…it’s “Death to Infidels” day. March madness over the Mo cartoons and the upcoming release of “Fitna” continued today after the mosques stirred up the Religion of Perpetual Outrage.
Peace be with you:
Some 5,000 Afghans chanted “death to Denmark” and “death to the Netherlands” in Kabul on Friday, protesting against the reprinting of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish newspapers and a Dutch film on the Koran.
Sporadic demonstrations have sprung up across the deeply conservative country in recent weeks against the cartoons and the film with protesters demanding Danish and Dutch troops be withdrawn from Afghanistan and their embassies shut down.
Protesters gathered around a mosque in the west of the Afghan capital after Friday prayers chanting “death to Denmark,” “death to the Netherlands, “death to America” and “death to Jews.”
Demonstrators burned Danish and Dutch flags and also an effigy of Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders, who is due to release a film thought to be critical of the Koran later this month. Wilders has given few details of the film, but in the past he has called Islam’s holy text a “fascist” book that “incites violence.”
One unidentified speaker addressing the angry crowd through a megaphone from the back of a truck said the Afghan government should expel Danish and Dutch troops and close their embassies within two days or “we will take action.”
The Netherlands has some 1,650 troops, mainly in southern Afghanistan and 14 Dutch soldiers have been killed fighting Taliban militants. Denmark, meanwhile, has 550 troops in northern and southern Afghanistan and 11 of its soldiers have been killed.
Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden this week warned that Europe would be punished for the cartoons, first published by a Danish paper in September 2005. The images ignited violent protests across the world, including in Afghanistan, when newspapers around the world reprinted them the following year.
A UPI writer whines that it’s all the Jylland-Posten’s fault:
In Pakistan’s largest riot, 70,000 people gathered in the northwestern city of Peshawar, where I traveled last week, burning cars and cinemas. In Lahore, my birth city, at least two protestors were killed when a mob burnt Western fast-food chains, while in Islamabad students launched petrol bombs at various embassies.
They were protesting “Fitna” — “Ordeal” in Arabic — a forthcoming short film by controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders. Wilders, who has called the Koran a “fascist” book, has promised to release his film this month. They were also protesting the decision of several Danish newspapers to republish the cartoons of the prophet Mohammed that provoked deadly riots after their first airing in 2006.
In a post-Sept.11 environment, where relations between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West are at best precarious, at worst distrustful, and above all central to everyone’s security, the Danish editors might have known that reprinting the cartoons would provoke destructive behavior rather than encourage peaceful dialogue.
The editors might have considered that respect for democratic traditions and values does not necessarily trump the need to tolerate religious communities that are particularly sensitive to safeguarding their Prophets, icons and scriptures.
The editors might have shown restraint, knowing that any supercilious remark or one-time ribaldry against the Prophet and the traditions of Islam could unsettle Muslims worldwide.
But the editors did not. And now we have seemingly taken another backward step in trans-religious relations. The best would have been for the editors to think twice and refrain from fanning fires. The least they could do now is offer an apology.