Here is their summary of events.
Note that it starts on the 30th Sept with the publication of the cartoons, not the 17th Sept - two weeks earlier, with the article discussing self-censorship that led to the publication of the cartoons:
How can you discuss this controversy rationally if you are not given this background? It is insane to withhold this context as it projects only bad motive on the part of the Danes.
On September 17, 2005, the Danish newspaper Politiken ran an article under the headline "Dyb angst for kritik af islam" ("Profound fear of criticism of Islam"). The article discussed the difficulty encountered by the writer Kåre Bluitgen, who was initially unable to find an illustrator who was prepared to work with Bluitgen on his children's book Koranen og profeten Muhammeds liv ("The Qur'an and the prophet Muhammad's life"). Three artists declined Bluitgen's proposal before an artist agreed to assist anonymously. According to Bluitgen:
- One [artist declined], with reference to the murder in Amsterdam of the film director Theo van Gogh, while another [declined, citing the attack on] the lecturer at the Carsten Niebuhr Institute in Copenhagen.
In October 2004, a lecturer at the Niebuhr institute at the University of Copenhagen was assaulted by five assailants who opposed the lecturer's reading of the Qur'an to non-Muslims during a lecture.
The refusal of the first three artists to participate was seen as evidence of self-censorship and led to much debate in Denmark, with other examples for similar reasons soon emerging. The comedian Frank Hvam declared that he did not dare satirise the Qur'an on television, while the translators of an essay collection critical of Islam also wished to remain anonymous due to concerns about violent reaction.
There has been a complete failure of the main Muslim lobby groups to perform ANY SEMBLANCE of introspection about the issues raised in these cartoons. Presenting this context makes their grievance mongering look petty and forces them to deal with the substantive issue:c creeping self-censorship for fear of violent reprisals.
The BBC is major part of the problem here.
Worse than that, have a look at this. The article is titled "Danish Muslims Split over cartoons" and nods in the direction that some think protests have gone too far.
Further down, we get this:
However, some of the strongest protests against the cartoons have come from imams who are part of the government's integration think tank.... wait for it ...
"We want the newspaper to promise that this will never happen again, or this will never stop," said
imam Ahmad Akkari of the Islamic Faith Society.That name rings a bell. Oh yes.
Oddly enough, the BBC does not seem to think that Mr Akkari's little holiday in Saudi Arabia or his cheeky embellishment of the cartoons merits a mention here. Indeed, it could be said that MrAkkari's actions played a large part in fomenting the violent flare up across the Middle East.
So, on the one hand, the BBC is reluctant to give us context that makes the Danes look reasonable and on the other, it is reluctant to give us the context that might alter our view of the Imam's position.
That is not unbiased reporting.
UPDATE: When I said
"Indeed, it could be said that MrAkkari's actions played a large part in fomenting the violent flare up across the Middle East."What I meant was:
Mr Akkari is almost certainly responsible for the violent flare up.Apparently the cartoons were published in Egypt in October, but nobody took any notice.
(via the Pub Philosopher)
The more you look at this, the more absurd the extremist Muslim overreaction becomes.
UPDATE: Welcome to B-BBC again. Sorry for being a total link-whore. Interestingly, the 1.30pm "context" programme has just finished. A couple of interesting points:
- It didn't give the correct context. GAAAH!!! It mentioned the book and the fact that no-one would illustrate it, (but NOT WHY THEY WOULDN'T), then skipped straight to the JP publication, not via the 17th Sept article and subsequent discussion on Self-censorship. I still think this is key. The reason he didn't mention is ...
- The presenter portrayed the rational for publication of the cartoons by JP throughout the whole programme as "a joke". These were not funny cartoons, nor were they commissioned as such. He has to ignore the entire self-censorship debate in order to do this. He also has to ignore the self-censorship debate in order to give any credence to the Muslim affront.
- Presenter skips very quickly to Muslim reactions. This is the first vox pop. The first guy interviewed makes clear that it is NOT wrong to draw pictures of Mohammed (oops - there goes half the BBC website) and he refers to drawings throughout history, but that these cartoons were wrong because they were offensive. Perhaps we now see why the presenter refrained from giving the correct context....
- There is a reasonable attempt to hold Abu Laban and Ahmad Akkari's feet to the fire which is good. I don't think they come out of it smelling very good at all.
- Some fascinating insights into some of the more gory background also emerges, which may also be uncomfortable for the BBC. Part of the problem in Denmark is that unemployment amongst Muslims is so high. The imams spend some time making out that there is an institutional islamophobia behind this. The programme investigates one other possible cause: Danish taxes are extremely high, partly to pay for an extremely generous welfare state. The Danish minimum wage is also extremely high. It is extremely high because Danish Unions have done a very good job for their members. Muslim immigrants are not members of Danish Unions and are mostly relatively unskilled (caution - I am repeating the programme here - I have no data to back this up. yet...) so Danish companies are reluctant to hire them at exorbitant cost, but [to quote the programme again] immigrants are happy with generous welfare support instead. That won't go down well with the statists... The only people who aren't very happy with the deal are -sit down: this may surprise you - the Danish middle classes who are having to pay for it. Guess what, the Socialists get thrown out of power.