No Prosecution for Website Publishing Danish Cartoons

The Dutch Public Prosecution Department has announced that Geert Wilders and TV program Nova will not be prosecuted for publishing controversial Danish cartoons online. The 12 cartoons depicting Mohammad led to worldwide unrest when published in a Danish newspaper in 2006. The department determined that because the reproduced cartoons target Mohammad and not Muslims in general, they “do not insult Muslims nor incite hatred” and their reproduction is not punishable by law.

However the department will prosecute the pro-Arab Arabische Europese Liga unless it removes a cartoon depicting two Jews inventing the holocaust from its website. That cartoon does ‘insult Jews because of their race and/or religion’ because it implies Jews themselves invented the idea that six million were killed during World War II, the department said. Although the website removed the cartoons earlier, they have since republished them, as chairman Abdoulmouthalib Bouzerda claims that the prosecutor’s office is applying double standards. He adds that “given the decision not to interpret the Muhammad cartoon as offensive to Muslims, the decision that the publication of the AEL carton is liable to prosecution is incomprehensible”.

Jacques Chirac emerges as spokesperson for Holocaust instruction in Muslim countries

Former French President Jacques Chirac has emerged as a spokesperson of sorts for Holocaust instruction in Muslim countries. Chirac’s popularity in parts of the Arab world and his history of making clear statements about France’s responsibility in the World War II destruction of Europe’s Jews accords him, according to this IHT feature, a unique place in talking about the relationship of racism and anti-Semitism to the Arab-Israeli conflict. Chirac said he had no intention “to place on Muslim countries a responsibility” for the Holocaust “that isn’t theirs” but stressed the importance of “making the Shoah known while removing it from the silence that people have built up around it in many countries.” “It’s been hidden,” Chirac said, “because referring to the Shoah in these countries has risked creating sympathy for the Jews and Israel.”

German-Jewish Writer Opposes Anti-Islam Conference

A well-known Holocaust survivor has said he strongly opposes the international anti-Islam conference slated to take place in Germany next month, despite his critical stance on Islam. German Jewish writer and Holocaust survivor Ralph Giordano has come out strongly against the planned so-called Anti-Islamization Congress — a meeting of extreme-right European political forces — planned for Sept. 19-20 in Cologne. The right-wing extremist groups Pro Koeln and Pro NRW are organizing the event, with the aim of issuing a declaration opposed to the purported “Islamification” of Europe. Big names in xenophobia: The meeting will be attended by some of the most inflammatory names in European race politics, including Jean- Marie Le Pen of France, Austria’s Heinz-Christian Strache, and Belgium’s Filip Dewinter. In the past, the Pro Koeln and Pro NRW have invoked comments by Giordano, who has said he considers German integration policy a failure. He has also warned of “false tolerance” in the prosecution of foreign juvenile delinquents. But Giordano now says he does not want to be “instrumentalized” by the extreme right at the conference.

British MP: UK Muslims feel like ‘the Jews of Europe’

Addressing the issue of anti-Islamic prejudice in the UK, a British government minister has said that the growing culture of hostility has led many Muslims to say they feel targeted like “the Jews of Europe.” Labor MP Shahid Malik, Britain’s first Muslim government minister, made the statement in an interview with to be broadcast on Monday on the UK’s Channel 4, to coincide with the third anniversary of the 7/7 bombings in London which killed 52 people. Malik, appointed minister for international development by Prime Minister Gordon Brown last year, said it has somehow become legitimate to target Muslims in a way that would be unacceptable for any other minority. “Somehow there’s a message out there that it is OK to target people as long as it’s Muslims, and you don’t have to worry about the facts, and people will turn a blind eye,” he told the Dispatches program. Malik made clear that he was not equating the position with the Holocaust. “I think most people would agree that if you ask Muslims today what do they feel like, they feel like the Jews of Europe,” he said. “I don’t mean to equate that with the Holocaust, but in the way that it was legitimate almost – and still is in some parts – to target Jews, many Muslims would say that we feel the exact same way.” Jonny Paul reports.

Muslim and Jewish youth meet in Milan

Representatives from Italy’s Muslim and Jewish youth organizations plan to meet in Milan, as part of an inter-faith dialogue initiative. Daniele Nahim, president of the Young Jews of Italy will sit next to Abdallah Kabakebbji, a representative from the group Young Muslims of Italy. The meeting will take place at an exhibition called The Fairness of Islam at Milan’s Centre of Culture and Missionary Activity, PIME on Thursday; the day of the meeting is also Holocaust Remembrance Day. The exhibition will also present stories of Muslims who were killed in the Holocaust, and stories of Muslims helping Jews during Nazi rule.

