Saturday, February 25, 2006

Sudan man forced to 'marry' goat

BBC reported A Sudanese man has been forced to take a goat as his "wife", after he was caught having sex with the animal.
At least it wasn't a pig. I don't know what the Muslims would have done.
The goat's owner, Mr Alifi, said he surprised the man with his goat and took him to a council of elders. They ordered the man, Mr Tombe, to pay a dowry of 15,000 Sudanese dinars ($50) to Mr Alifi. "We have given him the goat, and as far as we know they are still together," Mr Alifi said. Mr Alifi, Hai Malakal in Upper Nile State, told the Juba Post newspaper that he heard a loud noise around midnight on 13 February and immediately rushed outside to find Mr Tombe with his goat. "When I asked him: 'What are you doing there?', he fell off the back of the goat, so I captured and tied him up". Mr Alifi then called elders to decide how to deal with the case. "They said I should not take him to the police, but rather let him pay a dowry for my goat because he used it as his wife," Mr Alifi told the newspaper.


NYT Discovers Truth, Does Nothing

Captain's Quarters The New York Times's editorial board has finally recognized what its readers have known for at least two weeks -- that the violent protests, riots, arsons and murders committed in response to the publication of editorial cartoons criticizing Islam and Mohammed are meant to intimidate dhimmis into silence:

With every new riot over the Danish cartoons, it becomes clearer that the protests are no longer about the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, but about the demagoguery of Islamic extremists. The demonstrators are undeniably outraged by what they perceive as blasphemy. But radical Islamists are trying to harness that indignation to their political goals and their theocratic ends by fomenting hatred for the West and for moderate regimes in the Muslim world. These are dangerous games, and they require the most resolute response.

It is not the West that is most threatened in this crisis. The voices of moderation in the Muslim world are the ones that are being intimidated and silenced.
They are seeking to intimidate both the West AND the moderate muslims. They want to intimidate anyone that does not give them anything they want. They are like spoiled two year old children.
Those few journalists and leaders who have spoken out against the rioting have been vilified and assailed, and even jailed. According to a report by Michael Slackman and Hassan M. Fattah in The New York Times, 11 journalists in five Islamic countries face prosecution for printing some of the Danish cartoons, even when their purpose was to condemn them.
Note to Pinch and the folks at the Gray Lady: these protests were never about the caricatures themselves. These examples of lunacy have always been about silencing any criticism of Islam and Muslim societies, and have a direct philosophical relationship to other crimes, such as the murder of Theo Van Gogh and the fatwa issued against Salman Rushdie. These men have been martyred (Van Gogh literally so) for expressing opinions and criticisms of Muslims and Islam. From the time of the first arson and the point when the first signs appeared demanding violence -- in other words, since day 1 of the protests -- the point has always been to intimidate non-Muslims into silence.
Both the NYT AND CQ are right. They want to intidate moderate muslims into not standing up and saying what they are doing is wrong, and they want to intimidate weak willed Europenans into backing off and giving them special rights in Europe, so they can establish a beachhead to eventially take over Europe.
The Times cannot bring itself to admit this. Why? It would force the Times to recognize its role in the shameful surrender shown by the American media in not just refusing to publish the cartoons themselves, but also in their haughty rationalizations that they must remain sensitive to the icons of Islamic faith. They routinely fail to show this sensitivity to icons of other faiths, such as their reprint of the Ofili Madonna, covered in elephant dung and pictures of female genitalia. Nor did they scold the gallery that exhibited the artwork, and they staunchly defended the federal funding the exhibition received when then-mayor Rudy Giuliani wanted it pulled. They only care about sensitivity when the offended carry bombs, guns, and torches.
They care about sensitivity when the offended vote Democratic. Would they be willing to praise a Pro Life Art Exhibition?
Even today, with its far-too-late recognition of the real issues involved in the Cartoon Wars, the Times has yet to publish the cartoons themselves so their readers can understand the context of the controversy. The Gray Lady then scolds Yemen and Jordan for charging Muslim journalists who did publish the cartoons for "giv[ing] extremists a dollop of legitimacy". They hypocrisy drips from this statement, seeing as how the almost the entire American media establishment did exactly the same thing with their fear-based refusal to publish the cartoons themselves.

