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Swedish Muslims Rally Against Newspaper That Published Prophet Cartoon

posted by nsymmonds

Associated Press – August 31, 2007
STOCKHOLM, Sweden – Scores of Muslims staged a demonstration Friday against a Swedish newspaper and demanded that its chief editor apologize for publishing a drawing depicting the Prophet Muhammad with a dog’s body.
The rally outside the Nerikes Allehanda newspaper in Orebro followed formal protests by Iran and Pakistan in a brewing conflict over the cartoon made by Swedish artist Lars Vilks.
Sweden’s prime minister called for mutual respect between Muslims, Christians and nonreligious groups in an attempt to avert a wider conflict. Last year, fiery protests erupted in Muslim countries after a Danish newspaper published 12 cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.
Islamic law is interpreted to forbid any depiction of the prophet for fear it could lead to idolatry.
About 300 people rallied outside the newspaper’s offices, demanding an apology and saying the cartoon, a rough sketch showing Muhammad’s head on a dog’s body, was insulting to Muslims, the news agency TT reported.
“We want to show Nerike’s Allehanda that Muslims in this city are upset over what happened,” Jamal Lamhamdi, chairman of the Islamic cultural center in Orebro, told Swedish public radio. Orebro is a city of about 100,000 residents, 200 kilometers (125 miles) west of Stockholm.
Earlier, a handful of people, mostly youth, staged a separate demonstration outside the newspaper in defense of press freedom, TT reported.
Nerikes Allehanda editor-in-chief Ulf Johansson met with Lamhamdi but refused to apologize for the cartoon, which was part of an Aug. 19 editorial criticizing several Swedish art galleries for refusing to display a series of prophet drawings by Vilks.
“They say they are offended and I regret that, because our purpose was not to offend anyone,” Johansson told The Associated Press. “But they are asking for an apology and a promise that I never again publish a similar image … and that I cannot do.”
The editorial defended “Muslims’ right to freedom of religion” but also said it must be permitted to “ridicule Islam’s most foremost symbols – just like all other religions’ symbols.”
The paper said Vilks’ drawings were different from the “rotten” cartoons published by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which triggered violent attacks against Danish and other Western embassies in several Muslim countries.
That paper had invited cartoonists to make illustrations of Muhammad in what it said was a challenge to self-censorship among artists dealing with Islamic issues. The cartoons, one of which showed Muhammad wearing a turban shaped as a bomb, later were reprinted by dozens of newspapers and Web sites in Europe and elsewhere.
Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt commented on the dispute for the first time Friday, saying Sweden was a country “where Muslims and Christians, those who believe in God and those who don’t believe in God can live side by side with mutual respect.”
“At the same time we are eager to stand up for the freedom of speech … which is about not taking decisions politically about what is published in newspapers,” Reinfeldt told TT.
Pakistan and Iran summoned Swedish diplomats this week to protest against the publication of the cartoon. The charge d’affaires at the Swedish Embassy in Islamabad, Lennart Holst, explained the press freedom laws in Sweden and said the government cannot interfere with what newspapers publish, Foreign Ministry spokesman Andre Mkandawire said.
“He did not apologize but regretted that the publication had hurt Muslims’ feelings,” Mkandawire said.
In Pakistan, dozens of supporters from Islamic parties burned the flag of Sweden in the eastern city of Lahore on Friday. In Karachi, others torched an effigy of the Swedish premier to protest the cartoon.
Vilks said he made the drawings after being invited to contribute to an art exhibition in central Sweden on the theme of dogs.
“To begin with, the message was to make a critical contribution on the dog theme, but it took another direction,” Vilks told AP in a phone interview. “Why can you not criticize Islam when you can criticize other religions?”
Vilks said he expected protests locally against his drawings but insisted he didn’t mean to insult Muslims.
“My images are art. I don’t have a xenophobic attitude. I’m not against Islam. Everyone knows that,” he said.
Associated Press Writer Stephan Nasstrom in Stockholm contributed to this report.
Copyright 2007 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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Comments read comments(31)
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Alicia

posted August 31, 2007 at 3:35 pm


Vilks should get a bodyguard.



