Day By Day

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Cartoon War -- Overblown?

Given the apocalyptic accounts pervading the blogosphere and some of the MSM, it is gratifying to find a balanced view of the Islamic protests over "blasphemous" Danish cartoons.

The Times reports:
FROM Zanzibar to the Maldives and from Sudan to Indonesia, protests against the cartoons of Muhammad spread to the furthest corners of the Islamic world, with imams denouncing them during Friday prayers.

However, many of the demonstrations were only attended by a handful of people, and calls for an international “day of anger” went largely unheeded. Despite some imams in the Middle East demanding the beheading of the cartoonists, violence was limited.

Read it here.

Amid all the hubbub and theats Iraqi Shiite Ayatollah al-Sistani stood out, as he has so often in the past, as a clarion call fpr moderation and reason.
In Iraq Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the spiritual leader of the Shia majority, condemned the cartoons, describing them as “horrific action”. But the moderate septuagenarian leader suggested that “misguided and oppressive” elements in the militant Muslim community had helped to create a “distorted and dark image of the faith”.
Which raises the quesion -- why hasn't this guy won several Nobel Peace Prizes?

What we have here is obviously an attempt by radical Islamists to stage a show of strength to counter the perception that they are being marginalized. If, however, moderate voices like that of al-Sistani prevail the staged protests will provide further evidence of the ineffectiveness of Islamist radicalism. This becomes even more apparent when you consider that the most violent of these protests, in Damascus and Beirut, were ginned up by Syrian Baathists, whose agenda is quite different from that of the radicals.


Amy Kellog on FOX News reported on Tuesday afternoon that the riots were beginning to subside and that coverage had moved from the front pages to the insides of the major papers. She points out, though, that Arab satellite channels are stepping up their coverage. She notes that much of the protest is not religiously based, but mere political opportunism, as if the two could be separated in the Islamic world.


The WSJ points out that the Danish imams who spread the cartoon protests did so in coordination with several Muslim governments. Much of the protest has been coordinated by those governments. The western press has been slow to catch on to the fact that much of what they are seeing is standard "rent a mob" violence and are still writing about Muslim "rage."

Read it here. [subscription required]

Steven Spruiell of NRO has a long excerpt here.


My suggestion that Sistani is deserving of being awarded the Nobel Peace Prize is appearing elsewhere. I understand that Tom Friedman suggested it in his column, but wouldn't know -- nobody reads him anymore. It was also suggested on NRO's "Window on the Week" [here].

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