Monday, February 20, 2006

Jyllandsposten cartoon and other stereotypes

Well known images from European history (Nazi magazine Der Stürmer). Are these ways of describing people and movements by way of stereotypes going to be repeated?

Jyllandsposten beginning February.

Mona Omar: "This case we can jointly prophet from". Mona Omar, former Egyptian ambassador to Denmark, with Danish imams Abu Laban and Ahmed Akkari in the Jyllandsposten cartoon beginning February.

Akkari: "Yeah, they must be snubbed" (pig's snout).

What is interesting in this cartoon is the cartoonist's depiction of "muslim stereotypes". It is not only the camel in the picture on the wall, but also the way especially Abu Laban is depicted. Abu Laban is a common target for hate campaigns in Denmark. He is regarded as the quintessence of "islamist fundamentalism". Look at the way he has been drawn, the big nose, prominent jaw, clown's pants. Akkari is a little guy, he is depicted with large, protruding pig's ears.

The prominent politician Mogens Camre, member of the European parliament for the right wing Danish People's party (DPP), has given verbal expression to muslim stereotypes. At the congress of the Danish People's party in 2004 he spoke about Turkish application for membership of the EU:

The Turkish government are a bunch of fundamentalists, who have dressed up in democratic attire..... The Turks do not intend to become Westerners. The Turks want to islamise Europe. And the Turkish government wants to cheat its way in. .... The muslims give birth to much too many children, and they do not have enough opportunities to feed them in their own backward countries, which produce next to nothing. Therefore they have decided to conquer Europe. (Mogens Camre's homepage). And about islam he said:

The two big dictatorship ideologies, we have seen the last 100 years, lived in 12, respectively 70 years. Islam has survived for nearly 1400 years, and we're naïve, if we think we can change this ideology within a few decades. But we must do whatever we can do to stop the diffusion of the islamists' ideology, because it threatens the whole world. ....... Let me say it clearly, muslims must live in muslim country - and that is not here.

Stereoptypes and hate campaigns of this kind have been widespread some time before in European history, for instance in the 1930's, when the German nazis thought that the Jews wanted to conquer the world.

The problem for the Danish liberal-conservative government is that it has based its parliamentary majority on this right wing political movement. The DPP has a virtual veto on all government policy.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

How can you equate nazism in the 30's with what is going on today?

2:41 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Duck said...

Of course, it's not an "equation". But you can see some of the same tendencies.

4:07 AM  
Blogger Safia speaks said...

Hi Cosmic Duck and thanx for posting at my blog.

I recently had to teach a course in Italian history between worldwars and I noticed some scary similarities between DPP (Dansk Folkeparti) and Mussolinis small party in the Danish parliament.

Both parties were small but became the "tongue on the balance" - both parties were national and somehow socialist in their political programs (love for nation, equality in culture), both parties started to propose changes in election laws as soon as they came into parliament.

I am afraid that the Danish conservative party and liberal party have to renew themselves and act more independantly in order to gain political majority and avoid being dependant on DPP. Otherwise we might se Mussolini coming around again.

8:33 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cosmic Duck: Are you serious? You can't compare Jyllands-Posten with the Nazis!?! Besides, if stereotypes in cartoons were banned, how many cartoons would there be left then? Cartoons live from stereotypes and that's how it should be. And, anyway, those Nazi cartoons you produce are far closer to anti-Semitic cartoons published in today's Islamic world than any one of those 12 original cartoons in JP. Interestingly enough, you didn't make that comparison.

Safia: I don't support the far right myself but once again, this is quite a far-fetched comparison. Also, political parties want to get to the parliament to change laws, that's what they're for! By the way, what about an equation of Mussolini and, let's day, Gaddafi? You see any similarities?

10:10 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Duck said...

I agree with you, Safia. It's a dangerous development we see in Denmark at the moment. The liberal og conservative parties are drifting to the right under the influence of The Danish People's party. Today the latter party has suggested that imams with citizenship be kicked out of the country. How irresponsible can you become?

10:57 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Duck said...

