Thursday, February 16, 2006

Cartoon Controversy Commentary

Mohammed Cartoon Controversy Erupts In Violence
In the Middle East, South East Asia, situation escalates by the day

By Roland Trafton
World War Two ended with a nuclear bomb, and it appears that World War Three is going to start with one, and I’m not talking about the one that Iran is supposedly constructing. The explosion of controversy first erupted last September when a Danish newspaper offended Muslims by publishing a cartoon of Mohammed. The cartoon depicted the Muslim prophet with his ritual Islamic turban in the shape of a bomb.

In the earlier stages of the controversy, a group of 400 Iranians protested by throwing petrol bombs into the Danish embassy, and attempting to break in. Chants of “God is Greatest” and “Death to America” were heard as the crowd tried to tear down the metal gate at the front of the embassy. The embassy had been evacuated ahead of time, during the pre-announcements of the organized protest.

But it’s gone past Iran’s borders. Danish diplomatic missions were set ablaze in Syria and Lebanon. Many Danes have also evacuated from Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation after threats from radical Muslim clerics.

Little has been done from the west to help the current world crisis. U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan stated that it is not the responsibility of the United Nations, but of the countries involved to pay for demolition inflicted upon European embassies. Annan states, “The government has a responsibility to prevent these things from happening. They should have stopped it, not just in Syria or Iran but all around.” Annan continues, “Not having stopped it, I hope they will pick up the bill for the destruction that has been caused to all the foreign countries. They should be prepared to pay for the damage done to Danish, Norwegian and the other embassies concerned.”

United States Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice attempted to massage the issue this week, by addressing the world on ABC news. Rice stated, “Everybody understands that there’s a sense of outrage, that these cartoons were inappropriate in the Muslim world, but you don’t express your outrage by going out and burning down embassies. … You express your outrage peacefully.”

Danish President Anders Rasmussen did not condemn the cartoons, but merely reminded the Middle Eastern world of the freedom of press. Rasmussen appeared on CNN’s Late Edition and stated that neither the Danish people nor the Danish government “can be held responsible for what is published in an independent newspaper”.

The freedom of press, although much celebrated, can be a dangerous weapon in modern times when handled without responsibility. The world watches, and hopes that this Pearl Harbor doesn’t go down in infamy.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Cartoon Controversy

Mohammed Cartoon Controversy
By Alexandra Smyth

As an American, the recent controversy surrounding cartoons of the prophet Mohammed in the Middle East is somewhat confusing. It’s rather hard for me to understand why people are rioting over cartoons. Here in America, we hold nothing sacred. TV’s South Park depicts Jesus Christ as the host of a television talk show.

We have had art exhibits in which paintings of the Virgin Mary have had elephant dung affixed to them. Yes, of course there is public outcry against these controversial depictions of Christian deities, but there are not violent riots in the streets over these things. Because of our right to free speech anything and everything under the sun is fair game for attack. As Americans, we must accept these attacks, even if we do not like them or agree with them because free speech protects ALL speech, whether we like it or not.

So why all the controversy and rioting in the Middle East? Well, for starters, the culture there is completely different. Many Muslims are offended by the images of Mohammed because a section of the Koran can be interpreted as forbidding the creation of images of Mohammed. It goes far deeper than that, however.

While many of these cartoons seem relatively harmless, some of these Dutch cartoons could be considered racist. One cartoon depicts the prophet Mohammed with a turban-shaped bomb on the top of his head. Another shows a threatening looking Mohammed carrying a sword with his eyes blacked out, while two women flank him dressed in traditional Islamic dress, leaving only their eyes uncovered.

Yet another cartoon depicts suicide bombers entering into heaven, with Mohammed standing there saying “Stop! Stop! We have run out of virgins,” a reference to the reward of seventy-two virgins that Muslim martyrs are supposed to get upon entering heaven.

These images continue to promote the stereotype of Muslims as violent terrorists. Many Muslims take offense to this. Not all Muslims are violent jihadists. The angry reactions also have to do with the unapologetic stance that Jyllands-Postan, the Dutch newspaper, has taken. The anger has reached a boiling point in many Middle Eastern countries, with Danish embassies in Beirut and Damascus being attacked.

