Thursday, February 16, 2006

Global Jihad Against Insensitive Journalists?

THE MANILA TIMES had the photograph at right on its front page today, from demonstrations in Makati City, Philippines. And whose decapitation is that nice gentleman calling for? Evidently it is certain Danish and European editors, journalists, and their newspapers who've been publishing editorial cartoons considered insulting to Islamic beliefs about the dangers of idolatry.

But Ma. Ceres P. Doyo of PDI writing today in Human Face - Caricature asks the gently devastating question:
What is more blasphemous: those pen-and-ink doodles of the Prophet Mohammed (offensive they may be to the Muslims), or the killing of thousands of innocents by terrorists who wrongly invoke Islam? Where is the worldwide Islamic outrage over the latter?

As ideological battlelines harden over the issue, it may do well to refer to this Timeline of Events--
Financial Times of London (Feb.15,2006)
TIMELINE: How the Cartoon Crisis Unfolded

Sep 17 2005: Politiken, a Danish newspaper, runs an article under the headline ”Deep fear of criticism of Islam”, detailing the difficulty encountered by the writer Kåre Bluitgen, who had difficulties finding an illustrator for his children’s book on the life of Mohammed.

Sep 30: Jyllands-Posten, one of Denmark’s best-selling daily newspapers, publishes 12 cartoons of the prophet to illustrate the problem.

Oct 12: Ambassadors from 10 mainly Muslim nations and the Palestinian representative in Denmark call the cartoons deeply offensive and demand a meeting with Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen, urging him “to take all those responsible to task”.

Oct 21: Mr Rasmussen says offended parties should use the courts to air their grievances and refuses to meet the ambassadors.

Oct 28: A coalition of Danish Muslim groups files a criminal complaint against Jyllands-Posten newspaper. A regional prosecutor investigates the complaint, but decides not to press charges.

Dec: The Danish Muslim coalition visits the Middle East. seeking support from religious and political leaders.

Jan 1 2006: Mr Rasmussen condemns any actions that “attempt to demonise groups of people on the basis of their religion or ethnic background,’’ but reiterates Denmark’s commitment to freedom of speech.

Jan 4: Amr Moussa, Secretary-General of the Arab League, joins the protests.
Jan 10: Magazinet, a Norwegian Christian newspaper, reprints the cartoons.
Jan 25: Saudi Arabia’s religious leaders demand an apology and call for the Jyllands-Posten newspaper to be punished.

Jan 26: Saudi ambassador is recalled from Copenhagen. Danish companies in Riyadh report a boycott of Danish goods and supermarkets remove products from the shelves.

Jan 27: Protests begin to spread across the Middle East

Jan 30: Jyllands-Posten publishes a statement on its website, saying it regretted offending Muslims and offered an apology, but said it had a right under Danish law to print the cartoons.

Jan 31: Mr Rasmussen calls for calm in the dispute, but the Danish Muslims group say the Jyllands-Posten apology is “ambiguous” and demands a clearer one.

Feb 1 - 2: Media in France, Germany, Britain, Spain, the US, Iceland, Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Bulgaria and Hungary, reprint the cartoons.

Feb 2: France Soir, a Paris daily tabloid, sacks its managing editor for publishing the drawings, but defends its right to print them. In Jordan, the weekly newspaper Shihan’ publishes them with an editorial by former Jordanian senator Jihad Momani but later withdraws issues from circulation.
Feb 3: Danish prime minister meets ambassadors and diplomats from more than 70 countries. Mona Omar Attia, Egypt’s ambassador says the Danish government’s response is inadequate.

Feb 4: A South African court prohibits newspapers from publishing the cartoons. Protesters in Damascus attack the Danish and Norwegian embassies. Mr Momani and Mr Hisham Khalid, editor of al-Mehwar, another Jordanian weekly that published the cartoons, are arrested and charged with insulting religion.

Feb 5: Protestors storm the Danish Embassy in Beirut. One person is left dead and several are injured. Iran recalls its ambassador to Denmark. Denmark says it is withdrawing diplomatic staff from Syria and recommending Danes leave the country. Norway confirms it is taking the same action with diplomatic staff in Syria.

Feb 6: Lebanon apologises to Denmark. EU leaders call for calm. Protests erupt in Afghanistan where one person died. Danish and Austrian embassies attacked in Tehran.

