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Swedish Cartoon in Hiding for Insulting Prophet Mohammed (UPDATED)

In what appears to be a sequel to last year’s Dutch Mohammed cartoon, al-Qaida groups inside Iraq are offering rewards for the killing of a Swedish cartoonist, Lars Vilks, and his newspaper editor after they published a drawing of the Prophet Mohammed’s head on the body of a dog sculpture. The bounty is $150,000 for the death of the cartoonist, $50,000 for the editor.

“We are calling for the assassination of cartoonist Lars Vilks who dared insult our Prophet … and we announce a reward during this generous month of Ramadan,” al-Baghdadi said, according to transcripts of Islamic Web sites.

According to the Daily Times of Pakistan, the Algeria’s ambassador has condemned the threats, but the Swedish police have put the artist under their protection at a secret location and he’s not allowed to return home.

UPDATE: The AAEC has responded with comments from its officers Ted Rall and Nick Anderson:

“It will come as a surprise to no one that al-Qaida opposes the concept of freedom of expression,” said the Houston Chronicle cartoonist, when contacted by E&P. “In the Western world, the appropriate response to offensive speech is more speech. But then, we wouldn’t be at war if al-Qaida embraced Western thinking.”

Anderson, a 2005 Pulitzer Prize winner, added: “My colleague, AAEC Vice President Ted Rall, quipped, ‘It’s about time someone was willing to pay real money for a cartoonist.'”

Rall also said wryly: “Anyone who doubts political cartoons are powerful should note that al-Qaida is trying to silence political cartoonists. Fire a cartoonist — refuse to hire a cartoonist — and the terrorists have won.”

Community Comments

#1 Charles Brubaker
September/18/2007
@ 10:19 am

“Fire a cartoonist â?? refuse to hire a cartoonist â?? and the terrorists have won.”

I won’t argue with that!

#2 JeffM
September/18/2007
@ 11:23 pm

Hmmm…maybe some on the left will quit defending these people. If they (islamofascist) win this war, it will become a hellish nightmare on earth…..for everyone..

Death over a cartoon? This has nothing to do with foreign policy, or President Bush….

They hate us and want us wiped off the face of the earth. It’s that simple.

Does anyone else find this worthy of concern, especially since they have cells operating all over the world, including the US?

I really pity the cartoonist. These people will not stop until he is dead. His life will never be the same.

#3 JeffM
September/18/2007
@ 11:23 pm

Hmmm…maybe some on the left will quit defending these people. If they (islamofascist) win this war, it will become a hellish nightmare on earth…..for everyone..

Death over a cartoon? This has nothing to do with foreign policy, or President Bush….

They hate us and want us wiped off the face of the earth. It’s that simple.

Does anyone else find this worthy of concern, especially since they have cells operating all over the world, including the US?

I really pity the cartoonist. These people will not stop until he is dead. His life will never be the same.

#4 Muslims Against Sharia
September/19/2007
@ 2:36 am

Muslims Against Sharia praise the courage of Lars Vilks, Ulf Johansson, Thorbjorn Larsson and the staff of Nerikes Allehanda and Dagens Nyheter and condemn threats issued by Abu Omar Al Baghdadi and the Islamic State of Iraq. Muslims Against Sharia will provide a payment of 100,000kr (about $15,000) for the information leading to capture or neutralization of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi.

Muslimer mot Sharia berömmer Lars Vilks, Ulf Johansson, Torbjörn Larsson och övriga anställda på Nerikes Allehanda och Dagens Nyheter för deras tapperhet och fördömer hotet från Abu Omar Al Baghdadi och Islamistiska Iraq. Muslimer mot Sharia betalar 100 000 SEK (ca 15 000$) för information som leder till gripande eller oskadligörande av Abu Omar Al Baghdadi.

Muslims Against Sharia

#5 Rick Stromoski
September/19/2007
@ 4:49 am

>>>>Hmmmâ?¦maybe some on the left will quit defending these people.

Religious extremism in all it’s forms is the greatest threat to world peace we face. That being said, deliberately confusing criticism of how to fight this threat with supporting extremists componds the polarization we now face as a country and does nothing to effectively solve the problem. Once the supporters of this ill advised and failure of a war understand this and admit that the invasion of a country that had nothing to do wth 911 was a collosal mistake, perhaps we can effectively embark on a new strategy that doesn’t involve dumping lives and treasure down a never ending sinkhole.

#6 Barlogea
September/19/2007
@ 7:28 am

“These people will not stop until he is dead.”

Or until THEY are dead.

#7 JeffM
September/20/2007
@ 11:56 pm

Rick, extremist in any walk of life are dangerous. In fact, Atheist extremist hold the record to date on human deaths and suffering.

Lenin, Stalin, Pol Pot, Ho Chi Min, Kim Jong ll, Mao, Castro et al, have been responsible for more deaths than all religious fanatics, world wars and conflicts combined. Though numbers cannot be confirmed, they are estimated in 100 millions if not more, and thats in the 20th Century alone.

