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Free Press in Denmark: East versus West

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While U.S. armed forces assist Iraqi forces in establishing a stable, secure democracy in the Middle East, radical Islamic elements resist efforts to democratize throughout the Muslim world as exhibited through the recent violent protests, arson, and murder of Christians after a small Danish newspaper publishes a few caricatures of Islamic founder Mohammad. Although some Islamic fundamentalists insist that any images of Mohammad is an insult to Islam worldwide, history tells a different story (

In essence, radical elements already predisposed to view any action or behavior from the West as negatively influencing their own culture cannot wait to seize any opportunity to polarize themselves from the rest of the world. Although I am conscious that publications such as the cartoons which appeared in Jyllands-Posten may further fuel the global fire of Islamic radicalism and terrorist recruitment, two points in particular cannot be denied in the debate over free speech and free press:

1) Newspapers and publications across the Middle East routinely depict disparaging images and editorial cartoons of notable Western religions, including Christianity and Judaism. To deny the same right to papers outside of the Middle East is hypocritical and illogical.

2) Pictorial depictions of Mohammad have existed for centuries, and no where in the Koran is there any specific admonition against such images. Interpretations of the Koran as exhibited in the various sects throughout the Muslim world are just that: interpretations. Zealots living in glass houses need to think twice before throwing stones.

In essence, nothing the West does to placate radical Muslim elements will actually result in peace. In fact, caving in to fringe groups will only appear as weakness and potentially further incite radicals in their political, social, and religious agendas against free societies. The long term consequences, I assert, of publishing caricatures of Mohammad are no greater than if they hadn't been published. Something else in the news would have sufficed just as easily to fire up radical Muslims. If someone is seeking flaws with which to support their beliefs, they will invariably find them.

Yet can sustainable, secure democracies truly last in such a hostile part of the world?


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