Syrians Burn Danish, Norwegian Embassies
- See updated photos at:
See especially the censored in Denmark, Norway and Sweden Reuters
Muslim and left-wing demonstrators take part in an anti-Nazi protest
in Hillerod, Denmark February 4, 2006. More than 100 demonstrators
were arrested during the protest. NORWAY OUT DENMARK OUT SWEDEN OUT NO
THIRD PARTY SALES REUTERS/Lars Moller/Scanpix
and the following photos:
Syrian demonstrators participating in a protest burn the Norwegian
flag outside the burning Norwegian embassy in Damascus February 4,
2006. Furious Syrians set fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies
on Saturday as protests over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad showed
no signs of abating despite calls for calm. REUTERS/Handout
Muslim protesters chant slogans and wave placards during a
demonstration in front of the Danish embassy in London, Saturday, Feb.
4, 2006. Hundreds demonstrated outside Denmark's embassy in London on
Saturday to condemn the publication of cartoons considered insulting
to the Prophet Muhammad. (AP Photo/Akira Suemori)
Greek-Orthodox priests take part in a demonstration in protest of
offensive caricatures of Islam's prophet in Gaza City Saturday, Feb.
4, 2006. Hundreds of Palestinians marched through the streets of Gaza
City on Saturday, storming European buildings and burning German and
Danish flags to protest cartoons deemed insulting to the Prophet
Muhammad. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)
The following letter was sent to the Canadian Broadcasting
Corp. website (cbc.ca) in response to their coverage of
Muslim community response in Halifax, Nova Scotia (Canada)
to the rash of racist cartoons recently reproduced in
European news media deliberately directed against Muslims:
"Your online report of the Halifax rally-demonstration on
Birmingham Street on Saturday 4 Feb 2006 contains the
'The satirical depictions of the Prophet have spurred days
of demonstrations throughout the Middle East and elsewhere
by Muslims, who were offended because Islamic law forbids
any depictions of Muhammad in order to prevent idolatry.'
"Clearly these 'depictions' were not received in the
'satirical' spirit your report implicitly ascribes to their
author(s). This raises the question: by what logic, then,
can you call them 'satirical'?
"These cartoons are offensive NOT because of anything
'Islamic law forbids', as your report ludicrously suggests,
but because they smear the conscience of 1.2 billion Muslim
believers. They are also deeply racist. Moreover, they were
re-published at a critical and very revealing moment: NATO
troops, including 2000 Canadians, are stepping up their
infliction of 'collateral damage,' i.e., slaughter, on
Afghani civilians in the name of "rooting out scumbags", as
Canadian Chief of Defence Staff Rick Hillier so
felicitously put it some months back.
"These cartoons, and especially the diversionary
'controversy' whipped up around them, prepare an atmosphere
in which further such genocidal assaults throughout the
Muslim world by the US and NATO can be rationalised . How
'satirical' indeed, as we all convulse in hilarity at the
onset of World War Three."
Here is the CBC's online article:
Muslims rally in Halifax over Muhammad caricatures
Last Updated Sun, 05 Feb 2006 00:42:14 EST
A crowd of about 200 Muslim protesters rallied in front of
Denmark's consulate in Halifax on Saturday, angered by a
Danish newspaper's publication of editorial cartoons of the
The satirical depictions of the Prophet have spurred days
of demonstrations throughout the Middle East and elsewhere
by Muslims, who were offended because Islamic law forbids
any depictions of Muhammad in order to prevent idolatry.
In one of the most violent incidents, Syrian protesters set
fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus on
The protesters in Halifax demonstrated peacefully on the
sidewalks outside the consulate.
Although women were lined up on one side of the street and
men on the other, their messages were the same: freedom of
speech in any country should have limits.
"Freedom, yes! Insult, no!" protesters shouted during the
demonstration, which lasted about an hour.
They said they were deeply upset by the caricatures, which
were first published in Denmark in September, then
reprinted in other European countries. One of the cartoons
that drew the most criticism depicts Muhammad with a
turban-shaped bomb on his head and some protesters said
they were offended by the implication that all Muslims were
"I feel insulted about who I am and that's not right," said
Duale said one of the main reasons for holding the protest
was to try to educate more non-Muslims about their faith.
"Most of the people, they can not picture why someone would
get this much upset just seeing a picture. The point is not
the picture," he said.
"The point is, people, they don't know what will hurt us
and how much it will hurt us. And this is one of the
reasons we are here today."
The Danish consulate was closed at the time of the protest,
which caused no disruptions to local businesses or traffic.
Also in reaction to the publication of the cartoons, a
handful of Muslim-owned stores across the country have
joined an international boycott of products from Denmark.