Feb 7: Peter Mandelson, EU trade chief, warns Iran against suspension of trade with Denmark. Norwegian NATO peacekeepers attacked in Afghanistan as demonstrations escalate. Austria, holders of the EU presidency, demand Muslim states improve security measures for European citizens and premises after Norwegian embassy is attacked in Tehran.
Feb 8: The US accused Syria and Iran of inciting violence among Muslims over caricatures. Three more people were killed in fresh protests in Afghanistan and French President Jacques Chirac condemned “overt provocations” as Charlie Hebdo, the satirical weekly, reprinted the images.

Feb 9: The international row spilled over into the creation of a new UN Human Rights Council. Hundreds of thousands of Shia Muslims turned a religious ceremony in Lebanon into an anti-western cartoon protest.

Feb 10: Danish embassies are targeted in both Kenya - where police fire live rounds and teargas at hundreds of protesting Muslims - and in Bangladesh, where Indian police clash with about 10,000 people.

Feb 11 Denmark recalls, ambassadors and embassy staff from Syria, Indonesia and Iran over security concerns.

Feb 12: Condoleezza Rice, US secretary of state, said violence sparked by the cartoons could get out of control and urged governments, especially Iran and Syria, to “act responsibly” and refrain from encouraging demonstrations.

Feb 13 Kofi Annan, UN secretary-general, said that Iran, Syria and other governments that failed to protect foreign embassies from mobs should pay for the damage.

Feb 14 Jose Manuel Barroso, EU Commission chief, backed Denmark, saying that freedom of speech cannot be compromised. But in fresh violence, two people were killed in the Pakistani city of Lahore, despite a province-wide ban on demonstrations. German embassy attacked in Tehran.

Feb 15 Three more people died in violence as outlets of the Norwegian phone company Telenor, a US KFC fast food restaurant and banks were ransacked and set alight in Pakistan.
In a Letter to the Editor, Gonaranao B. Musor foreign service officer, Office of Strategic Planning and Policy Coordination, Department of Foreign Affairs, writes --
An important religious figure, Prophet Mohammed is considered by Muslims the messenger of Allah. However, Islam also maintains that the Prophet, a human being, should not be deified. That is why visual representations of Prophet Mohammed, whether through photos or drawings, are considered blasphemous -- to prevent Muslims from resorting to idolatry. Aside from being blasphemous, the various depictions of Prophet Mohammed in the cartoons perpetuated some of the common, unfair Muslim stereotypes that are downright disrespectful, offensive and discriminatory.

Press freedom entails the exercise of great responsibility. It is not a matter of which side you are with, or of simply offending others in the exercise of one’s duty as a journalist. It is basically about respecting all faiths, regardless of whether a journalist subscribes to it or not. The enjoyment of freedom should not be at the expense of other people’s beliefs. Freedom without limits can lead to chaos and anarchy.
There's that magic word again: responsibility.

Under the present 1987 Constitution (Section 4, Article 3, Bill of Rights), one reads, "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

In the ill-fated draft Constitution of Jose Abueva's Consultative Commission, "No law shall be passed abridging the responsible exercise of the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the government for redress of grievances."

This small addition of two words -- "responsible exercise" -- to the freedom of expression provision of the Bill of Rights last month earned almost universal derision from the Philippine Press.

Tony Lopez
of the Manila Times called it a "naughty constitution" --
The cabal of Jose Abueva, the Con-Com chair, thinks that freedoms and human rights are not inherent rights of the people but grants from the government, and thus their exercise is subject to conditions, like being a responsible person.
Ellen Tordesillas of Malaya savaged Jose Abueva with --
We thought that the postponement of the 2007 elections was the most idiotic of the Con-Com recommendations led by Jose Abueva, who strikes us as being up in the air and whose only concern is to make us laboratory rats to his idea of parliamentary-federal government. He doesn’t care if in making his dream come true, we lose our cherished freedom and basic rights. But the proposed change in the freedom of expression provision strikes at the core of our basic rights as a citizen of a democratic country. The key change here is in the word “responsible.” Who will determine what is responsible exercise of freedom of speech? Who will determine what is a responsible press. Who will determine responsible petition for redress of grievances? Gloria Arroyo?
Well, certainly not someone who wants to behead journalists and cartoonists, or those who would compromise in the name of Religion, freedoms they themselves have cherished in the name of Politics and Economics.


PDI on the Separation of Church and Press

The Responsible Journalism of Conrado de Quiros

Freedom of Religion IS Freedom of Expression

Danish Cartoons Broke the Muslim Taboo On Idolatry

It's Capital Blasphemy Just To Describe the Cartoons


Without Borders said...

the key word indeed is responsibility. but just like the rest of people in media, i wouldnt want it in the constitution because no one could really judge whether or not an article or cartoon is "responsible" or "irresponsible." same thing with the word "decency," or "stupidity." that's why we have libel or anti-defamation laws for the courts to be the final arbiter between the "offending" and the "offended" party. the courts, and not the mob nor the state.

manuelbuencamino said...

