Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Dodgy Dossier

The pig image in the BBC report I highlighted earlier would appear to be from the dossier mentioned in this report from Der Spiegel (hat tip "anonymous" in the comments).
Twelve drawings of Muhammad printed in a major Danish newspaper have turned millions of Muslims against Denmark. But three images that had nothing to do with the campaign that were shown to Muslim leaders on a trip by a group of Muslims living in Denmark may have contributed to the angry reaction.
One group of Danish Muslims, led by a young imam named Ahmed Akkari, grew so frustrated by the inability of Muslims to get their message across in Denmark that they compiled a dossier of racist and culturally insensitive images circulating in the country and took them on an road show in the Arab World to raise awareness of the discrimination they faced.
Kaare Quist, a journalist at the Danish daily Ekstra Bladet, who has been reporting on the story for a number of weeks, says the group found a number of highly placed officials in the Arab World keen to listen to its message. Quist told SPIEGEL ONLINE they included representatives of the Arab League, Egypt's grand mufti and other high-level officials.
Quist says the dossier they shared in Egypt may have been far more damaging than the Jyllands Post episode -- and it may have further exacerbated misgivings between Denmark and the Arab world. In addition to the now notorious caricatures published by the newspaper which have now spread like wildfire in the blogosphere, it also included patently offensive anti-Muslim images that had been sent to the group by other Muslims living in Denmark. The origins or authenticity of the images haven't been confirmed, but their content was nevertheless damaging. Quist says the dossier included three obscene caricatures -- one showed Muhammad as a pedophile, another as a pig and the last depicted a praying Muslim being raped by a dog.

"The drawings in Jyllands Post were harmless compared to these," he says.

For his part, Akkari said the more outrageous images were clearly separated from those published by the paper when the group met with Muslim leaders. "They were at the back of the folder," he told Stiftstidende. By including them, the group sought to show the kind of hate they feel subjected to in Denmark.

Stoking the fire?

But Quist claims the group may also have perpetuated misunderstandings during its trip. The reporter says that Arabs who visited with the group later claimed Akkari's delegation had given them the impression that Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen somehow controlled or owned Jyllands Post.

"I believe that this misunderstanding was unintentional," Quist said, reviewing his research. "But I also think that they are also trying to profit from the agitation."
The Spiegel report also has this curiosity:
But sentiment against Denmark is strong. Earlier this week, Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Libya and Jordan, have staged loosely organized, impromptu boycotts that have led many companies, including France's Carrefour supermarket chain, to remove Danish products from their shelves.
So, before France Soir had published the cartoons other Frenchmen had already taken a more traditional response and surrendered just in case. And now this:
France Soir originally said it had published the images in full to show "religious dogma" had no place in a secular society. But late on Wednesday its owner, Raymond Lakah, said he had removed managing editor Jacques Lefranc "as a powerful sign of respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual".
Vive la Resistance.


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