As German journalist Henryk Broder put it after the 2006 riots over the Danish cartoons of Muhammad: "Objectively speaking, the cartoon controversy was a tempest in a teacup. But subjectively it was a show of strength and, in the context of the 'clash of civilizations,' a dress rehearsal for the real thing. The Muslims demonstrated how quickly and effectively they can mobilize the masses, and the free West showed that it has nothing to counter the offensive -- nothing but fear, cowardice and an overriding concern about the balance of trade. Now the Islamists know that they are dealing with a paper tiger whose roar is nothing but a tape recording."
In 2008, three years after the cartoons were first published, the matter is still very much alive in the minds of many Muslims. More than 200 lawmakers shouted "Death to the enemies of Islam" during an angry demonstration outside the Afghan parliament, protesting the reprinting of the cartoons in Denmark and the release of the Islam-critical film Fitna by the Dutch politician Wilders. At the same time, Danish aid is helping schools to re-open in Afghanistan, even though critics say the curriculum is based on fundamentalist Islam. A campaign to boycott Danish and Dutch products was launched in Jordan. The campaign will include ads in newspapers and on radio and television that urge consumers to avoid buying named goods. The organisation, "The Messenger of Allah Unites Us," have produced t-shirts, bumper stickers and posters with the campaign logo "Live without it."
"[Danish] Muslim organizations intend to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights," Muslim leader Mohammed Khalid Samha told IslamOnline, the large English language website founded by Muslim Brotherhood spiritual leader Yusuf al-Qaradawi, after a Danish court rejected a suit by seven Muslim groups. "We were quite sure that the Danish judiciary would not be fair to Muslims," said Samha. Meanwhile, two Tunisian men were arrested and charged with plotting the murder of Jyllands-Posten cartoonist Kurt Westergaard.
"When a car bomb exploded outside Denmark's embassy in Islamabad on June 2, killing eight, it was easy to guess who had done it and why. Sure enough, some days later al-Qaeda took credit and confirmed its motive: the now-infamous Muhammed cartoons. Originally published in the Jyllands-Posten daily on September 30, 2005, they were reprinted by a raft of Danish dailies last February 13 in a show of solidarity with turban-bomb cartoonist Kurt Westergaard, the target of three would-be assassins who had been arrested the day before. Presumably this rather surprising action — the Danish media, generally speaking, have given Jyllands-Posten a rough time for the past three years for upsetting the Muslims — was the immediate cause for the bombing."
"Blasphemy" against Islam potentially carries the death penalty according to sharia law. In June 2008, a Pakistani judge sentenced a Muslim man to death on charges that he insulted Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
In contrast to Denmark's defiance, other Scandinavian countries surrendered to Islamic pressure as fast as humanly possible. Bawer again:
"Sweden took another route. When a political website featured a Jyllands-Posten cartoon, the government sent police to close it down. More recently, hit with his own cartoon crisis involving artist Lars Vilks, Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt not only met Muslim ambassadors, but was praised by one for his 'spirit of appeasement.' Norway didn't cover itself in glory, either. On the pretext that a tiny newspaper, Magazinet, had reprinted the Jyllands-Posten cartoons (never mind that major dailies in Spain, Germany, and France had done so as well), the cartoon jihadists chose to target Norway as well, plainly betting that the dialogue-happy, UN-worshipping 'peace country' would curb its freedoms at the first hint of Muslim displeasure. They were right. Norway's government caved in ignominiously, holding a press conference on February 10, 2006, at which Magazinet's cowed editor, Vebjørn Selbekk, with the blessing of Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, grovelled before a posse of imams and apologised to them for exercising his freedom of speech. It was probably the most disgraceful day in modern Norwegian history, but you wouldn't know it by the politicians and journalists, who celebrated this selling out of freedom as a triumph of peacemaking."
