Newspapers in France and Germany reprinted Danish caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed on Wednesday, saying press freedom was more important than the protests and boycotts the cartoons have sparked across the Muslim world.
The Danish embassy in Damascus was evacuated after a bomb threat that turned out to be a hoax and Syria recalled its ambassador from Denmark in protest against the cartoons, one of which shows the Prophet Mohammed wearing a turban shaped like a bomb.
Another cartoon showed him at the gates of heaven telling suicide bombers, ‘Stop. We have run out of virgins!
“Enough lessons from these reactionary bigots!” France Soir editor Serge Faubert wrote in a commentary explaining why his newspaper had printed the cartoons.
Hmmm, well, bigotry runs both ways, now doesn’t it?
“Just because the Koran bans images of Mohammed doesn’t mean non-Muslims have to submit to this.”
Germany’s Die Welt printed a similar piece to accompany the cartoons.
“There is no right to be shielded from satire in the West,” it said. “Christianity has been the object of ruthless criticism … being able to make fun of the holiest things is a non-negotiable core tradition in our culture.”
That these cartoons would be genuinely offensive to a devout Muslim is a given. Imagine the outrage in the US should a newspaper print a cartoon of Jesus blowing up an abortion clinic. Do newspapers have the right to print cartoons that will offend? Sure. But it sure looks like EU newspapers are deliberately trying to turn this into a major conflagration. They may get their wish.