Sir-- I would just like to add that in European countries freedom of expression does not equal freedom to insult. If for instance a cartoon is felt to be racist or plainly insulting (which could at least be said for the bomb turban cartoon) the party affected has all the right to bring the author to court. Then it is up to the court to judge if the freedom of expression has been misused. This has happened time and again, and this way is wide open for everybody, that is also for any Danish Muslim. But that is all too it -- self-justice is not possible. Note for instance that in German law, Article 1 about the integrity of human dignity is before Article 5 about freedom of expression. One can see a hierarchy in the basic values.
Islam would not
Sir-- The display of such cartoons is nothing less than emotional torture, untamed verbal violence and intellectual terrorism. The publishers and their supporters utilised the principle of freedom of speech to justify their actions. Europeans and Americans are taught that freedom of speech ends where sensitivities of people begin. This lesson appears to have been forgotten or ignored. No Muslim will dare publish anything depicting the prophets of Christianity or Judaism. Such actions are considered by Muslims to be blasphemous. Islam recognises the dissent to its teachings and appeals to its adherents to deal with it in a civil manner. Islam promotes the idea that a polite response and a decent rebuttal are powerful enough in changing an enemy into a friend. Islam does not seek revenge against those who indulge in anti- Islam abuses. Islam prohibits the use of pressure and intimidation for changing the hearts of people. Our response, as Muslims, to such insults and humiliation should be based on the divine teachings and the lifestyle of Prophet Mohamed. We must not give in to our emotions. We should have engaged the newspapers and their readers in a meaningful dialogue and discussions on the true nature of our faith and the true personality of our prophet. It is also the responsibility of our religious and intellectual leaders to direct our masses in developing a meaningful response to incidents of hate and racial bigotry.
We won't apologise
Sir-- We in the West really have nothing to apologise for. Here in the United States, we have a 200-year-old tradition of freedom of speech and the press (nowadays the "media"). Our Bill of Rights has been a model for the world -- if increasingly ignored by our own government much of the time. But many other countries have adopted the human right of freedom of speech and the press from us. Free nations and free people should soundly reject all threats of violence for having peaceful differences of opinion, religion and conscience.
Sir-- The furore in the Islamic world over the Danish cartoons is more or less understandable; what is totally not understandable for us Westerners is that Muslims do not seem to perceive that the way some Muslims behave in the name of Islam is creating a much more forceful and hateful caricature of Islam than the Danish cartoons.
Ron van der Wieken
Sir-- The cartoons were published in September 2005 and the riots and "explosions" against them started in February 2006, five months later. Shouldn't we ask ourselves why nothing was published about these cartoons on 5 September, months ago?
Keep government out
Sir-- Whilst Muslims worldwide are justifiably angry at the cartoons that have appeared in Danish newspapers, I feel that anger towards the Danish government itself is entirely unjustified. The Danish government has no control whatsoever over what is written in the newspapers of that country. As with most Western countries freedom of expression is an inalienable right unless laws are broken or national security is at stake. The government therefore has nothing to apologise for as it was not involved in the publications. In fact were the government to apologise it would be apologising for its people having the right to freedom of speech. With regard to the Danish people generally supporting their government's stand, the reason for this, I surmise, may be two-fold. Protection of their personal freedom of expression is, I believe, paramount but there is also a fair degree of fear and anger involved. The majority of individuals in Western countries know little or nothing about the Muslim religion and therefore assume that terrorism, violence, murder and mayhem directed at non-Muslims is an intrinsic and fairly major feature of the faith. The worldwide violent response of Muslims to the cartoons will, I am sad to say, only serve to harden Western attitudes towards the faith.
Sir-- I am not a Muslim. How does the prohibition on drawings of Mohamed have anything to do with me? You are forbidden to draw the prophet because you are Muslim. Why must I obey rules that have been set for you?
Sir-- With all due respect to the great religion of Islam and its pious followers, I must still assert that the daily violence over the Mohamed cartoons is counter-productive. The decisions to publish and republish the cartoons were no doubt foolish and hurtful, but threats and embassy burnings are alienating an otherwise sympathetic world.
Sir-- I accept that the cartoons would be offensive to a devout Muslim, but I think the reaction has been disproportionate. Shakespeare said something about people who "protest too much..."
Alive and well
Sir-- The latest round of showdown with the Danes, which I do regret the stubbornness on both sides, shows two things distinctively. First, our umma is alive and well, whether in this spontaneous response or when a freedom fighter gives up his life for the cause. It shows clearly that if the Danish government was bribing our politicians the way Americans do, the whole thing would have been suppressed in its cradle.
Secondly, the latest round exposes gravely the ignorance of the West about us to the farthest limits. The whole subject is beyond the scope of this space, but to see European politicians defend the defamation of Islam in the name of press freedom says it all.
A time for everything
Sir-- I am incensed that the Muslims of the world have decided to try and quash the Western world's most basic of freedoms that of freedom of expression. This is the first time I have ever been concerned or angry about what Muslims have been doing around the world. Before now, it all seemed so far away. Sort of over there -- outta sight, outta mind. But this row about cartoons had me paying attention.
There is a time for tolerance of minority sensitivities and a time to stand up for fundamental freedoms. While the two are not mutually exclusive as a rule, this time there can be no equivocation regarding the right to express one's self freely in any part of the Western world.
Your religious sensitivities don't cancel out my freedom of expression.
Sir-- The only thing that can be of influence is to boycott Danish products. That is their lifeline. By boycotting their products in unison (all Islamic countries) you will send them a clear message they will truly understand.