Archive | Mohammed Cartoons

7-Year Blasphemy Sentences Earlier This Year in Tunisia, for Posting Mohammed Cartoons

I missed this story when it happened in April 2012:

Two young Tunisians have been sentenced to seven years in prison for posting cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad on Facebook ….

The two were sentenced to seven years in prison for a “violation of morality, and disturbing public order,” said Chokri Nefti, a Justice Ministry spokesman….

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Discussion of the Mohammed Cartoons Not “Speech Involv[ing] Matters of Public Interest or Concern”?

Today’s Kentucky Court of Appeals decision in Mendez v. Univ. of Kentucky Bd. of Trustees contained an odd bit of analysis that I thought I’d mention. Here’s the fact pattern:

The precipitating event leading up to the cessation of [Fullmer] Mendez’s employment at the College of Health Sciences occurred on March 27, 2006. One morning he was assigned to work on the computer of Dr. Susan Effgen, a professor at the College. She had experienced repeated problems with her computer. After looking at the computer, Mendez decided that he could not fix it until the next day. He informed her and went to lunch. When he returned from lunch, [Bambang] Sutardjo, as his supervisor, asked about the repair of the computer. After Mendez told him that the computer would not be fixed until the next day, Sutardjo told him to finish the work on the computer now because Mendez did not have the authority to determine turnaround time. Mendez replied that he was not trying to create new policy. Then, Sutardjo said he did not want Mendez to work in the department any longer.

But Mendez proffers a different reason for his dismissal. He maintains that the reason for his termination was not based on his failure to work on Effgen’s computer in a timely fashion, but rather, his termination resulted from a disagreement with Sutardjo, which Mendez believes was the cause of his termination. The parties’ religious backgrounds are as follows: Mendez was born and raised Catholic, and Sutardjo was a member of the Islamic religion. Mendez knew Sutardjo’s religion because at one time he had been invited to Sutardjo’s home for dinner at the conclusion of Ramadan. Sutardjo intimated that while he was not sure of Mendez’s religious beliefs, he thought that he was Christian or Catholic.

According

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Latest Mohammed Cartoon Controversy, this Time in South Africa

The cartoon — Mohammed on a couch, complaining that “OTHER prophets have followers with a sense of humour!” (apparently referring to the controversy over Everybody Draw Muhammad Day — is here; it was published in the Mail & Guardian last Friday. The South African Council of Muslim Theologians tried to enjoin the publication of the cartoon, but the court didn’t grant an injunction. For more on the story, see this column by the Mail & Guardian‘s editor; the cartoonist is promising a follow-up cartoon tomorrow.

Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer. For my earlier posts on the original Muhammad cartoons controversy, and follow-ups to it, see here.

UPDATE: I’m sorry to say that the Mail & Guardian has apologized, and basically promised not to do it again, certainly during “the review period” but I suspect afterwards as well: [...]

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Minnesota Prosecutors Decline to Charge Man for Posting Anti-Islam Cartoons Outside Mosque, Somali-Owned Store, and Other Places

The St. Cloud Times reports, and includes the letters from the prosecutors, one from the Stearns County and the other from Benton County. (Too bad more news outlets don’t include or point to the original documents this way.) Minnesota Public Radio has more factual details, noting that the “cartoons [were] posted on a couple of utility poles.”

The materials apparently depicted, among other things, “Muhammad defecating on the Koran, Mohammed discussing engaging in sexual relations with a child (purportedly his wife), and Mohammed engaging in sexual relations with animals.” There was apparently some argument that those images constituted obscenity, because of their sexual or excretory content, but the prosecutors rejected this. One concluded that, “When viewed as a whole, those images do not appear to have been distributed or displayed for sexual gratification or sexual interest,” and therefore the elements of the obscenity weren’t met. The other concluded that, even if the material “appeals to a prurient interest in sex and depicts sexual conduct in an offensive manner,” it nonetheless had “political … value” and thus couldn’t constitute obscenity.

The Stearns County prosecutor also rejected the theory that the pamphlet constituted a “hate crime.” (The other prosecutor didn’t discuss this.)

There is no specific crime in Minnesota called a ‘hate crime.’ Rather, there are specific offences, including Assault, Criminal Damage to Property, and Stalking/Harassment, that when committed because of the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., carry enhanced penalties. Since this individual’s conduct does not rise to the level of [those offenses], none of the enhanced penalties would apply in this case.

The Benton County prosecutor likewise rejected the theory that the pamphlet constitutes criminal defamation. (Again, the other prosecutor didn’t discuss this.)

