Two years ago, the Mohammed cartoon conflagration consumed the world and the blogosphere helped lead the way in fighting back. Longtime readers will remember that this site hammered the issue in support of Denmark. “Sammenhold,” you may recall, is the Danish word for solidarity. With the arrests this week of five jihadists accused of plotting to murder one of the Danish cartoonists, it’s time to demonstrate sammenhold again.
The reported target of the alleged plot was Kurt Westergaard, one of 12 cartoonists commissioned by the Jyllands-Posten newspaper to produce caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed two years ago.
Westergaard’s cartoon, which was reprinted by Jyllands-Posten today, was seen at the time as the most controversial, as it depicted the prophet with a bomb in his turban. “The security service has not wanted to run any risks and chose to act at a very early stage,” Jacob Scharf, Denmark’s police intelligence service chief, said. “Tonight’s operation has been a preventive measure.”
Police raided several addresses at 5am this morning, detaining five men – three Danish nationals and two foreigners. It is not clear whether the five have been charged, or whether they were being detained under counter-terrorism legislation. Early reports suggested that the two foreigners were likely to be deported from Denmark.
Carsten Juste, the editor-in-chief of Jyllands-Posten, said: “We are happy that the security services have acted.” He added that the newspaper had been aware of an alleged plot for some time and that Westergaard was in good spirits “under the circumstances”.
In a statement on the newspaper’s website, Westergaard said: “Of course I fear for my life after the Danish security and intelligence service informed me of the plans of certain people to kill me.
“However, I have turned fear into anger and indignation. It has made me angry that a perfectly normal everyday activity which I used to do by the thousand was abused to set off such madness.
“I have attended to my work and I still do. I could not possibly have known how long I would have to live under police protection; I think, however, that the impact of the insane response to my cartoon will last for the rest of my life. It is sad indeed, but it has become a fact of my life.”
Five newspapers reprinted Westergaard’s cartoon in a show of support:
Berlingske Tidende, was one of the newspapers involved in the republication by newspapers in Denmark. It said: “We are doing this to document what is at stake in this case, and to unambiguously back and support the freedom of speech that we as a newspaper always will defend,” in comments reported by The Associated Press.
Newspapers in Spain, Sweden and the Netherlands also republished the drawing Wednesday as part of their coverage of Tuesday’s arrests.
As a show of solidarity and a reminder of how cowardly American media outlets refused to stand up when it counted, take a minute to reprint your favorite Mo cartoon or link back to the blogging you did on the cartoon rage two years ago.
Here’s the Mohammed Cartoon blogburst from Feb. 3, 2006. At least 192 blogs participated, including:
We stood with Denmark then. We stand with Denmark still.
Go watch Bryan Preston’s Taqiyya. It’ll refresh your memories of the lies that stoked the Mo Cartoon rage.
Ed Morrissey reprints Westergaard’s cartoon and writes: “It’s easy to defend free speech when it doesn’t cost anyone anything. The Danes have manned the barricades when it counts.”
In very related news, the Muslim lawsuit against Canadian publisher Ezra Levant, who reprinted the Mo cartoons, has been dropped. Levant is going on the counter-offensive. Good for him:
Calgary Muslim leader Syed Soharwardy says he is withdrawing his Alberta Human Rights Commission complaint against former Western Standard publisher Ezra Levant.
The complaint was launched in February 2006, after the Western Standard and the Jewish Free Press reprinted cartoons from a Danish newspaper that many in the Muslim world felt insulted the prophet Muhammad. The cartoons sparked violent protests in a number of countries.
“Over the two years that we have gone through the process, I understand that most Canadians see this as an issue of freedom of speech, that that principle is sacred and holy in our society,” said Soharwardy, president of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada.
“I believe Canadian society is mature enough not to absorb the messages that the cartoons sent. Only a very small fraction of Canadian media decided to publish those cartoons.”
Mr. Levant said he isn’t buying Mr. Soharwardy’s promise, calling it a “temporary, tactical truce.”
“I don’t believe him. He thought this would be easy to do, just sic the human rights commission on me and it would be done. But I decided to fight back,” said Mr. Levant.
“He’s hurting right now. . . . What he’s now saying he is going to do is not a true reflection of his feelings.”
Mr. Levant said he plans to launch a civil lawsuit against Mr. Soharwardy to recover the tens of thousands of dollars he said he has spent battling the complaint.
“I put in at least 100 hours fighting this guy. He may want to run away from this issue, but I’m not going to. His values are out of sync with Canadian society.”