Ma Ceres Doyo asked -
"What is more blasphemous: those pen-and-ink doodles of the Prophet Mohammed (offensive they may be to the Muslims), or the killing of thousands of innocents by terrorists who wrongly invoke Islam? Where is the worldwide Islamic outrage over the latter?"

Doyo glosses over certain basic facts. I'd like to believe it was unintntionall and only reflects muddled thinking.

Here are the facts :

All muslims were outraged by those cartoons but not all muslims expressed their outrage in the same manner.

Some muslims do not believe there are any innocents. Other muslims hate terrorism. Period.

Some muslims hate the West.
Other muslims have neutral feelings about the West.
And still others love the West.

Based on those facts, Doyo's question makes no sense.

Jon Mariano said...

I personally believe that the extreme reactions (burning of embassies, the deaths that resulted in rallies, calling for the death, etc.) do not fit the "damage" done by the cartoon images to the people of Islam.



The current pandemonium, is no longer just a Muslim call for a global jihad against 'insensitive journalists.'

It has divided the world into a Muslim world - although perhaps less pronounced, less violent in Asia than over here - and the Christian West.

This is war between Islam and the predominantly or culturally Christian West provoked by cultural and racial extremism.

ricelander said...

Kill and behead people IN THE NAME OF GOD? Such insanity!

erica said...

hey, nice site. interesting. finally, something with real substance! about the pulag trip, yup we reached the top. next week, mt. natib naman! =)

Rizalist said...

Hi Erica,
Mount Natib...Sister of Pinatubo...interesting...Bataan Nuclear Power Plant is still there above it you know...

Without Borders said...

"The most convenient excuse for shutting down the press is - " in the interest of maintaining peace and order." That is why I said the Danish press was reckless and stupid. They have given governments everywhere an excuse to limit press freedom."

well, the danish government did not try limiting press freedom. and it did not apologize. as a journalist, im not at all comfortable with the idea that our story should be guided by whether or not "it will give governments the reason to limit press freedom." that's prior restraint, the worst of all forms of censorship. the job of the editor is to determine whether or not a story or a cartoon has news value. it should always be the editors' call, and not someone else. the danish editors of course did apologize for their actions but they maintained that what they did were within danish laws and they are standing by their decision. i support that perspective. but if someone filed a certain legal case that got them convicted and jailed, so be it, for as long as there is due process. since yesterday, the US military has been calling those who are publishing new pictures on abu ghraib tortures "irresponsible" because the pictures supposedly will fan further conflagrations. maybe yes, maybe not. but its not for anybody other than the editors themselves to decide which is "responsible" and which is "irresponsible." that's press freedom!

Without Borders said...

"This is war between Islam and the predominantly or culturally Christian West provoked by cultural and racial extremism."

Im not yet sure about this, in the same manner that im not sure whether Samuel Huntington (clash of civilization) is accurate. me, ill wait for more information before making conclusions.

manuelbuencamino said...

without borders,

what's the news value of those cartoons? On the other hand, the abu ghraib photos have news value. Publishing them is what newspapers are all about. Now I wouldn't mind putting press freedom on the line for something like that. But for incendiary, bigoted cartoons?.....

Prior restraint is the reason why almost every major media outlets have lawyers - to vet certain news items prior to publication. Prior restraint exists whether you like it or not. I don't like it but it is a reality. But better than lawyers and fear I think the most basic prior restraint is called common sense.

Rizalist said...

MB--There is no press freedom issue involved in Abu Ghraib. Those images have been aired 24/7 by CNN and the global media, but no embassies have been burned down. But something far graver is involved there as we all know. Perhaps not all the guilty have been punished. Yet the problem is far closer to home too than Baghdad or Washington, for right here we have DAILY, and ONGOING the inhuman incarceration of children in Philippine prisons, which CNN has also shown in the exercise of press freedom. And all over the world, jails still reek of man's inhumanity to convicts and innocents alike. America is punishing hers, we ought to work towards the amelioration of ours too. For our Abu Ghraibs are still in operation and the torture is daily for about 20,000 juveniles.


Without Borders,

In 1980 when the 'military stalemate' between the US-Western Europe alliance and the UUSR-Eastern European bloc was being confirmed, the UK armed forces, led by the Royal Navy came up with a strategic study which concluded that the next 'conflict' would be between Islamic nations and the predominantly Christian west.

