Following the attempted murder of Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard by a Somali man, news outlets were being criticized from within for their reticence in reporting on the fatwa against Westergaard and the $1-million reward offered by Islamic clerics for his death. Most broadcasters and print media have refused even to show the cartoon that Westergaard drew of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb tucked into his turban. In Germany over the weekend, the magazine Der Spiegel commented that today "Western writers and thinkers would rather take cover than defend basic rights." Several Western publishers noted that virtually no newspaper or broadcaster in the Islamic world has even mentioned freedom of speech and opinion in relation to the fatwa. In the United Arab Emirates, the English-language Gulf News condemned the attack editorially by saying, "Targeting [Westergaard] is descending to the level of a contemptuous and despicable man." The editorial led the London Daily Mail to respond "There is a world of difference between voicing a political opinion -- however offensive, contemptuous or despicable it may seem to some -- and hacking someone to pieces. An assassination attempt can never be equated with an insult. Drawing a picture, making a documentary, writing a book, or wording an opinion, can never be equated with setting out with an axe to kill someone. This is obvious. Yet, it seems that even the 'moderate' Muslims of Gulf News in the United Arab Emirates fail to understand it." And while most U.S. media continue to refuse to broadcast or print the Westergaard cartoon, dozens of copies have been posted on various sites of the Internet.

04/01/2010