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pagansister

posted August 31, 2007 at 4:12 pm


FREEDOM of the press is what it is called! We have that freedom in the U.S. as well and religions, even the Muslims, do not have a right to control it. Vilks is an artist, his work is ART! He did not set out to offend anyone. Vilks makes a good point when he said “Why can you not criticize Islam when you can criticize other religions?”
NO apology should be forthcoming and fortunately it soundls like the paper is sticking to their statement of no apology.
Islam forbids drawings or images of their prophet. That applies to Muslims…..not to anyone who isn’t Muslim, so why should they have anything to say about it to non-Muslims?? They don’t.



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golfdad_one

posted August 31, 2007 at 5:22 pm


Pagansister is 100% right.
The PM of Sweden is not legally or morally authorized to speak for all Swedish citizens and claim that “those who believe in God and those who don’t believe in God can live side by side with mutual respect.” I do not respect the beliefs of theists, and likely many Swedes do not either; and it is our absolute right to express that disrespect. Naturally, that will be offensive to theists. Tough s..t!
I strongly suspect most religious people recongize their beliefs are irrational, contrary to the available evidence, intellectually indefensible, and oh yes, silly. Their only recourse in the public arena is to try to silence those who disagree. We must adamantly, everywhere, at all times resist their efforts.



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Joey

posted August 31, 2007 at 5:28 pm


Okay, first of all, Vilks is lying when he said he didn’t mean to insult Muslims. Or, if he’s telling the truth, then he’s an idiot for thinking that no one would be offended. I always find it annoying when people do things that they KNOW are going to insult someone, and then insist they didn’t mean to. It would be like walking up to some random person on the street, start screaming that they were fat, ugly and that their mother was a fat, ugly prostitute, and then act surprised when they punch you in the nose. And I really see no way this is different than the other Muhammad cartoons, except they actually seem MORE offensive, in my opinion. (Dog-lovers may disagree.)
That being said, so far—in the case of the Swedish Muslims, at least—it sounds like these are peaceful protests that are objecting to the specific cartoon, not the rights of the artist. This is a subtle difference. It’s like the B-net article a few days ago, about the Christian preacher fired for insulting Muslims—yes, he has the freedom to draw whatever he wants, but people are allowed to object to it. If they demanded a law against doing so, then I think it would be a cause for concern.
God bless.



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pagansister

posted August 31, 2007 at 7:02 pm


Joey:
His intention, which I think was to contibute to the art exhibit on a theme of dogs, wasn’t any different then the chocolate Jesus exhibit several months(?) ago that upset some people. Artistic freedom. Guess the Muslims that are upset over the dog-prophet can pray to him that it isn’t on the internet, like the last “offensive” cartoon was. All the protests about that one made it a world wide cartoon. I’d like to see it.
Yes, it is good that so far the protests are peaceful. And yes, folks have the right to object, just like he had the right to draw it.



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Henrietta22

posted August 31, 2007 at 7:53 pm


Freedom of the Press is Freedom of the Press. Muslims haven’t grown up with Freedom to begin with, and their Religion is woven into their government. The rest of the countries in this world that uphold freedom are not going to change for their Religion or anyone elses. Burning our flags, and direspecting the governments that uphold freedom is only going to defeat understanding between others and Muslims.



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nnmns

posted August 31, 2007 at 10:00 pm


Amazingly, I pretty much agree with Joey on this. The guy had to know it was insulting Islam. It’s his right to insult Islam and the paper’s right to run it. And it’s the Muslims’ right to protest.
I do object to Pakistan and Iran defending Islam, just as I’d object to any country defending Christianity. Governments and religions need to be independent of each other, for the good of both.



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flakeyOregonian

posted September 1, 2007 at 10:34 am


I too find myself agreeing with Joey AND nnmns. (interestingly enough) The newspaper fellow issued a double insult to the Muslims. First, he depicted the prophet Mohammed, which is never done, even in a flattering way. Then he showed that depiction attached to a dog’s body. Dogs are considered unclean animals by most (if not all) Arabs. If he had been truthful, he would not have hidden behind the “I never meant to insult anyone” banner.
Everyone here exercised their rights. The cartoonist, the newspaper and the protesters. The newspaper said that they were trying to avoid self-censorship, well mission accomplished, I suppose. They also managed to avoid using tact.