At least 12 people have died during demonstrations in Afghanistan, while police in Pakistan have had to use tear gas to disperse protesters. If care is not taken, this could escalate into another large cultural battle of Islam versus Western culture.

While I can see why these cartoons offend many Muslims, I have a hard time accepting the violent riots that have been going on over the past few weeks. Perhaps it is simply because I have been raised in a culture where anyone can essentially say whatever they want about whatever they want, but I feel that this situation is being blown out of proportion.

Yes, some of the cartoons are offensive. Yes, anyone of the Islamic faith has a right to be offended and upset by these cartoons. But is a cartoon really worth people dying over? Is it really so offensive that massive rioting should be going on? I can’t bring myself to say yes. I feel that there are far more important things to get upset over than a cartoon, and that there are other issues in the Middle East that deserve far more attention.

But perhaps that is really where the conflict in this situation lies. Perhaps this is not an issue of cartoons, but an issue of clashing cultures. Westerners must come to understand that other countries do not necessarily hold the right to free speech in as high of regard.

Not all cultures share the same values, and we must learn to respect that. While I do not think that we should have to tiptoe around the taboos of other cultures, we should always be aware that what we do or say may offend people of another culture.

Publishers must take responsibility for the content of their publications. I do think that the publishers of Jyllands-Postand should accept responsibility for these cartoons and be more aware in the future of what they are putting out there for the world to see.

Cartoon Controversy

Mohammed Cartoon Controversy And The Freedom Of Expression
By Megan Smollins

One question on the Islam’s mind is whether Western countries would be okay with their religious beliefs being mocked at. "Does the West extend freedom of expression to the crimes committed by the United States and Israel, or an event such as the Holocaust? Or is its freedom only for insulting religious sanctities?" Hamshahri wrote referring to the Prophet Mohammed cartoons. Hamshahri is a leader who has never hid his contempt for Israelis. Last year he said that Israel should be "wiped out" and the Holocaust was a "myth."

Iranian newspapers have since been holding contests for the best Holocaust cartoon to see how the west reacts. Whoever has the best cartoons will be put into the Newspaper as a protest against the countries that published the photos of Mohammed.

I began thinking about how people in our society would react to something like this happening when it comes to our religion or our cultural values. I came to the realization that in a way the Islam countries do have a point, the western countries have protested against actions that went against their religion, even if they were artistic expressions. While the West has never gone to these extreme measures, they have been offended about events that have taken place.

For example, on October 3, 1993 Sinead O’Connor was the musical guest on the show “Saturday Night Live”. She sang a rendition of the Bob Marley song “War” that was a controversial song about how war is an appropriate response for victims of racial injustice, child abuse and other types of cruelty.

At the end of the song she pulled out an 8X10 picture of the Pope and yelled, “Fight the real enemy” as she ripped the picture up. This caused outrage by the public and calls came pouring into NBC demanding to know how they could let such hate be broadcast on their network. Celebrities began speaking out against O’Connor with Frank Sinatra saying he wanted to “punch” Sinead “right in the mouth.”

The Federal Communications Commission fined NBC with a $2.5 million fine due to the inappropriate nature of the act. When Sinead went on to sing two weeks later at Madison Square Garden she got booed off stage. How is this act different than the Mohammed cartoon controversy? Isn’t the Pope as an esteemed figure in the Catholic religion as Mohammed is in the Islamic religion? While this is nowhere near to the same degree, it did cause controversy and it did make headline news for a period of time.

Sinead O’Connor CDs were burnt along with her picture. People demanded an apology from NBC and demanded that they be fined for their programming. While we may be thinking that the Islamic people are making too big of a deal over a cartoon, didn’t we make a big deal over a picture being ripped?

Cartoon Controversy

Cartoons & Controversy
By Leslie DeJesus

What is art without a little controversy? The Muslim community is up in arms about the depiction of prophet Mohammed in numerous political cartoons. As Americans we’re conditioned to ignore or discarding what we don’t like.

In a way it’s easier for us to overlook things that might be deemed as insulting to other nations simply because we do not share common beliefs or because the subject matter does not hit close to home. But what happens when figures that help define our nation or religious beliefs are lampooned? Would we mobilize and protest?

