Unequal reaction Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, Feb 7 2006

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Unequal reaction

Editorial, The Daily Telegraph, Feb 7 2006

THE decision of a Danish newspaper to commission and publish a dozen illustrations of the prophet Mohammed was always going to ignite controversy. The extent of the controversy is less a reflection on that newspaper -- or any other newspaper which has chosen to follow suit.

Rather, it is a reflection on the fanatics who, in the name of Islam, threaten and perpetrate violence against anyone who dare question their particular version of this faith.

The Daily Telegraph believes the decision to publish and re- publish the cartoon was the wrong one. Most people in the media are aware Islam forbids the depiction of any image of Mohammed -- or indeed any living thing.

In the same way mainstream newspapers do not vilify other religions, by mocking or humiliating Jesus Christ, or questioning the existence of God, the same standard should apply with Islam.

It is interesting -- and valid -- to contrast and criticise the reaction of the Islamic world to a slight against its chosen deity, versus the liberal ambivalence of other religions.

The reaction both overseas and in Australia from many Muslim leaders to this series of cartoons has been galling. Statements from Islamic preachers in Australia warning against the publication of these images have sounded like thinly-veiled threats -- some of them not that thinly-veiled.

There has been the typical excuse-making for the mindless violence we have seen overseas. Easy suggestions that the torching of buildings and the threats of violence against individuals is somehow understandable -- or an equal reaction to the publication of a silly cartoon.

These mad radicals should be denounced unreservedly, not issued with alibis.

Publishing the cartoon is about as clever as a university prank. But the reaction it has invited is something else altogether.

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