Monday, February 06, 2006

Violence Escalates Over 'Muhammad' Cartoons

Violence Escalates Over 'Muhammad' Cartoons

By Chad Groening and Jody Brown
February 6, 2006

(AgapePress) - An outspoken critic of Islam says he's glad that several European newspapers had the courage to print cartoons depicting the religion's founder, Muhammad, as a terrorist. He believes Europeans may be waking up to the threat Islam poses to their way of life.

Associated Press reports that Muslim rage over caricatures of the prophet Muhammad grew increasingly violent on Sunday. Thousands of rampaging protesters in Lebanon torched the Danish mission and ransacked a Christian neighborhood. At least one person reportedly died and about 200 were detained. Violence escalated on Monday, says AFP, with five people killed in protests in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Syria, and warning shots fired outside a US consulate in Indonesia.

The anger was sparked by the circulation of caricatures of Muhammad that first appeared in a Danish newspaper last September. Islamic tradition forbids any depiction of the religion's holiest figure.

White House spokesman Scott McClellan today denounced the violence, adding this statement: "We would also urge people who are criticizing these cartoons to speak out forcefully against all forms of hate speech, including cartoons and articles throughout parts of the Arab world, which frequently espouse anti-Semitic and anti-Christian views."

Meanwhile, an American distributor of religious press releases has published the caricatures of Muhammad on its website. Christian Newswire has posted the cartoons, including one of an angry Muhammad with a fuse-lit bomb in his turban, and another of Muhammad on a cloud telling newly arrived suicide bombers, "Stop, Stop! We have run out of virgins!"

Christian Newswire director Gary McCullough says nobody paid for the web posting, and his company isn't "speaking on behalf of the Christian faith." But McCullough says he is concerned that some American media are censoring themselves in the face of "terroristic threats," and he wants to stand with those who will not be intimidated.

A 'Monstrous Overreaction'
Robert Spencer, director of the group Jihad Watch describes the Islamic furor over the cartoons as "a massive, monstrous, global overreaction."

"In the first place," says Spencer, "there's nothing offensive at all about most of the cartoons. A couple of them take note of the connection between Islam and terrorism, which no doubt [Muslims] find offensive." But for those in the Western world to notice it and for cartoonists to lampoon it is "pretty tame," he says, "compared to what political cartoonists do routinely to Western political figures."

But according to Spencer, that does not matter to the Muslims who are responding violently and fanatically. "The content of the cartoons is not really the problem at all," he shares. "Just the fact of the cartoons -- because Islamic law forbids representation of the prophet in any form, it's simply an insult to picture him. Even if the pictures were respectful, [many Muslims] would still be upset."

Spencer believes it is a good thing that Europe is finally waking up to the Islamic threat in its midst. "There is a reaction building in Europe, and that is something that's altogether positive actually," he says. "And the fact that so many places have published these things is very positive because it indicates that people are waking up to the fact in Europe that free speech [and] other liberties are threatened."

The Jihad Watch spokesman believes the free world -- in demonstration of their support for the principle of free speech -- should be standing resolutely with Denmark and the other European countries whose newspapers have published the cartoons.

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