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Henrietta22

posted September 1, 2007 at 12:04 pm


I don’t think Newspapers are known for using tact. When did it start?
Reporting news and showing creativity in cartoons often is very tactless. The newspapers are for everybody if you don’t like what you see turn the page.



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nnmns

posted September 1, 2007 at 12:47 pm


Now when it comes to wisdom and fairness, the author and the paper may lack a little. It seems to me you don’t pick on people who are in the minority or for some real reason weaker, and certainly not if they are in danger. There may be getting to be enough Muslims in Sweden that doesn’t apply; I don’t know. But it seems to me if you are going to pick on a religion you should start with the most prominent and/or the most dangerous. Admittedly some Muslims have made a case Islam is the most dangerous.
But then there’s the very Christian George W. Bush who is responsible for more unnecessary deaths than almost anyone else in history. No doubt it will be pointed out it’s greed or callousness or fear or stupidity that led to his (and by letting it happen, our) heinous acts, but a case can be made a certain kind of Christianity is a contributing factor. Oh, and we haven’t seen the results of our coming bombardment of Iran.
I don’t believe prayer has any power, but if you do, pray we don’t attack Iran. And write your congresspeople.



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Anonymous

posted September 1, 2007 at 3:03 pm


This is what happens when you let Muslim fundamentalists into a liberal European country that protects the rights of its citizens…Muslims that expect their adopted country to act as a theocracy that revolves around them because that’s exactly what they came from. It’s disgusting. If they don’t want to ever hear an insult against Muhammed, and think that whomever does so deserves to be stoned, should stay in Iran, Pakistan, or whichever backward Islamic country from which they came.



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btypejcpositive

posted September 1, 2007 at 3:43 pm


muslims are NOT a religion ,but a political faction. you are fair game, when you move to countries that have freedom of the press! muhammed and the koran is changed and reinterprepted to reflect their current agenda look up ihe facts at memri.org



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nnmns

posted September 1, 2007 at 3:49 pm


Dear |, I searched the article for “stone” in case I missed it. There is no mention of stoning or in fact of bad behavior. It might come, but in this article the Muslims are doing what we might expect of anyone whose religion is insulted. I think it’s a big improvement over last time and some congratulation is due.
And I’d urge you to actually read an article before you send in your trite comments.



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flakeyOregonian

posted September 1, 2007 at 3:56 pm


“This is what happens when you let Muslim fundamentalists into a liberal European country that protects the rights of its citizens…Muslims that expect their adopted country to act as a theocracy that revolves around them because that’s exactly what they came from. It’s disgusting.”
What this is that? A protest rally asking for an apology?
The article doesn’t say they are fundamentalists, just Muslims, which is not the same thing.
What is disgusting? That they would like a little consideration or respect? It seems to me that people of any group would appreciate those things. And if they didn’t get them (or felt that they didn’t) would say something about it.
If feel that most Christians would have taken exception if the cartoon were of Jesus with a dog’s body, and rightly so. And would have, at the very least, asked for an apology, as well. This is essentially no different.



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nnmns

posted September 1, 2007 at 5:24 pm


“muslims are NOT a religion ,but a political faction”
This is not true, but it’s closer to true than anyone should be comfortable with since the Islamic religion seems to call for political control of countries, as do some Christians. As long as the (hopefully vast) majority holding a religion wisely oppose such calls, most people in the country don’t have so much to fear from the religion. When the religion gets control or comes close it’s past time for the good people of the country to take back control of their own destinies in the most effective way available.
This, of course, is not a call for some other country to invade that country to depose the religious regime for them. Example after example shows invading a country purportedly to improve its government is a bad idea for both countries.



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Henrietta22

posted September 1, 2007 at 6:19 pm


Vilks said he made the drawings after being invited to contribute to an art exhibition in Central Sweden on the ‘theme of dogs’….went on to say, to begin with the message was to make a critical contribution on the dog theme, but it took another direction. “Why can you not criticize Islam when you can criticize other religions?, he asked.
I posted why I thought you could. Not many others have, I find this strange. Someone jumped on a poster here because he or she had the opinion this was disgusting. Why can’t this person have this opinion?
Quote: In Pakistan, dozens of supporters from Islamic parties BURNED the flag of Sweden, in another Pakistan city they TORCHED an effigy of the “Swedish Premier” to protest the cartoon.
There was no report of stoning, but I think that Torching a countries flag and burning the “Swedish Premier” in effigy can be described as very bad behavior. If Jesus was on the body of a dog, somehow I think all of America wouldn’t have burned Vilks or the Swedish Premier in effigy. This is eccentric, emotional, out of control behavior. And yes, even disgusting.



