We would have preferred demonstrations in the Arab-Muslim world to be limited to a pacific expression and not to be aggressive acts like the attacks against Danish embassies and consulates. It’s true these are regrettable and unjustified acts, but we understand the irritation of the 1.5 billion Muslims after the publication of the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed. These are irresponsible drawings which reflect a racist view that encourages hate against Islam.
To boycott the products of the “aggressor” countries is a civilized and legal act. In addition, this kind of boycott can have a considerable influence. It’s the most effective mean to pressure the Western capitalist governments. In this same context, the press should show its ethical responsibility preventing the consequences of its publications. From this point of view, these caricatures reflect a blatant ignorance and a provocative tendency to humiliate not only Muslims but all those who believe in a civilized dialogue.
The Islamophobia phenomenon has been increased since September 11 attacks. It’s been reflected in the racist attacks through the right wing media in Europe. The editor in chief of the Danish journal that published the caricatures should have put an end to the problem by apologizing to the Muslim community but he preferred to do the contrary. Even worse, for months later he has published them again trying to humiliate the community in question. The freedom of expression does not mean freedom to offend. If we had accused Jesus or Moses for terrorism, more people would have taken the streets of the world even in the Arab-Muslim countries because Islam recognizes and respect the other religions and prophets.
We know the editor in chief of a newspaper has the right to prevent the publication of a product. Besides, newspapers and other media receive thousands of articles, letters and commentaries every day that they choose not to publish. A British newspaper can’t, for instance, accusse somebody of being a terrorist if it does not have enough evidences.
To attack a person is a crime. To attack, humiliate and treat prophet Mohammed like a terrorist is just freedom of expression. However, it did not prevent the arrest of imam Abu Hamza Al Massri, accussed of inciting Muslims to hatred. At the same time, this freedom of expression was not invoked when writer David Irving was arrested in Austria for questioning the Holocaust, etc.
It’s true that freedom of expression must be stimulated and protected but what’s unacceptable is to allow some racists to use it as Trojan horse.

Al Quds Al Arabi (United Kingdom)

! حرية تعبير ام حرية الاساءة”, by Abdel Bari Atouan, Al Quds Al Arabi, February 6, 2006.