Walid al-Kubaisi, a Muslim writer living in Norway, appeals to the Western media to run the twelve Muhammad cartoons published last September in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. Mr al-Kubaisi said in a Norwegian newspaper yesterday that although he thought it was madness of Jyllands-Posten and of the Norwegian paper Magazinet, which republished the cartoons last month, to have published them, he would definitely publish them today if he were a newspaper editor. Mr al-Kubaisi explained that Islamists fanatics are currently trying to limit freedom of expression in the West. Consequently editors have an obligation to stand up to them and publish the cartoons.
“The only way to protect freedom of expression is for as many newspapers as possible in Europe to publish the cartoons. The Islamists cannot boycott the whole world. They cannot ask the whole world to apologize,” Mr al-Kubaisi told the Norwegian press yesterday. Asked if this would not make matters worse he said: “On the contrary, it will ease tensions.”
The radicals realize that they cannot defy the whole world, which is why they concentrate their boycott on tiny Denmark and Norway. So far there have been no reports of calls in the Middle East for a boycott of products from other countries than these two. Hence it is vital to support Denmark (and Norway, although the Norwegian government clearly does not deserve it). The “Buy Danish” campaign on the internet is reported to be growing fast every day. When one googles “buy Danish” some 85.000 websites are hit.
Economic experts in Denmark say that the Middle East boycott of Denmark will not have much effect on the Danish economy since Danish exports to the region amount to less than than 2% of the total figure. Some companies, such as Arla dairy produce, are affected more than others. What is happening to them might deter other European companies from trading with Muslim countries in the future. On Wednesday Philippe Douste-Blazy, the French minister of Foreign Affairs, expressed his “indignation” towards the French supermarket chain Carrefour because its franchised stores in the Middle East are participating in the boycott of Danish products. Mr Douste-Blazy wrote to José Luis Duran, Carrefour’s CEO, that “these discriminations are shocking” and “harm our Danish [EU] partners who might doubt the seriousness and solidity of our solidarity.”
According to Walid al-Kubaisi radical Norwegian imams have deliberately incited hatred against Norway in the Middle East. Yesterday morning Vebjørn Selbekk, the editor of Magazinet, was sued for blasphemy and for „endangering the lives of Norwegians.” He was sued before a Norwegian court by al-Jinnah, a radical international Muslim organization. The spokesman of the Norwegian branch of al-Jinnah, Khalid Mohammad, said the police should imprison Selbekk in order to protect the public against the editor. “It is frightening that one person through abusing his so-called freedom of speech can cause such damage that he nearly sets two worlds up against each other. There are limits on what kind of expressions are acceptable in a democracy,” Mr Mohammad told the Norwegian daily Aftenposten. He added that Mr Selbekk was also guilty of treason for harming Norway’s interests abroad.
There is little doubt that the arrogant behaviour of this radical Muslim was elicited by the attitude of Norway’s extreme-left government. Jens Stoltenberg, the Norwegian Prime Minister, blamed Magazinet and its editor this week for the destruction of the Norwegian embassy in Damascus by a hysterical mob of “offended” Muslims.
Mr Stoltenberg chose to disregard the fact that, apart from Magazinet, which is a small, conservative Christian paper, other Norwegian papers have also published the cartoons, including Aftenposten (the second largest daily in Norway) and Dagbladet (the third largest). The Norwegian government has repeatedly claimed that only a single small Norwegian paper published the cartoons – an instance for which the Quislings in the Norwegian cabinet immediately apologized to Muslims worldwide.
This week indignant Norwegian authors said that the Norwegian government has betrayed freedom of expression. Their spokesman Roy Jacobsen stressed that the only people to be held responsible for the violence are those who torched the embassy. The Norwegian people, too, do not accept the government’s argument that Mr Selbekk is responsible. In a poll published yesterday in Bergens Tidende 61% agree that publishing the cartoons is not an abuse of freedom of expression, while 30% say it is. This corroborates the results of a previous poll published in Verdens Gang a few days ago.
While the Norwegian government grovels at the feet of the Muslim fanatics, the Danish government announced yesterday that it has cut off all dialogue with Danish imams on the integration process in Denmark. The conduct of the imams during the cartoon controversy has revealed to the government that they are obviously not interested in integration. “I believe it has become obvious that the imams are not the people we should be listening to if we want integration in Denmark to work,” said minister of Integration, Rikke Hvilshøj. Meanwhile the Danish government is still trying to ease tensions in what some describe as the worst international crisis Denmark has faced since World War II.
The cartoon affair is likely to have political repercussions at home as well. Popular support for the anti-immigration Danish People’s Party has risen, as has support for the right-wing Progress Party in Norway. The courageous stand of moderate Muslims against the radical imams, however, has made a strong impression. The Brussels Journal reported on them in its articles of 8 January (“Danish Muslims Divided over Cartoon Affair”), 19 January (“Moderate Muslims Oppose Imams”) and 5 February (“Danish Muslims Rebel Against Imams”). Last Wednesday the BBC, too, saw fit to report “Danish Muslims split over cartoons,” quoting Rabih Azad-Ahmad of the Danish Multicultural Association, who said: “We have to demonstrate that we are proud of being Danish and that we are supporting Danish values.” Soren Espersen, an MP of the Danish People's Party, admitted: “I didn’t know there were so many Muslims in Denmark who are supporting Western values.”
Meanwhile threats continue to be issued by Islamists around the globe towards newspapers which have published the Muhammad cartoons. Threats are also directed at non-Muslims citizens from the countries where these papers are based. An Afghan warlord has offered a bounty of five kilogrammes of gold for anyone who kills a Danish, Norwegian or German soldier. Nevertheless, the cartoons are still being published worldwide. Danes have been advised by their government not to travel to Afghanistan, Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Jordan, Lybia, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, Sudan, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates. As a consequence thousands of Danes have cancelled visits to the Middle East. Other European countries have advised their citizens living in Muslim countries to stay indoors.
While the United States have finally come out in support of Denmark, declaring that Copenhagen has nothing to apologize for and that Syria and Iran are deliberately fuelling anti-Western sentiments, the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, has urged the Danish government to apologize for the publication of the Muhammad cartoons. French president Jacques Chirac has condemned decisions to reprint cartoons satirising Muhammad as “overt provocations.”