About 1,000 Afghans, incensed by the republication of a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammad in Danish newspapers, marched on Sunday demanding withdrawal of Danish and Dutch troops.
The protesters, mostly religious clerics in the northern city of Mazar-i-Sharif, also condemned plans by a right-wing Dutch politician to broadcast a film on the Koran.
Afghanistan’s Religious Affairs Ministry has called the reprinting of the cartoon as an attack against Islam. Several other Islamic countries have demanded that the film by the Dutch lawmaker Geert Wilders must not be released.
The cartoons were first printed in a Danish paper in 2005. They gained little initial attention but were later reprinted outside Denmark, sparking protests across the Muslim world in which dozens of people, some in Afghanistan, were killed. Danish newspapers reprinted one of the images again last month in protest at what they said was a plot to murder the cartoonist who drew it. At least two Dutch papers published pictures of the Danish newspapers, with the cartoon visible.
“We demand the … withdrawal of Danish and Dutch soldiers from Afghanistan,” said Mawlavi Shoaib, a religious figure and one of the organizers…The protesters warned they would launch bigger demonstrations, unless their demands over the expulsion of Dutch and Danish forces were met by the Afghan government.
Some might think the Afghans lost perspective of the situation. After all, the Western nations have defeated them and now occupy them. But that does not seem the case. I would say it's quite the other way around. We have lost perspective and the Taliban is using that very effectively against us. And not only because the cowardly Dutch goverment agrees with them. Even the Americans who run Operation Enduring Freedom support it. Just read up about what the CJTF-82 wrote last January about Wilders and the Danish cartoons (open mirror: here).
Stirring the Hate
Written by CJTF-82 Operations
Monday, 21 January 2008
Ostensibly an exercise in the Party for Freedom’s right to free speech, Dutch politician Geert Wilders prepares to release a new anti-Islam film. Wilders will not comment on details of the movie but says it will show that Islam’s Holy Book, the Quran…
"is an inspiration for intolerance, murder and terror".
Wilders close political association with Ayaan Hirsi Ali and film maker Theo Van Gogh, sent Wilders into hiding after Van Gogh’s assassination by a Muslim extremist following the release of “Submission”, a film which criticized the treatment of women in Islamic society. The publication of the “Muhammad Cartoons” in September of 2005 caused protests and riots as over 200 people were killed by violence around the world. In Afghanistan there were protests in Maymana, Bagram, Kandahar, Mehtar-Lam and Kabul Violence in neighboring Pakistan was even worse. Wilders website was one of several that re-published the cartoons after the initial violent demonstrations had begun, citing a defense of freedom of speech and igniting further violence. Polls immediately following the Van Gogh assassination predicted the possibility of the Party for Freedom winning as many as 29 seats (of 150) in upcoming Dutch parliamentary elections. By October of 2005 the number had slipped to one, rising again to three following the “Muhammad Cartoons” controversy. While his party does favor immigration restrictions, especially from non-western countries; the corresponding surge in popularity provides a suspicious motive for his latest “exercise in free speech.” resulting in at least 5 deaths.
A closer examination of the reaction around the world to the “Muhammad Cartoons” controversy reveals more than just Geert Wilders and the Party for Freedom stirring the hate. Reactions in America were reported as...
"Police removed two people from inside the auditorium for disrupting the discussion, but the unidentified men were not members of the Muslim Student Union."
Imani Jaffar Mohammad, a young Muslim college student in Minneapolis had the following observation…
'"I was proud to see that instead of violence, American Muslims responded to the incident with
press releases and offers to educate others about Islam. Here, in Minnesota, the Islamic Resource Group sent out a press release that explained the emphasis on peace in Islam and why violent reactions to the cartoon are actually contradictory to the core teachings of Islam."
Canada’s response was similar, after a Canadian college paper reprinted the cartoons, Mian Ali, the head of the Prince Edward Island Muslim Association had the following to say…
"To Me it's just a cartoon. People are free to express their opinions. I can't control what people print, but freedom comes with a responsibility. If people want to abuse that responsibility and freedom it's up to them."
While world leaders called for restraint and an end to the violence, others seized a different opportunity,
Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar, called the cartoons “an unforgivable insult that should be punished with death.”
Hezbollah leader Sheik Hassan Nasrallah urged Muslims to continue rioting and violence, saying, “Defending the prophet should continue all over the world. Let Condoleezza Rice and Bush and all the tyrants shut up. We are an Islamic nation that cannot tolerate, be silent or be lax when they insult our prophet and sanctities.”
Iranian Grand Ayatollah Moussavi Ardebili, condemned the cartoons as evil and urged all Muslims of the world " to move in any way possible to stand up to this Satanic acts and make the leaders of blasphemy understand that the price they will pay for these Satanic acts of disrespect will be much higher than their gains."
Taliban commander Mullah Dadullah, since killed by Coalition Forces, announced that the Taliban offered 100kg of gold to the killer of “anyone associated with the cartoons” and bragged "More than 100 mujahedin have enlisted to carry out suicide attacks.”
These leaders have already proven they will use any means to stir the hate against anything that stands between them and the power they desire. While Wilders and the Party for Freedom stir the hate by blaming an entire religion for the actions of extremists, they also attract more of their own “fanatical” followers, increasing their own power. The headlines that resulted from the violence, the fear generated in communities around the world, an increase in “suicide bomber recruiting” all further the terrorist’s goals. While the Party for Freedom preaches hate and fear to its followers, the terrorists preach hate and vengeance to their own.
Islam is not the first religion in history to have its tenets twisted and abused in support of one man’s or one group’s desire for power. There are a lot of questions to answer while convincing a teenager to strap on an explosives laden vest and blow him (or her) self up in a crowded market or busy street. If there are “no atheists in foxholes” there are certainly none in suicide vests.
Strapping on a suicide vest doesn’t guarantee the truth of the religious indoctrination the bomber has received. Condemning the religion that has been twisted and misused to convince the suicide bomber to put on the vest does not make the world safer from terrorism. It provides a tool the terrorists will use to place more innocent teenagers inside suicide vests and send them out into the world, seeking targets.