Poll suggests 39% of French agree that Muslim prayer is like German occupation

News Agencies – December 18, 2010

Almost 40% of the French agree with National Front Marine Len Pen’s statements on Muslim prayer in the streets, according to France Soir. The vice-president of the Front National compared Muslim prayer to occupation. Among voters of Sarkozy’s UMP, 54% agree with Le Pen. In total, 61% of the French disagree with Len Pen: 82% of left-wing voters and 46% of UMP voters.

Caricatures : les organisations musulmanes hésitent à lancer des poursuites systématiques

Les tribunaux ne leur ont jamais donn_ gain de cause mais ces revers n’entament pas ” la confiance ” des organisations musulmanes fran_aises dans la justice de leur pays. Elles l’ont r_p_t_ _ la veille du proc_s contre Charlie Hebdo, mercredi 7 f_vrier, devant la 17e chambre du tribunal correctionnel de Paris. La Grande Mosqu_e de Paris, l’Union des organisations islamiques de France (UOIF) et la Ligue islamique mondiale ont port_ plainte contre l’hebdomadaire, apr_s la publication des caricatures danoises mettant en sc_ne le proph_te Mahomet, en f_vrier 2006. A la veille de la sortie de l’hebdomadaire, elles avaient tent_ d’emp_cher par r_f_r_ sa parution. En vain. Leur dernier d_boire judiciaire remontait _ 2002. Les organisations musulmanes et la Ligue des droits de l’homme poursuivaient, pour ” incitations _ la haine “, l’_crivain Michel Houellebecq. Dans des entretiens accord_s au mensuel Lire et au Figaro Magazine, _ l’occasion de la parution de son livre Plateforme, il d_clarait notamment : ” La religion la plus con, c’est quand m_me l’islam. Quand on lit le Coran, on est effondr_. ” Les plaignants avaient _t_ d_bout_s en premi_re instance et avaient renonc_ _ faire appel. Dans l’affaire des caricatures danoises, les organisations musulmanes ont choisi d’attaquer exclusivement Charlie Hebdo et non pas France Soir, premier quotidien en France _ avoir publi_ les dessins. ” […]

Church In Wales Recalls Magazine With Mohammed Cartoon

The Anglican Church in Wales said it was recalling all copies of its Welsh-languge Y Llan (Church) magazine that features a French cartoon depicting the Prophet Mohammed. Taken from the France-Soir newspaper, the cartoon shows Mohammed on a heavenly cloud with Buddha, Moses, and God who tells him: “Don’t complain, Mohammed, we’ve all been caricatured here.” “The Church in Wales is thoroughly investigating how this cartoon came to be reproduced in Y Llan,” a spokesman for Barry Morgan, the Archbishop of Wales, said Tuesday. He added that Morgan had sent apologies to the Muslim Council of Wales for any offence caused. The cartoon was used to illustrate an article in Y Llan — which has a circulation of about 400 copies — about the shared ancestry of Christianity, Islam and Judaism. It first appeared in France-Soir on February 2, a day after the Paris-based daily reproduced a collection of Danish cartoons which touched off a wave of sometimes violent protests by Muslims around the world. Last month, a Cardiff University student union newspaper was withdrawn after it printed one of the Danish cartoons.

French Weekly Prints Prophet Drawing, Free Press Plea

A French satirical weekly published a new cartoon of the prophet Muhammad on its cover, as a French Muslim group condemned the violence that Danish caricatures sparked in Muslim countries. The wave of protests, “orchestrated four months after the facts, aims at caging all freedom of thought by artists and intellectuals,” Tewfik Allal, of the Association of the Freedom Manifesto, a Muslim organization, wrote in the weekly Charlie Hebdo. “Other communities — Jews, Christians — have felt insulted by this or that text, drawing or thought, but they reacted by going to court.” Charlie Hebdo, on the inside pages of today’s issue, also published the 12 Danish cartoons, first carried by Jyllands- Posten in September, joining newspapers in a number of countries that have printed them in the name of free speech. French President Jacques Chirac, speaking to the weekly cabinet meeting after Charlie Hebdo went on sale, said “freedom of expression should be used responsibly,” government spokesman Jean-Francois Cope told reporters. “Anything that can harm convictions of faith, in particular religious convictions, should be avoided,” Cope cited Chirac as saying. Chirac criticized “all manifest provocations that are liable to dangerously arouse passions. He condemned equally all types of violent” reactions. The Danish cartoons have been published in countries including Austria, Germany, Hungary, Italy and Switzerland. `Right to Caricature’ The French newspaper France Soir published the 12 cartoons on Feb. 1, with a headline that claimed “the right to caricature God.” The newspaper’s editor, Jacques Lefranc, was dismissed the following day by France Soir’s publisher, Egyptian-born Raymond Lakah, a Christian. MRAP, one of France’s biggest anti-racism associations, is suing France Soir for the publication of one cartoon, a depiction of Muhammad wearing a turban in the shape of a bomb, MRAP’s president, Mouloud Aounit, said by telephone. MRAP hasn’t yet taken any action against Charlie Hebdo, he said. The cartoon’s “manifest intention is to provoke, hurt, humiliate, stigmatize, and participate deliberately in the racist amalgam between Muslims and terrorists,” Aounit said. Because visual representation of Muhammad is considered blasphemy by Muslims, the cartoons sparked the anger of believers. Danish Boycott In countries including Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, Muslims are boycotting Danish goods, and, in the Gaza Strip, Palestinian militants threatened to kidnap Westerners if governments don’t apologize for the actions of newspapers in their countries. Iran cut trade relations with Denmark when President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad on Feb. 4 issued a decree calling on the Trade Ministry to terminate economic agreements with all Western countries where the cartoons were published. The protests prompted United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan to call on Muslims to refrain from violence on Feb. 6, after crowds set fire to the Danish consulate in Beirut, and after the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria’s capital, Damascus, were attacked.