European media publish anti-Muslim cartoons:
An ugly and calculated provocation
4 February 2006
World Socialist Web Site
The World Socialist Web Site unequivocally condemns the publication by
a series of European newspapers of defamatory cartoons depicting the
Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist and killer. These crude caricatures,
intended to insult and incite Muslim sensibilities, are a political
provocation. Their publication, initially by a right-wing Danish
newspaper with historical ties to German and Italian fascism, was
calculated to fuel anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment.
The decision of the right-wing Danish government to defend the
newspaper that initially published the cartoons, and of newspapers in
Norway, France, Germany, Spain, Italy, Belgium, the Netherlands,
Switzerland, Iceland and Hungary, both conservative and liberal, to
reprint them has nothing to do with freedom of the press or the
defense of secularism. Such claims make a mockery of these democratic
The promulgation of such bigoted filth is, rather, bound up with a
shift by the European ruling elites to line up more squarely behind
the neo-colonial interventions of US imperialism in the Middle East
and Central Asia. It is no accident that it occurs in the midst of the
ongoing slaughter in Iraq, new threats against the Palestinian masses,
and the preparations to launch sanctions, and eventual military
aggression, against Iran.
It is, moreover, a continuation and escalation of a deliberate policy
in Europe, spearheaded by the political right and aided and abetted by
the nominal "left" parties, to demonize the growing Muslim population,
isolate it, and use it as a scapegoat for the growing social misery
affecting broad layers of the working class.
In the name of the fight against terrorism, governments throughout
Europe are implementing repressive measures that target, in the first
instance, Muslim and other immigrant populations, while preparing the
ground for the destruction of the democratic rights of the working
class as a whole. These police state preparations go hand in hand with
an offensive against the jobs, wages and living standards of working
people and an ever-greater concentration of wealth in the coffers of a
wealthy and privileged minority at the top.
One does not have to uphold Islam, or any other religion, to
sympathize with the indignation of Muslims around the world who have
expressed their outrage at the racist drawings flung in their face by
media outlets that claim to be defending Western secularist values
against the dark hordes from the East.
On Friday, protests against the publication of the cartoons spread
across the Middle East, northern Africa and Asia, with thousands
demonstrating in Iraq, tens of thousands in the West Bank and the Gaza
Strip, and some 50,000 filling a square in Khartoum, the capital of
Sudan. Muslims also protested in Britain and Turkey.
The events that have led up to the present confrontation make it clear
that the publication of the cartoons was a political provocation. The
Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, which first published twelve caricatures
of Mohammad on September 30, supports the right-wing government headed
by Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussena government that includes in
its coalition a rabidly anti-immigrant and anti-Muslim party.
In the 1920s and 1930s, Jyllands-Posten was infamous for its affinity
for Italian fascism and the German Nazi dictatorship. In 1933, it
argued for the introduction of a dictatorship in Denmark.
Last September, the newspaper asked forty cartoonists to draw images
of the Prophet Muhammad, something that is proscribed by Islamic law
as blasphemous. Spelling out the provocative and inflammatory aim of
this exercise, the chief editor said its purpose was "to examine
whether people would succumb to self-censorship, as we have seen in
other cases when it comes to Muslim issues."
The newspaper proceeded to publish twelve drawings. These included a
cartoon showing the Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban in the shape of
a smoking bomb, another with Muhammad on a cloud in heaven telling an
approaching line of suicide bombers that he had run out of virgins
with which to reward them, and a third depicting the prophet grinning
wildly, with a knife in his hand and flanked by heavily-veiled women.
In October, Prime Minister Rasmussen refused to meet with the
ambassadors of eleven predominantly Muslim countries who had requested
a meeting to discuss their objections to the cartoons. Setting the
tone for the ensuing developments, Rasmussen declared that the
cartoons were a legitimate exercise in press freedom, and implied that
there was nothing to discuss.
The affront was stepped up when a Norwegian magazine published the
drawings in January. Denmark continued to ignore protests by Danish
Muslim groups and other Muslim organizations until the end of January,
when Saudi Arabia and Syria recalled their ambassadors from Denmark
and the Saudi regime initiated a consumer boycott of Danish goods.
Only when the boycott spread and the Danish company Arla Foods, the
second largest dairy producer in Europe, announced that its Middle
Eastern sales had completely dried up, did the Danish government and
Jyllands-Posten issue statements of regret, while defending the
decision to publish the cartoons.
This week the simmering controversy exploded when the French newspaper
France Soir republished the cartoons. Defending its printing of the
drawings in an editorial on Thursday, the newspaper's editor wrote:
"Enough lessons from these reactionary bigots."
