The h2g2 Post 09.02.06

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Posted: 9th February 2006



The Free Press

I suppose smiley - thepost is a newspaper, if a rather specialised one serving a rather specialised audience. This has got me wondering what I would do if I were the editor of the Danish paper that published the now-famous Muslim cartoons. In September, Jyllands-Posten published 12 cartoons by different artists that portrayed the Prophet Muhammad, something that is strictly forbidden by Islamic law. As a result, violence against the Danish and Jyllands-Posten has erupted throughout the world — particularly in the Middle East. Danish embassies have been torched and Danish flags burnt. In addition, other papers in Europe have come under fire for their decisions to reprint the cartoons as an act of solidarity. The editor of one French tabloid was fired for choosing to reprint the cartoons.

This all makes me think about what we would do if one of our cartoons were to come under similar fire. Of course, we're not exactly in the same position as the Danish paper: we are not an entirely unconstrained press while we belong to the BBC and so we can't risk the possibility that something might offend. But the dilemma still exists, that fine line between free expression and offence that it is sometimes quite difficult to tread. While it's impossible not to recognise the insult that the cartoons have sent to the Muslim world, it's hardly reasonable to call for the cartoonists to be beheaded as some Muslim leaders have done. The difference between two contrasting cultures once again has reared its head.

It seems that all this paper can do is hope that the current crisis is resolved so that tolerance may once again prevail.



















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