Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Spencer scores yet again

I have praised the work of Robert Spencer before, but I am obliged to take note of his eloquent, erudite and mannerly criticism of the talk-show host Glenn Beck today. Speaking with his guest Zuhdi Jasser, a genuinely moderate Muslim from Phoenix, Beck had brushed off the notion that, in Islam, "lying is not only permissible, but it is encouraged, so long as that lie will further the cause" as a "warped view" of the faith. Citing Qur'an 3:28, the tasfir (commentary) of the classical Muslim scholar Ibn Kathir thereon, and one hadith each from Sahih Bukhari and Sahih Muslim, Spencer conclusively showed that, according to the scripture Muslims live by, lying to infidels damned well is not just encouraged but mandated.

His conclusion to the post is worth quoting here: "... fantasy-based analysis ultimately won't accomplish anything ... peaceful Muslims will never be able to stand up to the jihadists until they have the courage to formulate a radical reinterpretation of the core Islamic sources, acknowledging the violent and supremacist elements within them and explicitly rejecting them. They will never be able to do this, or to do anything but reassure uninformed non-Muslims, by pretending that those elements don't exist and wishing, wishing, wishing they would disappear."

We who would preserve our rights, our liberties and our civilization from the menace of Islamic supremacism owe a very considerable debt to Robert Spencer, whose blogs and books are worthy of assiduous perusal.

Monday, September 24, 2007

Apropos the foregoing ...

"O believers, fight the unbelievers who are near to you, and let them find in you a harshness ..."

– Qur'an 9:123 (A.J. Arberry translation)

Fantasies and falsehoods

On Aug. 31, Rabbi Eric Yoffie, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, gave a speech to the Islamic Society of North America. Today IslamOnline ran a report on this speech, the full text of which is here. The fantasies and falsehoods in Yoffie’s discourse would be discomfiting in any context; coming from so prominent a leader of American Jews, they are absolutely appalling.

... there is no shortage of voices prepared to tell us that fanaticism and intolerance are fundamental to Islamic religion, and that violence and even suicide bombing have deep Koranic roots. There is no lack of so-called experts who are eager to seize on any troubling statement by any Muslim thinker and pin it on Islam as a whole.

“No shortage .. no lack” of knowledgeable critics of Islam? What utter nonsense. In fact there are but a handful, who are assiduously excluded by the mainstream media in favor of willful ignoramuses mouthing multiculturalist cant.

... the time has come put aside what the media says is wrong with Islam and to hear from Muslims themselves what is right with Islam.

And what should the media put aside? They already do their utmost not to identify the protagonists in “sudden jihad syndrome” incidents as Muslims, as witness the New York Post’s presposterous assertion that the religion of a young man arrested for making threats after distributing leaflets urging conversion to Islam “was not immediately known.”

Anti-Semitism is not native to Islamic tradition ...

It would take an entire book to catalogue the elements of Islamic tradition that refute this, and just such a book has been compiled by Andrew Bostom. Suffice it here to cite but two Qur’anic verses:

“Why do not the rabbis and doctors of law forbid them from their habit of uttering sinful worlds and eating of things forbidden? Evil indeed are their works.” (5:63)

“The Jews say: ‘Allah’s hand is tied up.’ Be their hands tied up and be they accursed for the blasphemy they utter. Nay, both His hands are widely outstretched: He giveth and spendeth (of His bounty) as He pleaseth. But the revelation that cometh to thee from Allah increaseth in most of them their obstinate rebellion and blasphemy. Amongst them we have placed enmity and hatred till the Day of Judgment. Every time they kindle the fire of war, Allah doth extinguish it; but they (ever) strive to do mischief on earth. And Allah loveth not those who do mischief.” (5:64)

(Abdullah Yusif Ali translations.)

... but a virulent form of it is found today in a number of Islamic societies ...

Can Yoffie identify any such societies in which said virulence is not found today?

... and we urgently require your assistance in mobilizing Muslims here and abroad to delegitimize and combat it.