Don't be fooled by this editorial. It signifies something worse than the pusillanimity shown earlier -- the Times admits they understand the stakes involved, and yet refuse to stand up to the Islamists anyway.


Sheehan to protest at U.S. posts in Germany in March

Stars & Stripes reported Cindy Sheehan.... is scheduled to bring her anti-war message to U.S. military installations in Germany next month. “[We’ve already heard] that Cindy Sheehan is like Hanoi Jane [Fonda] coming here,” said Elsa Rassbach, an event organizer with American Voices Abroad, which is supporting Sheehan’s trip.

This nut job will go anywhere if someone pays her way. But if she wants to protest the war in Iraq, why does she not go to Iraq?
.... according to an event flier. “Germany has the power to stop the further use of U.S. bases in Germany for illegal wars and criminal methods of warfare — the power and the right to just say no!”
I actually think we have WAY too many bases in Germany. It might be useful to have one or two, to stage equipment at, and also one or two in various other countries, just in case some government decides to do what Cindy is asking them, and seeks to block our access to our equipment, but we should have most of our Armed Forces back in this country, protecting our borders, particularly the southern one, although I think we could use some help in the the northern one as well
Sweetness & Light blogged Mother Sheehan has scored another all expenses paid European vacation, this time to France and Germany.... Of course if Mother Sheehan had been around 65 years ago she would have to be giving her rants in German.

Hopefully she will address all those soldiers in Germany, who Cindy claimed last April are taken there to die to lower the Iraq casualty list:
People tell you 1,524 American soldiers [have died]. But that is only the soldiers who die in country. If they get one foot on the helicopter, or they die at Walter Reed, or Wiesbaden, Germany–they’re not counted. The low estimate for our own losses is 4,000.
Ace of Spades blogged Call me old-fashioned, but I'm not sure if the right to free speech embraces inciting foreign nations against us. I thought free speech was supposed to enable Americans to persuade other Americans of the soundness of their position, not to encourage foreign powers to act against our democratically-decided policies. If she wants to protest the war in Iraq, shouldn't she, like, go to Iraq? Just sayin'.

Anchoress blogged Is this, finally, treason? Treason is a strong word. Read what Mrs. Sheehan is up to. Is it? I don’t know. Someone must.


Iraqis Hold Unity Protests

Gateway Pundit blogged
After a brutal week, Iraqis united on Friday:

  • Iraq's most influential Shiite political leader called Friday for Sunni-Shiite unity.
  • Several joint Sunni-Shiite prayer services were announced for Friday
  • Top Shiite leader Abdul-Aziz al-Hakim, head of the Supreme Council for the Islamic Revolution in Iraq, blamed Saddam Hussein loyalists and followers of al-Qaida in Iraq boss Abu Musab al-Zarqawi
  • U.S. Ambassador Zalmay Khalilzad said this was a "moment of opportunity" for Iraq.
Thanks to ABC News for this story, but why isn't the rest of the MSM announcing it?


Friday, February 24, 2006

Big Problem With Google Pages

Ken Schafer blogged A few hours ago Google launched Google Pages.

And they were so snowed by people wanting to try it out they had to stop taking new users, and it is now on a waiting list.
If you have a Gmail account you can create your own web site on Google using a very nifty AJAX interface. The application itself is great, although the standard templates leave something to be desired.

Some of the nicest features:
  • An “undo” button
  • Ability to add images, links and pages easily
  • Testing links while in edit mode
  • 100MB of storage
  • Simple, memorable URL
You should really try it out. But you might want to think twice before you hit “publish”. See that last feature (simple memorable URLs) is also the greatest weakness of Google Pages and I think it is going to cause a huge headache for Gmail users. And a potential PR nightmare for Google. Why?

