Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Everybody can play the Muhammad game, not just Jihadis.

Today Condi offered her two cents on the whole Muhammad cartoons issue. She ashed out at Syria and Iran saying both countries, "Have gone out of their way to inflame sentiments and to use this to their own purposes and the world ought to call them on it. There are governments that have used this opportunity to incite violence." [Reuters]

What the hell is she talking about? What evidence is there that the Syrian government was behind the torching of the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Damascus the other day? That just doesn't make any sense. It looks like they aren't the only ones using this cartoon issue "to their own purposes." I'm not saying that Bashar Assad & Co. are innocent victims of US imperial policy, they're complete thugs and crooks, but this type of pointlessly bellicose rhetoric doesn't help dail down the tension over the issue.

Iran, on the other hand, is another matter. Obvioulsy, this whole cartoon controversy plays right into Ahmadinejad's hands. As I said yesterday at LTAD "On the heels of the IAEA voting to refer Iran to the Security Council, this must be a Godsend (No pun intended) for his regime, who without the IAEA and the cartoons would have to actually deal with its real problems of an economy unable to absorb an exploding population of young and unemployed Iranians hungry for freedom and Western electronics."

I say we just ignore Iran for a while and let Ahmadinejad focus on banning Western music and making young Iranian women cover up. I still say its only a matter of time before Ayatollah Khamenei gets tired of Ahmadinejad's big mouth and bungling and lets Rafsanjani start running the show again.

King Abullah II on freedon of the press:

W. met up with our good democratic friend, His Majesty King Abdullah II today and AFT reports:

"Bush discussed the Muslim reaction to cartoons with Jordan's King Abdullah...and said it was 'a topic that requires a lot of discussion and a lot of sensitive thought. We believe in a free press, and also recognize that with freedom comes responsibilities. With freedom comes the responsibility to be thoughtful about others,' Bush said. But, he added: 'We reject violence as a way to express discontent with what may be printed in a free press.'"

For his part, Abdullah said, "With all respect to press freedoms, obviously anything that vilifies the Prophet Mohammad, peace be upon him, or attacks Muslim sensibilities I believe needs to be condemned."

What he didn't mention in front of Bush was his government's arrest of Jihad Momani, editor-in-chief of the weekly gossip newspaper Shihane, who had the temirity to publish the offending cartoons.

In addition the AFP reports that Jordanian "authorities also pledged to 'open an investigation' into a smaller tabloid called Al-Mehwar which printed the caricatures in its January 26 edition...'The fact alone that this weekly (Al-Mehwar) reproduced these cartoons renders its editor-in-chief Hashem al-Khalidi responsible before the law,' the source said. 'Khalidi's arrest is only a matter of time,' he added."

It's good to see democracy and freedom of speech is alive and well in the Kingdom of Jordan.


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