The bigger issue at hand is sensitivity. From what I have gathered through numerous news articles what has angered the Muslim community is the western dismissive response or lack of understanding. According to published reports one of the many reasons why so many are upset is because the depictions only focus on extremist views sending the wrong message to other parts of the world. Many believe these extreme examples feed into stereotypes that ultimately perpetuate hate.

Then again would the prophet encourage the burning of Danish embassy? According to the New York Times article “U.S. Muslims Try to Ease Europe's Discord” dated February 13, 2006 Muslim leaders in Europe as well in the Middle East “like Al Jazeera, have offered a consistent message to Muslims: you must stop the violence because the Prophet Muhammad would never have approved, and you are playing into the stereotype of Muslims as barbarians.” While others feel the cartoons were deliberately created to rile up Muslims.

The article goes on to say “Muslim American leaders say they feel anguish over the Muslim world's violent protests, which have left at least 11 people dead. Azeem Khan, assistant secretary general of the Islamic Circle of North America, based in New York, said, ‘It hurts us when people attack embassies, because it reinforces the image that we were protesting in the first place, which is that Muslims are violent.’”

Since these cartoons have yet to appear in American publications many Islamic leaders in the U.S. believe that although Muslims are in the minority U.S. Muslims are more conscious of their surroundings and more willing to protest negative depictions of their society before something of this magnitude is produced. Others believe that although acceptance has been hard they have been more prosperous in the United States than in Europe.

As American Muslims try to defuse tension between European Muslims and the European government the rest of are questioning free speech and freedom of the press and whether or not there is a line that can be crossed.

Cartoon Controversy

Mohammed Cartoons And Freedom Of Speech
By Michele Goff

Well, we’ve finally joined the ranks of European newspapers infuriating Muslims all over the world……again. The Philadelphia Inquirer ran one of the cartoons recently; its editor explained that this is what newspapers do.

However, at the same time our own Secretary of State, while speaking in Europe encouraged those running the cartoons, as well as those angered by them, to refrain from more violence. When Palestinian gunmen are surrounding EU offices in Gaza and Muslims are protesting the world over perhaps it is time to listen.

Although several European newspapers have run the cartoons as an act of solidarity promoting free speech. Why have most American newspapers chosen to not run the offensive cartoons? We are certainly a country known for its freedom of speech.

Are we afraid of the consequences? We hope that’s not the real reason, we hope that we’re such a “land of the free” that we can somehow have sentiment for all of the different religions and ethnic backgrounds which live here.

Several European countries have accused Muslims of a double standard. Stating that they have no problem negatively depicting the Jewish faith. However, when one of the cartoons published is depicting a Muslim with a bomb in his turban one has to wonder if this has not gone a bit too far.

The cartoons are depicting all Muslims as terrorists, well, certainly we know that’s not true. In many European countries Islam is the fastest growing religion, causing strain and discontent between Muslims and those of secular faith. Many European leaders have stated that they find the cartoons in very poor taste. However, they also feel that Muslims must be less offended by the West and their ideas of, not only, freedom of the press but freedom of speech as well.

Some Muslims have stated that they feel the cartoons were published to depict them in a bad light, and not a representation of freedom of the press. Either way it is obvious that this will be a news story for years to come. Rather interesting that the media has become its own major story.

One can certainly see why Muslims the world over have a right to be upset by the published cartoons, but on the other hand, who better than the free press to write about their true plights? Who better to always have an interested ear?

Cartoon Controversy

Prophet Mohammed Cartoons Cause Major Controversy
By Stephanie Carino

It is a fight between freedom of speech and religion. The cartoons of Prophet Mohammed that have been published by Denmark’s Jyllands-Posten, have caused the Muslims to become hostile and the Norwegians to hold their ground, even though the pictures have upset the the spiritual group.

The Muslims have asked for an issued apology, and have received “regrets,” from the newspaper and everything short of an apology. Denmark sticks to the idea that these cartoons are allowed in their country because of freedom of speech and refuse to bend on this aspect.