And how, pray, is this to be done, given the Qur’anic basis for Muslim enmity? How are the many Qur’anic verses that are inimical toward Jews to be “delegitimized,” given that Muslims hold them to be the eternal, uncreated word of God, transmitted to “the Prophet” Muhammad by the angel Gabriel?

Eric Yoffie’s efforts to reach out to Muslims are like the efforts of a dying man in a desert who crawls toward the water that appears just ahead of him. Both are equally hallucinatory, and both have about the same prospect of success.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Nota bene

“We have seen that Negroes are in general characterized by levity, excitability and great emotionalism. They are found eager to dance whenever they hear a melody. They are everywhere described as stupid.”

– Ibn Khaldun (1332-1406), “The Muqaddimah,” trans. Franz Rosenthal, (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967), 63

“Jazz is the favorite music [of America]. It is a type of music invented by [American] Blacks to please their primitive tendencies and desire for noise.”

– Sayyid Qutb (1906-1966), cited in John Calvert, “ ‘The World is an Undutiful Boy!’: Sayyid Qutb’s American Experience,” Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations, Vol. 11, No. 1 (2000): 99

“The Negro nations are, as a rule, submissive to slavery, because (Negroes) have little that is (essentially) human and possess attributes that are quite similar to those of the dumb animals.”

– Ibn Khaldun, “The Muqaddimah,” 117

On September 18, Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV labeled U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice a "black snake."

– The MEMRI Blog

Mendacity in the Muslim media

IslamOnline has a story today about Swedish Muslims' reaction to a judge’s rejection of their lawsuit charging Lars Vilks and the Swedish paper Nerikes Allehanda with “incitement to racial hatred.” The piece contains several blatant falsehoods:

Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was quick to nip the crisis in the bud. He did not hesitate to condemn the offensive cartoon ...

He did nothing of the sort. He expressed “regret if people have been insulted or feel hurt” but clearly stated that “politics must not be allowed to interfere with freedom of the press and of expression.” Like the Pakistani government, whose press release declaring that the Swedish government “fully shared the views of the Muslim community” was denounced by the Swedish Foreign Ministry as “false,” and Syrian grand mufti Ahmad Badreddin Hassoun, whose claim that Swedish ambassador Catharina Mempel Kipp had “conveyed an apology” to him was also denied by the foreign ministry, IslamOnline is spinning a narrative of official Swedish contrition out of whole cloth.

The cartoon provoked peaceful protests by Muslims in the town of Oerebro, west of Stockholm, where the paper is based.

Peaceful protests, eh? Like the nocturnal burning of several hundred copies of the newspaper Muslims are mad at, and the arson attack on one of Lars Vilks’s artistic constructions?

Swedish Muslims also refused to internationalize the crisis, arguing that it was an internal affair.

Bunk. Protests and remonstrations at the publication of Vilks’s sketches came from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Egypt, Jordan, and the Muslim World League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference, both in Saudi Arabia – all of which were directed at the Orebro paper Nerikes Allehanda, though several other Swedish papers had printed the drawings as well. Muslims in Orebro, where the most vociferous demonstrations were held, were clearly getting the word out to their co-religionists overseas.

The sheer mendacity of IslamOnline’s reportage neatly accords with “The Prophet” Muhammad’s declaration, affirmed in three hadiths (Volume 4, Book 52, Nos. 267, 268 and 269) of Bukhari, that “War is deceit.”

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Grit, gutlessness and gall

With Cartoon Jihad II, prompted by the “Muhammad as a traffic-circle dog” sketches of Swedish artist Lars Vilks (now in hiding at the behest of Swedish security agencies), well under way, it is instructive to take a look at what sort of cartoonery on Islam-related issues is publishable in sundry regions of the world. First, we have a cartoon that ran Monday in the Danish newspaper Berlingske Tidende, depicting several figures at a negotiation table (hat tip to Gates of Vienna, one of whose correspondents provides a translation):

Suit at left: “Sorry, but what about your treatment of women, if I may ask?”
Turbaned ranter at right: “You little Zionist, Islamophobe racist! This is not a women-conference but a human rights conference!”
Cringer at center: “I’d just like to say ... ‘Allahu Akbar!’”

