The reverberations of the republication of an offensive caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in many Danish and European newspapers appear to continue to escalate in the Egyptian media. Egyptian authors, thinkers, and politicians regard the re-print as an indication of how the West hates Islam and Muslims.
On February 13, 2008, 17 Danish papers and other number European ones re-issued a blasphemous cartoon of the prophet after police has declared the arrest of three Muslims, two Tunisians, and a Danish of Moroccan descent, while planning to murder a caricaturist Kurt Westergaard, who issued an offensive drawing in 2005 in the Jyllands-Posten daily [see: http://jp.dk].
The drawing was attached to news of the arrest. Muhammad al-Bāz in al-Fajr said the action was meant to show how journalists all over Europe stood up together by their career colleague’s side, so that all cartoons have been republished.
[Reviewer: Noteworthy is that only one drawing out of the original 12 was reprinted; however, all articles of Egyptian newspapers tend to use the plural form ’cartoons.’ They are most likely aiming at deepening the effect the news has on the public.]
Nevertheless, al-Bāz wondered how the cartoonist would have presented a respectful piece of work on Islam whilst Muslim scholars abandoned major topics and permitted breastfeeding the adult and drinking the prophet’s urine.
[Reviewer: An Azhar professor has issued a fatwá permitting a working woman to breastfeed her adult male co-worker so as to be considered one of his sisters which could legitimate being alone in a closed place. The controversial fatwá was followed by a ‘Alī Jum‘ah, muftī of the state in Egypt, statement showing that the prophet’s companions used to drink his urine to receive heavenly blessings.]
In the daily Rose al-Yūsuf, Muhammad ‘Abd al-Nūr called on all the Arab and Islamic governments to activate the request posed by Dr. Ahmad Fathī Surūr, head of the People’s Assembly, in which he demanded suing the Danish government before the World Court of Justice for allowing the cartoon’s republication.
Responding to this call, Ībrāhim ‘Īsá in al-Dustūr wondered how a mistake committed individually by a cartoonist or a newspaper results in the government being punished. He added that the same paper – Jyllands-Posten – had earlier published similar offensive drawings of Jesus Christ as it follows liberal trends.
During his recent visit to Egypt, European Parliament President Hans-Gert Poettering told al-Ahrām al-‘Arabī that the Danish government has no supervision over what is being published in media. “I, whereas, see the necessity to show respect to the different cultures, and that press and media should determine measurements of self-supervision and principles,” he added.
Diana al-Dab‘ wrote an article in Rose al-Yūsuf magazine showing how Western works of art have massively offended Jesus Christ and Christianity. She said that an Oregon University [see: www.uoregon.edu] student newspaper published 12 cartoons showing Jesus naked and with an erection. The act was excused as being a critique of inter-faith dialogues. She thereby criticized an idea being widely promoted that the West tends to destroy Islam and massacre Muslims.
In a complete different tune, Azhar scholars have called for self-control, warning against negative consequences of the action on inter-culture relations between Islam and the West.
The deputy-head of the Azhar University Dr. ‘Abd al-Dāyim Nusayr has said that the important thing is to work on correcting the distorted image of Islam in the minds of many Europeans, and to agree upon fixed frames for the freedom of speech.
The Azhar-based Sawt al-Azhar newspaper reported on the inauguration of a new session of the ongoing Azhar-Vatican dialogue. “The faith of God and the love of the other” has been chosen as the main topic for discussions. Participants have denounced the re-print of the blasphemous drawings, as well as the attack on all religions.
In a relative respect, a Dutch politician Geert Wilders, leader of the right-wing Party for Freedom [see: www.pvv.nl], has been preparing an anti-Qur’ān documentary. Wilders had previously called to impose a ban on the Qur’ān in The Netherlands, and deporting Muslim emigrants from the country.
“I do not hate Muslims, but Islam because it is not religion. It is an ideology of a backward culture,” al-Ahrām al-‘Arabī quoted Wilders as saying.
In al-Hayāh, the Dutch Prime Minister Jan Peter Balkenende has condemned the proposed film, saying it might cause economical sanctions, as well as terrorist attacks on sensitive properties of the country.