Sunday, February 4, 2007

Noteworthy Death of Muslim Firebrand

Abu Laban died of lung cancer on Friday. The Danish social welfare system took care of him till the end, even though he hated the Danes and had fervently prayed for the death of some of their leaders. Possibly he died a happy man, knowing full well that Europe may never be able to stamp out all of the fires which he and his followers had been igniting in the suburbs of every European capital.

On Sept. 30, 2005 a Danish newspaper, the Jyllands-Posten, published a set of twelve cartoons, some of which lampooned the Islamic prophet Muhammad. The paper had previously exposed Abu Laban’s views on terrorism in Algeria and Egypt, so taking on the paper was an opportunity he was waiting for. Within weeks he had torn Denmark up by the roots. The ensuing controversy now has a name - the Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy. [There is a massive and incredibly detailed Wikipedia page which covers it.] A few weeks later an Islamic newspaper in Cairo republished six of the cartoons in colour, as did papers in Jordan and Yemen. This in spite of the accusation that the cartoons were a blasphemy.

The fiery Palestinian immigrant to Denmark had chosen to lead a personal war against the paper and in general, the Danish people. Their Parliament was virtually besieged. More than just a retired engineer, and part-time Muslim cleric, Abu Laban proved to be more dangerous than expected. He was personally responsible for whipping up a firestorm of death and violence all over the world. It mattered not that he was caught lying, again and again about his true intentions. He enjoyed playing at the role of offended victim to the gullible western press, but was also detected spouting violent threats and incitements in speeches he gave in his own tongue, and in interviews recorded by Muslim media.

Muslim activists worldwide used the Danish cartoon controversy to whip up anger. One Pakistani political party offered cash for anyone who would murder one of the Danish cartoonists. In Germany suitcase bombs were placed on commuter trains. In Nigeria, Christian churches and businesses were burned and 127 people were killed in riots triggered by local condemnation of the cartoons. Abu Laban had worked in Nigeria prior to going to Denmark, and had extensive contacts in that African country. In Sweden, the Foreign Minister was forced to resign after she was caught lying about the censoring of the cartoons in her own country. In Finland, lunatic Finnish politicians burned Danish flags. In Syria the Danish embassy was burned. In London crowds of Muslims shouted death threats to the television cameras.

As the controversy grew, papers in several countries published samples of the cartoons so that readers could decide for themselves why they merited so much fuss. In Canada there was a complete media blackout. Not a single Canadian newspaper was responsible enough to print even one of the innocuous cartoons. Readers here were left to wildly imagine what they might contain. Without Internet access we might have been blinded by our news editors and the professional opinion makers who dominate Canadian headlines. (No publisher has ever apologized for going along with the Islamic campaign.) On May 24, 2006 CHAPTERS-INDIGO bookstores even banned the sale of the Alberta news magazine WESTERN STANDARD and the American magazine HARPER’S, because each had reprinted some of the cartoons. AIR CANADA removed the offending issue of WESTERN STANDARD from its complimentary inflight periodicals.

Now Abu Laban is dead. Looking at year-old photos of the cleric, we now know that he had cancer in his body. He knew it too. Perhaps that was what made him so bitter. Will the violent agitations cease in Denmark? Let’s hope so. We have to expect that the Muslim communities of Europe will find a way to hold their firebrands in check. No one can do it for them.

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