This is great stuff: edgy, uncompromsing, and accurate. It targets a chink in the victimization armor of Muslim propagandists and shows just how they react when called on such things: with name-calling and rancorous attempts to change the subject. Moreover, it gets in a dig at the lickspittles who reflexively defer to them. And this appeared in a mainstream paper! Imagine such a thing running in a stateside MSM paper. Pretty impossible, when you consider the cowardice nearly all of them showed during Cartoon Jihad I last year – and the Washington Post’s recent pre-emptive deference to Islam in spiking two recent installments of Berkley Breathed’s “Opus” comic strip that showed a flighty female character donning a niqab in a harum-scarum quest to try on one spiritual creed after another. This drew an irate reaction from many readers and a tut-tut from Deborah Howell, the paper’s own ombudsman. But, as Washington Post Writers Group Executive Sales Manager Karisue Wyson told the trade journal Editor and Publisher, many papers “won't publish any Muslim-related humor, whether pro or con,” because “They just don't want to touch that.”

Meanwhile, in the Middle East, the Palestinian Authority paper Al-Hayat al-Jadida ran a cartoon depicting Osama bin Laden making the two-fingered "victory" sign – with the Twin Towers as his two fingers, one belching smoke, the other about to be hit by a plane. That a newspaper in the Muslim world should implicitly gloat over bin Laden’s success in murdering over 3,000 completely innocent people in the 9/11 atrocity comes as no surprise, but that this should come from an organization that receives U.S. tax dollars by the boatload bespeaks a particular gall.

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Contract for slaughter

In an Internet communique entitled "They plotted yet God too was plotting," al-Qaeda in Iraq has posted bounties on the heads of Lars Vilks, the artist whose sketches of "Muhammad as a traffic-circle dog" have roiled the Swedish art scene, and Ulf Johansson, editor of Nerikes Allehanda, a Swedish newspaper that printed one of the drawings to illustrate an editorial criticizing "unacceptable self-censorship" on the part of art exhibitors that refused to show them. The reward for a successful hit on Vilks is $100,000, with a $50,000 bonus if he is "slaughtered like a lamb," and $50,000 for one on Johansson.

Al-Qaeda’s desire that Lars Vilks be "slaughtered like a lamb" and its offer of extra bounty for the same are actually an exhortation to jihadists to slit his throat while speaking the name of Allah, as sheep are slaughtered for Eid al-Adha, the "Festival of Sacrifice" with which Ramadan concludes. There is ample precedence for human sacrifice of this sort: it was also carried out during the massacre of Armenians in Urfa in 1895, as Lord Kinross noted in "The Ottoman Centuries" (New York: Morrow Quill Paperbacks, 1977, p.560):

"When a large group of Armenians were brought before a sheikh, he had them thrown down on their backs and held by their hands and feet. Then, in the words of an observer, he recited verses of the Koran and ‘cut their throats after the Mecca rite of sacrificing sheep.’"

With Ramadan now under way, Eid al-Adha isn’t far off. Lars Vilks would do well to arm himself, lest his person supply the jihad enemy the medium for an artwork in the style of Jackson Pollock.

Nota bene: As Robert Spencer at Jihad Watch has observed, the title of al-Qaeda’s communique is straight from the Qur’an – to wit, Verse 3:54:

"And (the unbelievers) plotted and planned, and God too planned, and the best of planners is God." (Abdullah Yusif Ali translation.)

Update: Gruesome photos from last year's Eid slaughter. Warning: these are not for the faint of heart.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Howler of the day

Former UN muckety-muck Jan Egeland, now director of the Norwegian Institute to International Affairs, to Reuters:

"If I could have a meeting with al Qaeda where one could impress upon them that they are the biggest anti-Islamic force around, why not?"
I'd certainly like to hear the arguments Mr. Egeland would make in such a meeting to persuade his interlocutors that they're acting against the Qur'an, ahadith, tasfir and sira. Somehow I doubt he'd make much headway.

