Cartoons again

  • 2006-03-15
  • By Astrid Essed
I've learnt with astonishment about the assumption of a number of European newspapers that the publication of the Danish cartoons by the Jylands Posten, picturing the prophet Mohammed as a terrorist, is being considered as freedom of opinion. In the first place, freedom of opinion is not absolute but is limited by local and European legislation, which forbids verbal or public insulting utterances against the religion of a group of people. In the second place, editions of newspapers are to be expected to show an elementary respect regarding the religious values of minority groups, living in their countries.

Evidently the official Arab and Iranian government reactions, boycotting Danish products and asking the Danish government to justify itself, are not only extra-proportional, but also deny the fact that a government is not responsible for the management policy of a paper edition.

Apart from the publications of the cartoons, the outbursts of violence must also be seen in the light of the common feelings of powerlessness and humiliation regarding the European support for the British-American occupation of Iraq and the growing anti-Islam climate in Europe.

Seen in this light, I consider the republishing of the Danish cartoons by a number of European newspapers not only provocative but also contrary to the fundamental human rights principles, which are based on respect for all human beings, regardless of descent or religion.

Amsterdam
 

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