Famous singer to bring Israelis and Palestinians together

Italian singer and composer Amadeo Minghi will celebrate his 40th anniversary as a performer by hosting a concert in Rome on February 2nd, calling for peace in the Middle East. At the concert, Palestinian and Israeli performers will join him in collaborating the performance. Minghi said that the joint performance had been planned for more than six years, and he hoped that these “small waves of peace, can become a tsunami of coexistence between Israelis and Palestinians.” Amadeo Minghi is one of Italy’s most famous performing artists; he has composed 27 albums during his 40-year career.

Artists too frightened to tackle radical Islam

Britain’s contemporary artists are f_ted around the world for their willingness to shock but fear is preventing them from tackling Islamic fundamentalism. Grayson Perry, the cross-dressing potter, Turner Prize winner and former Times columnist, said that he had consciously avoided commenting on radical Islam in his otherwise highly provocative body of work because of the threat of reprisals. Perry also believes that many of his fellow visual artists have also ducked the issue, and one leading British gallery director told The Times that few major venues would be prepared to show potentially inflammatory works. Ben Hoyle reports.

Muslims March Over Cartoons Of The Prophet

By Kate Connolly in Berlin A Danish experiment in testing “the limits of freedom of speech” has backfired – or succeeded spectacularly – after newspaper cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed provoked an outcry. Thousands of Muslims have taken to the streets in protest at the caricatures, the newspaper that published them has received death threats and two of its cartoonists have been forced into hiding. Jyllands-Posten, Denmark’s leading daily, defied Islam’s ban on images of the Prophet by printing cartoons by 12 different artists. In one he is depicted as a sabre-wielding terrorist accompanied by women in burqas, in another his turban appears to be a bomb and in a third he is portrayed as a schoolboy by a blackboard. The ambassadors of 11 Muslim countries called on Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the prime minister, to take “necessary steps” against the “defamation of Islam”. But Mr Rasmussen, the head of a centre-Right minority coalition dependent for its survival on support from an anti-foreigner party, called the cartoons a “necessary provocation” and refused to act. “I will never accept that respect for a religious stance leads to the curtailment of criticism, humour and satire in the press,” he said. The Danish debate over how to integrate Muslims has raged for years, with nursery school menus and women-only opening hours for swimming pools particular battlegrounds. But the cartoons satirising the Prophet have injected a dangerous new element into the controversy. “This is a pubescent demonstration of freedom of expression that consciously and totally without reason has trampled over the feelings of many people,” said Uffe Ellemann Jensen, a former foreign minister and member of Mr Rasmussen’s party. Carsten Juste, the editor of Jyllands-Posten, spurned demands that he apologise, saying he “would not dream” of saying sorry. “To demand that we take religious feelings into consideration is irreconcilable with western democracy and freedom of expression,” he said. “This doesn’t mean that we want to insult any Muslims.” Juste commissioned the cartoons after learning of the difficulties a children’s writer, Kare Bluitgen, had in finding an illustrator for his book on the Koran and the Prophet’s life. Bluitgen said all the artists he approached feared the wrath of Muslims if they drew images of Mohammed. Many cited the murder of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh by an Islamist as a reason for refusal. Juste said he wanted to counter growing “self censorship” and see how many cartoonists would be “bold enough” to draw the Prophet. One artist, Franz F_chsel, said he intended no offence. “But I live in 2005, not 905 and I use my quill in the way that Danish law allows me.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the Dutch MP famous for her criticism of Islam and author of the screenplay for Mr Van Gogh’s film Submission, supported the paper. “It’s necessary to taunt Muslims on their relationship with Mohammed,” she said. “Otherwise we will never have the dialogue we need to establish with Muslims on the most central question: ‘Do you really feel that every Muslim in 2005 should follow the way of life the Prophet had 1,400 years ago, as the Koran dictates?’ “