goal to become the most feared man in the world". The sign reads:
"Caricature of Muhammad while you wait".

Vince O'Farrell, The Illawarra Mercury, Wollongong.

Western view on riots

Dan Wasserman, The Boston Globe.

Matthew Westervelt.

Robert Ariail, The State, South Carolina.

Critical view on western response

Emad Hajjaj, Al-Ghad Newspaper, Amman

Stephane Peray, The Nation, Bangkok.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Middle-Eastern view

Egyptian anti-cartoon cartoon in Al Fagr newspaper.

Derkaoui Abdellah, Morocco

Western view on cartoon crisis

Jos Collignon, De Volkskrant, Amsterdam. Caption:"The
pen is mightier than the sword!" Response: "May I have that in
writing, please?"

Paul Zanetti, Australia

Cameron Cardow, The Ottawa Citizen.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Quotes (4)

Dr Susan Block, American columnist on counterpunch

It is interesting and disheartening to see
how many of those I thought were my fellows
have left the bed of Free Speech(...).
Many so-called ”liberals” and ”leftists”
have turned themselves into ideological
pretzels in their attempts to condemn the
cartoonists and the publishers.

Christopher Bollyn, American Free Press

Given the unapologetic position taken by
the Danish government and the editors it
appears very likely that tension with Islamic
nations will increase and the international
crisis will deepen. This is, after
all, exactly what the global planners behind
the clash of civilizations want.

Tom Tomorrow, American cartoonist

The newly-minted free speech absolutists
demanding that American newspapers
publish these cartoons as some sort of
badge of ideological correctness are in
many cases the same people whove spent
the last five years denouncing the domestic
publication of cartoons and commentary
with which they disagree, often going
so far as to declare such commentary to be
an outright act of treason.


New-York based Egyptian columnist Mona Eltahawy:

Muslims seem to forget that just because
they are prohibited from representing the prophet in any way,
this does not apply to everybody else.

Cultural editor of Jylland Posten, Flemming Rose

Its problematic if some Muslims require of
me that I in the public space, in the public domain, have to
submit myself to their taboos. In that case I dont think they are
asking for my respect. I think they are asking for my

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s ”Right to offend” Speech.

Shame on those papers and TV channels who
lacked the courage to show their readers the caricatures in The
Cartoon Affair. These intellectuals live off free speech but they
accept censorship. They hide their mediocrity of mind behind
noble-sounding terms such as responsibility and

Editorial in Sydney Morning Herald

Freedom of speech should be reinforced and
promoted, but there are far finer causes to uphold than the right
to lampoon Islam. Nor is freedom of speech without proper limits:
it is not a licence to incite hatred or violence.

The Australian’s editorial

There is certainly a case for taking a
lowkey approach in the case of cartoons of the prophet
Mohammed.(...) To have published the cartoons in themselves may
not have offended all that many Australian Muslims. But some
certainly would have been deeply affronted, and for no

Tim Blair, ex-chief of staff at The Daily Telegraph.

Far from being against hate-speech, many
Muslim spokesmen seem to be aggressively for it; until, of
course, someone contemplates publishing harmless drawings of an
old beardy guy.


Azly Rahman, columnist for Malaysiakini.

Capitalism colonises moral spaces and
rapes spiritual consciousness in a broaddaylight
robbery in the marketplace of free
speech. This is the nature of the industry
produced by the Western mind.

Ahmed Abu-Laban, Imam in Copenhagen

They were trying to be teachers, to teach us
democracy, the values of democracy, and
most important, how to abide to those values.
Love it or leave it, this is the way it

Shaz Kaiseruddin, president of the Muslim Students
Association University of Illinois.

A more productive way to encourage open
dialog would be something that is less offensive.
You never offend the person you
hope to open up dialog with.

Syrian-born Danish MP for the Social Liberal Party,
Naser Khader

I am tired of hearing them complain about
the situation in this country which has
given them shelter, freedom of expression,
freedom of religion and tons of opportunities
for their children. If they cannot
be loyal to the values of this country they
should leave and by that do the majority of
Danish Muslims a big favour.

Egyptian blogger Big Pharaoh

Boycotting and vilifying an entire nation
for what these cartoonists did – it was so
childish ... so stupid.

Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey

This will accomplish nothing, except getting
more people pissed at muslims (...)
Yes, cause nothing says ”we are peaceful
tolerant people” like death threats and boycotting
a whole country.


Noam Chomsky in an email to AndrewParodi@

The extreme hypocrisy of those who
pretend to defend freedom of speech when they don’t
protect it or even believe in it, and are using that lie
merely to justify their pleasure in ridicule of people under
their jackboots.

Guenter Grass in an interview with Die Welt

The newspaper asked an Islamic Scholar
for advice, and he advised against it. But the editors went
ahead, since they are radical, xenophobic

Former foreign minister and columnist for Berlingske Tidende,
Uffe Elleman

When you use the freedom of speech to
make jokes of other people’s religions and you do it
with the single purpose of demonstrating that you have the
right to do so, then you are undermining the freedom of

Paul Scheffer, columnist, and professor for urban
development, Amsterdam.

You have to accept that the freedom of
religion goes hand in hand with the freedom to criticize

Spanish Foreign Minister Miguel Angel Moratinos

Freedom of expression is a must but
freedom of expression has to be exerted with

President General Pervez Musharraf

Such acts must be stopped through
permanent legislation from UN platform, otherwise they will
further widen the gap between Islam andWest.

