Greater Middle East

Arab dissent in cartoon controversy

From Reuters, via The Star of Malaysia, Feb. 14 (emphasis added):

BEIRUT - Uproar in the Islamic world over cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad has prompted many in the Middle East to ask why Muslims have rarely mobilised to address other pressing issues such as democracy and human rights.

Violence escalates in cartoon imbroglio

Violence continues to grow throughout the Muslim world in protests against the anti-Islamic cartoons published in Denmark. In Nairobi, police opened fire as hundreds of protesters advanced on the Danish ambassador's residence, leaving one injured. Another was killed and four more injured in an apparent accident involving the ambulance taking the wounded protester away. (AP, Feb. 10) A German journalist from ARD Radio was also reportedly assaulted by protesters in Nairobi, and had his car windows smashed as he tried to leave the scene. (Expatica, Feb. 10)

Propaganda and the cartoon controversy, Pt. 2

An informative and insightful, if somewhat problematic, commentary from Egypt's Al-Ahram Weekly. Anjali Kamat argues that the cartoons are not merely "offensive" but propagandistic, and that leaving racism out of the simplistic "free speech/Islamic intolerance" equation is to miss the critical point:

Muslim Brotherhood appeals for calm

From the website of The Muslim Brotherhood [Ikhwan]:

Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood Statement
by Khairat el-Shater, Feb. 7

"Rage spread all over the Islamic world over defaming caricatures of Prophet Muhammad PBUH published in a Danish newspaper. We emphatically believe that those who allowed this dispecable behavior on assumption of freedom of expression, are indeed tarnishing the concept of liberty, in whose name such repulsive and shameless acts are committed. We, however, appeal to Muslims not to let their furor drag them to attack properties, to expand the scope of protest, or to turn it into a clash between civilizations. Enraged Muslims should adhere to the Islamic ethics and principles in showing their outcry. Presently, the world suffers from an evil band that dedicates its capacities to ignite religion and civilization clashes, hoping to exercise further economical and political domination. We, in addition, express our hope that this mishap triggers an international initiative on passing a U.N. law that makes the respect of holy symbols of all nations and cultures binding. Therefore, such acts will not recur."

Lebanon: Druze leader calls for US invasion of Syria

The real issue behind Druze leader Walid Jumblatt's latest political clash with Lebanon's President Emile Lahoud appears to really be continued perceived Syrian domination of the country. Tensions between the Druze and the regime have dramatically escalated since late December, with Jumblatt openly calling for US military intervention against Damascus.

Kurdish women mourn Zapatistas' Comandante Ramona

A statement from the Kurdistan Free Women's Movement—on the German-based website Hezen Parastina Gel, apparently linked to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) guerilla movement in eastern Turkey—notes the passing of Comandante Ramona of southern Mexico's Zapatista National Liberation Army:

Film director's death in Jordan terror sparks Arab outrage

A Dec. 6 commentary by Jalal Ghazi on Pacific News Service notes that last month's Jordan suicide attack killed a film director beloved throughout the Arab world—making Arab commentators more vocal and daring than ever in condemning terrorism.

Saudi teacher jailed for blasphemy

A Saudi secondary school teacher has been ordered imprisoned for three years for blasphemy, and sentenced to 750 lashes, to be delivered—50 a week—in the public market of the town of al-Bikeriya. Chemistry teacher Muhammad al-Harbi of Qassim province was charged with mocking Islam, favoring Jews and Christians, promoting "dubious ideologies," and studying witchcraft. The judge in the case, Abdullah Dakhil, reportedly accused the teacher of "trying to sow doubt in a student's creed." The charges were filed against him by a group of students and teachers from his school.

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