Other newspapers in France, including the liberal Libération, followed
suit, printing some or all of the ugly cartoons. Le Monde, for its
part, ran a sketch of a man, presumably Mohammad, made up of sentences
reading, "I must not draw Muhammad."
The German newspapers Die Welt, Die Tageszeitung, Tagesspiegel and
Berliner Zeitung, the Dutch papers Volksrant, NRC Handelsblad and
Elsevier, Italy's La Stampa and Corriere della Sera, Spain's El
Periodico and two Dutch-language newspapers in Belgium were among
those that published some or all of the cartoons over the past several
In Britain, the BBC, ITV and Channel 4 all showed some of the cartoons
on television news broadcasts.
An indication of the political forces and motives behind the deluge of
racist caricatures was the decision of Geert Wilders, a member of the
Dutch parliament who has proposed a law that would ban women from
wearing burqas, to post the cartoons on his web site "as a token of
support to the Danish cartoonists and to stand up for free speech."
Among those European politicians and government officials who have
sprung to the defense of the Danish government and the media outlets
that published the images is French Interior Minister Nicolas Sarkozy.
With quintessential cynicism, the man who helped incite last year's
anti-police riots in the largely Muslim immigrant suburbs of France by
referring to their inhabitants as "scum" and "gangrene" has now
adopted the mantle of press freedom to support yet another attack on
The absurd attempt to give this anti-democratic assault a democratic
veneer is exemplified by Sarkozy, who authored the current state of
emergency that has gutted civil liberties in France. The French
government of Sarkozy and President Jacques Chirac set the precedent
for such anti-Muslim attacks by imposingwith the support of the
Socialist and Communist parties and the "far left" Lutte Ouvrière
(Workers Struggle)a ban on Muslim girls wearing head scarves in the
public schools. This overt attack on religious freedom in general and
the rights of Muslims in particular was likewise passed off as a
defense of secularism and the "enlightened" values of the French Republic.
The real content of the supposed crusade for secularism and press
freedom was shown in the first wave of mass deportations of French
Muslims under a law championed by Sarkozy in the aftermath of last
year's riots. The law provides for the summary deportation of all
foreigners who are indictednot convictedof crimes. Hundreds of youth
were arrested by Sarkozy's riot police during the disturbances, and
these are now threatened with being shipped out of the country.
The new Grand Coalition government headed by Angela Merkel has
likewise called for stronger measures to evict foreigners from German
The foreign policy interests behind the anti-Muslim attack were
indicated by the Netherlands' announcement of plans to send additional
troops to help police Afghanistan for US imperialism.
On Friday, the US State Department issued a statement opposing the
publication of the cartoons. "These cartoons are indeed offensive to
the belief of Muslims," said a department spokesman, adding, "We fully
recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression, but it must
be coupled with press responsibility. Inciting religious or ethnic
hatreds in this manner is not acceptable."
This intervention is entirely hypocritical, coming from a government
that has sought repeatedly to muzzle the American press and has waged
a brutal attack on Muslims within the US. The Bush administration has,
in the aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks, spearheaded the
assault on Muslims around the world, using the so-called "war on
terrorism" as the pretext.
Washington's "respect" for the beliefs of Muslims was exposed before
the eyes of the world in the pictures of sadistic abuse of prisoners
at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq, where military and intelligence
officials employed tactics designed to exploit Muslim beliefs and
The official US response to the publication of the cartoons is largely
motivated by immediate concerns over the impact the provocation could
have on Washington's imperialist operations in Iraq, Iran and elsewhere.
Some who defend the publication of the cartoons claim they are
examples of satireas though crude appeals to the basest and most
bigoted impulses can be equated with genuine social or cultural
criticism. In fact, the images plastered on the pages of European
newspapers and broadcast on television news programs have far more in
common with the type of anti-Semitic caricatures made infamous by the
Nazis than they do with satire.
That such outpourings can have anything to do with a struggle for
secularism in opposition to religious belief is absurd. A genuine
critique of religion can be conducted only on the highest intellectual
level, appealing to science and reasonnot ignorance and fear.
The current episode reveals the enormous dangers facing the working
class from the visible decomposition of democracy in all of the
capitalist countries. The promotion of anti-Muslim chauvinism, and all
forms of communalist and nationalist poison, is the expression of a
social system that is mired in insoluble crisis and incapable of
meeting the most basic needs of the broad masses of the people.
The only antidote to such backward and reactionary politics is the
development of a united movement of workers of all countries,
religions and nationalities in opposition to war and in defense of
democratic rights against the capitalist ruling elites and the system
they uphold. The program upon which such a struggle must be based is
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