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Thursday, February 09, 2006 

Those cartoons: No more new laws.

The whole furore surrounding the cartoons of Muhammad keeps getting more and more complicated. While the Danish Imams which toured the middle east stirring up outrage took 3 other much more offensive images with them, which may well have had an impact on those now protesting, it's also been revealed that the man who authorised the cartoons travelled to the US to meet Daniel Pipes, a notorious neo-conservative.

Yesterday Imams met to demand yet more new laws, probably because they're not satisfied with the already much boosted incitement to religious hatred bill which passed through parliament last monday:

Faiz Siddiqi, the MAC's national convenor, said: "What is being called for is a change of culture. In any civilised society, if someone says, 'don't insult me', you do not, out of respect for them. Europe has a history of not treating minorities properly. The Holocaust is an example of that. The imagery being used today is the same kind that Hitler used against the Jews. Look where that ended up: in world war."

He said committee members would seek to meet editors and the PCC. Newspapers have so far declined to publish the offending cartoons. Mr Siddiqi called for that approach to be formalised.

"The PCC's code is voluntary. It is a benchmark of civility. It is a social contract. Why could it not be extended to cover Muslims?"

This would be the same Holocaust which the Muslim Council of Britain continues to boycott the remembrance of, because they feel that it's too "exclusive". The casual comparison with Nazi Germany does not really work. The Nazis used the electoral system to gain power, at the same time spreading fear on the streets and smearing the Communists for the Reichstag fire, then abolished it. Freedom of speech was stamped out, and propaganda was drilled into the people on a daily basis. None of those things are happening in the main European countries. What has instead happened has been a series of overreactions - first to the original cartoons and then the so-called "solidarity" response of other countries press in reprinting them. No newspaper in this country has reprinted the cartoons, and that's the way it should stay. There is no need for the PCC code to be extended. It should also not cover Muslims, in that it also does not cover any other religions sensibilities.

The leader of Hezbollah today also called for new laws to be passed by the European parliament, which would ban the insulting of Muhammad. Such advice should be ignored. The man who seems to have put it best is Kofi Annan. Freedom of speech does entail "exercising responsibility and judgement", but that is up to the person, not governments, mobs or protestors to realise.

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