CIE-INDEX

The Danish Cartoons:
contextualising their publication and the Muslim response to it.

by Herman De Ley (2006)*
1. The general context. 2. Is the Muslim world overreacting? 3. What with western freedom of speech and expression? 4. Anti-Muslimism and devaluating Muslims' "symbolic capital". 5. Epilogue.

1. The general context.

The present “row” that is putting "Islam" once more against "the West", apparently is a "reprise" of that other one, some 25 years ago, caused by Salman Rushdie's “The Satanic Verses”: then as well it was the (disrespectful) representation of prophet Muhammad which grieved or infuriated many Muslims, all over the world. The circumstances, however, of today's confrontation are somewhat different.

In the so-called “Rushdie Affair” one had to do with a piece of literature, i.e. a novel, written by an eminent author who himself was (is) of Muslim-Indian background. The row was started in India and was taken over, in the first place, by Indo-Pakistani immigrants in Great-Britain, many of them belonging to the Barelwi-movement. This neo-sufi movement has a tradition of venerating Muhammad to the point of almost deifying him (making themselves subject to heavy criticism for heresy from orthodox Sunni theologians)[1]. The anger of the Muslim masses (e.g. the notorious “burning of the book” in Bradford, a British town with a large Barelwi-concentration) was mostly directed against the publishing companies responsible for the publication (and translation) of the book. The protest however took on a much more threatening character with the so-called fatwa by the Iranian Ayatollah Khomeini, 14 February 1989, calling for the murder of the author (the latter being a British citizen) and of anyone cooperating with the translation and/or publication of his book. After all these years it seems fair to say that Khomeini's motivation was primarily a political one, post-revolutionary Iranian Shi'ism endeavouring to counter the Saudi ideological dominance in the Sunnite Muslim world as well. Rushdie, we could say, was a “paw” in that geo-political confrontation between Iran and Saudi-Arabia, first of all in the Arab and Asian world (PS: Iran lost that ideological battle).

Today, the geo-political situation of the Muslim world has much worsened: the once triumphant Islamic revolution, promising the creation of a truly Islamic state, is lying quite far behind us. Instead, Islamist utopian policies have largely been overtaken by the apolitical, terrorist activities of so-called jihadists operating under the label of al-Qa'ida, the main target and victims of their activities being Muslim people themselves; as for Iran, the confrontational course chosen by its new president, is isolating the country. Most of all, of course, Bush's “war on terrorism”, elicited by the attacks of 9/11, definitely brought war and destruction into the Arabic-Asian Muslim world: cf. Afghanistan and, of course, Iraq. “Definitely”, indeed: one could call Bush's crusade the final outcome of the first Gulf War against Saddam Hussein, left "uncompleted" by Bush Senior but followed by a period of ten years of heavy sanctions against the Iraqi people, ruining what was once the most progressive and modernized Arab state. Let us not forget as well the long-time, ever-growing, US-sponsored military occupation and aggression, perpetrated by Israel against the Palestinian people. Huntington's famous thesis on “the clash of civilisations”, that way, apparently is used today by the West (the Neo-Cons) as a kind of politico-military program in order to pre-empt any possible attempt by the Arabic and Muslim world to shake off Western dominance. Iran now seems to be the next target of this policy of aggression.

However, there is an important  European dimension as well to the present state of affairs, not so much on the geo-political level (the European Union is largely condoning if not supporting US imperialism), as internally, with the problematic situation of the (once immigrant) Muslim populations in the European countries. Man's consciousness being determined by one's (material) life, and nót vice versa (so Karl Marx taught us a long time ago, in his “German Ideology”), there is a general acceptance, today, say in the European Union, that material, economic and social conditions for most European Muslims considerably worsened during the last ten years (see e.g. the alarming figures on unemployment, on racist discrimination in education and the labour market, etc.). Anti-Muslim racism and Islamophobia as well much increased in most European countries, in the wake of the political success of extreme right-wing, anti-immigrant parties - their populist discourse and proposals being frequently taken over by “democratic” parties as well (mostly, by so-called "liberal" parties).

