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.

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