The Washington Post features an essay by Flemming Rose Why I Published Those Cartoons where he explains (once more) his reasons for publishing the cartoons. The same article is available from Jyllands-Posten.

On occasion, Jyllands-Posten has refused to print satirical cartoons of Jesus, but not because it applies a double standard. In fact, the same cartoonist who drew the image of Muhammed with a bomb in his turban drew a cartoon with Jesus on the cross having dollar notes in his eyes and another with the star of David attached to a bomb fuse. There were, however, no embassy burnings or death threats when we published those.

Has Jyllands-Posten insulted and disrespected Islam? It certainly didn't intend to. But what does respect mean? When I visit a mosque, I show my respect by taking off my shoes. I follow the customs, just as I do in a church, synagogue or other holy place. But if a believer demands that I, as a nonbeliever, observe his taboos in the public domain, he is not asking for my respect, but for my submission. And that is incompatible with a secular democracy.

This is similar to what Rose said a few days ago to Brookings Institution in Washington:

Rose said he had commissioned the drawings to trigger a debate on what he called a self-censorship in Denmark and elsewhere over issues of Islam and Muslims.
"There was a legitimate news story we had to cover and we chose to cover it in a not very ordinary way," he said, referring to a letter he sent in September to 40 cartoonists asking them to draw the prophet.

"My intention was to have them appear under their own name and go against this tendency to self-censorship," Rose told a panel discussion at the Washington-based Brookings Institution.

"I did not ask them to make (the prophet) a laughing stock or to mock him or to make fun of him.

But even though Rose doesn't mention it, Jyllands-Posten are not afraid to make fun of Christian dogma. Look at the front page from December 9th, 2000. This is much worse than any of the twelve "satanic cartoons". Mary's virginity is compared to Clinton's less-than-true statement, thus throwing doubt on Joseph's honesty, Mary's chastity, the immaculate conception, and by extension: Jesus' very claim to divinity. Just look at her eyes - these eyes would never lie. No more than Bill Clinton would.

The drawing is signed "Rasmus Sand Høyer".

I'm an atheist and an American. The issue is not whether the cartoons are offensive or not. The issue is that Muslims feel marginalized in Denmark. They are a down-trodden minority in Europe. Any provocation by white Europeans will be perceived by Muslims as an insult. You can "provoke" Christians and politicians because those groups are already comfortable and feel accepted by society. But if you poke at someone who feels alienated by society, they will feel pain.

I'm of Indian ancestry. When I travel thru Europe, I can feel people staring at me because of my brown skin. They think I'm a Muslim and they treat me like a 2nd class person. America isn't perfect, but it is a generation ahead of Europe in understanding the complexity of a multicultural society. I feel more comfortable in racist corners of America then I do in Paris or Berlin. And those cartoons would offend even me, an atheist, because of their hostile intention to provoke a tiny, poor minority group.
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