The Spanish Minister of Justice argues that Islamophobia must be fought so that it doesn’t end in another Holocaust

The Minister of Justice, Mariano Fern_ndez Bermejo, hopes the current anti-Islamic trend will not end in the type of persecution experienced by the Jewish community. We can not fall under the temptation of blaming a religious community for the crimes committed in their name. Bermejo’s statements were made during the Intolerance and Discrimination Conference organized by OSCE.

This is what the clash of civilisations is really about

This is what the clash of civilisations is really about Relativism has made liberal openness appear weak, empty and repugnant compared with the clarity of dogma Julian Baggini Saturday April 14, 2007 The Guardian I don’t usually consider either the Ministry of Defence or the Vatican to be prescient founts of wisdom. But when two such different oracles issue remarkably similar warnings, you have to take notice. Earlier this week it was revealed in this newspaper how the MoD believes that “the trend towards moral relativism and increasingly pragmatic values” was causing more and more people to seek “more rigid belief systems, including religious orthodoxy and doctrinaire political ideologies, such as popularism and Marxism”. Flash back to 2004 and you find Pope John Paul II encouraging the then Cardinal Ratzinger to challenge a world “marked by both a widespread relativism and the tendency to a facile pragmaticism” by boldly proclaiming the truth of the church. Ratzinger has been preaching about the dangers of relativism ever since. Article continues Put the two together and you have a worrying prognosis. The clash of civilisations is happening not between Islam and the west, as we are often led to believe, but between pragmatic relativism and dogmatic certainty. On this analysis, it is easy to see liberal democracy not as the crowning achievement of civilisation but a manifestation of a laissez-faire, morally bankrupt modernity. “Relativism appears to be the philosophical foundation of democracy,” said Ratzinger in 1996. “Democracy in fact is supposedly built on the basis that no one can presume to know the true way.” It is no surprise that both the MoD and the Pope believe that the beneficiaries of this polarisation will be those offering certitude, since belief in something is almost always preferable to belief in nothing. As Walter put it in the film The Big Lebowski: “Say what you like about the tenets of national socialism, Dude, at least it’s an ethos.” How did we get to this dismal Hobson’s choice? The finger of blame has to be pointed largely at academics and intellectuals who have been so keen to debunk popular notions of truth that they have created a culture in which the middle ground between shoulder-shrugging relativism and dogmatic fundamentalism has been vacated. Of course, the works of truth-deniers such as Michel Foucault and Richard Rorty are hardly bestsellers. Yet their ideas do filter through to society as a whole. Consider, for instance, how what passes for common sense about morality has been turned on its head. For millennia, most people believed that right was right and wrong was wrong, and that was all there was to it. Now, university lecturers report that their fresh-faced new students take it as obvious that there is no such thing as “the truth” and that morality is relative. In educated circles at least, only the naive believe in objectivity. What was shocking when Nietzsche first proclaimed it at the end of the 19th century became platitudinous by the start of the 21st. Perhaps the most powerful idea to filter through from the universities to the streets was articulated by Foucault, who adapted and popularised the Nietzschean idea that what passes for truth is actually no more than power. There are no facts, only attempts to impose your view on the world by fixing it as “The Truth”. This idea is now so mainstream that even a conservative like Donald Rumsfeld could complain about those who lived in the “reality-based community”, arguing “that’s not the way the world really works anymore … when we act, we create our own reality.” Most Anglophone philosophers find this kind of hyper-scepticism absurd and pernicious. But although these ideas were hatched by philosophers, they have gained wide currency in the humanities and the social sciences, often in bastardised form. Some philosophers, such as Bernard Williams and Simon Blackburn, have waded into the public debate in an attempt to put the relativist genie back into the bottle. Books such as Why Truth Matters, by my colleagues Jeremy Stangroom and Ophelia Benson, have also tried to stem the tide. But this is not really a highbrow academic debate about whether there is Truth with a capital T – it is about how abstract ideas relate to the business of everyday life. Richard Rorty, for example, argues against Truth brilliantly, and it is far from clear that he is simply wrong. The problem is that he does not concede as unequivocally as he should that in practice his theories usually leave the world more or less as it is. Rorty believes as much as anyone else that the Holocaust happened more or less as described in history books, he just refuses to use an allegedly outmoded vocabulary of truth to say so. It is not quite fair to call his refusal in such contexts a pose, but it is certainly not quite what it seems. Ironically, like many left-leaning intellectuals, Rorty thinks that denying objectivity and truth is politically important, as a way of liberating people from the ways of seeing the world promoted as the Truth by the powerful. However, it turns out that Rorty and his ilk seriously misjudged what happens if intellectuals deny truth stridently and frequently enough. Far from making liberal openness more attractive, such denials actually make it appear empty, repugnant and weak compared to the crystalline clarity and certainty of dogma. They owe us an apology for failing to either see themselves, or make it clear to others, that in the everyday world we can and must distinguish truth and falsity, right and wrong, even if on close examination these terms do not mean what we thought they did. Science may not be God-like in its objectivity, but it is not just another myth. Moral values must be questioned, but if discrimination against women, homosexuals or ethnic minorities is wrong here, then it is wrong anywhere else in the world. Truth may not be the simple phenomenon we assume it to be, but falsehoods must be challenged. Unless we can make a convincing case that the choice is not between relativism or dogmatism, more and more people will reject the former and embrace the latter. When they do, those who helped create the impression that modern, secular rationality leaves everything up for grabs in the marketplace of belief will have to take their share of the blame. _ Julian Baggini is the editor of the Philosophers’ Magazine and author of Welcome to Everytown julianbaggini.com

