In 2005, the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons criticizing the virulent version of Islam, some of them depicting Muhamed. Four years later, more than a dozen Danish newspapers, in a joint response to Muslim violence and threats to free speech, republished the cartoons. Now, under threat of a lawsuit from Mohamed’s “descendants,” the Danish newspaper Politiken has apologized for offending Islamic sentiments.
The cowardice of Politiken is shameful, and a danger to free speech everywhere. Over at Slate, Christopher Hitchens, in excellent form, decries the attitude that religions should be uniquely immune to public criticism (note the wonderful title of his piece):
The thing would be ridiculous if it were not so hateful and had it not already managed to break the nerve of one Danish newspaper. In Ireland a short while ago, a law against blasphemy was passed, making it a crime to outrage the feelings not just of the country’s disgraced and incriminated Roman Catholic Church but of all believers. The same pseudo-ecumenical tendency can be found in the annual attempt by Muslim states to get the United Nations to pass a resolution outlawing all attacks on religion. It’s not enough that faith claims to be the solution to all problems. It is now demanded that such a preposterous claim be made immune from any inquiry, any critique, and any ridicule.