With the refusal of discontinuing the cartoons, the Muslims have emanated death threats and violent acts, such as throwing stones and hand grenades at a Norwegian base in Afghan. There have been protest marches chanting “Death to Norway” and “Death to France.” In response, the newspapers have continued to reprint the cartoons, just to prove a point.

When it comes to the Denmark and Norway publications, they have said their intentions were not to offend the Muslims, yet they continue to print the cartoons. It was noted that Danish writer Kare Bluitgen had a hard time finding someone who would even attempt a drawing of Prophet Mohammed, because any representations of Prophet Mohammed in Islam are prohibited to prevent “idolaltry," yet she proceeded to include the cartoon knowing these restrictions. It seems like a lot of trouble to go to just to express freedom of speech.

Not all parties are following in Denmark and Norway’s footsteps.The Seattle Times made a good point when they said that they would not print the cartoons because they would not want to offend their readers. In France a managing editor was fired for reprinting the pictures.

It has become apparent that this kind of behavior is immoral, but then there is the blurry line that freedom of speech should not be censored. It then becomes a test of religion versus politics. Who is right or wrong? Those standing up for their right to speak their mind or those defending their beliefs?

Are those who are trying to preserve their rights counteracting the good they are doing by using these rights in what seems to be a malicious manner? Or are those that are taking violent actions at fault as well?

Cartoon Controversy

Have Mohammed Cartoon Reactions Gone Too Far?
By Marisol Vargas

As I read some stories on the newspapers about the reactions the Mohammed cartoons have caused, I tried to think for a while of what I would have done, and what my attitude toward these cartoons would have been if my religion was Muslim. As hard as I thought and wondered, I still could not conceive taking it as far as to where many of these people have taken it.

There are protests all over the world, including some in Latin American countries such as Venezuela and Colombia. There are Egyptian demonstrators calling for boycotts of European countries and hundreds of innocent Palestinian children burning Danish flags, when at their age the only thing they should know about rather than violence is having fun and playing with one another.

Last week about 700 Muslim protesters gathered together on a main avenue of Venezuela to march against these pictures. They tore down flags, and reacted with violence when police tried to calm them down. In northwestern Pakistan, a Christian school was attacked by demonstrators breaking the windows with stones. People are crying for apologies from the ones responsible for these cartoons, which have obviously have caused the fury of the Muslim community.

People are dying, nations and governments are fighting. Organizations are getting together masterminding new attacks on people who they think are responsible for this insult to their Religion and ideals. David da Silva, the editor of Gloria, a Christian magazine in Indonesia that published the cartoons, is fired and questioned by police. The French Embassy in Tehran was attacked last week, and the end does not seem to be near.

There are over 200 million Muslims in the world. There were 12 Mohammed cartoons, enough to infuriate the hundred thousands Muslims all over the world. I cannot help to wonder if these cartoons are really the ones responsible for all this anger, or if it is hatred that is forcing all these people to react with such violence.

The Muslim organizations seem to be hurting, adding that their most sacred figure has been insulted. Still, no matter how insulted and hurt these group may feel, there is no excuse for the amount of lives being taken and wounded since the protests have been taking place. The idea that 12 cartoons depicting a consecrated figure to thousands of people could result in countries fighting with one another over the anger these caused is very scary.

While many people try to excuse this act of ignorance, there is no reason why any demonstration of disagreement should be display with violence or harming innocents.

Cartoon Controversy

Free Speech Worth Dying For?
By Kate Nichols

As a United States citizen who appreciates an editorial cartoon now and then – no matter the social or political message – there is an easy way for viewers to accept the Prophet Muhammad cartoons: with a grain of salt. As a subscriber to Newsweek, the editorial cartoon section is one I cherish and actually respect.

Whether fun is being poked at someone I admire, or someone I would rather not run our country – I can appreciate the subject matter at hand. With the growing controversy surrounding the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, it is expected that Islamic nations might take offense to these drawings.

However, it is impossible to count the number of Bush bashing caricatures or fun-poking Kerry cartoons Americans have seen in recent years. And while these American political drawings are not wholly or usually regarded as culturally insensitive or insulting, we as a public must respect the Islamic countries’ right to feel offended.

The cartoons might be blasphemous, but the making of death threats against the cartoonists is almost as purposterous, yes expecting as the fact that they must now go into hiding. And while unhappiness and offense is natural from the Islamic countries, any action of apology expected from the Danish government might be slightly presumptuous.