It is in this general context that the “Danish cartoons” - i.e. their publication and reproduction as well as the emotional, eventually violent, reactions of Muslim people and Muslim governments against it – first of all have to be placed, in order to be understood.

2. Is the Muslim world overreacting?

2.1. First of all, one has to recognize that these mock representations of the Prophet as published by a Western newspaper (and reprinted by others) are not to be dismissed as being quite "innocent" or "inoffensive".

For all Muslims, Muhammad is the “human face” (if I may say so) of the transcendent God they believe in. Since in Islam, there is no personal “mediator” between man and God of the kind of Jesus Christ in Christianity, during all these centuries Muslims quite naturally have been projecting their intense, religious feelings and emotions mainly on the Messenger. In many verses, of course, of the Qur'ân it is stressed that Muhammad is “just another human being”, making mistakes and even being reprimanded, when necessary, by God; at the same time, though, he is upheld as a “beautiful example” for all believers (ch. 33 v. 21), as well as the model of righteousness, as the perfect individual. So, even today, his person, his way of life, his behaviour, etc., as represented and reproduced in Islamic tradition, do constitute an inexhaustible source of moral and spiritual inspiration, encouragement and, when necessary, consolation for the large majority of more than 1 billion of believers. As it was already formulated in the famous “Song of the Cloak”, by 13th century poet, Al-Busîrî: “Oh, most noble of creatures, you excepted there is no one with whom I 'll find refuge, when the world will be destroyed!”.

But there's more to it. Muhammad, besides being God's final messenger, was also the leader and guide of the first, by later generations idealised, Muslim community in Medina (see the Covenant of Medina), after the hijra. As such he is also considered as being the founder and foundation of Islamic, i.e. (truly) moral and social life and order. What is at stake, then, with a public attack against Muhammad, is not just a simple personal act of blasphemy, offending the private feelings of any believer, but it was and (now perhaps more than ever) is perceived to be a fundamental challenge as well against the Islamic way of life itself. In Qur'ân, chapter 5, vv. 33-34, “making war upon God and His Messenger” is equated with “creating (social) disorder in the land” and is punished severely with death or exile (unless the culprit shows remorse). In Muslim law this was translated into the charge of “fasad”, i.e. “causing social corruption in the world”. It is a charge that can be levelled indifferently against Muslims and non-Muslims alike, whether within or outside the House of Islam (see once again, the Rushdie Affair and the fatwa by Khomeini: the Islamic justification of this notorious fatwa was acutely analysed by the British Muslim philosopher, Shabbir Akhtar, in his small book, “Be Careful with Muhammad!”, of 1989).

     Nevertheless, in order to be complete, we must note that in the history of Islam, especially during its formative and its classical period, not àll criticism (or worse) of the Prophet was necessarily persecuted and punished by the Muslim authorities. I am referring to the so-called "zandaqa": a lot of "heretics" or "freethinkers" (zanâdiqa) were indeed punished or even executed for reasons of so-called "sabb ar-rasûl" (i.e. insulting the Messenger), as being an act of political high-treason: e.g. the famous writer of Persian background, Ibn al-Muqaffa', in 756, or shortly afterwards, by the new governor of Basra. Many others, however, though being just as, or even more (in)famous, were not. E.g. the notorious zindîq, Ibn al-Râwandî: while rejecting the very foundations of Islam - the Qur'ân and the Prophet: he actually parodied the former and ridiculed the latter (e.g. in his Kitâb az-Zumurrudh, or "Book of the Emerald") -, which made him the "Arch-Heretic" for all later Islamic authors, there is no sign at all, in the historical sources, that he in any way suffered for his opinions; he died quietly "in his bed" (be it apparently in the house of a Jew, in Kûfa), in the second half of the 9th century, or the beginning of the 10th. The same goes for the greatest of all unorthodox Muslim thinkers: the brilliant philosopher, physician and alchemist, Abû Bakr Muhammad ibn Zakariyyâ' ar-Râzî (ca 865-925). For ar-Râzî, God being merciful toward mankind and having given all human beings reason and understanding, He never sent them prophets or messengers, followers of imâm X of necessity fighting against the followers of imâm Y, "and getting a lot of people killed". [2]