The study is UK defence/military property and has not been released to date to the public by the UK government but has been undoubtedly shared with its US allies.

I cannot say whether that particular 1980 strategic study has any direct bearing (as in to provoke) on the current hostilities.

We can only observe and make our opinions as we go along today...

Rizalist said...

It doesn't even seem possible for any one nation to stand up to "the West". Certainly no nation could even conceive of fighting America in a conventional war. The last one to do so was the USSR, but I think the UK strategists were wrong, or your statement of their study might not have captured what they had in mind. I think that Mohammed El Baradei is right. When he accepted his Nobel Laureate last year, he said the greatest immediate threat was from some group like Al Qaeda getting hold of a Bomb. One way of course that they can do that is to be given the technology by a state like Iran or North Korea. In a way, it's a police action, but with what breathtaking stakes.



Thanks for phrasing it more accurately.

That's precisely what the strategic study concluded. The study foresaw 'conflict' (in military parlance, conflict concerns 'little pockets of wars') was between Islam fundamentalists with covert backing from Islamic nations and the predominantly Christian west.

DJB, while I personaly like to consider myself more liberal than conservative (we are a Tory-card holding family though) I am personally opposed (and will always be opposed) to EU giving Turkey full-pledged membership.

Having lived her for the most part of my life, I have discovered and keep discovering that there is an ENORMOUS cultural and religious divide between 'Christian' Europe and the Islamic world.

This is why I am opposed to Turkey's formal inclusion in the EU; to give the Turkish population the same rights as we European Union members enjoy today in the EU - to circulate, to live, to establish residence and acquire citizenship, etc. - will endanger the core Christian values of our European culture.

To me, it is an incredibly risky proposition. (Tony Blair is fighting tooth and nail for Turkey's full EU membership!)

Over here, we have already yielded so much democratic space to our Islamic friends, often to the detriment of our own democratic space, i.e., people are very careful to pronounce the word 'Arab' even in the most innocent manner for fear that some 'Arab' might hear and interpret it wrongly, be slighted and react violently.

I am not prepared to put my children's lives at risk and will never kowtow to extremists who do not share the same cultural and religious values as I do.

manuelbuencamino said...


My comment on news value was in relation to the comment of withoutborders who said "the job of the editor is to determine whether or not a story or cartoon has news value"

The issue of press freedom arises if release and publication of the photos is suppressed. A good examplle is the attempted suppression of Elsberg's Pentagon Papers. That was a press freedom issue worth fighting for. But to rise in defense of bigotry? To give bigotry shelter under the umbrella of freedom of the press? C'mon.

In Germany a Nazi salute which infringes on an individual's right to freedom of expression is against the law. In the US, no major daily allows its pages to be used by the Klan.

Let's draw the line on bigotry.

manuelbuencamino said...


Correction on a previous sentence.

The sentence should read :

The nazi salute is illegal in Germany and that infringes on an individual's right to freedom of expression.

Amadeo said...


The grave concerns you related are truly just manifestations of the timeless accommodations of appeasement the rest of the world have grudgingly given the Moslem world. All for the noble purposes of respecting and not offending their archaic perceptions of religion and social mores.

In a very real way Christianity is responsible for this very benevolent and tolerant attitude toward those who disagree with it. Thus, I have read at least one Jewish blogger invite the rest of the world to study and consider their unique perspectives on justice and vengeance.

I believe this present quite literal conflagration over silly cartoons is simply the watershed for the now out in the open confrontation because of substantive differences between the world of Islam (the way it is practiced by many Muslims) and the rest of the world weaned and adapted to the ways of western civilization.

And I agree that if Turkey remains to be recalcitrant with regard to the ways necessary to live harmoniously with those they now differ with, then they should stay and be considered part of that same world that remains adamant - The Middle East.

I do not believe that the practice of Islam itself is the root of the problem. About 8 million Muslims live in the US. But they are a coterie of different ethnic backgrounds, the African Americans may be the largest grouping with the Arabs next. Islam has been the fastest growing religion for the past decades making it the second largest religious-community here in the States.

A majority of them, even among the new immigrants, now speak fluent English and are quite assimilated in more way than we imagine.

They know that here in the US assimilation has traditionally been encouraged and possible for all immigrants. But I for one know that in the decades that I have been here many accommodations have also been made all in the name of the new mantras of multi-culturalism, tolerance, and diversity,

I sure hope this present predicament will give pause and make people rethink their priorities.

manuelbuencamino said...

