February 18, 2006 | Graham

An act of solidarity with Muslim journalists

I may regret this later, but I’ve decided to reproduce one of the Mohammed cartoons. This is an act of solidarity with a number of journalists in Muslim countries who have been jailed for republishing the cartoons.
According to Reporters sans frontières seven journalists have been thrown into jail in Yemen, Syria and Algeria for publishing these cartoons and twelve others are being prosecuted in five countries. I’ve reproduced the RSF release below.
For me this is qualitatively different from boycotting Danish goods, or burning Danish embassies, and deserves a considered, but commensurately stronger, reaction.
I’ve chosen this cartoon deliberately. I’m prepared to justify it because it makes a serious point. Islam provides religious justification for suicide bombing. This is an issue for Islam, and for the rest of us. Less than one hundred years ago our civilisation, (although, I would argue, not Christianity, our nominal religion), justified taking over others’ countries in the name of Empire, or progress, or a version of manifest destiny. We now recognise that as wrong, and it makes the world a more certain, and more certainly just, place.
Similar attitudes are manifested in the Islamic world and they need to do something about them. For me, that is what this cartoon says. This is not an On Line Opinion editorial decision, it is mine alone.
Call to free journalists imprisoned in Prophet cartoons row
17th February, 2006
Reporters Without Borders today launched an appeal and a petition for the immediate release of seven journalists thrown into prison in Yemen, Syria and Algeria for reprinting the controversial Prophet cartoons as part of informing their readers.
“Whatever one thinks of the cartoons or whether they should be published, it is absolutely unjustified to jail or prosecute journalists, threaten them with death or shut down newspapers for this reason,” the worldwide press freedom organisation said.
At least twelve journalists are being prosecuted in five countries and seven have been jailed. Some face long prison sentences if convicted. Two editors in Jordan have been charged with provocation and encouraging disorder. Three journalists have been jailed in Yemen and charged under article 103 of the press law, which bans publication of anything that “harms Islam, denigrates monotheistic religion or a humanitarian belief.” Reporters Without Borders calls for all criminal cases among these to be dropped.
Thirteen publications have been closely temporarily or permanently in Algeria, Morocco, Jordan, Yemen, Malaysia and Indonesia for reprinting the cartoons. Reporters Without Borders demands that these bans be lifted.
A conference to discuss the cartoons crisis on 9 February in Paris stressed that nothing could justify the imprisonment of journalists. More than a dozen journalists, intellectuals and religious officials from Western and Arab/Muslim countries attended the meeting, organised by Reporters Without Borders and the Arab Commission for Human Rights, and appealed for calm and dialogue. A similar conference will be held in Cairo on 25 February.
Reporters Without Borders calls on everyone to take a stand in support of the imprisoned journalists, who were simply doing their job and passing on news that made headlines around the world.

Posted by Graham at 3:15 pm | Comments (1) |
Filed under: Media

1 Comment

  1. Graham
    When there is no separation between state and religion, the kind of controversy associated with the cartoon crisis is almost bound to occur. Does this mean that journalists and cartoonists in free liberal societies must acquiesce in the name of an artificial and arbitrary construction of what constitutes journalistic social responsibility? A journalist’s first priority is to the fundamental principle of freedom of speech and expression. The concept of social responsibility is important but none the less ancillary to this principle.

    Comment by Jim Nicholls — March 1, 2006 @ 11:05 am

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