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“An imminent terror attack has been foiled,” said Jakob Scharf, chief of the Danish Security and Intelligence Service (PET) on Wednesday. Scharf said that “militant Islamists with relations to international terror networks” had been arrested over their plot to storm the offices of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and “to kill as many of the people present as possible.” Jyllands-Posten’s offense took place over five years ago, when it published the now-notorious cartoons of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, touching off international riots and a smoldering Islamic rage that continues to manifest itself in jihad terror plots.
These cartoons are much less offensive than what is routinely printed in every American newspaper about presidents, presidential candidates, and other politicians. Yet the rage over them seems to grow with each passing day; Islamic supremacists seem determined to punish those who drew and published them, and to impress upon the West the point so memorably enunciated by the Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference, Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu: “In confronting the Danish cartoons and the Dutch film ‘Fitna’, we sent a clear message to the West regarding the red lines that should not be crossed. As we speak, the official West and its public opinion are all now well-aware of the sensitivities of these issues. They have also started to look seriously into the question of freedom of expression from the perspective of its inherent responsibility, which should not be overlooked.”
Given the latest Danish plot and other manifestations of Islamic willingness to shed blood over cartoons, Ihsanoglu might have added “or else” to that statement. For Jyllands-Posten is not the only target. Several months ago, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris had to give up her job, her home, and even her identity because of death threats from Islamic supremacists who were enraged over her satire on the rage that the Muhammad cartoons inspired in the Islamic world: “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.” That Islamic jihadists could force an American citizen into hiding for exercising her freedom of speech was bad enough; that her cause aroused only indifference from the media and the nation’s leading officials was even worse. And just weeks ago, Taimour Abdulwahab Al-Abdaly, the suicide bomber who killed himself in Stockholm, before he committed his attempted mass-murder explained: “Our acts will speak for themselves, as long as you do not end your war against Islam and humiliation of the Prophet and your stupid support for the pig Vilks.”
“The pig Vilks” is Lars Vilks, a Swedish cartoonist who published his own cartoon of Muhammad as a dog with a human head. Islamic supremacists, predictably, have also targeted Vilks for death. Last spring, he was attacked during a talk he was giving, and jihadists also tried to burn his house down.
It is useful to recall some of the earliest reactions to Cartoon Rage: Carsten Juste, the editor-in-chief of Jyllands-Posten, refused to apologize for publishing them: “We live in a democracy. That’s why we can use all the journalistic methods we want to. Satire is accepted in this country, and you can make caricatures. Religion shouldn’t set any barriers on that sort of expression. This doesn’t mean that we wish to insult any Muslims.” Cultural editor Flemming Rose concurred: “Religious feelings,” he declared, “cannot demand special treatment in a secular society. In a democracy one must from time to time accept criticism or becoming a laughingstock.”
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