These religion-free utopias have done nothing but spawned death, pestilence and the worst human suffering imaginable. Religous extremist haven’t even come close.

#8 Rick Stromoski
September/21/2007
@ 5:12 am

Dogmatic leaders murder in the name of their political dogma not because of their lack in belief in a supernatural diety. Trying to tie atheism as a cause of their crimes is like equating to the fact they committed their atrocities because most of them had facial hair.

Besides this is a straw man argument that has been dismissed time and again on this and many other forums.

#9 JeffM
September/21/2007
@ 9:25 am

Sorry Rick, you are wrong. These men outlawed religion and killed anyone who worshipped a diety. Their stuggle to make government and themselves the “almighty” were the very reason they murdered millions of innocent people. It’s going on in China as we speak.

These arguments HAVE NOT been dismissed (and it they have been attempted, it’s by atheist in denial). You seem to share their intolerance to people of faith. History still proves their dogmatic, murderous beliefs are driven by their atheistic views and the history books prove it.

#10 Rick Stromoski
September/21/2007
@ 11:03 am

One can set ones watch on how quickly the religious turn to this fictitious argument whenever religious fanacism is targeted.

Hitler, Stalin, and Mao both shared the distinguishing factor of religious persecution, dogma. One could not disagree with Mao; to do so was heresy against the communist party and subject to imprisonment, death, or exile. Just as it is in fundamentalist Islam and for centuries in the Christian faith, it is about unquestioning control.

Kim Jong Il is regarded as a Diety in N Korea. Same as the Emporer of Japan in ww2. The nazi’s wore belt buckles that translated “God is on our side”. Stalin used the persecutorial tactics of the church in which he studied as a seminary student as a blueprint for his reign of terror.

Sorry Jeff my boy, your argument doesn’t hold up historically.

#11 peter murphey
September/21/2007
@ 11:52 am

Rick,

You’re proving Jeff’s point. Persecution and dogma are not the exclusive realms of religion; they are the realms of human nature, which are practiced under many different tents. Religious fanaticism is one of them, but obviously not the only one. Secularists, atheists and religionists have all found ways to justify acts of mass murder. If one is counting, more people have been murdered under non-religious societies than under religious ones. That is an undisputable fact. So logic dictates that the greatest threat to society cannot just be religious extremism, since religion is not the common thread within the bulk of evils done to society. It may not just be extremism either, but that is a good starting place since it is a shared characteristic of almost all the horrors weâ??ve cited.

#12 peter murphey
September/21/2007
@ 12:15 pm

Just to add, since I didnâ??t address the Nazi belt buckle, the Emperor of Japan or Stalinâ??s seminary experiences, Japan didnâ??t go to war to spread or protect a religious doctrine, neither did Hitler. Both did for usual age-old reasons, power and territory. Stalin murdered people by the millions purely for his own paranoid self-protection, as he thought everyone was out to overthrow or challenge him. He ruled by fear and terror. Itâ??s possible he learned a few tactics in seminary school but his motivations were not religious in any sense. Unquestioning control is what all dictators have desired and practiced throughout history , it is democratic societies that offered the alternative to this practice not secular
ones.

#13 Wiley Miller
September/22/2007
@ 6:33 am

I’m a fundamentalist agnostic radical, which means we’re really, really, really, really not sure, but believe we have the right… nay, OBLIGATION, to strap bombs on Jehovah’s Witnesses who knock on our door.

#14 Rick Stromoski
September/22/2007
@ 8:06 am

Peter you’r ejust parrotting my point. Secular dictators do not commit their crimes against humanity in the name of atheism. Islamic fundamentalists certainly commit their atrocities because of their belief in God.

Your quote”Unquestioning control is what all dictators have desired and practiced throughout history , it is democratic societies that offered the alternative to this practice not secular
ones.”

The United States was founded as a secular state. Democratic states are secular by nature.

#15 Chris
September/22/2007
@ 11:41 am

Look, you are just saying the same thing in different ways. Here’s the facts:
Dictators commit atrocities.
Some commit atrocities in the name of their religion.
Other commit atrocities for other reasons.
Most democratic societies have freedom of religion and thus are secular as a society.
However, not all secular societies are democratic.

#16 JeffM
September/22/2007
@ 1:39 pm

Rick, you obviously never read our own Declaration of Independence, or the Communist Manifesto.

One of the foundations of communism is denial of a supreme being, for which Marx taught believing in one was dangerous. Marx believed man was supreme, and government was the giver of all things. Communism and atheism are one in the same. Communism cannot function in a religious society.

One of the teaching of Pol Pot’s Khmer Rouge was “Angkar” (The Organization or government) was to replace God. To believe in a God meant certain death. Families were destroyed. Children were taken from parents and taught Angkar was their new God and caregiver.

Kampuchea was just one small example of atheist fundamental extremism, yet it was responsible for some of the worst crimes against humanity to date, 7.5 million people murdered. No religious group has killed that many people yet.