Today, when the Muslim world more than any time before has come under fire and many, if not most Muslims are actually living in circumstances of deprivation of all kind (in the West, as well), sociology and social-psychology will tell us that their religious beliefs and symbols - i.e. the inherited "symbolic capital" they need in order to live or survive as human beings - are being revitalised of necessity, one way or another. So, the first thing we have to understand in this "cartoons affair" is that all Muslims (i.e. all persons identifying themselves as such), whatever their actual religious practices, or their either ultra-orthodox, moderate or liberal views on their religion, feel truly hurt and offended "to their bones", when they are confronted with this kind of public and provocative mockery, challenging their personal dignity, integrity and identity as a human being, as well as the foundations of their way of life. Let's not forget, as well, that the effects of globalization are not limited to economics, but are also operating on the level of cultures, communication, etc. No wonder, then, that some drawings published by a small newspaper in a small country finally could give rise to a global outcry. At least on a symbolic and virtual level (cf. the world wide web), the Islamic “umma”, also traditionally called: the “umma muhammadiyya”, or “community of Muhammad”, today feels more united than ever.

2.2. This being the case, the present “clash” took three months to erupt since the first publication of the cartoons. During the first weeks of that period, so far is clear, Danish Muslims vainly tried to gain access to Danish government circles in order to acquaint them with their grievances; and the same goes for the ambassadors in Denmark of the Arab countries (on October 21, prime-minister Rasmussen actually declined to meet them). At last, the decision was taken to send missions to the Middle East.

In order to understand the extent taken, lately, by the reactions of the popular masses in a lot of Muslim countries, we should not shut our eyes for the role being played by Muslim political regimes or movements. The New York Times, of Feb 9, points to the summit meeting that took place in December, in Mecca, of the leaders of all 57 Muslim countries, among whom President Ahmadinejad of Iran. According to the author of the article, Hassan M. Fattah, “for Arab governments resentful of the Western push for democracy, the protests presented an opportunity to undercut the appeal of the West to Arab citizens. The freedom pushed by the West, they seemed to say, brought with it disrespect for Islam”. Anyway, feeling themselves in a weak political position, for one reason or another, some governments or parties undoubtedly used the cartoons in order to strengthen their position and legitimization vis-à-vis their own population (e.g. in Syria, Libanon, Saudi-Arabia, Fatah in the Gaza Strip, the Taliban in Afghanistan...), and/or in order to generate more support in the Muslim world (e.g. Iran, being isolated over its nuclear program). Heavy press coverage in official news media and/or silent approval or instigation of mass demonstrations led to arson attacks on embassies and even some deaths, mostly demonstrators shot by the police. Economic sanctions, on the other hand, and consumer boycott against Danish products could be considered to be a less objectionable and, any way, a much more effective way of channelling the Arab discontent and anger against what was felt to be a political lack of understanding from the Danish government.

Let us not forget, however, that this kind of political and/or religious manipulation is only feasible because, on the personal level, Muslims do feel strongly offended, when confronted with this kind of provocation.


3. What with Western freedom of speech and of expression?

Many European media, politicians and intellectuals are now brandishing the banner of the "freedom of the press", as being threatened by Islam and/or the Muslims and as having to be upheld "coûte que coûte" - for example, by way of republishing the objectionable cartoons in media publications all over Europe. Whether, in doing so, they are sincere or not, in my opinion this kind of reaction is quite hypocritical. There àre limits, are there not, to this "freedom". One can point, for example, to the European Treaty for the Protection of Human Rights, articles 8 to 10, admitting legal restrictions. More explicitly, in a recent judgement by the European Court for Human Rights (September 13, 2005), pertaining to the sentencing by a Turkish court of the author of a book insulting the... Prophet of Islam, the Court concluded (be it with a majority vote) that offending and insulting people's religious feelings should be considered, from a social point of view, an unacceptable transgression of the freedom of expression. On the other hand, there is no question of course, that in all European countries freedom of speech legally ís restricted, be it for blasphemy (against Christianity, e.g. in the UK and the Netherlands) and/or for incitement to hate, discrimination and racism and for the denial of the Nazi-judeocide as well as for anti-Semitism in general (e.g. in Belgium).