Since many protests against the cartoons have taken place, some of them violent, we are left to wonder if the Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen still sides with his statement that, “the government refuses to apologize because the government does not control the media or a newspaper outlet; that would be in violation of the freedom of speech.”

Is free speech worthy of the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria being set on fire? As of this past Friday, at least 11 people have been killed in the protests.

Yet after constructing this message in late January: “In our opinion, the 12 drawings were sober. They were not intended to be offensive, nor were they at variance with Danish law, but they have indisputably offended many Muslims for which we apologize,” we can expect another, more effectual message of withdrawal and apology?

While it might be counterproductive to suggest that the Danish Prime Minister should stick to his guns, I doubt whether an issued apology would be acknowledged this far into the controversy.

Cartoon Controversy

Freedom Of Speech For Who?
By Joanna Palmer

As I understand it, Muslims are furious because of the recent publication of several unflattering cartoons of their beloved Prophet Mohammed. Generating such accusatory likenesses (or any likeness to their supposed savior) is considered ‘sacrilegious’ by the Muslim faith.

Many people have been killed, numerous savage acts have been committed and the threat of war is hanging heavily between the followers of Islam and Denmark and France, who support their freedom of speech. The Prime Minister of Turkey even said that there should be a limit to what the press should be allowed to publish, casting aside the notions of freedom of speech that countries the world over have come to lean upon in times of crisis and controversy.

The Muslims seem to believe that freedom of speech is an enigma, a theory, or a huge joke. These people think that if everyone is allowed to say what they think, I suppose everyone would start talking at once, and then no one would be heard.

In order to avoid such a travesty as no one’s voice being heard, the Muslims have preferred to generate so much noise with protesting, arson, and manslaughter that if anyone is talking, they don’t have to worry about hearing it. This raises a dilemma in my eyes: Muslims believe that freedom of speech should be limited.

In essence, this group is under the impression that people should keep their opinions to themselves, and be told what they should and should not have opinions about. If these are the conditions of their faith, then it is acceptable behavior to want to defend their beliefs. However, how does protesting, lighting flags on fire and murdering and maiming countless (or thus far uncounted) victims in the name of a belief not constitute as freedom of speech?

If this faith is truly concerned with the issue of controlling humans ability to speak openly and honestly and voice their opinions (even if the people in question are not of their faith or belief system), why are they engaging in acts that represent the exact opposite of that?

One final issue is raised by this scandal: Why is America conforming to the Islamic values and beliefs and defying the very Amendment that the country holds so dear? Freedom of Speech is quite possibly the highest protected and most frequently used excuse in the American media today.

However, because one religious group became enraged with a set of inanimate two-dimensional doodles, the entire country is ‘censoring’ the media. refuses to post the cartoons ‘out of respect.’

The New York Times also refuses to release the images to their readers and online frequenters. Perhaps Americans themselves are turning their backs on free speech and the media is merely responding to this movement. Wikipedia has locked the site containing the controversial cartoons due to ‘vandalism’.

I have seen numerous caricatures of the President Bush, including on national television. Sacrilegious cartoons concerning God, Buddha, and the Pope can be seen in any publication from a local newspaper to Hustler Magazine. Does this offend people in America? Of course.

Do they become so enraged that they riot on the street and burn flags while crying out “Death to Media”? Sometimes, yes, this is the case. Has this ever stopped other countries from printing their own ideas and humorous anecdotes about God and Bush? Not that I have seen. What is the real issue here?

Free speech, respect for a religious figure, or does it just boil down to the fact that Muslims have found a way to gain not only respect but fear for their beliefs and a way to vanquish all thoughts that the feelings and rights of others’ may be pushed aside in their pursuit of holy greatness?

Cartoon Controversy

Should We Understand Protests Against Cartoons?
By Ryan Trostle

In another day of violence Muslim men and women took to the streets to protest the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed. The angry protesters have called these cartoons blasphemes and say that they will not be backing down.

