/ Jimmy's Corner: Once again: Al Fagr is not Shihan or France-Soir!

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Friday, February 10, 2006 

Once again: Al Fagr is not Shihan or France-Soir!

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!

Read more:

Dispite Al-Fagr's reasons for reprinting the cartoons, at least you could say that their readers has had a chance to see them and judge for them selves. It's my impression that most of the angry outbursts in Muslim countires over the last days isn't based on actual facts but on hear-say such as false SMS'es claiming that the Kohran has been burned in the streets of Copenhagen and on the so called evidence that the Danish Muslim delegation presented to government officials, religious leaders and the press on their recent Middle East tour.

And a few words about bringing things into context: The Danish population counts a little less than 6 milion people. Jyllands Posten has a daily circulation of 179.000 copies and thus covers less than 3% of the population. It is just one of 38 daily newspapers with a total circulation of more than 1.8 milion copies - and not a single one of the remaining 37 has printed the actual - or similar - drawings. Based on this, to claim that Danes in general are islamophobic and Muslim-haters, makes in my oppinion just as much sense as to claim that all Muslims are terrorists based on 9/11, Bali, Madrid, London and other similar incidents.

Yours sincerely
A Danish non-Muslim-hater

Dear Mr. Larsen,
I don't agree with you to throw all the blame over the Danish Muslim's tour in Middle East for some reasons. First, it is only two pics that they brought with them that were not in the JP's group. However, this does not justify adding these two pictures of course. My point is that here in the Middle East most of the people did not see the cartoons. Extremists and terrorist-motivated groups started to show the ppl cartoons that are extremely offensive but never belonged to JP. So do not throw all the blame on the Danish Muslims' tour. As I said, there are powers on both sides want to incite more violence and hinder any dialogue.

I agree with you at the last point. And I say it is because the culture differences and lack of communication between the two cultures. This is what I hope we can overcome with this dialogue.

And in fact I dont understand ur "Danish non-Muslim-hater"... I hope you come back to explain to me :)

Sincerely
JC

I have been told that theres actually not a line in the koran that states you cant draw "the prophet" only about allah. So what is all this fuss about?

Your mental gymnastics in a somewhat feeble attempt to justify both the Egyptian reprinting of the cartoons as well as the Moslem Response, may leave you with a seriously sprained mind from trying to do the impossible. As far as Leftist US press' cowardly refusal to reprint the cartoons, it is unfortunately the first blow to freedom of speech in this country under threat of violence. Your claim that CNN was merely acting responsibly by reporting the news and not wanting to make the news is patently bogus. We all remember the thousands of times the beating part of the Rodney king video was replayed until it resulted in the LA riots. Had the media contuously replayed the whole tape, or just the first part where King lunges at the officer twice, every black man watching it would have thought "If I was a cop I woulda kicked that nigga's ass too." But playing the King video would not result in someone arriving at the editor in chief's house to behead him, his wife, and his children."Similarly the Boston Globe had no problem printing A bogus GI rape story.Or Newsweek's lack of restraint in publishing the Bogus Koran down the toilet story. The difference in those cases, was that Islamic anger would only be funneled towards American soldiers and American Interests, not against cowardly American Journalists. I salute those editors that resigned when their papers would not re-print the cartoons. Among the other cowards not weighing in on this matter, are the ACLU, which has not issued a comment; The Cowards at art.net, who are willing to publish every perverts concept of art and are worried that American law my cause "The self-censorship of otherwise responsible adults out of fear of government prosecution for their conduct, beliefs, actions, or words." Have issued no comment on the manner. The thousands of pornographer that claim to be defended your first amendment rights (while make millions selling porn) and display the blue ribbon free speech campaign banner, have all been silent at this censorship of the American press, as well as the hypocrisy of Moslems that regulary smear America, Jews, and Israel in their press. Where is the Moslem sensitivity towards Christian holy books that they demand from the West? Where is the Moslem outrage to educating a generation of children to be murderers? Beheadings, in the name of Allah the most merciful, are not an affront to Islam? This one is worse then beheadings, please note the applause at the end. Only in Islamic countries. Allah Akbar!

wombatataljazeeradotcom, i said it before and it is like the hundred time i say do not apply ur rules over others. I am not surprised with the stereotypes you are airing through your comments or even this site linked to muslim response. Those what you call cowards are doing the right thing. I say it again freedom of expression does not mean offending any religion. And if you just wanna see a punsh of terrorists as representative of a whole Muslim nation then it is your own problem that you read only what complies with what you believe, and turn off anything that contradicts with what you believe.