DJB et al,

I'm sorry to say this and I mean no offense.

I have noticed that many comments in this blog are becoming mirror images of the way some muslims stereotype the west. Substitute Muslim for west and west for Muslim in some of those comments and you will see exactly what I mean.

We have to get away from generalizations and stereotypes as a basis for rendering summary judgment on a whole race of people and their religion.

There is no typical muslim. There is no typical arab. Iran is not even Arab, it is Persian.

Let's not go down the road of stereotyping because it's not going to make things any clearer.

Besides, once we go into stereotypes we will end up just muslim bashing and that's a waste of time.

Don't turn your blog into anti-muslim rant club.

That's all.

Rizalist said...

I can assure you this blog will close if it ever becomes close to what you fear. But perhaps it is healthy for people to be spontaneous and frank about what they think. Better perhaps to rant and rave than burn embassies down. But your presence, Sir, is always welcome. All are welcome here, of all faiths or none. We come to share our passions and weaknesses so we will be strong for our consciences. A blog is a moral whetstone, but we must be abrasive to do our shop sometimes.

Anonymous said...

elightening comment...

Let us not forget that DJB is for humanity, he has been esposusing this time and again.

Anonymous said...

What I meant was
DJB has been espousing humanity
in this blog time and again

Rizalist said...

Thanks Karl, but let me just say: So has Manuel Buencamino!

Without Borders said...

what's the news value with the danish cartoons? prior to the conflagration and within the philippine context, probably none. but what i'm stressing is that, for the danish editors, they probably thought those cartoons had news value. that's why i defend their rights to publish those cartoons. i do believe press freedom do have limits and they are a) editorial discretion; b) libel and related laws; c) the market. the third one is important because you can publish anything you want within the constraints of the first two, but if no one buys the paper, there goes your business! beyond that, there should be no other restraints. not even those people who may think your editorial decision is "stupid" or "lacks common sense." that's press freedom; that simple.

AmericanPainter said...


“Now I wouldn't mind putting press freedom on the line for something like that. But for incendiary, bigoted cartoons?..…”

Every cartoon bears a message just as a column and perhaps just as clear. Someone or someone’s ideal is frequently ridiculed or demeaned in a cartoon and someone usually disagrees, just as in a column. In essence, there is no difference between the two, therein lies the reason for supporting cartoons. They are a part of press freedom.

Cartoons have a striking ability to point out the obvious in a way that is difficult to ignore. The cartoon which most point out as being the one that started the Muslim uproar was the one depicting Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. While Muslims may not like it, the fact remains that the message points out that many Muslims are misusing Mohammed in their justification of terrorism. If Muslims are going to walk the walk, they must be able to face the talk. Perhaps that is the reason they detest it so much. There is an old adage among the guilty, “Don’t look guilty, get mad!” And that is what is happening (in my humble opinion) in the Muslim world.

To be sure they claim they any depiction of Mohammad is forbidden because it may cause idolatry among Muslims. It seem the short answer would be for Muslims not to look at them. It’s incredible that they would go berserk and burn Embassies. - right?

More than 200 years ago, Benjamin Franklin said: “Those that would give up essential freedom for a little security, deserve neither freedom or security” - Seems just as appropriate today!

Without Borders said...

in my ideal world, everybody is welcome. the wise, the stupid, the bigots, the fair, the liberal, the believer, the atheist, nihilists, conservative, left, right, middle, the polite, whatever, whoever. i'll allow them to nitpick each other, to debate, to publish anything knowing that there are libel and related laws to be enforced and will be enforced fairly. but they can express themselves in proper ways but they can't burn embassies or behead people who believe otherwise. you might ask: wouldn't my ideal society instead attract all those intolerant and sleazy characters instead of the polite, democratic and the wise ones? definitely not, because in reality, society is a bell curve; the distribution tends to move towards the mean. crackpots really tend to be distributed at the fringes. besides, constant debates and nitpicking sans violence would tend to sober up people and force them to join the rest of the polite, productive, economically busier sections of society. welcome to my ideal society!

USpace said...

Great post, especially interesting looking back on it a year later, are enough of us learning enough about this very real and growing nightmare of a threat? Keep learning people, keep teaching what you learn. Spread the word.

Without Borders - Great point and out look. And when the inevitable crazies show up and get violent, they must be stopped and prosecuted by the law. People must be able to believe in justice as much as possible.

draw not Muhammad -
Islamic law can only
apply to Muslims

Muslims not bound by Buddhist
Christian or Jewish doctrine...