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February 14, 2006

Comments

Peter H

Although I agree that establishing an international legal principle criminalizing insults to the Prophets Mohammed, Jesus, or Moses would be a terrible idea, the fact that these Islamists are rejecting boycotts and violence is a positve sign.

Just out of curiousity, how many countries outside Europe and the United States have the same liberatarian approach towards blasphemy? From what I've seen, the West is unique in placing no limits in what can be said or written about religious beliefs.

Nur al-Cubicle

Rabat and Algiers are ahead of the game.

Morocco's opposition magazine Le Journal hebdomadaire published the cartoons, but with 10 pages of commentary from experts in political Islam. Result: It was the Moroccan goverment which organized street protests to work up a case against the publication.

In Algeria, the publications Essafir and Panorama published the cartoons but as they are frequently critical of President Boutiflika, they got slapped with an injunction against distribution.

Conclusion: Any law to prohibit insult to religion will be exploited by those in power to hammer the opposition. Works like the Patriot Act--deploying "security" to gather dirt on politicans and ordinary persons for later use against them.

Martin Kramer

The idea of criminalizing insults to prophets has now been endorsed by a unanimous, detailed resolution of the Organization of the Islamic Conference. Read here for all the details. It will be recalled that it was the OIC that got the cartoon ball really rolling. But I'm just an alarmist, who shrieks and moans, so pay no attention. It will all go away. Repeat after me: it will all go away, it will all go away, it will all go away...

diana

Dr. Kramer is to be thanked for the link, but his conclusion is alarmist.

I just read in an article on The Guardian (linked by an Arab blogger whose name I forget) that the Iranians use technology made in Israel to create their anti-Israel propaganda "art-work." So much for boycotts. They don't work. If you need a product, you'll buy the product. And if doctors in the Muslim world can't prescribe medicines made in Denmark to Muslim diabetics, who gets hurt?

I admit that when this cartoon flap first happened, it enraged me. But I came to my senses. The entire Muslim world won't add the industrial, scientific and technical capabilities in our lifetime that China will create in three months. (If you include Turkey in that equation you might stretch that to six months.) This Saudi Arabian edict is proof of that. What can you say about a culture that confers power on people like this? They just don't matter much.

Collounsbury

Well, if Kramer wants to continue to confirm his credentials as a chicken-littlish alarmist, who am I to stop him.

However, the fact remains there is no rational reason to conclude UN is ever going to afford an opportunity to establish some 'no prophet bothering' control agency. Unless Kramer is aware of some radical revision of UN structure that I am not.

To think so is to be either fundementally mendacious for political goals, delusional or perhaps just stupid in a 'black UN helicopter' crowd manner. Of course one could combine any of the three.

One need not indulge in the childish bigotry re the 'Muslim world' and science that the diane commentator does to be fundamentally underwhelmed by the 'threat' that the conference and the petition represents.

Well, I am sure that Kramer can pimp the illogical scare mongering about "UN authorised muftis" elsewhere with profitable effect. Thankfully as a non-academic, I need not be worried about his various Right bolshy jihads.

diana

Regarding bigotry, I'd be interested to hear of all those Nobel Laureates from the Muslim world. In the hard sciences, not literature or Peace, please. You could also tell us about all that industrial capacity I see coming from the sands of Araby, apart from the oil industry.

mch

"The idea of criminalizing insults to prophets has now been endorsed by a unanimous, detailed resolution of the Organization of the Islamic Conference."

My God, the Organization of the Islamic Conference thinks insults to prophets should be criminalized. It must take a PhD to find that shocking.

mch

"Regarding bigotry, I'd be interested to hear of all those Nobel Laureates from the Muslim world."

Yeah, asking that baitingly is actually a good example of bigotry. Well done. Asked and answered. "The Middle East has a lot of backwardness. I enjoy pointing that out for some reason."

collounsbury

Well, this is amusing:

Regarding bigotry, I'd be interested to hear of all those Nobel Laureates from the Muslim world.

