Europe and the furor over cartoons

I’ve been following the rising violence over some cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed. I’ve been wondering if there is more hate and rage against our Euro brothers and sisters by the Islamic community than previously though. I mean, the cartoons, while reasonably offensive (I suppose if one has no sense of humor), just don’t seem to warrent such wide spread violence. I don’t recall this level of violence by the muslim community when we invaded either Afghanistan or Iraq. I certainly don’t recall US embassies being burned out and such. Even if there were that level of violence, we had invaded two ‘muslim’ nations…this seems small potatoes compared to that.

Couple this with the recent riots in France and you have…what? I’m not sure. I expect this level of violence against the US (for various reasons) but when it happens strictly against Europe (though interestingly enough there were protests at US embassies in various countries over this…though I’m unsure what they expect to accomplish by protesting to us about it :stuck_out_tongue: ) it makes me think that there is a lot more under the surface than folks realize.

So, for debate: Does this incident show us something about the underlieing tensions that the Islamic community (or at least a vocal part of it) has against Europe? What can/should the Europeans do about it…if anything? Should the Europeans self censor themselves…or should they stand up for free speech even though it sparks this kind of blowup?

Assuming it exists, where does this level of rage toward the Europeans come from…the crusades, their colonial past or more recent things? Are these violent protests staged or is there really this level of wrath towards Europe just under the surface? Why isn’t the US singled out for this kind of thing…hell, I’ve seen cartoons of muslims in newspapers here for years (granted they weren’t specifically supposed to be Mohammed, but they were just as cutting)?

Finally, why are the European governments being attacked when it was a private newspaper that ran the offending cartoons?


I think we’re seeing the Arab Muslim equivalent of “They should do something about this!” Besides, if you have a citizenry that’s used to government and religious censorship of nearly everything…obviously it’s the fault of the various governments for not stopping it.

I’m kind of glad this is happening - it’s keeping people distracted and slowing down the inevitable “The USA/Israelis used a submarine to sink the ferry to kill a bunch of Muslim pilgrims” conspiracy theories.


For what it’s worth, I think those cartoons went beyond “reasonably offensive” to “deliberately outrageous.” That said, there’s an element of hysteria in the rioting, but I would say that the reaction is a definite reflection of current events – the war in Iraq and Afghanistan, Israel, the pressure on Iran, maybe even the sinking of the Red Sea ferry. There’s a lot of bad feeling abroad at the moment, and those cartoons have concretized it.

My tendentious answer is, “And why did the U.S. attack Iraq when the terrorists who attacked us were neither Iraqi not supported by Iraq?” The truth is that all this stuff tends to get conflated, rightly or wrongly. At a minimum, I suppose, you could accuse the Danish government of failing to act against a clear incitement to racial hatred. Don’t know whether the Danish government has such laws on its books, but some Western democracies do.

It’s a logical question… But by asking it, you are assuming that the rioters are rational people acting logically.

It’s just mob psychology — rational people aren’t taking part in the rioting.

The really important question is whether the silent majority (who are rational enough to know better than to run riot) are secretly happy to see the violence.

There have been a few cites here quoting Muslim organizations which issued press releases condemning the violence. But I wonder how what they say publicly in English gets translated into Arabic?

For context here are the cartoons:

Besides the embassy burnings some in the ME decided to answer “fire” with “fire”:

So yeah, there is more under the surface and I do think the extremists in the ME are bananas. But we should not ignore how they are being manipulated:

Cannot find it now, and in any case I would not link to them, but it seems some bastards in the ME are inflaming the situation by spreading rumors that other more offensive cartoons were published in the Danish press, IIRC the pamphlets in the ME showed the cartoons plus 3 that were even more offensive and never published, like Muhammad biblically knowing a dog, and I have seen reports that the embassies burned when someone spread the false rumor that Danish groups were going to burn the Koran in protest. No wonder they exploded! But it is important to notice that they exploded on added false information from the leaders of the extremists.

Which bring me to the half assed response of the Bush administration: how is it that with a bit of Internet searches I found that the rioting was mostly based on slander? I thought the intelligence was better now! The State Department should have defended the freedom of the press without any apology by mentioning the specific falsehoods and exaggerations that propaganda demagogues in ME are using.

FWIW, there’s another thread in this forum entitled “Muslim riots over cartoons–is political correctness going overboard?” which is already into its third page.

They’ve started killing people.

4 years ago I posted on this Board that Western Society was in danger. Everybody called me a jackass, because it was so obvious that the Islamic Extremists couldn’t effect us.

And I was obviously just a racist, or a worrywart, or a Drama Queen.

And now, they’re killing people, & burning embassies. And Iran is building an Atom Bomb.


