< HOME  Sunday, February 19, 2006

too little, too late

Saudi newspapers ran full-page statements said to be from the editor-in-chief of the Danish newspaper that first ran cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, expressing his "deep sorrow" and saying the paper had not intended to denigrate the prophet:
"Allow me first of all to say that our newspaper values and believes in the freedom of religious conviction and supports democracy and respects every individual. We apologise for the great misunderstanding that occurred over the drawings that depicted the noble Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) and that led to a growing feeling of animosity toward Denmark and the Danish, including the call for a boycott of Danish products. Allow me to clarify some points in order to end any misunderstanding.

"The newspaper JP published on 30 September 2005, 12 drawings of the Prophet Muhammad (prayers and peace be upon him) that Danish artists had drawn. It is very important to state that the purpose of these drawings was not to detract from the personality of the prophet (peace be upon him) or to diminish his value. Rather it was an opening to dialogue on the freedom of expression, which we in our country value greatly. We did not realise at the time the extent of the issue's sensitivity for the Muslims who live in Denmark and the millions of Muslims around the world. The publishing of these drawings did not conflict in any way with Danish laws on freedom of the press or expression.

"But these drawings, it appeared, insulted millions of Muslims around the world. And so we now offer our apologies and our deep sadness over what happened, because this was far from the intentions of the newspaper, which previously received an award of excellence from the European Commission after we published a number of articles in a special edition calling for peaceful coexistence and mutual respect between the Danish and all other ethnicities in Denmark. This edition included a number of articles that reflected positively on Islam and Muslims. What happened later was that drawings intentionally insulting to Islam and its noble Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) were published and shown to the Islamic world. These drawings have no connection to our newspaper, we know nothing about them and we are innocent of them, because they were never published in the JP. We always insist on high morals based on respect of principles, so we express our deep sorrow that some still believe we are connected to these intentional drawings.

"Getting back to the 12 drawings we did publish, (not an attack on Muslims) we reject this idea because we believe in freedom of religion, we consider sacred the freedom of the individual to perform his or her religious rites. We did not and do not think of harming or attacking any religion. We are sorry for this misunderstanding, and we underline that the intention was not to detract from anyone.

"In a serious attempt to eliminate the misunderstanding, we have held numerous meetings with members of the Islamic community in our country and these meetings took place in a positive atmosphere and the dialogue was constructive. Our desire is peaceful coexistence between peoples and we hope that a spirit of dialogue will prevail even if opinions differ.

"Finally, let me announce my apology in the name of the JP for what happened and my strong condemnation for any step that aims to harm particular religions, ethnicities or people. I hope that I have removed any misunderstanding, and success is with God."

With best wishes,
Carsten Juste, Editor.

* * *

The statement, which began with the traditional Islamic greeting, "Peace and God's mercy and blessings be upon you", was dated 5 February, and it was not clear why the newspapers had only published it 14 days later, on Sunday.

The Danish newspaper's website said the advertisements had been placed by a group of businesses, which it did not identify.
That explains why a non-Muslim would include the phrase (peace be upon him) after each reference to the prophet. The Muslim businesses included it.

But, that's not the only thing amiss, according to JC who graciously researched Danish papers for the latest scoop from Denmark...

It appears that an apology, like much else these days, is relative. According to Danish paper Politiken, JP’s editor, Carsten Juste, denied having apologized for printing the cartoons and for having anything to do with the letter of apology printed in three Arabic papers.

In a subsequent report also by Politiken, reporter Fikre el-Gourfti wrote that Juste’s denial was unnecessary. As it turns out the misunderstanding was caused by a mistaken translation of the letter from Arabic to English done by Reuters.

So, (1) the embellishments praising the Prophet were added by Arab businessmen and–or the Saudi department which had to approve of the text before printing (this is also the reason behind the delay); [just as I suspected] and (2) Juste insists, and this is in agreement with JP’s original letter, that they apologize for hurting Muslim sensitivities, but not for having printed the cartoons.

In a related development, Arla, a Danish company that exports dairy products to the Arab world and the one that suffered the greatest losses this past month, printed ads in Arab newspapers distancing themselves from JP and the cartoons yesterday. This brought down the wrath of the Danish ruling party Venstre and its support party, the Danish Peoples Party (DF). According to spokesman for DF Soren Jespersen, Arla has adopted a stance that is “anti-free speech.” He finds it “deplorable … that Arla should choose to carry out its own foreign policy. Of course Arla has a right to free speech but it creates great uncertainty about the government's official position.”

So, it seems that the "apology" from JP was not quite an apology. They are 'sorry' that Muslim feelings were hurt but not sorry that they printed the cartoons that caused the pain. Too little, too late.

Similarly, with respect to Arla, speech is free when it's used to insult those you despise, but not free when it's used to apologize. I guess it's the theoretical principle that counts.

4 Comments:

At Monday, February 20, 2006, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I am sorry, but I just don't think you appreciate or understand what free speech really is about. You have yet to articulate why religion is so special that it cannot be parodyed - especially when religion is inextricably tied to state and nonstate action that affects us all. There is zero, let me say that again, ZERO, reason why speech cannot be free with respect to religion, but it can be with respect to politics. Feelings are hurt? Boo freaking hoo. Am I supposed to care? Especially after all the anti-Jewish cartoons published in the Middle East? (which I also say should be part of free speech)

I'm done. We are not getting anywhere on this subject.

 
At Monday, February 20, 2006, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I also don't think an apology is warranted. There were hurt feelings. So? This is legitimate free speech. When Matt Stone and Trey Parker do cartoons that are anti-Christian or anti-semitic, do you see the United States appologizing to the pope or to Israel? No. Hell, has the Iranian president apologized for the Holocaust cartoon contest in the state run paper? NO. Why should the government apologize for a legitimate expression of free speech by an independent newspaper it has no control over?

(sorry, now I am done for real)

 
At Monday, February 20, 2006, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I want to add a final subscript - of course Arla should be able to print what they want. I just don't think the government should be made to or feel the need to apologize. (and Arla has nothing to apologize for, anyway)

 
At Monday, February 20, 2006, Anonymous Mighty Thor said...

Yes, ck "Miss R's" statement on the "Iran Strike: Doable" for Saturday, 18 Feb, 12:39:42 PM, 2nd para., where she says Pres. Iran's denying holohoax has made himself into a threat whence he deserves to be nuked.

"Miss R" is the very archetypal Jew-liar and absolute psychopath, blood drooling fm her face, surely. And this is the great virtue of the I-net and blogging--we actually get this kind of psychologic and cultural-type evidence before our very eyes to then discuss.

Truly, "Miss R," u're a veritable fountain of enlightenment: Judaism in action, expressed in black and white. By all means keep talking and telling us more. I couldn't invent all this in a work of fiction if I tried, I'm sure. Thor

 

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