In the case of the cartoons as well, in my opinion, the (moral and/or legal) limits to the freedom of the press àre being transgressed. Every human being, a Muslim as well as a Christian or a Jew, has a fundamental right to respect, and in this case that right was purposefully infringed. Let me expand on this, somewhat.

While the actual "primum movens" of the whole affair was indeed completely "innocent"[3], the same cannot be said, I think, of the actions of the cultural editor of the Jyllands-Posten, Flemming Rose, when applying provocatively for cartoons of Muhammad (in order, so he said, "to test Danish self-censorship") and afterwards publishing twelve of them. In order to contextualize this initiative, one needs to consider, first of all, the Danish, political and social reality, at this moment: the Danish government is led by a right-wing Liberal Party coming to power on the base of a xenophobic and anti-immigrant program. For that reason it is politically supported by a right-wing extremist party (the Danish People's Party) - that, not surprisingly, appears to get the greatest political benefit out of the affair (its percentage, in the opinion polls, rising form 13 to 18%). The government's policies earned the applause of other racist parties in Europe as well. E.g. the Flemish "Vlaams Belang", till a year ago, the "Vlaams Blok": some time ago, it made a provocative "educational trip" to Denmark,[4] and nowadays it is trying to turn the cartoons affair into a support movement for the Danish government and Denmark: their representatives, e.g., in parliament at each session place an ostentatious Danish flag on their desk(!). Anyway, the publication of the cartoons in the right-wing Jyllands-Posten was decided on amidst this general climate, in Denmark, of political immigrant "bashing".

Their publication was being presented by the editor as a means to confirm and strengthen that "highest value of the West: the freedom of the press". Actually, it has to be criticised for being either a thoughtless act of insensitive, "juvenile" defiance or, worse, as a deliberate political provocation. The latter supposition is far from being completely unfounded. As was revealed on the internet and was confirmed in the American press, the cultural editor of the Jyllands-Posten, Flemming Rose, has been in close contact, in the recent past, with the notorious, anti-Islamic, American Neo-Con, Daniel Pipes, whom he visited and interviewed in Philadelphia, in October 2004.[5] As well as Pipes, Flemming Rose himself, apparently, is a proponent of the "clash of civilisations" policy.
 

4. Anti-Muslimism[6]  and devaluating Islam's "symbolic capital"

With the exception of the recent judgement by the European Court of Human Rights I just mentioned (September 13, 2005), European juridical practice as far as complaints for blasphemy concerns weighs heavily in favour of Christianity (with its different Churches, but most of all Roman Catholicism) and Judaism.[7] The judgements allowing for the ban of the Islamic headscarf (e.g. in Turkish universities) can serve as an illustration. There is no doubt in my mind that this policy of "double standards" weighs heavily, these days, in the minds of Muslims, when they are protesting against the Danish cartoons. [8]

From a lawyer's point of view, one could suggest to promote a more consistent and balanced juridical practice, in one sense or another: i.e. either the freedom of expression - the freedom to insult, mock and ridicule people's religious beliefs, included - is applicable to all religious and philosophical trends and institutions (meaning: Catholicism, Protestantism, Anglicanism, Judaïsm, etc., included), or the respect for people's religious feelings applies explicitly to Muslims as well. However, in my view, this formal position does not take into account (or not sufficiently) the existing, very unequal power relations between the West and the Muslim countries, as well as, in the West, between established society and Muslim minorities. Precisely in view of this fundamental imbalance - in conjunction with western political, economic, military and ideological colonisation, since almost two centuries, of the rest of the world in general, and of the Muslim world in particular, it is nót the same thing

  1. to offend e.g. Christian sensibilities, in one form or another of intellectual, artistic or media expression, and,

  2. on the other hand, to violate the religious sensibilities of Muslims.