Selbekk, editor of the small Christian newspaper Magazinet, had firmly resisted pressure from Muslims who had made death threats and from the Norwegian establishment. But eventually Norway's Minister of Labor and Social Inclusion Bjarne Håkon Hanssen hastily called a press conference at a major government office building in Oslo. There Selbekk issued an abject apology for reprinting the cartoons. At his side, accepting his act of contrition and asking that all threats now be withdrawn, was Mohammed Hamdan, the then head of Norway's Islamic Council. As Bawer indicates, it was a picture right out of a sharia courtroom, with the Muslim leader declaring Selbekk to be henceforth under his protection.
In a Friday sermon on February 3 2006, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, the world's largest Islamic organization, exhorted worshippers to show rage in response to the cartoons. The sermon was aired on TV. The day after, the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria were set ablaze by an angry mob. It should be mentioned here that both Norway and Denmark are members of NATO and that destroying an embassy could be considered an act of war, or certainly very close to it. A few days later, a delegation led by Mr. Mohammed Hamdan of Norway's Islamic Council and a senior pastor representing Oslo's bishop visited Qatar to meet Mr. Qaradawi. The trip received support from the Norwegian government. Yusuf al-Qaradawi then accepted the apology that Vebjørn Selbekk had issued on February 10.
Walid al-Kubaisi, a Muslim dissident living in Norway, warned that Yusuf al-Qaradawi is more dangerous than the terrorist leader Osama bin Laden, and that the Muslim Brotherhood, whose founder Qaradawi followed when he was young, wants the world to submit to sharia. Kubaisi reacted strongly to the statement by Mr. Hamdan that he would now give Mr. Selbekk protection: "It frightens me that he presents himself as an authority that can grant or revoke protection. Does this mean that [Minister] Bjarne Håkon Hanssen thinks that the next time I feel threatened because of something I have written, I should contact the Islamic Council, not the police? Sadly, the government, in their eagerness to end the current troubles, have made the authoritarian forces stronger." Kubaisi feared that Islamic hardliners would from now on burn something every time they felt offended about anything, and expect to get their will.
Trond Giske, Minister of Culture and Church Affairs from the Labor Party, met with Mohammed Hamdan of Norway's Islamic Council a few months after the embassy attacks and announced that government subsidies for the Islamic Council would be raised from 60,000 kroner a year to half a million. That's more than a 700% increase in a single year. The government declared it would meet more frequently with the Islamic Council to "improve dialogue." Its leader Hamdan smiled after having talked with Mr. Giske for about one hour. "We're pretty pleased with the meeting. For us it's important to improve contacts with the government so that we can get to know each other better."
The status given to non-Muslims who accept being second-rate citizens, dhimmis, under Islamic rule is technically referred to as "protected." During the Cartoon Jihad, the left-wing coalition government demonstrated in public that Norwegian authorities did not control the security of their citizens, and thus had to accept Muslim intervention to secure their safety. This amounted to the acceptance of Islamic rule according to sharia law, a view which was subsequently strengthened by payments to Muslims at home and abroad. Undoubtedly these payments offered by Mr. Giske on behalf of the government were viewed by Muslims as jizya, the "protection money" non-Muslims are required to pay in willing submission (Koran, 9:29) as a sign of their inferior status vis-à-vis Islam, as a compensation for not being slain.
Mohammed Hamdan also participated during a meeting with members of the Palestinian terrorist organization Hamas at Stortinget, the Norwegian parliament, in the summer of 2006. According to him, he was only an interpreter, but his brother Osama Hamdan is a member of parliament for Hamas in the Palestinian Territories.
Norway in 2007 became first Western country to recognize the then Hamas-led Palestinian government and to make the first transfer of direct financial aid to it. The popular Foreign Minister Jonas Gahr Støre of the Labor Party urged others to follow. Hamas is the Palestinian branch of the Muslim Brotherhood. They state this explicitly in their charter, which means that the left-wing government of PM Jens Stoltenberg was willing to fund an organization whose spiritual leader had recently caused physical attacks against their country and is waging a war against their civilization. This was applauded by most Norwegian media commentators.
