Thursday, April 9, 2009

Culture, Religion, Nation-State & the ETHICAL SELF: Denmark and the Cartoons on the Prophet Muhammad

My Published Comment on The Times of India 9 Apr 2009, 0105 hrs IST:

Denmark is a great country to visit, it has admirable social policies, Denmark has a democratic government and a democratic polity.

However Denmark lacks the basic and necessary understanding that freedom and a free press in democratic pluralist nation-states, does not include license to hurt cultural and religious sentiments.

The case of Denmark illustrates that democratic nation-states are no guarantee for the protection of cultural and religious sentiments of ALL of its citizens, Muslims among them. How are Danish Muslims expected to feel and react?

Ex-premier Anders Fogh Rasmussen lacks an ethical compass, essential for authentic leadership of democratic nation-states. Now, Rasmussen has found the job that fits right into his intolerant worldview -- heading up the US-dominated NATO which has absolutely no business conducting military operations in the South Asia region.

Rasmussen is the right man for that dirty job.

9 Apr 2009, 0105 hrs IST
Prophet Muhammad cartoon goes on sale in Denmark
8 Apr 2009, 2311 hrs IST, AP
Times of India copyright
: A Danish press freedom group said on Wednesday it is selling copies of a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad that caused outrage across
the Muslim World.

Some 1,000 printed reproductions of a drawing depicting Islam's prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban are being sold for 1,400 kroner ($250) each, said Lars Hedegaard, chairman of the Danish Free Press Society.

"All we are doing is starting a debate," Hedegaard said. "We are using our freedom of speech."

Hedegaard said Danish artist Kurt Westergaard, who drew the cartoon in 2005, had given the society permission to produce the copies and sell them. Each numbered copy has been signed by Westergaard, Hedegaard said.

"We have not, and are not, breaking any laws," Hedegaard said.

Westergaard has been living under police protection since an alleged plot to murder him was discovered last year.

Twelve cartoons depicting the prophet, including the one by Westergaard, were published in the Jyllands-Posten newspaper in 2005.

The following year, they triggered massive protests from Morocco to Indonesia, with rioters torching Danish and other Western diplomatic missions. Some Muslim countries boycotted Danish products.

Islamic law generally opposes any depiction of the prophet for fear it could lead to idolatry.

Throughout the crisis, then Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen distanced himself from the cartoons but resisted calls to apologize for them, citing freedom of speech and saying his government could not be held responsible for the actions of Denmark's press.

On Saturday, Fogh Rasmussen was chosen to become NATO's new secretary-general, despite threats by Turkey, the alliance's only Muslim member, to veto his election.

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