When you hit publish your site goes live at

Nothing wrong with that. In fact it looks like a feature - if you can remember your Gmail address you can remember your “Gpages” address.
It is not a bug. It is a "feature"
The problem is it is now trivial to reverse engineer your Gmail e-mail address. If you see a Google Pages site and want to e-mail the author - just replace with

I was all set to tell my kids and my 85 year-old mother (all Gmail users) that they could now post a web page or two super easy, but I’m not going to. I’ve worked very hard to make sure they’re addresses are not easy to find online and with one click of the publish button Google will make their e-mail addresses available to every stalker, sexual predator, phisher, and spammer out there!

I suggest you tell those non-technical users you know and care about that they should NOT use Gpages at this time. Right now I’d have to say that Gpages users are just setting themselves up for a whole heap of spam if they decide to post a site.

How long will it take spammers to get Gmail harvesters out in droves searching for URLs that can be converted into valid Gmail addresses?

(Note, if you already published a Googlepages site and are now worried about having exposed your personal information to the world, there is an “unpublish” option that you can use to take down the page.)
That sounds like a good idea.
I hate to say this but shame on Google for not seeing taht the bad guys could abuse this new service so easily. Given all the flack they’ve received about Blogger becoming a haven for spammers you would think they’d have learned to build some level of secure thinking into new products from the get-go.


Turks attack Michelle

Michelle Malkin's site (which posted the Islamic cartoons) was the victim of a DoS (Denyal of Service) attack, with most of the IP addresses belonging to TurkTelecom. Tech people say the attack is shifting to different source addresses. Loading is spotty and slow. Big headache, but she is working on a more permanent solution. FYI, she will be cross-posting over at Pajamas Media.
I hope the nutcases don't attack PM as well.
Richard Stiennon at Threat Chaos notes:
Don't forget that the Webroot spy audit finds the highest occurrences of Trojan horses in Turkey indicating a lot of bot armies that are typically employed in this type of attack. (Yes folks, the greatest infection rate of Trojan horses is in....Troy!)
La Shawn Barber blogged When people have no argument, no leg to stand on, and severely limited reasoning ability, the impulse is to attack personally and peripherally. I’ve been and will continue to be the target of similar irrational impulses. Dissenters and haters won’t silence Michelle, they won’t silence me, and I hope you won’t let them silence you!
This is sheer stupidity. I don't like it when people make fun of my religion (Christianity), but I don't burn down embassies or even launch DoS attacks.


Control of ports

Clark Kent Ervin editorialized in NYT could have imagined that, in the post-9/11 world, the United States government would approve a deal giving control over six major American ports to a country with ties to terrorism? But this is exactly what the secretive Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States has done.

The committee is not secretive; financial newspapers reported this back in November, and no one raised any concerns. I don't know whether it is a good idea or not. I do believe that the Bush administration should delay it for the allowed for 45 day review period, but at the end of that period it might well be that it will turn out to be a reasonable idea. The purchasing company has already made concessions in the area of security, and they may make others during the 45 day review.
Since 1999, the ports of New York, Baltimore, Philadelphia and other cities have been operated by a British concern, P & O Ports, which has now been bought by Dubai Ports World, a company controlled by the government of the United Arab Emirates. Defenders of the deal are claiming that critics, including the Republican and Democratic leaderships in Congress, are acting reflexively out of some bias against Arabs.

This is simply not true. While the United Arab Emirates is deemed by the Bush administration to be an ally in the war on terrorism, we should all have deep concerns about its links to terrorists. Two of the 9/11 hijackers were citizens of the emirates, and some of the money for the attacks came from there. It was one of only three countries in the world that recognized the Taliban regime. And Dubai was an important transshipment point for the smuggling network of Abdul Qadeer Khan, the Pakistani scientist who supplied Libya, Iran and North Korea with equipment for making nuclear weapons.
That is true, however all of that was before 9/11. As Bush is fond of saying 9/11 changed everything, and since 9/11 the UAE has become one of our best allies in the War on Terrorism, and many US Navy ships have docked at the Dubai port.
Most terrorism experts agree that the likeliest way for a weapon of mass destruction to be smuggled into our country would be through a port. After all, some 95 percent of all goods from abroad arrive in the United States by sea, and yet only about 6 percent of incoming cargo containers are inspected for security threats.
Inspecting them in the US will do no good. Suppose a nuclear bomb is placed in a container. If it detonates when the container is opened for inspection, it will do almost as much damage as if the container is taken elsewhere for it to detonate. That is why most of the inspection is done overseas. If the Dubai Ports World wanted to help terrorists send a nuclear bomb in a container, we need to worry about it being loaded in Dubai, not unloaded in the US.
It is true that at the ports run by the Dubai company, Customs officers would continue to do any inspection of cargo containers and the Coast Guard would remain "in charge" of port security. But, again, very few cargo inspections are conducted. And the Coast Guard merely sets standards that ports are to follow and reviews their security plans. Meeting those standards each day is the job of the port operators: they are responsible for hiring security officers, guarding the cargo and overseeing its unloading.

