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January 29, 2006

Danish Cartoon Story Erupts

A bomb targeting a joint Danish-Iraqi patrol in Iraq yielded no casualties, but speculation in the story's first paragraph that the attempt was made in relation to the publication of cartoons depicting Muhammed in a Denmark paper shows just how nasty protests against the cartoons have turned in the last week. In what may be the weekend's top international news story, the Danish flag was burned in the West Bank, while Palestinian gunmen briefly took hold of an EU office and demanded an apology for the 12 cartoons, which also showed up in Norwegian media this month. In less violent but still provocative moves, Libya closed its embassy in Denmark , there was a sit-down strike in Kuwait, and there's some debate over the effects of a called-for regional boycott of Danish goods. Strong rhetoric continues unabated. Implications for specific industries around the world could also loom large in the days ahead.

At issue seems to be the Jyllands-Posten newspaper's right to assert its free speech rights under the shadow of just such a reaction against those who find the depiction of Muhammed to be blasphemous, with a middle ground perhaps to be uncovered in some theorizing that to assert those rights was provocative for the sake of provocation -- which isn't to say that's the correct or even a particularly wise take, but simply one that's less extreme and more to the point than the battle of abstract giants that is free speech vs. defamation. A distressing side note seems to be that many of the editorials I've read assert that one cartoonist did the cartoons, which isn't true, and goes to show how a story like this can build on partly false premises.

Update One: President Clinton Condemns Cartoons.

Update Two: From Erik Melander comes word that Swedish media is reporting that Islamic Jihand and the Al Aqsa martyrs brigade are demanding all Norwegians, Danes and Swedes leave palestinian areas within 48 hours. The Swedish ministry is adivising Swedes not to the travel to the West Bank or the Gaza Strip.

Swedish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The newspaper Dagens Nyheter on the threats to Scandinavians in Palestine.

That second source is also reporting that two groups, including the Organization of the Islamic Conference, are trying to bring the entire matter to the UN General Assembly in the hopes that a resolution be passed against Denmark.
posted 11:38 pm PST | Permalink

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