Cartoon capers

It beggars belief that the population of London, let alone Islamabad, is reading Danish cartoons as a matter of course. I bet the Danish speaking population of London can be numbered in the hundreds and, in Pakistan, I’d be surprised if there are more than a handful of speakers of Danish as a second language. So, the whole furore was blatantly manufactured.

All the same, to be honest, I am a bit ambivalent about this. Today, four people were jailed for 6 years each for their parts in an anti-Danish-cartoon demo. The serious response strikes me as a little like the cartoon fury in the first place.

I would never possibly condone mad anti-infidel ranting. I find the content of what teh men said deeply disturbing and even sufficient to drive me to rage. All the same, people often shout rubbish on demonstrations, carried away by the atmosphere and the pleasure of getting their rhetoric listened to. (Or you can probably replace “often” by “always”.) Who is listening except the other demonstrators?

I feel that the UK government seems hell-bent on radicalising Muslims, through the unintended consequences of its actions. As was reported yesterday, half of all people detained under the anti-terrorism act were released without charge. So, at least half these people detained under the anti-terror legislation were innocent and were held under the most serious charges imaginable.

Every one of these non-guilty people has family and friends and associates. All of whom will now have reason to mistrust the British state. Can you imagine a more effective way of turning them against UK society? Internment didn’t work against the IRA. It just radicalised Northern Irish Catholics. It misled self-defined Irish-Americans into thinking their kin were under attack so they willingly supplied weapons and funded war in Northern Ireland, at a cost of many English and Northern Irish lives. (Oddly, UK governments didn’t feel justified in attacking the US because of the existence of NORAID.) But, here we are – going down the same unwise route, interning Muslims and giving excuses to genuine terrorist leaders to get more support from the sort of thick people who can be riled to rioting by cartoons published in a place they have never previously heard of.

Now, add a few new martyrs to the mix (cartoon demonstrators.) They were talking s^it. Offensive s^it. They didnt actually do anything. If any of them actually did anything, then they would be facing a lot tougher charges. I would have thought a caution or probation or something of that nature would have effectively put a stop to it.

We want security. Surely, the best way to achieve it is stop polarising our society. Stop making martyrs.

Sorry, in ranting, I’ve missed the basic premise of this blogpost, which is that Wikipedia seems unwilling to go down the Salman Rushdie route. The Guardian report of the jailing of the demonstrators has a link that says The cartoons can be seen on wikipedia. But click on the link and you get to a which says

Image:Jyllands-Posten Muhammad drawings.jpg
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No file by this name exists; you can upload it. For more information, please see the file’s log.
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The following pages on the English Wikipedia link to this file (pages on other projects are not listed):
* Talk:Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy/Archive 12b
* Talk:Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy/Arguments/Image-Display
* User:Jeremygbyrne/Cartoon Arguments Images
* Image talk:Jyllands-Posten-pg3-article-in-Sept-30-2005-edition-of-KulturWeekend-entitled-Muhammeds-ansigt.png

not one of which brings up anything.