In the first case, the (rare) cases of offence or mockery are directed against a section and still a powerful (even if "secularised") pillar of the western establishment. In the other case, what one is doing, actually, even if not intentionally, is eroding, delegitimating or devaluating the religious-cultural or "symbolic capital" of a dominated and/or discriminated (politically, economically, socially...) minority or population - suffering en plus, in many Muslim countries, from a corrupt regime functioning as a "valet" of western dominance. For an "interesting" precedent of this kind of generalised ideological "bashing" of a discriminated minority, I refer to the interesting paper of Prof. Marc Swyngedouw, "La construction du 'péril immigré' en Flandre 1930-1980", in: Andrea Rea (ed.), Immigration et racisme en Europe, Bruxelles 1998, pp. 107-130. Swyngedouw underlines and documents the great analogy between the ideological construction of today's anti-Muslimism and that of the virulent anti-Semitism in most European countries, during the 30's in the 20th century. The systematic ideological devaluation, in that period, of the "symbolic capital" of Jewish immigrants (from Eastern Europe), among others by means of caricatures and cartoons (films, as well, of course: cf. "Der Ewige Jude"), the agitation against ritual slaughtering, etc., not only served to legitimate the discrimination of the Jews, but it also was an important "condition" in order to make Judeocide  finally thinkable and feasible.

Comparable, in some sense, to the way Jewish people survived as a "nation", during almost two millennia of persecution in the Christian West, the situation of many Muslims in the present world makes that their "symbolic capital" as well - i.e. their religious and cultural traditions and values - serves more than ever as an ideological, or perhaps I'd better write: a spiritual, "raft", clutched at by people endeavouring to live, one way or another, as human beings, i.e. with human dignity.[9] Of course, the general effects of deculturalisation and uprooting brought about by present day's capitalistic globalisation have to been taken into account as well.[10] Let us take, for example, the devastating social chaos in the Gaza Strip (or any camp of refugees in Palestine, for that matter): for years and years, and still going on, life there has been a real hell. Children are continuously terrorised by Israeli military and planes; people - children, women, men and elderly people - are shot or deliberately assassinated; houses are destroyed by Caterpillar bulldozers; there is mass unemployment, starvation, lack of education, etc. Can present day's supremacy of Islamist Hamas (an organisation that takes care as well of social services, education, etc.) be a surprise to us, then? Or let us consider so-called Islamic suicide terrorism. It is time to realise that it is neither "fundamentalist" nor "Islamic".[11]

But there is more to the western treatment of Muslims and the Muslim world than mere injustice, immorality and/or racism. Western political and intellectual elites are continuously presuming that they have to "teach a lesson" to Muslims, i.e. by means of some form of coercion, in order that the latter may unlearn, "for their own good", their so-called "backward" or "medieval" conceptions and mentalities, and be prepared to exchange them for western "democratic", "tolerant", "open-minded", etc., values and attitudes. My colleague, Em. Professor Etienne Vermeersch, e.g., reacting to the Muslim protest against the cartoons, quite bluntly stated in a Flemish newspaper, Het Volk,  (later on, it is true, in another newspaper and on TV he tried to qualify his statement): "Belgian newspapers should publish such cartoons every week; that way Muslims would get used to the idea"! However, anyone disposing of a minimum of current, social-pedagogical insight, would know that, within the existing context, this kind of coercion or provocation works necessarily contra-productive. Coercion or violence (media violence or aggression included) does nót help people to come to a "better understanding" of their situation, but on the contrary it antagonizes and radicalises them all the more. Current history is a sufficient proof of this: see e.g. what is going on in Iraq, as a consequence of the irresponsible policy of the Americans and the British, presuming to "introduce democracy" by means of warfare and military occupation.