Michelle Malkin has some interesting ideas on the other side of the argument.


Thursday, February 23, 2006

German court convicts man for insulting Islam

Yahoo! News reported A German court on Thursday convicted a businessman of insulting Islam by printing the word "Koran" on toilet paper and offering it to mosques
I did not realize that was against the law.
.... Manfred van H. printed out sheets of toilet paper bearing the word "Koran" shortly after a group of Muslims carried out a series of bomb attacks in London in July 2005. He sent the paper to German television stations, magazines and some 15 mosques. Prosecutors said that in an accompanying letter Manfred van H. called Islam's holy book a "cookbook for terrorists." He also offered his toilet paper for sale on the Internet at a price of 4 euros ($4.76) per roll, saying the proceeds would go toward a "memorial to all the victims of Islamic terrorism."
At that price I doubt if he is going to sell very many rolls.
The maximum sentence for insulting religious beliefs under the German criminal code is three years in prison.


Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Nude photo site wins injunction against Google

CNET News reported U.S. District Judge A. Howard Matz ruled Friday that Perfect 10, an adult-oriented Web site featuring "beautiful natural women" in the nude, has shown that Google image search probably infringes copyright law "by creating and displaying thumbnail copies of its photographs."
This is foolish. They need to include the necessary meta tags if they don't want Google to scan their site.
.... Perfect 10 sued Google for copyright infringement in November 2004, and then in August 2005, asked for an injunction to halt Google from allegedly copying, displaying and distributing more than 3,000 Perfect 10 photos. The photo publisher says it's plagued by copyright pirates who pay its $25.50 monthly fee and then reproduce its copyright images on sites that are indexed by Google and incorporated in its image search feature.
Then the copyright infringement is on the part of the websites that reproduce Perfect 10's images on their sites, and Google has no way of knowing where they came from.


Muslim Against Muslim

NYT reported In a direct challenge to the international uproar over cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad, the Jordanian journalist Jihad Momani wrote: "What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras, or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony?"

That is a very good question. A similar question is "Which offends Muhammad more: the cartoons, or the fact that a number of people named Muhammad were on the planes in 9/11, or have been involved in other terrorist acts?
In Yemen, an editorial by Muhammad al-Assadi condemned the cartoons but also lamented the way many Muslims reacted. "Muslims had an opportunity to educate the world about the merits of the Prophet Muhammad and the peacefulness of the religion he had come with," Mr. Assadi wrote. He added, "Muslims know how to lose, better than how to use, opportunities."
Another very good point.
To illustrate their points, both editors published selections of the drawings — and for that they were arrested and threatened with prison.
That is sheer stupidity.


Vote Due on South Dakota Bill

NYT Lawmakers here are preparing to vote on a bill that would outlaw nearly all abortions in South Dakota, a measure that could become the most sweeping ban approved by any state in more than a decade, those on both sides of the abortion debate say.

This is really the big test. I feel sure that the Partial Birth Abortion Ban will be upheld, in fact I find it outrageous that O'Conner blocked it. But this bill will require Roe to be overturned, and I wonder if Alito has been on the court long enough to fee comfortable doing that.
If the bill passes a narrowly divided Senate in a vote expected on Wednesday, and is signed by Gov. Michael Rounds, a Republican who opposes abortion, advocates of abortion rights have pledged to challenge it in court immediately — and that is precisely what the bill's supporters have in mind.