FM Gahr Støre participated in a conference with participants from dozens of countries and media outlets on how to "report diversity" in a non-offensive manner, with Arab News from Saudi Arabia as a moderator. The Cartoon Jihad had prompted Indonesia and Norway to join forces and promote a Global Inter-Media Dialogue. In June 2007 this was held in Oslo.
Keynote speaker at the conference, Doudou Diène, the United Nations Special Envoy for racism, xenophobia and intolerance, urged the media to actively participate in the creation of a Multicultural society, and expressed concerns that the democratic process could lead to immigration-restrictive parties gaining influence. Mr. Diène represents Senegal, a predominantly Muslim country which is a member of the Organization of the Islamic Conference (OIC), the largest voting bloc at the United Nations.
There were already signs that large portions of the mainstream media had been working according to similar ideas long before this conference. In Britain, leading figures of the BBC have proudly announced that they actively promote Multiculturalism. In Denmark in 2008, while their country was threatened by Muslims across the world, public broadcaster Danmarks Radio, the local equivalent of the BBC and with the same left-wing Multicultural bias, decided to hold a "Miss Headscarf" beauty contest for women with the only requirement being that they are over 15 and wear a veil, the way Muslim women are supposed to do.
As American scholar Dr. Daniel Pipes notes, "Self-hating Westerners have an out-sized importance due to their prominent role as shapers of opinion in universities, the media, religious institutions, and the arts. They serve as the Islamists' auxiliary mujahideen."
Following new threats in Denmark, the regional Norwegian daily Adresseavisen in 2008 decided to show solidarity with the Danish cartoonists. As Bruce Bawer writes:
"Trondheim's Adresseavisen daily ran a cartoon which, though not depicting Muhammed, angered 'moderate' Muslim lawyer Abid Q. Raja, who – apparently feeling that Adresseavisen had obeyed the word but not the spirit of the Magazinet accords – argued that the cartoon shouldn't have been published because it would be 'misunderstood' by Muslims. Pakistani ambassador Rab Nawaz Khan agreed, calling the cartoon an 'act of terror' that can 'endanger the lives of Norwegian citizens.' When a cartoon is terrorism and a bomb is a form of expression, you're in Orwell country. Yet the star of the moment was Norwegian novelist Dag Solstad, who only days before the bombing delivered what you might call Norway's version of Rowan Williams's sharia lecture. Solstad didn't go in for sharia explicitly – instead, he made the argument that free speech is actually undesirable, since it drowns meritorious works (such as his novels, presumably) in a sea of vulgarity (a category to which he relegated the Muhammed cartoons). Solstad's colleagues offered polite demurrals."
Mr. Solstad, with a history of long and strong sympathies for various Communist movements, is not unique. By the time these words are written, many Norwegian observers and intellectuals have criticized "free speech fundamentalists" in the major media.
Is there no opposition to these views? Fortunately, there is. Per Edgar Kokkvold, Secretary-General of the Norwegian Press Association, deserves credit for his principled opposition to censorship (which earned him several death threats). A book by a former MP for the Conservative Party, Hallgrim Berg, warns against plans to turn Europe into Eurabia. He discusses the growing anti-Americanism in Europe and maintains that the United States is the only power capable of securing freedom. In 2005 the police issued a mobile security alarm to the then leader of the right-wing Progress Party, Carl I. Hagen. Hagen criticized Islam and could see no similarity with the concept of morality found in Christianity. He said that if Israel loses in the Middle East, Europe will succumb to Islam next. He thinks that Christians should support Israel and oppose Islamic inroads into Europe. In an unprecedented step, a group of Muslim ambassadors blasted Hagen in a public letter. Other politicians quickly caved in and condemned Mr. Hagen, including then Prime Minister Kjell Magne Bondevik of the Christian Democrats. In 2008, the Progress Party looks set to replace the Labor Party as the largest party in the country, for the first time in generations.
You can find pockets of resistance in Norway (and to a lesser extent Sweden), but the general picture is rather bleak. Denmark is currently the only Scandinavian country with something resembling a spine, but Danes compensate for this by being one of the leading countries in the Western world in opposing Islamization.