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Another Chapter in the
Clash of Civilizations


By Ibn Iblis 
February 19, 2006

Who would've though that a group of Danish cartoonists would strike the most crippling blow to the Islamist political jihad in Europe to date? Even more crippling than the murder of Theo van Gogh, the implications of which, for the most part, did not expand past Holland's borders, the explosion of Islamic rage surrounding these cartoons has forced the Islamists' hand far earlier than would've been prudent and many - not all - Europeans are starting to wonder whether Islam has any place in Western civilization.

In Van Gogh's case, the murder of this one man turned a nation of enlightened, open-minded, multicultural tolerance on its ear. Dutch artist Chris Ripke protested the murder by painting a mural of an angel and the date of Van Gogh's murder with the words Gij zult niet doden - thou shalt not kill. Apparently unaware of the concept of irony, a local imam complained to police that the mural was racist and offensive to Muslims. Amazingly, the police had the mural sandblasted.

During the proceeding two weeks after Van Gogh's death, more than twenty mosques were vandalized or set on fire. Legislators were placed under 'round-the-clock protection, and government buildings in the Hague resembled armed camps. The deputy Prime Minister, who had once called Pim Fortuyn dangerous because of harsh attacks on Islam, openly declared war on radical Islam. The Dutch Parliament now debates how to deal with the problem, with some on the right calling for the deportation of radical Muslim clerics and shutting down the mosques they operate out of, as well as closing the borders to non-Western immigrants. Earlier this month, plans were revealed for a test aimed at curbing Muslim immigrants in the Netherlands .

Again I can't help but stress that this is mostly due to the death of one man. If only the deaths of over 3,000 people could drive America to similar actions. Alas. But as dramatic as these turns of events have been, this is just the Netherlands .

The cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad have had widespread implications, and for the first time, at least to those of us not paying attention, which is, alas again, the vast majority of people, an emerging Clash of Civilizations has become evident.

To begin, it should be noted that it is not exactly established Islamic law that depictions of the prophet are forbidden. There is an extensive collection of Muslim depictions of Muhammad, none of which resulted in economic sanctions, protests, death threats, or burning of buildings.

Second, the furor over these cartoons is largely based on lies. The story behind these cartoons arose when Danish writer Kare Bluitgen began searching for someone to illustrate his children's book about the life of Muhammad. It soon became clear, however, that nobody wanted the job, and the fate of Van Gogh was certainly not far from the minds of those who turned him down. Bluitgen's trouble prompted several Danish newspapers, including the best-selling Jyllands-Posten (Jutland Post), to begin a debate: how far should Denmark go in self-censorship, and is freedom of _expression more important than catering to religious sensitivities? The results of that debate are now known, but what is not known is how the story was presented to the Muslim world in the first place.

Once it became clear that Denmark 's Prime Minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, was not going to cowtow to the Islamic world and prosecute these papers for a non-crime, a group of fundamentalist Danish imams took matters into their own hands. As if the depictions of Muhammad, though in essence true to Islamic tradition, were not offensive enough, these imams took three other mysteriously unsourced drawings as on a tour of the Middle East . These new cartoons showed Muhammad with the face of a pig, a dog sodomizing a praying Muslim, and Muhammad as a pedophile. Jan Lund, editor of the Jyllands-Posten, called this pure disinformation. "We never published them," he said.

Pressure from the Muslim world soon forced both the Prime Minister and the paper's editor to cave; apologizing for offending the Islamic sensitivities they had not long before claimed the right to offend. This is where the story really takes flight. Disgusted by Rasmussen and Lund 's cowardice, several European newspapers decided it was time to take up the cause. Claiming the right to caricature God , France Soir republished the cartoons. The paper's editor was subsequently fired the next day. Germany 's Die Welt pasted the turban-bomb Muhammad cartoon on its front page, saying the Islamic world was guilty of hypocrisy. Other newspapers in Italy , Spain and Switzerland followed suit.

 

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