No, I don't want to compare Jyllandsposten to the Nazis. I just want to point out that if we're not careful we risk drifting so far to the right that it is suddenly hard to find the way back. The cartoons: Even though we must defend freedom of speech in all ways, we must take care to respect the boundaries we have in Danish legislation (§140). Freedom of speech must be used with a certain responsibility and not to offend religious feelings that are so deeply felt that it's difficult for the secular rest of us to comprehend it.

11:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cosmic Duck... am I right that actually the legal apparatus has so far not seen that the 12 cartoons have stepped over the boundaries of free expression? If so, no problem here, they are legal, so defending them is defending the freedom of speech, not defending illegal cartoons.

I myself think that if some peple have offended religious feelings that it's those of the Danish Imams that falsified cartoons, spread lies and did other nasty things without being angels themselves. Their behaviour insults people of other (or no) religions as well as all sensible Muslims. I hate to see moderate Danish Muslims probably suffer from prejudice in the future because of what their cheating and bigotic faithmates did.

What do you think of the status of the freedom of speech and responsibility in the countries where the Imams went to spread lies about Denmark?

11:33 AM  
Blogger Safia speaks said...

Just because some countries find it funny to publish anti-Semitic cartoons in their newspapers is no excuse to publish anti-Muslim cartoons in Danish newspapers.

Personally I do not subscribe to either.

BTW, anti-semitic does not nescessarily mean anti-Jewish.
Semitic is a group of languages and Arabic is a member of that language group - so anti-Arab cartoons are anti-Semitic, too.

Finally, I resent the notion that Dansk Folkeparti is a rightwing party! Among many of Dansk Folkeparti´s party members we find former socialistis, communists, anarchists and leftwing lunatics. For me, Dansk Folkeparti are Socialdemokrats - at their worst!

11:41 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Safia: of course I know Arabic is a Semitic language and so on, but today anti-Semitic means anti-Jewish, not anti-Arabic anymore, independent of where the term comes from. Just like the Nazis talked about "Aryans" which earlier referred to lighter-skinned people in India but in the Nazi vocabulary something completely different.

I'm sure the publishing of anti-Semitic cartoons is a zillion times more spread than that of anti-Muslim cartoons in Denmark, so the latter problem is like a drop in the ocean in comparison.

11:58 AM  
Blogger Cosmic Duck said...

Muslim organisations in Denmark have reported the publication of the drawings to the police. A district attorney in the Danish town of Viborg has refused the case on grounds that the violation of § 140 is not clear enough for the public prosecutor to take action. This decision has been appealed to the General Attorney in Copenhagen, who is, I think, considering the case. His decision will be final. In case of a confirmation of the district attorney’s decision, the minister of Justice in the Danish government can decide that the case be tried in court.

Regarding freedom of speech in countries, where Danish imams have been informing about the cartoons: It differs, but it is not well protected. They should fight for it! Freedom of speech is important, but with the safeguard of the §140 in the Danish penal code.

12:59 PM  
Blogger Cosmic Duck said...


Yes, the Danish People's party have many members from socialist parties. But I think it is only Social Democratic in some welfare policies. Their policy in this area is a kind of welfare chauvinism, keeping welfare for the established in-groups, deny it to all else. It's a bit like Jörg Haider in Austria. In the fields of cultural and immigration policies it is clearly right wing.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Cosmic Duck: I think the situation of the freedom of the press in most Middle Eastern countries is more not just "not well protected", it's closer to catasrophic in many places. See this map: .

By the way, I think even if (and it's going to be an if here) the cartoons were seen as violating the penal code in all courts, it's not that big a deal! What's the sanction? A fine to the editor-in-chief, I guess. It's not at all untypical that papers are fined for publishing wrong information, attacks on privacy and so on, and fined editors do really exist. As for laypeople, many of us have been fined for speeding, not tying the seat belt or other offences. The first person who hasn't sinned should throw the stone! So, even if the cartoons were against the law, it shouldn't be overdramatized and it doesn't justify all that's been done to attack them, far from that. A fine is not ten years in jail or something like that, and, once again, if the editor-in-chied got fined, then the paper would pay that and then he would have committed a crime, sentenced and after that all discussion should end. Crime, punishment, sentence, end.

11:02 AM  

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