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Last Updated: Thursday, 2 February 2006, 12:51 GMT
Prophet cartoon debate rages on
Arabic press

As the controversy over the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad spreads from Denmark across Europe, Arabic newspapers are divided in their verdicts on how the Islamic world should respond.

Some papers celebrate the Arabic boycott of Danish products and say that freedom of speech cannot justify insulting Islam, while another warns that continued European support of the Danish daily could spark "a large-scale religious war".

Others, however, question the reaction in the Arab world, with one editorial arguing that withdrawing embassy officials from Denmark smacks of "exaggeration and one-upmanship".

ALI AL-TU'AYMAT IN QATAR'S AL-WATAN

The outcome of the popular boycott of Danish products across the Arab and Islamic worlds has had a very serious effect. This affirms the importance of this weapon [the boycott] which the US has taken away from the Arabs in their fight against the Israeli entity.

TURKI AL-AZIMI IN KUWAIT'S AL-RA'Y AL-AM

The great fear pervading Denmark as a result of the boycott has made us happy... But the strange matter is that although the Muslim world began a boycott of Danish products for insulting the Prophet, it has not boycotted American products for soiling the Koran!

YUSUF AL-QABLAN IN SAUDI ARABIA'S AL-RIYAD

What the Danish newspaper has done is a flagrant violation of the UN conventions and laws, and freedom of expression does not justify insulting people's feelings and beliefs.

SAMIR RAJAB IN EGYPT'S AL-JUMHURIYAH

The issue [of publishing the cartoons] is no longer an issue of freedom of thought, or freedom of expression or belief, but rather a conspiracy hatched against Islam and Muslims, the preparations for which began many years ago. Be sure that unless practical and common measures are adopted... the campaign will increase in ferocity and the conspiracy will in time bear fruit.

MUHAMMAD KHARRUB IN JORDAN'S AL-RA'Y

It is high time for those who talk about freedom of expression to abandon these shameful and disgraceful methods... and be more in harmony with themselves and with international law and human rights declarations.

SAUDI ARABIA'S AL-WATAN

Any attempt by the European press to show solidarity with the Danish newspaper... will be considered as a very dangerous move aimed at igniting a large-scale international religious war.

UK-BASED AL-ARAB AL-ALAMIYAH

The printing of offensive cartoons by the Danish newspaper is an insult to Islam and has crystallized the conflict between Europe and the Arabs.

MAHIRAH FU'AD JUWAYJAN IN JORDAN'S AL-RA'Y

The attack in the disgraceful cartoons in the Danish newspapers reflects the weakness of our Arab and Islamic nations... This insolence exceeded its limits when our Holy Koran was torn in the prisons of Guatemala [sic] and Israel.

BAHRAIN'S AKBAR AL-KHALIJ

There are numerous calls in the Arab world for severing relations with Denmark and some countries have actually withdrawn their ambassadors for consultation... These calls are based more on exaggeration and one-upmanship than on motives and logic.

SATI NUR AL-DIN IN LEBANON'S AL-SAFIR

This story brings back to mind Salman Rushdie's "Satanic Verses", in which he deliberately insulted Islam. But he gave Khomeini a golden opportunity to use this trivial book against Iranian revolutionaries who were calling for reconciliation with the West... But the Arabs and Muslims who are moving today against Denmark, its products and embassies are failing to exploit the cartoon issue for any political purpose.

FATIH ABD AL-SALAM IN IRAQ'S AL-ZAMAN

What is really interesting here is that in the apology he published, the editor-in-chief of the paper hinted that the pictures had in fact been published four months earlier... The man must have been puzzled at so belated a reaction, probably because he was not aware that many an [Arab or Muslim] embassy has any other function than to... serve as convenient resorts for pleasure-seeking politicians whenever these feel like going on spending sprees, lavishly frittering away money that could otherwise be used to alleviate part of the squalor that has become a hallmark of the Muslim nation, in whose defence they have now risen so valiantly, but only four months after the event.

BBC Monitoring selects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaus abroad.





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