Yeah and how about them Nigs, and the wetback greaser Latins, eh?

It's amusing, regardless, to see my point proven for me.


In the hard sciences, not literature or Peace, please.

Well, if you look at the list of Noble Laureates I guess you have to fairly exclude slant eyed Confucians, not too many of them types either.

Not that I see any logical utility in a list of Noble Laureates with respect to concluding anything in particular about an ethnic group or religion, other than the fallacy of composition and related forms of illogic seem to be terribly popular with bigots.

You could also tell us about all that industrial capacity I see coming from the sands of Araby, apart from the oil industry.

Sure, you mean like phosphates production in North Africa, or shall we discuss investment opportunities in textiles and light electronics in Tunisia and Morocco based off of leveraging new trade agreements and improved shipping lines coming on-line in 2007.

Or perhaps the opportunities for a roll-up strategy in investing in Jordanian generic pharma producers?

Of course, there's a number of financing issues involved - but in fact we're seeing for the first time the Gulf capital not flowing to the West as during past oil booms, but to constructive investment in region. Pity there are still too many overhangs from the Socialist era, including state ownership (esp Egypt), but certainly there is a good selection of industry to talk about, excluding the hydrocarbons sector.

Where should I start? Perhaps with the silly bigotry of presuming that much basic research is going on in China (where in fact most investment is flowing to low value add human capital intensive activity. Low value add, but the proper starting point for an economy like China's.)?

n.allen

Collounsbury: While I agree with you that we’re not going to see the creation of a powerful UN “'no prophet bothering' control agency” as you termed it, this line of critique misses some of the other possible outcomes that could result from the current OIC campaign. International law often consists of codes of conduct that states are expected to self-regulate within their own borders. If the OIC is able to score some symbolic victories at the UN, maybe get a resolution passed, they could then focus on pressuring individual European states to adopt regulations that ‘comply with international law.’ Norway has already made noises about enforcing a blasphemy ban. I won’t be surprised if another state or two make similar commitments in the next few weeks.

Regarding the potential threat to the academy, even if the OIC is successful in picking off a few states this round I don’t see the new laws effecting scholarly work. There’s going to be a fairly substantial gap between what prominent Muslim clerics consider blasphemy and what a European state considers blasphemy. The European states don’t want to get into the Prophet protecting business and will only do so in order to maintain public order and/or protect their overseas interests. That means they’ll only go after the sensational cases of blasphemy that are able to galvanize popular opinion. This might be a threat to turban-bomb cartoons; however, rarely read books on the origins of Islam should remain safe. There’s no need for hastily written letters to Dr. Cole and the Academic Freedom Committee.

Marc mentioned that he’s opposed to criminalization but supportive of a dialogue that would lead to the development of common norms. Are there any major actors out there that aren’t pushing the legal route? And even if those that are demanding legal reforms could be appeased with non-binding codes, what are the chances this agreement would actually survive the next Blasphemy Bomb?

Nur al-Cubicle

Henri Tincq, the Religion correspondent for Le Monde, says offending religions based on divine revelation always causes a firestorm. He makes the point that the violent reaction of Near Eastern Muslim world to the cartoons might have been mitigated if authoritative Islamic institutions were not the prey of depredations by the state. In short, nobody's in charge.

Anyway, if Tincq is correct about revealed religions, then a printed snark by Jyllens-Posten about Hindu animal gods or shakras wouldn't have produced much of a reaction in the Hindu street.

Alan Owes Bess

I see my old friend Collounsbury still operates on the principle that the ad hominem method of argument establishes some kind of irrefutable proof about the little fantasies that churn around his little narcotic addled financier’s brain.

Bigot this, bigot that. Now he’s back in his motherland, New York, sucking on the drying teat of the Titanic while his superior, the BFFI, looks on. Good luck with your exit strategery, Col, as your beloved leader, George the younger, would say.