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nnmns

posted September 1, 2007 at 7:06 pm


“There was no report of stoning, but I think that Torching a countries flag and burning the “Swedish Premier” in effigy can be described as very bad behavior. If Jesus was on the body of a dog, somehow I think all of America wouldn’t have burned Vilks or the Swedish Premier in effigy.”
I think we’d all like to see people take something like this with equinimity, and maybe some year that will happen. But just protesting and a little flag burning is far better than last time and, I think, a little encouraging.



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Henrietta22

posted September 1, 2007 at 7:16 pm


Slightly better, unless the “effigy” being burned was one of your relatives. ;)



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flakeyOregonian

posted September 1, 2007 at 8:56 pm


Was the flag burned in Sweden? This article was about a peaceful protest in Sweden, I thought.
And I asked earlier “What was disgusting” because I saw nothing disgusting in the article. A protest expressing opposition is also allowed under free speech. If there had been a call for violence against anyone at that protest, I, too, would have thought it disgusting.



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Henrietta22

posted September 1, 2007 at 9:05 pm


The article states that two demonstations were done in Pakistan, one in one city they burned the Swedish flag, and in another city they burned the Swedish Premier in effigy. This is what the other poster found disgusting and what I quoted two posts up.



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Usama

posted September 1, 2007 at 11:58 pm


Folks, save the Freedom of Speech litanies. Its a free market first. If a business chooses to publish something offensive then they should be subject to the market forces, including boycotts. If the Locale of Sweden published racist or sexist pictures of blacks or women, there would be an uproar from a large section of society. But why don’t they do so? Profits.
Muslims are numerically weak in Sweden and Europe so they are prey to selfrighteous supremacists masquerading as artists.
BTW, all freedom of speech is curtailed by the govt to some degree. In fact there are govt granted liberties of speech, not absolute freedom. You can’t shout fire in a theater and you cant go in a terminal and shout bomb or you can’t scream obscenities in Parliement.
In fact you can even be forced to leave if you stand on a street corner and sing your national anthem.
No one today knows what Muhammad looked like. There are no artistic portraits of him done today. Instead, placing a depiction of Muhammad (saaw) on a dog is an obvious insult. And as much as I’d like people to be civil, devout Muslims love Muhammad more than they love their own parents, spouses or children. So expect someone to get out of line.
To no surprise, secularism threatens the dignity and purity and honor of everything, even children are no longer safe. Secularism can’t stop kid porn as it spreads worldwide.



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Windsors Child

posted September 2, 2007 at 8:24 am


If Muslims are going to be a part of the modern world they are going to have to learn what Christians learned a long time ago. You can’t expect the world to stop being the world. Jesus taught His followers that because the world hated Him, the world would hate those who followed Him. Christians are regularly held up to ridicule and unkind portraits of Jesus are fairly common. So buck up, Muslims. You can’t make the world go away any more than we Christians can. Jesus said to love our enemies and to do good to them who hate us. I am learning that more and more each day as I live in a world that is hostile, for whatever reasons, to the things I hold sacred.



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nnmns

posted September 2, 2007 at 7:58 pm


“If Muslims are going to be a part of the modern world they are going to have to learn what Christians learned a long time ago. You can’t expect the world to stop being the world.”
Excellent point, WC.



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pagansister

posted September 2, 2007 at 8:44 pm


Windsors Child:
I agree also with the points in your post.



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jestrfyl

posted September 3, 2007 at 12:00 am


OK, maybe its because it is late on Sunday and I am a little tired. But my first reaction to this was, “Swedish Muslims? Isn’t that like Iraqi Amish?”
My second reaction is , “OK, Moslems are threatened by cartoonists and Chrstians are threatened by homosexuals. Clearly my sense of danger is wildly skewed.” When will someone be threatened by accordianists?
We all need to get a grip and welcome each other into a smaller, more open world. Some things that were appropriate and fitting even as briefly as 25 years ago are simply not as significant today. Sure it was insensitive, but at least it was not accidently so. The artist and anyone else involved did this with full awarenes that they would be offending someone. So no sympathy there. The Moslems have, by choice, entered a world that views itself very different than they view themselves. No sympathy there.
I guess I am simply not in a symapthetic mood. Maybe it is just late on a Sunday night and I am a bit tired.



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sagenav

posted September 3, 2007 at 11:19 am


Freedom of speech requires some thick skin and often a sense of humor. Unfortunately fundamentalists off all stripes lack both.



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KLBA1

posted September 4, 2007 at 3:03 pm


OK I am a bit confused here:
“But then there’s the very Christian George W. Bush who is responsible for more unnecessary deaths than almost anyone else in history.”
I thought that honor fell to Mao or Stalin, proponents of secular, anti-religious philosophies.



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nnmns

posted September 4, 2007 at 7:16 pm


What part of “almost” don’t you understand?
And quite likely that honor fell to Hitler, raised a Catholic and who used rampant Catholic bigotries to advance his policies of slaughter.



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Usama

posted September 4, 2007 at 11:11 pm


One of the reasons there are growing numbers of Muslims in Sweden is that the Muslim world is controlled by corrupt authoritarian regimes. Unfortunately, these regimes largely submit and serve America and Europe. Its ironic that a nation such as Iraq which under Saddam served America for decades, and is now occupied and being corrupted and driven into chaos by America, is creating yet another global diaspora of Iraqi Muslims. Before them it was Somalis and Sudanese and Syrians and Algerians and so on. America and Europe should stop supporting dictatorships and intervening in the Muslim world so Muslims can oust their oppressors and reshape their societies as they like. If Muslims were able to do so, very likely most immigrant Muslims in the West would return to the Muslim world- perhaps only the most secular Muslims would remain.
Until then, short of physical action, Muslims have every legal right to protest, boycott, shout at the top of their lungs to express their anger and hatred of despicable and ignoble depictions of what the artists presumes to be the Prophet Muhammad (saaw). Such vocal action IS what the Prophet taught. Muslims don’t do so for depictions of Jesus or Moses (as) only because such depictions generally fall under the Islamicly recognized religious rights of nonMuslims to worship and believe as they so fit.
I recently read some of the Old Testament concerning the Prophet Solomon (as) and found the writing to be open lies. That Solomon resorted to worshipping false gods is contrary to very concept of prophethood. Yet the book claimed some other little known prophet told some rebel to raise up against Solomon (as) on God’s command because Solomon worshipped false gods. This story sounds more like lies spread by hypocrites and rebels who tried to overthrow Solomon for themselves, not God. They likely succeeded to change the scripture at some later point to denigrate Solomon (as) and now its accepted as truth and ‘God inspired’ by Jews and Christians. The same hypocrites who worshipped the Golden Calf are those who have spread lies against the Prophets of God in the holy scriptures for generations. You may believe it and that is your religion, but I and Muslims hate such lies and they hate such denigrating depictions of Jesus and Moses too.



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Alicia

posted September 5, 2007 at 2:15 pm


Freedom does not include the freedom not to be offended, since offense is in the eye of the beholder, so to speak. Obviously, a cartoon like this would be considered offensive to Muslims. Just as the release of the film “Submission,” was considered offensive.
However, when “Muslim feelings are hurt,” there is a tendency for nuns to be shot in the back, churches to be burned down, innocent civilians to be murdered by rioting Muslims, Europe to be threatened with annihilation, and filmmakers, like Theo Van Gogh, to be murdered by fanatics. People who respond with that degree of violence when their feelings are hurt are normally called bullies, and are usually the weakest, and least resourceful of individuals.



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jestrfyl

posted September 6, 2007 at 2:14 pm


OK, now go from this to the Jesus/binLaden article. Is there not a disconnect? We Christians expect so much forebearance from others, yet we do not make the same effort ourselves. Hypocrisy in its purest form – at least we got THAT right!



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