Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Danish Editor Explains His Decision.

Flemming Rose, the editor of the Jylland-Posten - the Danish newspaper that published the now (in)famous cartoons of the Prophet - explains his decision in today's Washington Post. He makes some very interesting points and clarifies the background of the his decision.
He also gives his interpretation of the most controversial cartoon:
One cartoon -- depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban -- has drawn the harshest criticism. Angry voices claim the cartoon is saying that the prophet is a terrorist or that every Muslim is a terrorist. I read it differently: Some individuals have taken the religion of Islam hostage by committing terrorist acts in the name of the prophet. They are the ones who have given the religion a bad name. The cartoon also plays into the fairy tale about Aladdin and the orange that fell into his turban and made his fortune. This suggests that the bomb comes from the outside world and is not an inherent characteristic of the prophet.
Fair enough. But that's just one way to look at it. However, when I look at the drawing, I see something quite different, I see man who does not look like a nice man who'd be surprised by what "fell into his turban", I see a fanatic whose eyes look very threatening. Besides, the very idea that, as Mr Flemming Rose says, what fell into his turban "made his fortune" (if that's indeed the correct reference) can be understandly offensive. Does the bomb make his fortune?
Once again, it is our belief that the newspaper had the right to publish offensive material. There is no question about it. It should be legal. But I think it would be smart for Mr Rose to acknowledge that the drawing can be interpreted in a different way than his own, and that it is easy to understand that Muslims can feel offended. That's all.

NOTE: he also explains himself that "On occasion, Jyllands-Posten has refused to print satirical cartoons of Jesus, but not because it applies a double standard." (see our post )and gives the exemple of an offensive drawing of Jesus by the same artist. One would be interested, however, in knowing what makes the occasion right to publish or not a cartoon offensive to Christians.

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