Disputed Abortion Method

NYT reported The Supreme Court, at full strength with Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr. on the bench for the first time, opened the next chapter in its long-running confrontation with abortion on Tuesday by agreeing to decide whether the first federal ban on a method of abortion is constitutional.

The "method" is partial birth abortion, delivering a baby half way, and then sucking its brains out before it finishes coming out of the mother, so they can say it died while still a "fetus".
Jane Hamsher reported There's No Such Thing As a Pro-Choice Republican (or Lieberman) — We knew it would happen sooner or later, and I guess it's going to be sooner: …
You must really be evil, to think that a person must support partial birth abortion before they are considered "Pro Choice"


Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Bush: Arab Co. Port Deal Should Proceed

Breitbart reported President Bush said Tuesday that the deal allowing an Arab company to take over six major U.S. seaports should go forward
That is a mistake. He should call for a 45 day review. If after that time it still looks like it should go through that is one thing, but he should not decline to even look at it.
and that he would veto any congressional effort to stop it.
I am happy he knows he has a veto pen, but he should use it on some of these huge spending bills with earmarks.
"After careful review by our government, I believe the transaction ought to go forward," Bush told reporters who had traveled with him on Air Force One to Washington. "I want those who are questioning it to step up and explain why all of a sudden a Middle Eastern company is held to a different standard than a Great British company.
No one from Great Britain were on the planes on 9/11
I am trying to conduct foreign policy now by saying to the people of the world, `We'll treat you fairly.'"


Monday, February 20, 2006

After Neoconservatism

Francis Fukuyama wrote in NYT As we approach the third anniversary of the onset of the Iraq war, it seems very unlikely that history will judge either the intervention itself or the ideas animating it kindly.

At least that is what the NYT is trying to get historians to think through its manipulation of the news.
By invading Iraq, the Bush administration created a self-fulfilling prophecy: Iraq has now replaced Afghanistan as a magnet, a training ground and an operational base for jihadist terrorists,
In Afganistan they had permanent training bases, in Iraq the training they are getting is trying to hide and not be found by the Americans AND the Iraqis seeking to kill them.
with plenty of American targets to shoot at.
But they find it a lot easier to shoot at innocent Iraqis, that don't have guns; the American soldiers shoot back.
The United States still has a chance of creating a Shiite-dominated democratic Iraq, but the new government will be very weak for years to come; the resulting power vacuum will invite outside influence from all of Iraq's neighbors, including Iran.
And they will be very good friends with America, that freed them, and we will offset the influence of countries they have fought wars against in the past.
There are clear benefits to the Iraqi people from the removal of Saddam Hussein's dictatorship,
Thanks to Bush's efforts.
and perhaps some positive spillover effects in Lebanon and Syria.
Again, thanks to Bush's efforts.
But it is very hard to see how these developments in themselves justify the blood and treasure that the United States has spent on the project to this point.
At least the Left Wing NYT hopes that is the way people will think.


Bin Laden Vows Never to Be Captured Alive

Yahoo! News Osama bin Laden vowed never to be captured alive
That is fine. A special place in Hell is reserved for him.
and said the U.S. military had become as "barbaric" as Saddam Hussein
Really? Which Kurdish towns have we wiped out with Mustard Gas? Where are the mass graves where we wiped out entire Shi'ite towns?
in an audiotape reposted on a militant Islamic Web site after first being broadcast last month. In the tape posted to the Web site Monday, bin Laden offered the United States a long-term truce
As long as we withdraw from Afganistan, Iraq, and the entire Muslim world.
but also said his al-Qaida terror network would soon launch a fresh attack on American soil. The tape was initially broadcast Jan. 19 on Al-Jazeera,
But they left out parts of it, like the parts that criticized Al-Jazerra as being too friendly to the West (which should give everyone an idea of how he would like the West treated.
the pan-Arab satellite channel. Islamic militant Web forums often repost messages from al-Qaida leaders to ensure sympathizers can see them. U.S. intelligence officials confirmed that last month's tape was of bin Laden — making it his first message in more than a year. "I have sworn to only live free. Even if I find bitter the taste of death, I don't want to die humiliated or deceived,"
He prefers to be the humiliator and the deceiver.
bin Laden said, in the 11-minute, 26-second tape.... Bin Laden also denied Bush administration assertions that it was better to fight terrorists in Iraq than on U.S. soil.
I agree with Bush. It is much better to fight them there than here.