And I want you to bring me any press anti-judaist or anti-christian caricatures that you say are spreading everywhere here.

Muslim do not teach their children to behead ppl. And I say it once more, do not keep urself tied to the stereotypes....

I will publish a detailed comment to your message so that I make it clear to you with a fact-to-fact argument.

JC, entah haggass kebeir awwy, lol...

First of all: you again dodged the question I asked you, because you know what? It doesn't matter if they reprinted the cartoon to inform or to mock, they are forbidden to show a cartoon of the prophet in any context, period. IT's Haram. Ask any Imam. Any image of the prophet that was made, printed, copied, re-copied for whatever purpose is HARAM. So, for Al Fagr to print it, and on the front page, during Ramadan nonetheless, is an offense worthy of having at least a Fatwa or an apology by Adel Hamoudah, not to mention just a little outrage. None of it happend then, none of it is happening now. and THAT's my point and the point of every person who considerd this as ultimate proof of hypocrisy and how this whole thing was instigated for political purposes. YOU KNOW THIS TO BE TRUE.

Now, as far as Al Fagr is concenred, whom u deem a paper of small circulation that no one reads, well, I had a copy at my house. Freedom, in DC was able to get a copy. How small of a circulation is that? What an anamoly we must be amongst the egyptian population!

Not to mention, you do know that it is helmed by Adel Hamoudah, so it does have credibility and readership. And even if it didn't, his colleagues must read it, as the really pissed off about this IT guy at my job put it, why didn;t anyone else report it? Why didn;t anyone else raise a stink about this back then? I mean, what, we can get wind of what a newspaper in denmark did, but we can not do the same about a newspaper- a known one, helmed by a very known journalist- who did it in our own country? Are you kidding me?

Whatever...

It's funny you think there is a difference between copying and creating images. Both actions are producing an image - the same image. Also fact is that Jyllands Post actually didn't create the images. They copied them also - from the creator artists who drew them. Jimmy - you need to think a bit more before you write your crap. Also please stop having virus/spyware on your website. Your website references/runs this javascript: http://embed.technorati.com/embed/6rpjyk9vpg.js
To me you're just a virus-spreading asshole.

Dear JC

I'm sure you are right when you point out that forces on both sides has an interest in keeping this issue alive and preferebly make it grow. And i'm actually not advocating the point of view that all the problems occured as a result of the Danish Muslims tour to the Middel East. All i'm saying is that the tour was a contributing factor.

Now, about my "Danish non-Muslim-hater"-signature, i wanted to emphasize the point that the vast majority of Danes is not in opposition to Islam. However the reactions to the drawings, including embassy burnings, flag burnings, "Don't buy Danish" and the "They are burning the Khoran in Copenhagen"-SMS-campain has led me to believe that this is the general opinion in the Muslim world.

Allow me to add one further thing in regard to what has been said and written about extended dialogue in order to understand each others cultures better: I think the last weeks has proven that such an initiative is very important. The Jyllands Posten-drawings surely reveals a profound lack of knowledge and understanding of Islam - just as the Syrian governments and the 11 Ambassadors demand for an official apology from the Danish PM and/or Parliament reveals a just as profound lack of knowledge and understanding of how things work here.

Mr. Larsen's comments are well reasoned and factually based, just the sort of thing that has been lacking in this debate. Is Mr Larsen the same person I knew in graduate school in East Lansing Michigan during the 1960's? Please respond.

Finally much tanks should go to Sandmonkey who brought the issue of prior publication of these cartoons by an Egyptian newspaper, long before the controversy started. Let's see if the major news outlets in the US will bring this out.

Dear Mr. Neumann

Thank you for your kind words. In regard of what has been going on in the last few weeks, I think it's fair to say that reason yields when temper erupts, but it doesn't change the fact that the cartoon debate lacks common sense.

And for your question: No, I haven't had the privilege to attend East Lansing. But i'm happy to learn that there are more Larsens out there trying to keep their feet on the ground in the midst of the turmoil.

Mr. Neumann, I have to say I agree with Mr. Larsen's last comments. However, I still believe a dialogue will help narrowen the gaps between cultures. It wont be just about cartoons i say.

Dear JC,

You seem like a very thougthful person. I believe that you and the readers of your blog would all benefit greatly by taking the time to read Irshad Manji's "The Trouble With Islam" (2003 Random House Canada). It has helped me to understand this current "cartoon crisis".

DB

It's ironic somehow... Irshad Manji's "The Trouble With Islam" is published in Denmark by Jyllands Posten - the same newspaper that created all the fuss by publishing the cartoons.

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