Denmark: European Papers Join Danish Fray

By Alan Cowell COPENHAGEN In a remarkable escalation of a dispute over cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, newspapers in several European countries reprinted the images on Wednesday, supporting a Danish newspaper that triggered a huge outcry in the Islamic world by publishing them initially. The newspapers’ action fed into a sharpening debate here over freedom of expression, human rights and what one Danish editor, Flemming Rose, called a “clash of civilizations” between secular Western democracies and Islamic societies. Indeed, said Rose, culture editor of Jyllands-Posten – the newspaper which first published the cartoons last September – “this is a far bigger story than just the question of 12 cartoons in a small Danish newspaper.” “This is about the question of integration and how compatible is the religion of Islam with a modern secular society – how much does an immigrant have to give up and how much does the receiving culture have to compromise,” he said in an interview. In recent days, Denmark has become the target of a widespread boycott of its goods, like dairy products and pharmaceuticals, in the Muslim world, its diplomats have been summoned to be dressed down in Tehran and Baghdad, and protesters have taken to the streets of Gaza. While Jyllands-Posten has apologized for giving offense, it has not apologized for publishing the cartoons, one of which depicts the prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Images of Muhammad are regarded as blasphemous by many Muslims. The Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, has rejected demands by Arab governments for an official apology, saying, “A Danish government cannot apologize on the part of a Danish paper. I can’t call a newspaper and tell them what to put in it. That’s not how our society works.” Rose called the decision not to apologize “a key issue of principle.” In support of the Danish position, newspapers in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain and Switzerland reprinted some of the cartoons on Wednesday. A small Norwegian evangelical magazine, Magazinet, also published the cartoons last month. The dispute has been likened to a string of earlier cultural confrontations between Islam and the West, beginning with the death sentence declared in 1989 on the British author Salman Rushdie by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in Iran after the publication of “The Satanic Verses.” In 2004, the Dutch film maker Theo van Gogh was murdered after making a film called “Submission” that dealt with violence against women in Islamic societies. Robert Menard, secretary general of Reporters Sans Fronti_res, a Paris-based body that monitors media developments, said: “All countries in Europe should be behind the Danes and Danish authorities to defend the principle that a newspaper can write what it wishes to even if it offends people.” Arab regimes “do not understand there can be a complete separation between what is written in a newspaper and what the Danish government says,” he said in a telephone interview. “I understand that it may shock Muslims, but being shocked is part of the price of being informed.” He noted, too, that many attacks on Denmark came from countries like Libya and Saudi Arabia, “where there’s no press freedom” and where governments routinely steered newspapers. Several Muslim leaders in Copenhagen have said they accept the apology from Jyllands-Posten, but in the Middle East, Arab and Islamic governments continued to express outrage. On Wednesday, Syria became the latest Arab country after Saudi Arabia and Libya to withdraw its ambassador from Denmark, saying publication of the cartoons “constitutes a violation of the sacred principles of hundreds of millions of Arabs and Muslims,” according to SANA, Syria’s state press agency. The Danish Embassy in Damascus was evacuated after a bomb threat on Wednesday, but no bomb was found. On Tuesday, the offices of Jyllands-Posten were evacuated under similar circumstances. The contentious cartoons include one showing the Prophet Muhammad telling dead suicide bombers that paradise has run out of virgins – a reference to the 72 virgins accorded a Muslim martyr. In Paris, the newspaper France Soir, printed all 12 cartoons, saying it did so “not from an appetite for gratuitous provocation, but because they constitute the subject of a controversy on a global scale which has done nothing to maintain balance and mutual limits in democracy, respect of religious beliefs and freedom of expression.” The French newspaper ran a headline declaring: “Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God.” It published a cartoon showing Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian gods on a cloud. The Christian god was depicted saying: “Don’t complain, Muhammad. We’ve all been caricatured before.” The newspaper declared: “No religious dogma can impose its view on a democratic and secular society.” Arnaud Levy, editor-in-chief of France Soir, said there had been no coordination between European editors. Asked if they had been in touch to publish the cartoons simultaneously, he said in a telephone interview: “Absolutely not.” A commentary in France Soir declared: “Enough lessons from these reactionary bigots! Just because the Koran bans images of Muhammad doesn’t mean non-Muslims have to submit to this.” The decision by France Soir to publish the cartoons drew a sharp response from French Muslims. Dalil Boubakeur, head of the French Council for the Muslim Religion, called the publication of the cartoons a “provocation” and an abuse of press freedom, adding that it reflected “Islamophobia” and was disrespectful of the world’s more than one billion Muslims. “The publication of the cartoons can only revive tensions in Europe and the world at a time when we are trying to unite people,” he said. In Germany, the conservative Die Welt daily printed one image on its front page and declared in an editorial: “The protests from Muslims would be taken more seriously if they were less hypocritical. When Syrian television showed drama documentaries in prime time depicting rabbis as cannibals, the imams were quiet.”