Jihad in India

On Aug. 25, jihad bomb attacks on an amusement park laser show and a restaurant in the Indian city of Hyderabad killed 30 people and wounded 60 – just the latest atrocities in a terror campaign that has left India second only to Iraq in the number of terrorism casualties over the past three years, according to the Times of India:

“In fact, India has since 2004 lost more lives to terrorist incidents than all of North America, South America, Central America, Europe and Eurasia put together. All of these vast swathes of the globe lost a total of 3,280 lives in terrorist incidents between January 2004 and March this year. India alone lost 3,674 lives over the same period of three years and three months.”
Other recent stories in the Times of India tell of the arrests of 10 people in connection with the blasts, who are suspected of smuggling the explosive RDX from the predominantly Muslim nation of Bangladesh, in which the Harkat-ul-Jehad Al-Islami jihad group is based, and one detainee’s provision of mobile phone SIM cards (used to detonate IEDs) to a “terror module” in the city. The Times of India Web site and the archives of both Jihad Watch and the Counterterrorism Blog have much information on this oft-overlooked front in the global jihad.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Then, as now ...

What makes Muslims feel better about unbelievers? The Qur'an (verses (9:14-15) says it:

“Fight them, and God will chastise them at your hands and degrade them, and He will help you against them, and bring healing to the breasts of a people who believe, and He will remove the rage within their hearts; and God turns towards whomsoever He will; God is All-knowing, All-wise.”1

LGF shows it.

up1 A.J. Arberry translation.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Great minds think alike

“One principle must be absolute for the SS man: we must be honest, decent, loyal and comradely to members of our own blood and to no one else.”

– Heinrich Himmler, Reichsfuhrer SS, in a speech to SS group leaders in Poznan, Poland, Oct. 4, 1943.1

“ ... ‘kind and generous towards their own people and ruthless against our enemies at home and abroad’.”

– Reinhard Heydrich, Obergruppenfuhrer SS, describing the SS creed in a 1939 letter to his wife.2

“Muhammad is the Messenger of God, and those with him are hard against the unbelievers, merciful one to another.”

– Muhammad, prophet of Islam; in Qur’an 48:29.3

up1 From records of the Trial of Major War Criminals before International Military Tribunal, Nuremburg, 1947-1949; cited in “The Face of the Third Reich: Portraits of the Nazi Leadership,” by Joachim C. Fest.

up2 Quoted in “Der Spiel ist aus,” Der Spiegel, Feb. 19, 1950; cited in “The Killing of Obergruppenfuhrer Reinhard Heydrich,” by Callum Macdonald.

up3 A.J. Arberry translation.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Demands, then denial

According to both Muslim ambassadors and Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt, Friday’s meeting concerning the printing by Swedish newspapers of artist Lars Vilks’s drawings on the theme of “Muhammad as a traffic-circle dog” went off swimmingly. Iran’s ambassador Hassan Ghashghavi told the Swedish news agency TT afterward that “the Swedish government has handled this situation well,” while Reinfeldt spoke of a “very positive dialogue.” Representatives of both sides denied that a list of Muslim demands trumpeted by Egyptian ambassador Mohamed Sotouhi Thursday had ever been presented: Reinfeldt said “There were no demands in that sense,” a denial echoed by Syria’s ambassador Mohammad Bassam Imadi: “We have no list of demands, on the contrary, we are here to bring two sides together where there is a problem.”

But given the stridency of Sotouhi’s Thursday statements to TT and his disclosure that “he and a group of fellow ambassadors had agreed” on a list of “comprehensive measures,” it is hard to see such feel-good characterizations as anything but a mendacious whitewash of what went on an official meeting from which the press was excluded. While a letter presented by the ambassadors to Reinfeldt and “obtained by” (read: “handed on a silver platter to”) the newspaper Expressen contained no demands per se, Sotouhi listed three very specific ones:

* Targeted censorship: "Muslims need legal protection against the desecration of the Prophet Muhammad."

* Sensitivity indoctrination in schools and newsrooms: "The school curriculum has to convince pupils that if they want to express their opinion they should do so in such a way that it doesn't cause offence or hurt. This should also be part of journalism training."