Don't Punish the Palestinians

Bleeding Heart (and empty head) Jimmy Carter pleads in WaPo
The role of the prime minister was greatly strengthened while Abbas and Ahmed Qureia served in that position under Yasser Arafat, and Abbas has announced that he will not choose a prime minister who does not recognize Israel or adhere to the basic principles of the "road map." This could result in a stalemated process,
Since Hamas has said that they have no intention of recognizing Israel I suspect there will be a stalemated process.
but my conversations with representatives of both sides indicate that they wish to avoid such an imbroglio. The spokesman for Hamas claimed, "We want a peaceful unity government." If this is a truthful statement, it needs to be given a chance.
The fact that Hamas intends to destroy Israel should not affect that.
During this time of fluidity in the formation of the new government, it is important that Israel and the United States play positive roles. Any tacit or formal collusion between the two powers to disrupt the process by punishing the Palestinian people could be counterproductive and have devastating consequences.

Unfortunately, these steps are already underway and are well known throughout the Palestinian territories and the world. Israel moved yesterday to withhold funds (about $50 million per month) that the Palestinians earn from customs and tax revenue.
The Arab countries promised to give them a few million to make up for the loss.
Perhaps a greater aggravation by the Israelis is their decision to hinder movement of elected Hamas Palestinian Legislative Council members through any of more than a hundred Israeli checkpoints around and throughout the Palestinian territories.
Should they give them freedom to travel and bring bombs in diplomatic pouches to leave with Arabs in Israel so that they can kill Israelis?
This will present significant obstacles to a government's functioning effectively. Abbas informed me after the election that the Palestinian Authority was $900 million in debt and that he would be unable to meet payrolls during February. Knowing that Hamas would inherit a bankrupt government, U.S. officials have announced that all funding for the new government will be withheld, including what is needed to pay salaries for schoolteachers, nurses, social workers, police and maintenance personnel. So far they have not agreed to bypass the Hamas-led government and let humanitarian funds be channeled to Palestinians through United Nations agencies responsible for refugees, health and other human services.
I am happy they have not. If there is anything more dishonest than the Palestinian Authority it is the United Nations.
This common commitment to eviscerate the government of elected Hamas officials by punishing private citizens may accomplish this narrow purpose, but the likely results will be to alienate the already oppressed and innocent Palestinians, to incite violence, and to increase the domestic influence and international esteem of Hamas. It will certainly not be an inducement to Hamas or other militants to moderate their policies.
If Hamas wants to govern, it should do it, and not require either the US or Israel to give it money.
The election of Hamas candidates cannot adversely affect genuine peace talks, since such talks have been nonexistent for over five years. A negotiated agreement is the only path to a permanent two-state solution, providing peace for Israel and justice for the Palestinians. In fact, if Israel is willing to include the Palestinians in the process, Abbas can still play this unique negotiating role as the unchallenged leader of the PLO (not the government that includes Hamas).
Why should Israel talk with someone other than the "government" of a people that wants its own state?
It was under this umbrella and not the Palestinian Authority that Arafat negotiated with Israeli leaders to conclude the Oslo peace agreement.
And we all know how successful that was.
Abbas has sought peace talks with Israel since his election a year ago, and there is nothing to prevent direct talks with him, even if Hamas does not soon take the ultimately inevitable steps of renouncing violence and recognizing Israel's right to exist.


