I do not know why it looks like a great discovery to find out that an unknown yellow newspaper in Egypt published the cartoons 4 months ago. I am not weighing down the effort done by Sandmonkey and Freedom for Egyptians to bring the newspaper to life. However, I am having the feeling that they are just so happy with numbers of readership and some interviews that they forgot to complete their long search with complete honesty. I am not attacking anyone here, but I am saying if you bring something to light you should put it in its context. Well, what would make the difference if the cartoons in Al Fagr be put into context or not? And what's the controversy all about as Sandmonkey asks "was Is the point of the muslim outrage that it is haram to print funny cartoons of the Prophet, or is it that it is Haram to create any kind of illustration that is suppsoed to be the prophet, whether one you created yourself or one you copied off of others?"
Well, I start with Sandmonkey's question first. Sandmonkey's question seems to miss one important point which is Al Fagr DID NOT create the cartoons or republished them for the sake of backing the Jyllands-Posten. So answering the first part of the question I say: Muslims believe that any pictorial depiction (be it offensive or even educational) of Prophet Muhammad is haram. And they even nevery try to pictorially depict any other prophet, so it is haram to CREATE cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. There is a difference in copying the cartoons... but first...
Do not miss the fact that all Muslims called for at the very beginning was more responsibility over freedom of expression, which developed to be a call for respecting ALL religious beliefs as part of such responsibility.
Well then, what about the copying (republishing) of the cartoons? This brings me back to the context problem which everybody misses and seems to be happy with that. Al Fagr brought the cartoons, simply, to draw the Muslims' attention to it and arouse anger against Denmark and the publishers of the newspaper. Thus, they republished the cartoons in order to show Muslims that "Rudeness continues...: Mockery of Prophet Muhammed and his wives (referring to JP's cartoons)" as the headline says. Thus the paper's point of view is just typical to the point of view of angry Muslims now. Moreover, Al Fagr republished the then unknown cartoons to not to give room to the angry Muslims to imagine how these cartoons would be like and so they just imagine the worst. They published the cartoons to give an evidence to Muslims that they Prophet is being mocked and they should do something. Not for backing JP up on freedom of expression like France-soir and Shihan. And of course this is a great difference. As I told Freedom for Egyptians in a comment on her blog "the difference is like the difference between watching a woman's naked body in a biology book and a naked woman in a porn magazine".
Well then why Muslims started boycotting four months after the cartoons were published?? Simply because this newspaper is unknown to the public here. I bet if any of you walks in Cairo's streets and finds any one who knows anything about the newspaper. I swear I went to ask about this newspaper at the small newspaper kiosk near my home and the seller did not know the name at the beginning, and no he is not ignorant. So I make it clear that if it is one of any popular Egyptian newspaper that published the cartoons at that time you could have got even more angry prtoests. To be more clear, almost no one knew about the cartoons here in Egypt till the subject was brought to light in the Egyptian TV and the national newspapers, and it is only that time that people became angry, when they knew.
Now to sum up my answer to the questions, the purpose and context of publishing the cartoons and the fact that the newspaper is not popular are the answer Sandmonkey's and Freedom for Egyptians' questions.
My Danish fried Martin asked me a very smart question which is, if any newspaper republishes the cartoons now just to refer to the controversy, not backing JP, Muslims will not be angry?
Martin's question brings me to the timing of publishing the cartoons. To answer Martin's question first: No, Muslims will be angry if any newspaper republishes the cartoons once more these days. Simply because they will do like Sandmonkey, they will take the photos out of their contexts and no one will give a damn about what the newspaper says. It is not because Muslims are devils, it is because there are powers provoking Muslim anger and will just take the cartoons out of their context and say "See, they insist on offending us", which will add fuel to the controversy.
This actually brings me to the timing in which Al Fagr republished the cartoons. Al Fagr newspaper published these photos before they draw any Muslim attention in the Middle East, to draw Muslims' attention to them. And they took, in my opinion, a good step as the cartoons in the context and purpose of the publishing are a good step by the newspaper as they leave no room for an angry Muslim mind to use imagination to think of how offensive these cartoons could be, as such imaginations will just go to the worst. However, I bet if Al Fagr can republish the very same article these days, simply because the cartoons will be taken out of their contexts and seen as a mere republishing meant just to offend. Moreover, any republishing will just add fuel to the burning fire of anger.
Some of you might not agree with me, but it seems like CNN believes in what I say. They added this paragraph almost to every article tackling the development of the crisis:
CNN is not showing the negative caricatures of the likeness of Prophet Mohammed because the network believes its role is to cover the events surrounding the publication of the cartoons while not unnecessarily adding fuel to the controversy itself.
Now it is time to stress on two main things. First, I am against any any violent protests over the cartoons, and I believe the Jyllands-Posten has done its share by apologizing for the cartoons to the Algerian press and it is now the Muslims' turn to take a step towards dialogue to remove these cultural differences that played a major role in the controversy. Second, those who call for the beheading of the publishers are just criminals who right place is behind bars. I believe extremists play a major role in keeping the crisis heated, and any provoking of the situation on any side will just be a help for extremists. So I believe everybody should calm down and start the debate.
Spread the word: Violence is not the answer, Start the dialogue!