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Those Cartoons and The Times

The Times presents a reasoned argument for not publishing them, or is it just cowadice from the Murdoch Empire?

Drawing the line - Comment - Times Online

This newspaper has had anguish of its own over whether to reproduce the pictures at the centre of this saga. At one level, their appearance might be seen as an appropriate response to the fanatics who have demanded their prohibition and could help the reader to understand both their character and the impact that they might have on believers. But to duplicate these cartoons several months after they were originally printed also has an element of exhibitionism to it. To present them in front of the public for debate is not a value-neutral exercise.

On balance, we have chosen not to publish the cartoons but to provide weblinks to those who wish to see them. The crucial theme here is choice. The truth is that drawing the line in instances such as these is not a black-and-white question. It cannot be valid for followers of a religion to state that because they consider images of the Prophet idolatry, the same applies to anyone else in all circumstances. Then again, linking the Prophet to suicide bombings supposedly undertaken in his honour was incendiary. The Times would, for example, have reservations about printing a cartoon of Christ in a Nazi uniform sketched because sympathisers of Hitler had conducted awful crimes in the name of Christianity.

Muslims thus have a right to protest about the cartoons and, if they want, to boycott the publications concerned. To move from there to holding ministers responsible for the editorial decisions of a free press in their nations, to urge that all products from a country be ostracised or, worst still, to engage in violence against people or property is to leave the field of legitimate complaint and enter one of censorship enforced under threat of intimidation. That free speech is misunderstood in much of the Islamic realm shows how much progress has yet to be made.

Consistency would also be a virtue. The anger directed at these cartoons by certain Muslims would carry more weight if pictures that crudely insult Jews and Christians were not found regularly in the Middle East. To contend that faiths of many forms merit a degree of deference, but not absolute protection, is one notion. To insist that this principle be applied selectively is another, quite indefensible, assertion.


"The Times would, for example, have reservations about printing a cartoon of Christ in a Nazi uniform sketched because sympathisers of Hitler had conducted awful crimes in the name of Christianity."

Maybe, but it's hardly the same comparison, Christ's message was one of love even towards ones enemies and if Christians depart from that even in the name of Christianity the essential fact is that it is they who have departed from Christ's teaching.

Now as I understand it, Islam has no real central religious authority, but I have never heared of any Muslim faction or group criticise any other Muslim faction or group for behaviour (no matter how bad) towards non Muslims. Similarly I have never of any mullah or other Muslim authority express anything more than a grudging tolerance of Christianity and a contempt of almost anyone else.

Now I appreciate that there are many Muslims who live their lives according to more sensible precepts, but unless or until the religion itself develops a more mature and tolerant attitude both to non Muslims and to criticism (justified or not) of Islam then it will decline.

I tend to be sympathetic to people whose religion has been unjustly crticised or ridiculed, but when they answer such with violence and threats they lose all my sympathy.

Is Islam so weak that some false cartoons in a paper will destroy it? Or is it that those cartoons show a truth which the religion fears?

Why would any true religion would be scared of either?

Mr M has sold out to the Chinese - why shouldnt he sell out to the towel 'ead? After all, we are talking about something more important than freedom of speech. This is about delivering shareholder value!!

Murdoch's circumspection might be partly related to the fact that the fourth-biggest shareholder in News Corporation is a Saudi Prince, Al-Waleed bin Talal:

Reviewing the clamorous demands by the Muslims and even threats that if we don't surrender, they shall blow us all up in a new holocaust, the cartoon showing Mohammed's turban containing a bomb appears to be accurate.

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