* Political correctness enforcers: “A permanent parliamentary committee also needs to be established to tackle Islamophobia.”

In short, the Swedish press – which didn’t generate the “Muhammad as a roundabout dog” sketches but was only doing its job by printing them with its coverage of the controversy surrounding them – must be censored, indocrinated, and monitored by a parliament whose members, this story indicates, would be only too glad to clip their wings.

If Swedish journalists want to preserve their rights, they had better do some digging to find out what really happened during Friday’s meeting. Is it really to be supposed that, having declared Thursday that “We want to see action, not just nice words,” Sotouhi and his fellow Muslim ambassadors settled the next day for nothing more than “very positive dialogue”? Did Reinfeldt agree to any of the items on Sotouhi’s wish list? Did he pass the buck to a Swedish parliament in which hostility toward freedom of the press has been documented by a professionally conducted survey? Not only the public but journalists themselves urgently need to know.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

‘A spirit of appeasement’

In the wake of official complaints about Swedish newspapers' printing of Lars Vilks's Muhammad sketches from Iran, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Jordan, Egypt and the Organization for the Islamic Conference, Sweden’s Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt has agreed to a meeting tomorrow with ambassadors from 20 Muslim nations. Among the demands for which they will press, as Egyptian ambassador to Sweden Mohamed Sotouhi told the news agency TT, are sensitivity indoctrination for journalists, a “permanent parliamentary committee ... to tackle Islamophobia,” and “a change in [Swedish] law” offering Muslims “protection from the desecration of the Prophet Muhammad.”

In short, complete immunity from criticism for Muslims and their creed. And the Muslim diplomats expect nothing less than abject submission, as Algeria’s ambassador Merzak Bedjaoui made clear in calling the meeting “an excellent initiative taken in a spirit of appeasement.”

All in keeping with Qur’anic scripture, to wit: Verses 48:29, which declares that Muslims are “hard against the unbelievers”; 9:123, which exhorts them to “let them find in you a harshness”; and 9:29, which enjoins them to fight unbelievers until they “feel themselves subdued.”

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Judensau – ‘a parody of a caricature’

Swedish artist Lars Vilks, whose sketches of Muhammad as a rondellhund (traffic-circle dog statue) ignited the reprise of the cartoon jihad chronicled in the foregoing post, has explained his drawing of a "judensau" to the Swedish news agency TT:

Vilks said he had observed how Muslims were treated with greater care than other religious groups. It was with this in mind that he composed the drawing 'Modern Jewish sow, swollen by capitalism', a drawing he published on his own website as a response to a rhetorical question from a Swedish journalist.

"The 'Jew sow' is crystal clear and belongs to a particular situation. It's a parody of a caricature, it's so over-explicit. I understand that the picture itself in another context could be explosive. But I'm no anti-Semite.

"Otherwise I wouldn't have written the accompanying text about how Muslims are able to have a go at Jews in the roughest manner without any reaction because people are afraid to attack Muslims," said Vilks.

Roger that. My second language being Russian rather than Swedish, I didn't catch Vilks's clarification on his blog, but am glad to have it now.

Scrawls of fury

Swedish artist’s Muhammad sketches rekindle cartoon rage

When a story about the removal of a few sketches of Islam’s prophet Muhammad from an art exhibit in a Swedish town began to show up on an American blog in late July, it seemed a bagatelle – even after last year’s furor over a Danish newspaper’s publication of a dozen such caricatures in 2005. Since then, however, Lars Vilks’s puckish depictions have sparked controversy and been printed in several newspapers in his native country, prompting official protests in the Muslim world and death threats to the artist himself. We appear to be on the verge of “Cartoon Jihad II.”

The affair began on July 20, when Vilks – whom Swedish correspondents at Gates of Vienna, the blog that has done an excellent job of keeping up on this story, have variously referred to as “a well-established Swedish artist,” an “oddball” and “a total whacko” – provided three drawings for an art show in Tallberg, near Karlstad, on the theme of “The Dog in Art.” Vilks’s renditions depicted “rondellhunds” bearing the head of Muhammad. (Rondellhunds – “traffic circle dogs” – are a charmingly whimsical Swedish craze: wooden statues of dogs created and placed in traffic circles by persons anonymous.) When, shortly before opening of the exhibit, its organizers discovered what they had on display, they took Vilks’s drawings down in a panic over the anticipated reaction from thin-skinned Muslims.

