Monday, November 07, 2005

"What we got here is a failure to communicate..." 

Egypt is breaking off its "dialogue" with Denmark on human rights and discrimination because its government is an ass.


Egypt's ambassador in Libanon, Hussein Darrar, told news service AFP that Egypt had decided not to continue its dialogue with Denmark on human rights and discrimination.

The Egyptian ambassador in Denmark requested, along with ten other ambassadors of Muslim states, to meet with Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to discuss daily newspaper Jyllands-Posten's decision to print twelve caricatures of the prophet, an act considered blasphemous by many Muslims.

Rasmussen refused to meet with the ambassdors [sic], saying that if they thought he had any power to influence what a national newspaper did and printed, the essence of Danish democracy had been lost on them.

The eleven ambassadors in question are either being disingenuous ("You mean the government doesn't control the media? A thousand pardons, we did not know!") or ignorant ("You mean the government doesn't control the media? Then what is the purpose of the media?").

"The Egyptian ambassador in Denmark has said that the case no longer rests with the embassy. It is now being treated at an international level. As far as I have been informed by my government, the cartoon case has already been placed on the agenda for the Islamic Conference Organisation's extraordinary summit in the beginning of December," [Egyptian Embassy Councillor Mohab Nasr Mostafa] Mahdy said.

If the Cartoon Eleven are being disingenuous, I'm not sure what they hope to gain by this ploy... I can't imagine any westerner of any political persuasion being at all moved by their indignation, so it's safe to assume that all of this grandstanding is for domestic consumption. But let's say I'm an ordinary Egyptian Muslim. Do I care if a little newspaper in a tiny little Christian country commits blasphemy? I don't see that it would make a damn bit of difference to me. Which might, perhaps, just prove me as ignorant of ordinary Egyptian Muslims as their government is of the notion of a free press, but based on the Egyptian Muslims I've known I don't think that's the case. (On the other hand, the only Egyptian Muslims I've known have been immigrants to America or Denmark, and since the average Egyptian obviously doesn't emigrate, my sample is obviously skewed.)

If they're not being disingenous and the desire to see punitive action taken against Jyllands-Posten or Denmark itself is as strong and sincere as it's being made out to be, then we've got a really, really dangerous failure to communicate on our hands.

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