Thursday, April 13, 2006


At the beginning of this year there were demonstrations and riots
in many European and Arabic and South-East Asian countries, in
response to cartoons that were publish on 30 September 2005 in
Denmark's biggest newspaper Jyllands Posten. In the course of two
month half a dozen of embassies were burnt, editors sacked and or
prosecuted, and more than 120 people dead. Because of 12 cartoons.

This blog presents some material that was presented and discussed at a Philorum discussion on 6 April 2006. All cartoons can be found in the April archive.

Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Article in Jyllands Posten on 30 September 2005


  • 17 September 2005
    Article in Danish language newspaper Politiken titled "Profound fear of criticism of Islam", on self-censorship. Author Kåre Bluitgen had difficulties to find an illustrator for a children's book on the life of Muhammand. Illustrators refused, pointing to the murder of film director van Gogh in 2004 and an attack on an lecturer in Copenhagen. This article sparked a discussion in Denmark about self-censorship.
  • 30 September 2005
    Article in Jyllands Posten titled "The face of Muhammed". Jyllands-Posten asked about forty different artists to give their interpretation of Muhammad. Twelve responded and the newspaper published these, together with an article on self-censorship, the rejection of secular society by some Muslims, and the right to mock all religions evenly.
  • 12 October 2005
    Eleven Islamic ambassadors asked for a meeting with Danish PM to discuss islamophobic tendencies in Danish Media. Danish PM refused, giving as reason that the government has no legal means of influencing the press.
  • 17 October 2005
    Egyptian Newspaper publishes 6 of the 12 cartoons, accompanied by an article denouncing them. No public outcry.
  • 27 October 2005
    Danish Muslim organizations file a complaint. The Director of Prosecutors decided on 15 March 2006, that the article in Jyllands Posten was legal under Danish law. But it stresses that contrary to the claim in Jyllands Posten, religions do enjoy special protection.
  • December 2005
    Dissatisfied Danish Imams, including Abu Laban, compile a dossier on islamophobic tendencies in Denmark, including the 12 cartoons an some other material. Among them 3 additional more offensive cartoons, that were send to muslims in Denmark that participated in an online discussion on Jylland Posten's website. A delegation
    travelled to the middel east with this dossier, and it was discussed at a summit of the Organization of Islamic Countries.
  • January-February 2006
    Norwegian Newspaper reprints Cartoons. First demonstrations. Several arabic countries recall their envoys. Flag burning in several arabic capitals. European newspapers reprint cartoons. A French editor gets fired. Some arabic news papers reprint the cartoons. Editors get arrested, in some cases they are released within days (Jordan), in other cases they have to face charges (Yemen, Algeria, Malaysia). Protest in European capitals. Jylland posten apologizes for grief caused by cartoons. Television debates, blogs, online petitions. Danish PM regrets the violence and outrage caused by the cartoons. Ministers in Sweden and Italy had to resign. Editors of university newspapers in Wales and the US that printed some of cartoons had to resign. People die in, at least, Nigeria, Jordan, Afghanistan, and Libya.

The cartoons (1)

Muhammad as a simple wanderer, in the desert, at sunset.
There is a donkey in the background.

The cartoons (2)

A glowing crescent around his turban suggests both a halo and a pair
of horns. The artist apparently claims it's a halo.

The cartoons (3)

The Islamic star and crescent merged with the face of
Muhammad; his right eye is the star, the crescent surrounds his
beard and face.

The cartoons (4)

A bearded man (Muhammad) wearing a turban and carrying a
sword, standing with a black bar covering his eyes. Standing at
his sides are two women wearing black burqua, with only their eyes

The cartoons (5)

Muhammad standing on a cloud. Often called the funniest or only funny cortoon of the 12.

The cartoons (6)

A boy called Mohammed, from group 7A of the school in Valby.
The Farsi chalkings translates to "The editorial team of
Jyllands-Posten is a bunch of reactionary provocateurs". On his
shirt is written "FREM" and then in a new line "-TIDEN". Fremtiden
means the future, but Frem (forward) is also the name of a Valby
football team. Valby is a district of Copenhagen known for a
concentrated population of immigrants.

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

The cartoons (7)

A nervous caricaturist at work.

The cartoons (8)

A police line-up with the witness saying: "Hm... I can't
really recognize him". People in the line-up are : (1) A Hippie,
(2) right-wing politician Pia Kjaersgaard, (3) possibly Jesus,
(4) possibly Buddha, (5) possibly Muhammad, (6) generic Indian
Guru, and (7) journalist Kaare Bluitgen, carrying a sign saying:
"Kaare's public relations, call and get an offer

The cartoons (9)

The poem can be translated as: "Prophet, you crazy
bloke! Keeping women under yoke!"

The cartoons (10)

"Relax, friends, at the end of the day, it's just a
drawing by an infidel South Jutlander". South Jutland can be
translated in this context with "middle of nowhere".

The cartoons (11)

Muhammad with a bomb in his turban, with a lit fuse and
the Islamic creed written on the bomb.

The cartoons (12)

Journalist Kaare Bluitgen. In his hand is a child's
stick drawing of Muhammad. The proverb "an orange in the turban"
is a Danish expression meaning "a stroke of luck".