[A state] statute renders it a crime to communicate … anything which exposes a person, class or

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Bruce Bawer on the Muhammad Cartoon Attack

Follow up to Eugene’s post on the Muhammad Cartoon attack … see Bruce Bawer’s article in City Journal, “While Europe Sneered.” And although I received a comp copy of the Voltaire Project printing of the cartoons, I have ordered a paid copy and have requested that my school’s library order the book.  Please consider doing the same.  When I am in Paris, I make a point of visiting the Pantheon to lay flowers at Voltaire’s tomb.

Now I have a question … I have been finishing a section of my book on UN-US relations on the US-Egypt expression-religion provision offered by the Obama administration a few months ago as part of its “engagement” policy in the UN Human Rights Council.  I am critical, to say the least, as will surprise no one.  I have also read lots and lots and lots on the whole religion-speech controversy in the UN, going back to its origins up to its current argument.  But I want to be sure to cover the bases.  What would readers point me to as the best articles or discussions on this issue, specifically at the UN?  Academic or otherwise?

Also, side note, does anyone know who or what office at State was responsible for coming up with this language?  Was it developed out of the UN mission?  I thought it was the assistant secretary for human rights, democracy, labor, but perhaps I am wrong.  What office was responsible for developing this language? [...]

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Muhammad: The Banned Images

The most recent instance of self-censorship of the Mohammed cartoons, because of fear of violent reaction, should remind us all of the importance of Voltaire Press’s Muhammad: The Banned Images.

Please support Voltaire Press’s project by (1) urging your library (public or university) to buy the book so as to make it more available to the public, (2) buying the book yourself, or (3) publicizing the book. I sadly note that a Lexis search for “Muhammad: The Banned Images” found no newspaper stories about the book.

UPDATE: Thanks to commenter Mark J. Nelson, I have learned that the book is owned by the university libraries at Stanford, Boston College, George Mason, and Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio, and by the public library in Princeton, New Jersey. [...]

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Index on Censorship (“Britain’s Leading Organisation Promoting Freedom of Expression) Self-Censors in Article About Yale University Press’s Self-Censorship

The Index of Censorship ran an interview with Jytte Klausen, which was titled (at least in the online version) “See No Evil,” and began this way:

Jytte Klausen talks to Index on Censorship about her new book on the Danish cartoons crisis and discusses why it was published without any illustrations

Jytte Klausen’s book The Cartoons That Shook the World (published by Yale University Press) is the first scholarly examination of the notorious controversy that erupted in 2006. Klausen is a respected scholar: she won the Carnegie Scholars Award for her research on Muslims in Europe and is professor of comparative politics at Brandeis University in the US. Three years ago, she set out to unravel the genesis of the debacle and to analyse the cartoons and their impact. Last summer, several months before publication, Yale University Press unexpectedly took the decision not to publish the cartoons in her book. After reading Klausen’s manuscript in the spring, the director of the press, John Donatich, was ambivalent about republishing the cartoons: on grounds of taste, offence and the possibility that it might reignite the conflict. He also noted that the cartoons were available for readers to see online. He consulted Yale University who assembled an advisory panel of diplomats, academics and US and UK counter-terrorism officials who advised that there was a strong chance of violence breaking out if the cartoons were published. Klausen was told that she could only read the gagging order. Not only were the cartoons removed from the book, but historic illustrations of Mohammed that Klausen had wanted to include to illustrate her thesis were also omitted. When the story leaked to the American press last summer, Yale was widely criticised for undermining academic freedom. Christopher Hitchens described it as “the latest and perhaps the worst episode [...]

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Muhammad: The “Banned” Images

I’m pleased to be the first to report that the newly founded Voltaire Press at Duke University has just published Muhammad: The “Banned” Images. The book includes all the images that were omitted by the Yale University Press from Jytte Klausen’s The Cartoons That Shook the World — including the 12 Mohammed cartoons — plus many more historically significant items (a total of 31), together with brief discussions of the context behind each work. The images, reproduced in high quality and in full color, include works by William Blake, Gustave Dore, and Salvador Dali, as well as Muslim artists from the Ottoman, Safavid, and Mughal empires.

If you’re interested in reading the book, you can order it here. [UPDATE: Amazon has the book listed as "Temporarily out of stock," but the publisher assures me that copies are available and are being shipped by Amazon; so you can just ignore the message and order the book, and you'll get it promptly.] You can also ask your local public or university library for it, which I think will increase the chances that the library will buy it, and make it available not just to you but to others.

The book includes an Introduction by Prof. Gary Hull, Director of the Program on Values and Ethics in the Marketplace at Duke University, who has been the driving force behind the book. It also includes as an afterword, a Statement of Principle, which I am honored to have been asked to sign. (The Statement is followed by a disclaimer that “The above signatories agree with the ideas expressed in the Statement of Principle. However, they were not involved in the creation of Muhammad: The “Banned Images”, and have no responsibility for its contents.” I think this disclaimer is sound, among [...]

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