Some of the assumptions in the OP should be corrected.

Not especially. First of all, the protests have mostly been directed specifically at Denmark and Norway, not Europe as a whole (except, perhaps to gain the ear of the European Union, since both countries are EU members).

Secondly, nearly all the violent acts that have occurred so far have taken place in a few specific locations that already have a rich reputation for anti-western militancy: Lebanon, Palestine, Syria, and most recently and unsurprisingly, Iran. So far, the vast bulk of the Islamic world has not in fact exploded into violence. The western reaction to has happened so far reminds me very much of the way some people managed to conflate a few isolated incdents of Palestinians cheering the 9/11 attacks into the entire Muslim world hating the US.

Lastly, while there have been protests in Afghanistan against the US, it seems pretty clear that the real resentment is of some local elements against the US occupation, with the outrage over the drawings a convenient excuse for rioting.

Nothing much related. The recent riots in France were primarily of disenfranchised youths who feel ghettoized, shut out from mainstream French society and more specfically, from jobs. It is incidental that many of these young people come from families of recent muslim immigrants, and numerous news reports from France and elsewhere established quite clearly that most of the protesters were indifferent to religious dictates.

Free speech prevails, in all cases, but a legitimate question is, what useful purpose was served by running the specific drawings that have caused offense?

From what I understand, making cartoons of Mohammed at all, much less showing him with a bomb for a turban, is one of the most disrespectful things one can possibly do to a muslim. Some elements within muslim-dominated countries firmly believe the West views them with contempt, wishes to keep them down in any way possible and thinks of them as little more than savages, and the drawings are simply a pointed expression of this disrespect.

Some of the protests may have been staged, or have been at least condoned, by local authorities. If the US has not been singled out previously, it most likely is because the US does not have as extensive a presence in the countries where the most violent protests have occurred.

Yes, it is counterproductive to protest such an attitude through more savagery, but one can also say that they are simply behaving the way they think we expect them to behave anyway. In any event, the main mistake here is to think, as with the terrorist bogeyman, that this attitude represents that of a majority of muslims.


The people killed were the idiot protesters when they got cute and attempted to enter the US military bases.

Oh, and way to whip up anti-muslim hysteria, there, Bosda. I mean, maybe your post WAS in fact some sort of clumsy attempt at satire, but it at least seems to be on the level.

  1. Who is ‘they’? 2) You did read the article you linked to, right? While it’s a bit ambiguous the way it was written, it seems that the two people who died were protesters shot by Afghan police, not the other way round. 3) Psst, a number of other nations have atom bombs. Sweet dreams.

Okay, I’ll bite: you’re a worrywart. The world is a big place, and in the grand scheme of things, this is not that huge a deal. Let’s face it, these riots aren’t even the worst thing that happened last week. To say they signal an imminent threat to Western society is an exaggeration of the first order.

As El_Kabong rightly pointed out, it’s not the entire Muslim world that’s rioting, just the poorest and most desperate piece of it. In the U.S. we have maybe seven million Muslims, and they’re not notably burning down anything. So why is it that Islam is the problem, and not poverty and disenfranchisement?

And parenthetically, I should say that if these cartoons touched a nerve in the Muslim world, then the subsequent rioting has touched a nerve in the West, judging by how many electrons we’ve killed in the SDMB alone. This is what, the sixth thread on the subject?

Regarding the other even more offensive cartoons, falsely attributed to the Danish press, there is this:

So every Muslim is up in arms? Or perhaps most? How many of the whole are we talking here?

In otherwords take a pill Henny Penny, the sky is still intact

Peopel, no matter what faith or nationality, are generally idiots when it comes to being in angry mobs. Hell you want stupid and scary look at your average football riot, and that is over a sports event!

It’ll be kind of nice to mention it next time a European calls us silly for getting all worked up over a lack of nipple coverage on national television. Look at what a hornet’s nest a little cartoon stirred up.


Kinda setting the bar low, aren’t you? “At least we’re not worse than a violent irrational fundamentalist mob!”

This is the first time I’ve seen the cartoons that people are being offended by. Question: Where in the cartoons does it say these are depictions specifically of Mohammed? As opposed to just any random guy in a turban?

And do you think these people wouldn’t have held a massacre inside the Embassy walls, if armed men hadn’t driven them off?

Embassies used to be sacred!

Remember that? Well, forget it. It no longer applies.

Umm…unless it’s a Chinese embassy with an American bomb screaming toward it. That’s what you meant, I’m sure.


Embassies sacred? The British embassy wasn’t that sacred in Dublin after Bloody Sunday. A large group of Irish Catholic civilian protestors burnt it down in protest. Was the sky falling down then too?

[nitpick]Norway is not a member of the EU[/nitpick]