Position of the Democratic Club No. 34
On the Protests by Muslims against the Mohamed Cartoons
Mass protests by Muslims against cartoons depicting Mohammed are currently taking place in several countries. The cartoons were first published in September 2005 in a Danish periodical and later reprinted in other European publications for informational purposes. The disagreement by many Muslims is fully understandable. However, protests that lead to looting, arson, breaking of international law, and even to loss of life on both sides, must be rejected. The outbreak of demonstrations four months after the publication of the cartoons indicates that it is not so much the cartoons but just another action by Islamic extremists against the West. These demonstrations are carried out by manipulated masses when the individual's freedom (one of the basic principles of a democracy) is in conflict with the feeling of belonging to a certain ethnic or religious group. Nazism and Communism were founded on the basis of such a mass self-identification. The western world should avoid anything that could give an excuse for such actions, as was the publication of the cartoons. However it is obvious that it can do so only by appealing to its citizens to use the freedoms that form the basis of democracy with discretion and tact. Never should expressions such as those in the Danish press be criminalized, because this could inhibit any discussion (regardless what form it takes) among different ideologies. Introduction of press censure would have the same consequences. It is obvious that the governments or societies as such are not responsible for the content of public media. The Islamic instigators know that entirely well and this is why they assume that a fanaticized mob will not follow the rules of freedom and democracy and will not be open to reason. Individuals who are aware of it cannot oppose such mobs - it would a question of life and death for them. The European countries have their own experiences in this.
Governments of democratic countries cannot apologize for something that lies outside the sphere of their responsibility. They can only (and they should) tell the Muslims, that they do not intent to ridicule their faith. At the same time they should come forward against violence and demand compensation for the damage of their property, and also demand guarantees that similar actions will not take place again. We consider the tentative and equivocal reaction of some of the European governments not only to be an expression of weakness which can in the near future have unpleasant consequences for the whole western world, but also as a behavior not too different from that which led to the second World War. We do appreciate though the position taken by the Czech government, which called on the European Union and all its members to express solidarity with Denmark. The Democratic Club identifies fully with this position. Only such a stand gives our civilization a hope for survival.March 28, 2006
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