By the way, you didn’t respond to my cheerful hello on DanielDrezner’s blogspot on 23 January Drezner. My joyous greetings to you, my dear old friend, went unanswered. My effort to reach out to you (excuse the touchy feely jargon) was unrequited.

It almost made me feel hollow inside.

Oh well, life goes on. As one inveterate optimist to another, here’s to growth (oops. Tactless of me. I’d much prefer to shower you with a bucket load of baraka).

collounsbury

Regarding this
While I agree with you that we’re not going to see the creation of a powerful UN “'no prophet bothering' control agency” as you termed it, this line of critique misses some of the other possible outcomes that could result from the current OIC campaign. International law often consists of codes of conduct that states are expected to self-regulate within their own borders. If the OIC is able to score some symbolic victories at the UN, maybe get a resolution passed, they could then focus on pressuring individual European states to adopt regulations that ‘comply with international law.’ Norway has already made noises about enforcing a blasphemy ban. I won’t be surprised if another state or two make similar commitments in the next few weeks.

I don't see it as terribly likely the OIC is going to win any particular EU state over to enforcing blasphemy laws, esp in the current fire storm of hand-wringing. That aside, my comments were directed at Kramer's rather typical, disingenous if not completely mendacious scare-mongering (it was his posturing re UN sanctioned review of works, etc). Kramer has a rather bolshy obsession with his Lefty academic colleagues, thus his tedious silly ref to Cole.

A meaningless Gen Assemb. resolution can't be excluded but does not strike me as terribly likely, perhaps some meaningless pap condemning offending religious feelings (and why not, meaningless pap to soothe the feelings of the righteous can have some utility).

Regardless, it is difficult to see any real result from such a petition and to speak to common international 'norms' of such profoundly domestic issues really is just ... well irrelevant.

As to Nur al Cubicle's mention of Hindu 'street' - well given a recent to do in India over disrespecting a goddess in some rude nude imagery, I think you can pretty much bury that.

Finally, I have no idea what this bizarre cyber-stalker little post at the end is about, but for my money anyone trying to make points about an entire race or group of believers by asking how many show up on the Noble Laureates list rather illustrates bigot-think.

Keefieboy

No, no, no!

You cannot bind secular countries into observance of the sensibilities of the gazillion religions and sects that exist on earth. So why would you single out one for special treatment?

I appreciate that many people were whipped up into a frenzy of 'I am offended'. But the solution now demanded is just utterly unworkable. It seems to me, and I say this with the greatest of respect to all true Muslims, that many extremists in the Islamic world are trying to use this issue to inflame conflict. And if the ridiculous notion of criminalising blasphemy against all religions were to come to pass, I would be looking for another planet to live on.

The 'offended' are now demanding apologies from the Danish government AND people. Come on! Regret has been been expressed, but you will absolutely not get a full apology from a Government whose laws unequivocably state that it cannot be held responsible for any offence committed by its subjects.

How hard is that to understand? I believe that both the cartoonists and the newspaper have apologised: these are the people responsible, so why not just accept that and get back to normality?

Islamists may mock 'freedom of speech', but it is a right that has been fought for over centuries in the West and it will not be compromised by a bunch of religious fanatics.

Nur al-Cubicle

Here' a question. The US Administration forbade the airing of the new Abu Ghraib photos by US broadcasters. Would that be because the photos are blasphemy to the United States?

collounsbury

A better question, in what way did the US Admin "forbid" broadcasting said images? Nur Al-Cubicles reflexive America bashing rather makes me mistrust the characterisation.

Nur al-Cubicle

Reflexive my ass...more like, "rational", given who is in charge.

Nur al-Cubicle

Here's an interesting POV. Astonishingly, the Bush Administration, full of extremely religious personalities, pushed aside the First Amendment to condemn the publication of the cartoons. It was only when Condoleezza noticed the policial leveraging of the outrage by Damascus and Iran that she decided to condemn the violent demonstrations....while Bill Clinton and the Democrats continued to condemn their publication!

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