“We didn’t understand how serious this was at first,” exhibit organizer Marta Wennerstrom told the newspaper Svenska Dagbladet. “I think that the drawings are good. But there is also a fear here at the homestead museum that it will lead to problems and uproar.” Vilks’s reaction: “So much for freedom of speech.” It is likely, however, that the artist sought just such a response – for, as he states on his Web site: “Only to an entirely insignificant extent is the art located in the drawings. The substantial center of gravity is in the observers’ experience and reaction.”

There it might have ended – a tempest in the minuscule teapot of the Swedish art scene. But the story grew legs in the Scandinavian media, particularly after the Gerlesborgskolan, an art school in Hamburgsund, also barred Vilks’s drawings from a show in mid-August, citing “security considerations.” Beginning with the paper “Barometern” on Aug. 15, the Swedish press began to print Vilks’s drawings with their coverage of the affair. Nerikes Allehanda followed with one on Aug. 18, as did Aftonbladet on Aug. 20 and Dagens Nyheter on Aug. 22, the latter with the cutline, “ ‘Mohammed as a roundabout-dog’ isn’t primarily a caricature of Mohammed or ‘Islam’ — but of the world of art. And judging by everything, it hit the bull’s-eye.” To the drawing Sydsvenskan ran on Aug. 24 it added a sketch of a “Jewish sow” Vilks had inked in response to a dare by Ingmarie Froman of the paper Svenska Dagbladet.

Vociferous reaction to the pictures’ publication from the Muslim world was not long in coming. On Aug. 24, a group of about 60 Muslims in the Swedish city of Orebro held a demonstration at the editorial offices of Nerikes Allehanda to protest the paper’s printing of one of the offending images with an editorial decrying art officials’ refusal to show Vilks’s drawings as “unacceptable self-censorship.” Two days later, the Iranian foreign ministry in Tehran summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires and issued an official protest of its own, as Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad fulminated that the cartoon was the work of “Zionists” who “thrive on conflict and war.” On Aug. 30, Pakistan’s foreign ministry also summoned the Swedish charge d’affaires for a dressing-down, and that same day the secretary-general of the 57-nation Organization of the Islamic Conference, Elkemeddin Ihsaoglu, demanded judicial sanction for the “blasphemous caricature,” blasting its publication as “irresponsible and despicable.” On Sept. 1 Afghanistan’s Ministry of Islamic Guidance in a statement in the Kabul Times echoed the OIC’s demand for punishment, as did Egypt’s Ministry of Religious Endowments the next day. On Sept. 3 a Jordanian government spokesman condemned the publication of the drawings, declaring that it “does not serve inter-faith dialogue and co-existence.” And in the small hours of the morning on Sept. 4, vandals in Orebro torched several hundred copies of Nerikes Allehanda awaiting delivery to readers.

In the face of all this the Swedish government and press establishment have shown a surprising amount of backbone. Newspaper editors have firmly rejected demands for apology, and even Swedish Prime Minister Fredrik Reinfeldt was moved to declare his nation “eager to stand up for freedom of expression, which is enshrined in the constitution and comes naturally to us, and which ensures that we do not make political decisions about what gets published in the newspapers.” At a second Muslim demonstration on Aug. 31 against Nerikes Allehanda (around which most of the official condemnations in the Muslim world have centered) in Orebro – this one with some 300 in attendance instead of only 60 – a detachment of the Liberal Party’s youth wing showed up to countervail the protesters, with a spokeswoman who asserted that “Freedom of expression is absolutely central.”

Indeed it is – and it is good to see at least some liberals standing up for what are (or ought to be) quintessentially liberal values. It is also good to see the press in Sweden not only defending its rights but exercising them, which the overwhelming majority of American news media signally failed to do during the Danish cartoon jihad last year. