Friday, February 03, 2006

Cartoon chaos

The growing controversy over the publication in several European newspapers of cartoons deemed offensive to Islam has been covered in detail by a virtually every news agency and media outlet there is. It seems that newspapers have become the frontline in the war of ideas between East and West, and free speech has once again become the most fiercely debated topic of the moment. One solid alternative source of information throughout the fiasco has been Mediawatchwatch, which is important to link to, given that all the mainstream UK news outlets are indirectly involved in the story themselves, their editors all having made a conscious decision not to publish the cartoons.

Yet while online message boards have been abuzz this week with calls to "buy Danish" following a boycott by several Muslim countries on products made in Denmark (after the drawings were first published by Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten), one thing that's been puzzling me today is why no one seems to be rushing to the defence of Jihad Momani. Momani is the (former) editor of Jordanian tabloid newspaper Shihan, who was fired by his publisher after having taken the bold step of being the only newspaper in any Muslim country to publish the cartoons. Okay, so he did it "to illustrate the extent of the insult against Islam and Muslims in the Danish cartoons". But even so, surely he must have done so with enough basic trust in his own readers to view the cartoons objectively and form their own conclusions about their original publication? The phrase "don't shoot the messenger" seems pretty apt here. King Abdullah said "Whilst we respect and revere freedom of speech, we condemn needless desecration and injury of Islamic sensibilities, such as the recent cartoons''. This respect and reverence for free speech didn't exactly apply to Jihad Momani, it seems.

That said, was it really necessary for so many papers to reprint ALL of the cartoons in question, when they were on record as being inflammable material and offensive to a large group of people? Free speech deserves to be defended to the hilt, but in this instance I think the point was rammed home a long time ago, and is now being dulled by sensationalism. And before anyone says anything, yes of course the actions of extremist gunmen in Gaza (and elsewhere) are completely unacceptable and so utterly OTT it's almost funny. But in the name of maintaining some sort of fractious entente cordiale, perhaps...? I have a feeling this debate is going to rage for a long time yet.

5 Comments:

At February 05, 2006 5:22 pm, Blogger sleazenation said...

A bit off topic here, but are you planning to change the name of your blog now?

 
At February 06, 2006 8:30 am, Blogger Lady M said...

Aha! I was wondering when you would finally post something here.

Yes, I was wondering about that myself, but I figured that "N4 Cruise Control" didn't really have the same ring to it. Still, I'm saved by the fact that my office is in EC1, so technically it still appies to a part of my life!

So, how does it feel to be the first Observer-reader that someone's ever met? ;) Thank god I wasn't there, don't think I could've contained myself.

 
At February 06, 2006 5:49 pm, Blogger sleazenation said...

It was when we were in the cafe and said i was going to nip to the shops to get the paper and was offered the News of the World...

.. I politely declined and said I's stick with The Observer...

 
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http://www.enterbet.com

 
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