In view of all this, the only solution to come to a peaceful and harmonious coexistence between "the West" and "Islam", seems to me that anti-Muslimism or Islamophobia would be dealt with, in our laws, in the same way as anti-Semitism - i.e. as being indeed today's dominant form of racism (see on this phenomenon the report of the United Nations, "Rapport sur l'Islamophobie", February 23, 2004).[12] But this idea as well seems quite utopian, within the existing balance of powers and the powerful economic interests at play.[13]
 

5. Epilogue.

I'd like to conclude with a warning, meant for the innocent reader as well as for the malevolent one: the foregoing considerations do nót imply that the "collective hysteria" in some Muslim countries, with acts of arson and violence, should be approved or justified. Quite to the contrary. Once more, anyhow, Muslim persons are the foremost victims of it (the people at demonstrations being shot by their own police or the army). The capability to put one's opinions - even one's intimate, e.g. religious convictions - into perspective ís a valuable, human quality, indeed, that people of àll beliefs and convictions (secularists as well!) should acquire. It is a condition to prevent being manipulated by the powers that be. However, the only effective way of contributing to achieve this (PS: really decisive, it should be repeated, is ameliorating the material and social circumstances people actually live in), as far as Muslims are concerned, is that this kind of "education" should come from within the Muslim community, and en plus in a pedagogical and not-provocative way (the Dutch, "liberal" politician, Ayân Hirsi Ali, is a good counter-example). Actually, there are Muslim intellectuals, theologians and religious thinkers indeed who àre capable of doing this, and who are doing this right now! To limit myself to only one, important example: see Tariq Ramadan and his commentary of February 6, "Free Speech and Civic Responsibility", URL: click here . He is "rewarded", it is true, for his efforts by western authorities or institutions with being regularly denied his... freedom of speech! (twenty times, e.g., in France).

But, as I said, the capability (and willingness) to put one's "firm" convictions into proper perspective is needed on the western, "white" and secularist side as well. The world really becoming a "global village", we 'd better learn to act as this kind of "villagers" and behave to other people - be they "white", "brown" or "black" - as being our true neighbours. Insulting our neighbours and hurting their feelings and sensibilities may feel quite satisfactory, momentarily, for any immature or even pathological mind, but it has nothing to do whatsoever with the principle of "freedom of expression". It is just a sign of one's lack of self-criticism and one's incapability to put one's own certitudes into question. So-called anti-dogmatism" is all too easily into a... dogma.
 

________________________

 

NOTES:

[1] See, for a short description of the Barelwi's, on this site.

[2] For recent literature on the zanâdiqa, see e.g. Sarah Stroumsa, Freethinkers of Medieval Islam. Ibn al-Râwandî, Abû Bakr al-Râzî, and Their Impact on Islamic Thought, Leiden 1999; but also: Dominique Urvoy, Les penseurs libres dans l'Islam classique. L'interrogation sur la religion chez les penseurs arabes indépendants, Paris 1996.

[3] i.e. a famous Danish writer of children's books, Kåre Bluitgen, preparing a book explaining the life of Muhammad and Islamic beliefs for children and not finding an illustrator for it.

[4] To tell the whole truth, though, the Belgian minister of Internal Affairs, Patrick Dewael, a leading member of the Flemish liberal party, did the same.

[5] See the articles of Christopher Bollyn (The American Free Press), "Cartoons are a purposeful provocation",  URL: http://mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?x=508448 ("Rose travelled to Philadelphia in October 2004 to visit Daniel Pipes, the Neo-Con ideologue who says the only path to Middle East peace will come through a total Israeli military victory. Rose then penned a positive article about Pipes, who compares "militant Islam" with fascism and communism"); "Why Denmark must Issue an Apology to Muslims", URL: http://www.thetruthseeker.co.uk/article.asp?ID=4132 ; and "European Media provokes Muslims to inflame Zionist 'Clash of Civilizations'", URL: http://www.rumormillnews.com/cgi-bin/forum.cgi?read=84976 . Also: Juan Cole (Professor of History at the University of Michigan), on his website, "Informed Comment", in his article on "Cartoongate", Feb 9 2006, URL: http://www.juancole.com/2006/02/cole-on-danish-caricatures-in-salon_09.html , a.o. For an English translation of Rose's interview with Pipes, see URL: http://www.danielpipes.org/article/3362 . In the interview, Pipes, among other things, says feeling "baffled" by Europe's "relaxed" response to the Islamic threat. The same kind of criticism of Europe can be found with European authors or journalists as well, see e.g. the alarmist article, "Europe's incurable tendency to appeasement", written by Mia Doornaert, "Diplomatic Editor" of the Flemish newspaper De Standaard, on this site (the text was sent to me by Mrs Doornaert herself, mentioning in her email an Australian publication).