In Islam it is prohibited to publish Prophet Mohammed’s picture in any way. Tempers have flared up all across the Muslim world as cartoons of Prophet Mohammed showed up in a Danish newspaper and were then reprinted in other European newspapers. So far eleven people have been killed by the protests and leaders around the world are starting to get nervous.

The Danish newspaper has defended itself saying the freedom of the press is more important than religious myth. The Danish government has not yet apologized saying that it was an issue that needed to be taken up with the newspaper itself, though the government did express regret for this happening.

On February 10, 2006 the largest demonstration yet had taken place with 20,000 Muslims taking it to the street the Bangladesh. Many people don’t believe that these violent protests should be allowed to continue, as they are not justified.

As American leaders begin to condemn the protests they continue to spread throughout the world. On Monday February 13, 2006 police in Pakistan has to fire tear gas against student protesters marching toward the governor’s residence.

Iran on Monday rejected accusations that it has inflamed the controversy from Danish and United States governments. Iran also demanded an apology saying that it could calm down growing tension.

Condoleezza Rice said last Wednesday that; “Iran and Syria have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes”. Iran also commented on how Rice should stop making comments against the protests as it could inflame them. Rice also said that if people continue to incite it, it could end up spinning out of control.

It seems to me that Americans are always seeking reasons to validate actions that our country takes. We validated the Iraq War with weapons of mass destruction. We validated the war in Afghanistan because the Taliban caused September 11th. Validation is an interesting concept that I think needs to be rethought. Why should countries and people have to validate themselves?

Cartoons have caused a huge controversy in the east. To Americans this sounds crazy and against everything that we believe. I myself tend to start thinking that it is ridiculous and strongly against our First Amendment rights, but who am I to tell them to stop quarreling over it.

If someone was running cartoons of Jesus in the same manner, things might look a little different for us. You might see protests, some of which end up to be violent. You would see people from the Christian faith be up in arms over the issue. Then we start to understand them a little more.

I feel as an American that most of our country forgets about the fact that only 2.1 billion people in our world are Christians. That sounds like a large number, but actually Christians are only thirty-three percent of the world’s population. One of the images of Prophet Mohammed is the Prophet with a bomb on his head.

Though we do have freedom of speech, if this was Jesus, do you think we might have people who are pretty upset? I am not excusing any actions that the Muslim people have taken, just reactions that other governments have made.

Cartoon Controversy

Cartoons Provoke Riots
By Morgan Adelizzi

Riots have broken out around the world, but especially in the Middle East, concerning the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. The riots were ignited by Danish cartoonists printing racist cartoons of the sacred prophet.

Muslims are outraged and offended by the cartoons, justifiably, and have taken violent measures to retaliate.The Prophet Muhammad is the founder of the Islamic faith. According to Islam, having been told the words in the Koran from the angel, Gabriel, the prophet is sacred to Muslims.

That being said, it is against the faith to even attempt to create an image of the prophet. The cartoons have therefore, in a sense, defiled the Islamic faith twice: once, by printing an image of the prophet in the first place, and again by doing so in a racist manner.

The responses to these cartoons have been drastic, leaving 11 dead already. Danish embassies have been attacked all over the globe, rioters have been killed, bystanders have been killed, and it does not look like the protesting is going to stop any time soon. The cartoonists responsible for the drawings are said to be in hiding, and rightfully so, as there have been many a threat on their lives.

But which party is right in this situation? Is either side completely blameless? The freedom of the press is a right that many of us enjoy. Newspapers are allowed to print whatever they want, no matter whom it offends. It is important, however, that publishers everywhere understand the consequences of what they print.

Making fun of the Prophet Muhammad was not going to be taken lightly by any Muslim, and the newspapers responsible for the cartoons should have known that. It is unfortunate, too, that the cartoons made the prophet out to be a terrorist. There is one cartoon in which the prophet has a bomb strapped on top of his head like a turban.

The message being sent to the world from that drawing is one of a very racist nature; the drawing is blatantly suggesting that the Prophet Muhammad was a terrorist, suggesting that all of his followers are also terrorists.

Some companies have chosen to take action against the cartoons. Some bookstores have decided not to carry the latest issue of Western Standard Magazine because the issue has the cartoons of the prophet in them. This is an example of using judgment while exercising the freedom of press.