Sunday, February 19, 2006

Poll reveals 40pc of Muslims want sharia law in UK

Telegraph reported Four out of 10 British Muslims want sharia law introduced into parts of the country, a survey reveals today.
If they want to live under sharia law, they should just move to a Muslim country. They are living in Britain because they don't want to live under the conditiions that exist in Muslim countries, and a significant aspect of those conditions is sharia law. So it is obvious that 40% of British Muslims are insane. And if Britian adopts sharia law to placate those Muslims, then 100% of them would have to be insane.
The ICM opinion poll also indicates that a fifth have sympathy with the "feelings and motives" of the suicide bombers who attacked London last July 7, killing 52 people, although 99 per cent thought the bombers were wrong to carry out the atrocity. Overall, the findings depict a Muslim community becoming more radical and feeling more alienated from mainstream society,
If they want to live in a Muslim community, they should move to a Muslim country. If they want to be British, they should live among the British, and not in a Muslim "community".
even though 91 per cent still say they feel loyal to Britain.


Freedom to publish

Flemming Rose (culture editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten) wrote in WaPo
I agree that the freedom to publish things doesn't mean you publish everything. Jyllands-Posten would not publish pornographic images or graphic details of dead bodies; swear words rarely make it into our pages. So we are not fundamentalists in our support for freedom of expression. But the cartoon story is different.

Those examples have to do with exercising restraint because of ethical standards and taste; call it editing. By contrast, I commissioned the cartoons in response to several incidents of self-censorship in Europe caused by widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam. And I still believe that this is a topic that we Europeans must confront, challenging moderate Muslims to speak out.
The Muslims certainly should not be allowed to think that they are a protected group, immune from being offended. I personally wish the media would not seek to offend any religion, yet I believe that frank discussions of religious topics should be not just permitted, but encouraged.
The idea wasn't to provoke gratuitously -- and we certainly didn't intend to trigger violent demonstrations throughout the Muslim world.
The 12 cartoons that were published should not have provoked those demonstrations. They were provoked by clerics that deliberately inflamed fellow Muslims, hoping to provoke violence, because they want to intimidate Europe into doing anything the Islamists want.
Our goal was simply to push back self-imposed limits on expression that seemed to be closing in tighter. At the end of September, a Danish standup comedian said in an interview with Jyllands-Posten that he had no problem urinating on the Bible in front of a camera, but he dared not do the same thing with the Koran.
And that is wrong. He should not do that to any holy book, but he should not fear physical attack if he did.
This was the culmination of a series of disturbing instances of self-censorship. Last September, a Danish children's writer had trouble finding an illustrator for a book about the life of Muhammad. Three people turned down the job for fear of consequences. The person who finally accepted insisted on anonymity, which in my book is a form of self-censorship.
There are also examples of 14th century art work which does depict Muhammad, and it did not provoke violence when it was made.
European translators of a critical book about Islam also did not want their names to appear on the book cover beside the name of the author, a Somalia-born Dutch politician who has herself been in hiding.
That is wrong. Any religiion that cannot tolerate a critical analysis is not a valid religion.
Around the same time, the Tate gallery in London withdrew an installation by the avant-garde artist John Latham depicting the Koran, Bible and Talmud torn to pieces. The museum explained that it did not want to stir things up after the London bombings.
I am happy they did not want to show that "art work", but I am unhappy that they probably would have been happy to display it, if it had just involved the Bible and Talmud (or Torah), and if the Koran had been left out.
(A few months earlier, to avoid offending Muslims, a museum in Goteborg, Sweden, had removed a painting with a sexual motif and a quotation from the Koran.)

Finally, at the end of September, Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen met with a group of imams, one of whom called on the prime minister to interfere with the press in order to get more positive coverage of Islam.

So, over two weeks we witnessed a half-dozen cases of self-censorship, pitting freedom of speech against the fear of confronting issues about Islam. This was a legitimate news story to cover, and Jyllands-Posten decided to do it by adopting the well-known journalistic principle: Show, don't tell. I wrote to members of the association of Danish cartoonists asking them "to draw Muhammad as you see him." We certainly did not ask them to make fun of the prophet. Twelve out of 25 active members responded.

We have a tradition of satire when dealing with the royal family and other public figures, and that was reflected in the cartoons. The cartoonists treated Islam the same way they treat Christianity, Buddhism, Hinduism and other religions. And by treating Muslims in Denmark as equals they made a point: We are integrating you into the Danish tradition of satire because you are part of our society, not strangers. The cartoons are including, rather than excluding, Muslims.