[6] The expression was coined by the British marxist analyst, Fred Halliday (Professor of International Relations at the London School of Economics), in his book: Islam and the Myth of Confrontation. Religion and Politics in the Middle East, London 1996, p. 160. As he wrote there: "... anti-Muslimism is a semi-ideology... It involves not so much hostility to Islam as a religion - indeed, few contemporary anti-Muslimists take issue with the claim of Muhammad to be a prophet, or with other theological beliefs - but hostility to Muslims, to communities of peoples whose sole or main religion is Islam and whose Islamic character, real or invented, forms one of the objects of prejudice. In this sense anti-Muslimism often overlaps with forms of ethnic prejudice...".

[7] The same goes, of course, for the European media and public opinion. Re the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, The Guardian of February 6 revealed that the same editor of Jyllands-Posten refused, three years ago, to publish Jesus-Christ cartoons, because, in the words of Rose, "the images could shock our readers and the cartoons were not funny", URL: http://media.guardian.co.uk/site/story/0,,1703500,00.html?gusrc=ticker-103704 . Revealing as well, is the test-case that was raised by the Arab European League (AEL), with the publication on their website of some cartoons that were apparently "anti-Semitic": amidst the media clamour brandishing the "unconditional" freedom of expression, the Dutch Centrum Informatie en Documentatie Israël (CIDI), immediately (Februari 5) filed an official complaint with the Amsterdam Officer of Justice against AEL, see their website: click here .

[8] Of course, these feelings as well are expressed in... cartoons, see for an example, the drawing by cartoonist Khalil Bendib (USA), "Denmark Cartoons", URL: http://www.bendib.com/newones/2006/february/small/2-5-Denmark-cartoons.jpg .

[9] My apologies for this kind of figurative language. I was inspired by the famous commentary by J.Jaynes on the vital (ideological or "psychological") importance of... Homer's poems, at the start of the first millennium B.C., cf. his book, The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of Bicameral Mind (1979), p. 256: "Poems are rafts clutched at by men drowning in inadequate minds... this importance of poetry, in a devastating social chaos...".

[10] Islamic so-called "salafism", or "neo-fundamentalism",  is to be understood as an effect of and, at the same time, as a response to this process of globalisation and deculturalisation. See Olivier Roy, Globalised Islam: The Search for a New Ummah, London: Hurst, 2004.

[11] See the quite recent study, based on a decade of research, Dying to Win, The Logic of Suicide Terrorism (Random House, May 2005), by Robert Pape (Professor at the University of Chicago). In an interview with "The American Conservative" (!), his concise conclusion is: "It 's not fundamentalism, it's the occupation!", URL:  http://amconmag.com/2005_07_18/print/articleprint.html.

[12] See on this site.

[13] For a devastating indictment against the brutal and criminal way the West, since more than a century, made the Arabic world completely subservient to its economic interests and the tragic future the war in Iraq is creating, in the first place for the Iraqi's but in the long term for all of see, see Manuel Valenzuela, "The Killing Fields. Ghosts of the Walking Death", http://valenzuelasveritas.blogspot.com/2006/01/killing-fields-ghosts-of-walking-dead.html .

* Emeritus Professor of Ghent University (Belgium) and former director of the Center for Islam in Europe. Contact: <herman.deley@ugent.be> .

CIE-INDEXWeb master: Herman De Ley Update: 10.12.2008