On the flip side, the protests have gone far beyond peaceably assembling. The reactions to the cartoons are obviously angry ones, but the actions taking to remedy the situation has been entirely too violent.

Anger towards the papers that printed the cartoons, anger towards the artists, and anger towards those endorsing the drawings is understandable, but the drawings should not have resulted in the bombing of Danish embassies and the killing of innocent people uninvolved in this act altogether.

Another response to the drawings was one of outdoing racism with racism. There are currently contests to put out an anti-Western cartoon. These cartoons are said to mock the Holocaust in hopes to strike the same nerve in people of Jewish and Christian faiths as the prophet cartoons struck in Muslims. One cartoon shows Anne Frank in bed with Hitler.

This seems to be a battle of immaturity. The “two rights don’t make a wrong” rule needs to be reviewed.

This is not just an issue of the Middle East, too, as some may believe. There have been protests in Spain, the United Kingdom, and many other European countries around the world. And while the United States, once again, has avoided major conflict with this issue, its involvement is eventually inevitable.

Muslims make up between an estimated 1.3 and 2.8 million people. These cartoons are not just attacking the Middle East, they are attacking a world wide religion, and one of the biggest religions at that. These protests will not slow until some social justice is given.

How is this justice going to be attained? How long before the Muslims achieve it? Only time will tell; but hopefully we will see it sooner rather than later.

Cartoon Controversy

How Far Is Too Far
Cartoons of Prophet Mohammad ignites questions about the limitations of the press

By Laura Lombardi

If any of you have seen the recent cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad then maybe you can see how and why the cartoons have sparked major controversy around the world. Not only are editors being fired, and citizens being insulted, but also there are people being killed because of these images. Which leads to the question of why.

Why did these cartoons bring about so much controversy, and how far is too far in regards to freedom of press.

If you don’t know who Mohammad is, here is a short summary from Mohammad is believed by Muslims to be God’s last prophet, sent to the earth to guide all of mankind with the message of Islam. Known generally as “The Prophet.” His legacy is well respected and until now has sparked little controversy.

So why now? Why all the hatred towards Denmark and France? Well, in September of 2005, collections of twelve cartoons were published, one in which showed the Prophet Mohammad wearing a turbine on his head resembling a bomb.

But did an obscene or even racist artist draw these tasteless cartoons. Many don’t believe that to be the case. Many believe it was just a person expressing their thoughts in a way that many have for years. However, it does set in motion the question of how far one can push the rights of the press.

On, Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan was quoted telling the French Foreign Minister, “The cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad are an attack on our spiritual values. There should be a limit to press freedom.” So what should that limit be? Obviously there needs to be a limit if people are dying everyday from the images and messages behind these cartoons, but how do you limit that.

Everyday there are rude and tasteless cartoons of President Bush circulating the newspapers and Internet, yet they don’t receive half the attention that the Mohammad cartoons are receiving. So is it the religious beliefs of the Islam’s that makes them march yelling, “Death to Denmark, Death to France,” or is it their interpretation of the cartoons as a spiritual community.

Many people have seen these cartoons, and many of them have not found it to be as offensive as some believe it to be, but that is one group of people. There is still a whole world out there that thinks differently, and obviously they are not afraid to express it.

Yet, it is important to note that a writer’s freedoms in accordance with his articles and cartoons will only take him as far as the reader will allow. If a writer or cartoonist displays a piece of work that is offensive to a culture, it is now obvious that the culture will not defend his reasons for doing so.

The Jamaican Gleaner Newspaper wrote a recent article about the press’s freedom in regards to cartoons. Their statement sums up what many individuals are beginning to understand, “any newspaper has the right to print cartoons that are offensive to religion.

But that right should be set against a consideration of the impact the actions will have on the feelings of an aggrieved group. If the social cost of such an action is high, so too must be its social benefit.”

So what will the outcome be? Some people believe this controversy will just fade away, but what if it doesn’t fade away. At this moment, there has been a boycott of Danish goods, and violent protests where many citizens have been killed.

What next? A fight between cultures…a war? Who knows what will come next, but the next time someone decides to publish a compellation of cartoons that may be scene as controversial, you better believe they will think twice before publishing them nationally.