Rose on the Danish Cartoons

I have been posting about the desire and alleged attempt of various Muslims to murder a cartoonist for depicting Mohammad. On February 15, Flemming Rose came out with an excellent article on the matter for the Wall Street Journal. Rose is the the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten, the newspaper that first published the cartoon.

Rose reviews the basic facts about the cartoonist:

For the past three months [Kurt] Westergaard and his wife have been on the run. Mr. Westergaard did the most famous of the 12 Muhammad cartoons published in Jyllands-Posten in September 2005 — the one depicting the prophet with a bomb in his turban. The cartoon was a satirical comment on the fact that some Muslims are committing terrorist acts in the name of Islam and the prophet. Tragically, Mr. Westergaard’s fate has proven the point of his cartoon: In the early hours of Tuesday morning Danish police arrested three men who allegedly had been plotting to kill him.

Thankfully, Rose points out, “17 Danish newspapers have published Mr. Westergaard’s cartoon” in defense of free speech. Rose adds, “As George Orwell put it in the suppressed preface to ‘Animal Farm’: ‘If liberty means anything, it means the right to tell people what they do not want to hear’.”

Unfortunately, the threats against the cartoonist are just the tip of the iceberg. Rose continues:

In Oslo a gallery has censored three small watercolor paintings, showing the head of the prophet Muhammad on a dog’s body, by the Swedish artist Lars Vilks, who has been under police protection since the fall of 2007. In Holland the municipal museum in The Hague recently refused to show photos by the Iranian-born artist Sooreh Hera of gay men wearing the masks of the prophet Muhammad and his son Ali; Ms. Hera has received several death threats and is in hiding. In Belarus an editor has been sentenced to three years in a forced labor camp after republishing some of Jyllands-Posten’s Muhammad cartoons. In Egypt bloggers are in jail after having “insulted Islam.” In Afghanistan the 23-year-old Sayed Perwiz Kambakhsh has been sentenced to death because he distributed “blasphemous” material about the mistreatment of women in Islam. And in India the Bengal writer Taslima Nasreen is in a safe house after having been threatened by people who don’t like her books.

Quite obviously, liberty, including freedom of speech and freedom of religion, is incompatible with Islam as practiced in these cases. Sadly, Muslim voices defending freedom of speech are too few and too quiet.

Rose goes on to argue in the article that the West must not bend to these threats against freedom of speech, but must instead recommit itself to its defense. Those who value their liberty owe Rose a debt of gratitude for his courageous and tireless defense of freedom. And now Westergaard too has become a hero of liberty.

AFP reports that Westergaard “said he considered himself an atheist, adding: ‘I feel that I am fighting a righteous fight to defend freedom of expression, which is under threat’.”

(Thanks to Lin Zinser of FIRM for links to both articles.)

Americans worthy of the title will join Westergaard’s righteous fight.