Danish Muhammad Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard
Kurt Westergaard is retired now but continues to draw honors for freedom of speech.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel praised the bravery of a Danish cartoonist who caricatured the Prophet Muhammad at an award ceremony honoring his achievements for freedom of speech.
In her speech praising illustrator Kurt Westergaard, “who has had to fear for his life since the publication of the cartoons in 2005,” Merkel emphasized Wednesday that media freedom is an important element of rights in Europe.
“It does not matter if we think his cartoons are tasteful or not, if we think they are necessary and helping or not,” Merkel said at the ceremony in the city of Potsdam. The question, she said, was, “Is he allowed to do this? Yes, he is.”
There have been at least three attempted attacks on the 75-year-old Westergaard or his newspaper, the Danish the Jyllands-Posten, since he and 11 other artists angered Muslims around the world by creating the Muhammad cartoons four years ago. Protesters in Muslim countries have torched Danish and other Western embassies.
Westergaard’s cartoon, which he said took 45 minutes to draw, was considered by many Muslims the most offensive of the 12. He has rejected calls to apologize, saying poking fun at religious symbols is protected by Denmark’s freedom of speech.
Of course, not everyone was pleased.
Merkel’s appearance at the award ceremony drew criticism from Muslim groups, who perceived it as an endorsement of Westergaard’s cartoon. Aiman Mazyek, general secretary of Germany’s Muslim Council, told public radio Deutschlandradio that Merkel is honoring the cartoonist who sullied “our Prophet … and thereby all Muslims.”
Merkel’s spokesman, Steffen Seibert, rejected the criticism and said Merkel’s message was to underscore the importance of freedom of speech.
Westergaard continues to live under police protection.
Afghan protesters step on a U.S. flag during a demonstration against the United States, in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Sept. 6, 2010. Hundreds of Afghans railed against the U.S. and called for President Barack Obama’s death at a rally in the capital Monday to denounce an American church’s plans to burn the Islamic holy book on 9/11.
General David Petraeus is probably right
about the burning of the Koran stirring up the radical Islamic community. And, I do not advocate this type of behavior in the least. The church would be best NOT to do this.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan said the planned burning of Qurans on Sept. 11 by a small Florida church could put the lives of American troops in danger and damage the war effort.
Gen. David Petraeus said the Taliban would exploit the demonstration for propaganda purposes, drumming up anger toward the U.S. and making it harder for allied troops to carry out their mission of protecting Afghan civilians.
“It could endanger troops and it could endanger the overall effort,” Gen. Petraeus said in an interview. “It is precisely the kind of action the Taliban uses and could cause significant problems. Not just here, but everywhere in the world we are engaged with the Islamic community.”
Hundreds of Afghans attended a demonstration in Kabul on Monday to protest the plans of Florida pastor Terry Jones, who has said he will burn copies of Islam’s holy book to mark the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. Afghan protesters chanted “death to America,” and speakers called on the U.S. to withdraw its troops. Some protesters threw rocks at a passing military convoy.
So, I agree with John.
But, military commanders advising Americans on their First Amendment rights is troubling to me – deeply troubling and is unacceptable. General Petraeus is in Afghanistan to fight for American freedoms and support the United States Constitution not to subvert them.
Next, will the General say that I am endangering Americans for printing this cartoon of Mohammed?
I mean there were world-wide protests and loss of lives because of radical Islam’s insistence that there not be any criticism of Mohammed or his image depiction.
But, you see, the United States Constitution guarantees my right to publish this cartoon and to discuss it. No military general and certainly no politician or government authority can take away this right.
The Afghanistan War has not been going well and President Obama has been struggling with its mission. Hence, General Petraeus has been sent to essentially clean up the mess.
I would recommend that General Petraeus concentrate less on narrowing American’s rights and more on finding and neutralizing radical Islamic terrorists that wish me, my family, my fellow Americans and American troops harm.