Muslims need to take part: Palestinian dispossession is a reason to participate in Holocaust Memorial Day, not boycott it

The freedom for Muslims to express their identity in Europe is today under attack. Implicit in this attack is the view that Islam is intrinsically repressive, and embodies values alien to western values of liberty, tolerance and democracy. The memory of the Holocaust stands against such a grossly sanitised view of European history. It reminds us that in the heart of modern Europe the demonisation of a religious and cultural minority culminated in genocide – the mass, industrialised slaughter of European Jews. Why then, with European Muslims subject to attacks reminiscent of the gathering storms of anti-semitism in the first decades of the last century, has Holocaust Memorial Day become such a difficult issue for some British Muslims? One objection has been outlined by Inayat Bunglawala of the Muslim Council of Britain. “There have been many further instances of genocide and mass killings since we vowed ‘never again’ in response to the Nazi crimes,” he has pointed out. “Do the innocent killed in those horrific episodes not equally deserve to be commemorated in a more inclusive and aptly titled Genocide Memorial Day?” However, for many Muslims, arguments about the specificity of the Holocaust are not the main reason they are uneasy about participation in memorial events. The main reason is Palestine. The way in which Zionists have abused the memory of the Holocaust to bolster support for today’s Israeli state and its racist and murderous policies towards the Palestinians repels many Muslims, as well as some anti-Zionist Jews, from participating. In fact, Palestine should not be a reason for boycotting Holocaust Memorial Day, but a reason for participating. As the peace campaigner Uri Avnery, who organised a demonstration against the killing of Palestinian children on last year’s Holocaust Memorial Day in Tel Aviv, put it: one of the lessons of the Holocaust is that you must not accept an ideology telling you “that other people are inferior and subhuman” or that loyalty to your country justifies “the occupation of another country and oppression of another people”.

Kelly Challenges Muslim Groups

Ruth Kelly yesterday challenged Muslim groups who have boycotted Holocaust Memorial Day, in a speech warning Islamic organisations that sitting on the sidelines in the struggle against extremism was “not good enough”. The communities secretary announced that funding for groups would depend on their willingness to take a lead on the issue, and defended the government’s record, insisting: “Britain is a good place to be a Muslim.”

Denmark: Cartoons Editor Sent On Leave

By Jan Olsen The Danish editor at the centre of the prophet caricature furore has been sent on indefinite leave after a disagreement with management about whether their newspaper should also print cartoons of the Holocaust. Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten who commissioned the original 12 cartoons last year, has defended the decision of his and other European newspapers to publish as a valid exercise to test the growing tendency for self-censorship when handling Islamic subject matter. ?But earlier this week he said he would also be open to reprinting cartoons depicting the Holocaust commissioned by an Iranian newspaper. That prompted a public disagreement with editor-in-chief Carsten Juste, who has also come under pressure to resign over the row. “The editorial management and Flemming Rose have agreed that he needed a break from work until further notice,” said Tage Clausen, a spokesman for the Jyllands-Posten paper. Jyllands-Posten has apologised for offending Muslims but has insisted it was right to print the cartoons because of the importance of freedom of speech. Muslims incensed by the images have insisted that Denmark properly apologises to defuse the row. Yesterday, the deputy prime minister, Bendt Bendtsen, said he understood Muslim anger but condemned the violent protests that have broken out in Muslim countries. The EU has tried to draw the sting of the protesters by calling for a voluntary code of conduct for the media that would avoid further inflaming religious sensibilities. The US has accused Iran and Syria of deliberately stoking up reactions.