#17 Rick Stromoski
September/23/2007
@ 7:13 am

>>>Communism and atheism are one in the same.

Bagels are round and have holes in the center as do donuts so bagels and donuts are one in the same.

#18 Wiley Miller
September/23/2007
@ 7:42 am

And all cartoonists draw cartoons, therefore, all cartoonists are the same.

Hey, who needs nuance or critical thinking? That’s, like, too much work, dude. Simplicity rules!

#19 Eric Burke
September/23/2007
@ 8:02 am

There isn’t a bagel in the world that can compare to a Boston Creme donut…or the variation where they put chocolate in the middle instead of cream. Pure genius…

#20 John Walker
September/23/2007
@ 9:02 am

A person’s religious beliefs, (and actions that stem therefrom) are based on “faith”, not truth.

Faith is belief, not truth.

But you can believe whatever you want. Hence Christians, Muslims, Jews, Wiccans and all the rest of the religious panoplea. They all just believe whatever they want to believe.

That disconnection from actual truth makes religion the most pure evil that exists. Because any belief, no matter how horrible, (all people who don’t worship some white guy named “jesus” are sinners and the devil’s work, say) becomes your “truth” and justifies your doing whatever you want in its name.

My own belief is that all the religious people in the world should be put somewhere to fight it out amongst themselves (Greenland seems like a good choice – lots of water and fish).

And the rest of us people who don’t want to constantly fight all the time over imaginary “gods” can start work trying to repair the world from the damage religious people have done.

That’s my fervently held faith, a just as valid and “true” as anyone else’s. I pray every day it may come to pass. Can I hear an “Amen!”…

#21 peter murphey
September/23/2007
@ 11:45 am

Rick,

Iâ??m just responding to your first assertion that â??Religious extremism in all itâ??s forms is the greatest threat to world peace we face.â? If you are referring to this current moment in history I would agree with you, with the distinction that itâ??s really Islamic extremism thatâ??s the threat to world peace at this moment. There arenâ??t too many Christians, Buddhists or Jews beheading and blowing up people to spread their religious ideas these days. If you are talking within all of history, the other major religions have all had their periods of wreaking havoc and committing atrocities in the name of their god, but it that would be factually inaccurate to state that religious extremism had been the greatest threat to world peace. The secularists and atheists win that contest hands down. And again, it wasnâ??t the secularism of societies that have made them good or bad (Stalinâ??s Russia was secular) but the democratic process or the absence thereof. Regardless as to whether you prefer donuts or bagels, it is true that atheism was one of the major principles of Communism and that can’t be dismissed in this discussion.

#22 peter murphey
September/23/2007
@ 12:49 pm

I see that Chris has summed up most of these points very succinctly. I would add one modification, which may account for the differing points of view; most democratic societies have freedom of religion but that makes them have a secular GOVERNMENT, not necessarily a secular SOCIETY. This is a very important distinction. The United States has always had a very religous society.

Democracies also make better donuts.

#23 Anne Hambrock
September/23/2007
@ 1:00 pm

Peter,
How happy I am to see someone make this point. A secular government is very important for a thriving democracy because many different religious points of view (including anti-religious ones) must be fairly represented. One man(woman), one vote means that no person gets more power on their side simply because their opinion may seem more enlightened or righteous.

When we export democracy to other parts of the globe, the often overlooked key componant is the separation of church and state – or in the case of communism – ideology and state. When those issues are not separate from government, usually all persons not affiliated with the presiding religion or ideology are inadequately represented.

#24 Chris
September/23/2007
@ 1:43 pm

Bingo, Peter.
You are absolutely right about how our government is secular, not our society. It’s an important point to make and my decision to use the word “society” rather than “government” completely changed the point as it came across to people reading it. My intent was to say that because our government allows for freedom of religion and separates church from state, it is secular. Our society is mostly religious here in America, as most people belong to a religious faith, although it could be argued that our society is becoming more and more secular.

Good point, Anne. I think that the reason that the democracies we are trying to start in places like Iraq are failing is because Americans have a solid principle of the separation of church and state, while in places like Iraq the thinking is different. Their society values religion as an important part of government. That’s why Iraq’s democratically elected legislature can’t get anything done, because everyone voted based on religion, not politics. That’s why their political parties are not based on conservatism and liberalism, but rather on Sunni or Shi’a or Kurd. So as much as we’d like it to, I don’t think that our form of government could succeed in Iraq, at least not right now, because these people will not accept one of the fundamental aspects of democracies — separation of church and state.

#25 peter murphey
September/23/2007
@ 1:58 pm

Why isn’t anyone addressing my more important point about donuts?

#26 JeffM
September/23/2007
@ 3:07 pm

Wiley and Rick,

Please use better analogies. Your’s are elementary at best and contribute nothing constructive to the discussion.

#27 Garey Mckee
September/23/2007
@ 3:19 pm

It seems like the majority of this discussion isn’t very constructive. I honestly don’t think it CAN be given the subject matter.

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