European citizens turn against media in cartoon row

Teresa Küchler

A majority of citizens in France and Norway believe that publishing the controversial caricatures of Islam's prophet Mohammed was wrong and a provocation by the media.

A poll published on Friday (10 February) in French newspaper "La Croix", show that 55 percent of French believe that publishing the cartoons did not serve to further the debate on free speech

The decision to print the cartoons was supported by 38 percent.

Some 35 percent of the participants in the poll said they did not understand the indignation felt by Muslim communities, while more than two thirds said the violence that followed the publication was a matter of great concern.

In Norway, the second country to publish the disputed cartoons, a poll showed that 57 percent of the people, most of them women, believed it was wrong to publish, while 30 percent believed the media had the right to publish.

Buy Danish

While protests against the cartoons take place in the streets around the Muslim world, acts of support for Denmark – where the cartoons were first published - have also started occurring.

In reaction to a consumer boycott of Danish products emanating from the Muslim world, the latest reports show that European "Buy Danish" campaigns continue to spread on Internet web logs.

A Google search for "Buy Danish!" on Friday (10 February) resulted in nearly 100.000 hits for web logs- personal sites.

"Please buy as many of their products as you possibly can," several of the web logs urge, while listing, amongst others, Danish food, clothes, designer items and toys.

"I set up this site because I see the boycott against the entire country of Denmark as misguided," a campaigner says on his web log.

The conflict is hitting Danish firms hard as their products are removed from supermarket shelves.

Danish-Swedish dairy company Arla Foods has seen its Middle East market, which it has cultivated over four decades, evaporate overnight. It estimates that it is losing €1.8 million in sales each day in the region.

Confusion at Danish paper

Meanwhile, Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper that first published the cartoons, on Friday announced that it has sent its cultural editor, Flemming Rose, on vacation, following confusion over a possible joint Danish-Iranian publication of caricatures about the Holocaust.

Earlier this week, Mr Rose told CNN that his paper was considering siding with an Iranian newspaper’s move to publish "funny caricatures" picturing the extermination of Jews during Word War II.

Jyllands-Posten’s leadership immediately denied considering such plans.

"Flemming Rose has admitted his mistake, and it should be taken into account that over the four past months he has been under inhumanly hard pressure, besieged by Danish as well as international media most of the day," Jyllands-Posten announced on Monday.

Published February 10, 2006, EU Observer

http://euobserver.com/9/20872

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