Newspapers Challenge Muslims Over Cartoons Of Mohammed

By David Rennie in Brussels Newspapers across Europe yesterday defended what one editor called the “right to blasphemy” by printing Danish cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed that have provoked fury in the Arab world. A slow-burning row over the cartoons, originally published in Jyllands-Posten in September, exploded after they were denounced by a senior Saudi Arabian cleric last week. Protests have included street demonstrations, flag burnings, death threats, bomb scares and a crippling consumer boycott of Danish goods by businesses in several Gulf states. That anger spread across Europe after the cartoons were published yesterday in France, Germany, Spain and Italy. Syria became the latest nation to withdraw its ambassador from Copenhagen, after Saudi Arabia and Libya. In France the front page of the France-Soir tabloid carried the headline “Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God” and a cartoon of Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim and Christian divinities floating on a cloud. Inside, the paper re-ran the Danish drawings. “The appearance of the 12 drawings in the Danish press provoked emotions in the Muslim world because the representation of Allah and his prophet is forbidden,” it said. “But because no religious dogma can impose itself on a democratic and secular society, France Soir is publishing the incriminating caricatures.” France has western Europe’s largest Muslim community, with an estimated five million people. Mohammed Bechari, the president of the National Federation of the Muslims of France, said his group would start legal proceedings against France Soir because the pictures were “hurting the feelings of 1.2 billion Muslims”. The drawings were originally commissioned by Jyllands-Posten from Danish artists after an author could not find an illustrator to depict Mohammed in a biography of the Prophet. The Danish cartoonists submitted a range of images, all banned by Islam, which strictly forbids depictions of the Prophet to avoid encouraging idolatry. One depicts a grinning, knife-wielding Mohammed flanked by two veiled women. Another, which appeared on the front page of Die Welt in Germany, and in La Stampa in Italy, shows the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban, topped by a hissing fuse. The Spanish newspaper ABC used a photograph of the original Danish newspaper, with its 12 cartoons. Die Welt also ran an editorial regretting a decision by the Danish newspaper to apologise for the upset caused. The Jyllands Posten has not apologised but its editor, Carsten Juste, said he would not have printed them “had we known that it would lead to boycotts and Danish lives being endangered”. Die Welt described the “right to blasphemy” as a key freedom of an open society. Roger K_ppel, the editor of Die Welt, said his main motive for running the cartoon had been the “news value of the story”. But he stood by the decision. “In our culture, we have a tradition that even our most holy things can be subjected to satire or criticism. Muslims have to understand that in our culture, the representation of a holy man has another meaning.” The Left-wing Berliner Zeitung daily printed two of the caricatures as part of its coverage of the controversy, but said Denmark should accept the boycott of its goods as the price to pay for freedoms of speech. “If we really want to protect our values, then we should respect this call for boycott and just accept the sacrifices they will incur.” Armed militants in the Palestinian territories this week warned Danish, Norwegian and Swedish citizens to leave the Gaza Strip and West Bank or risk being killed.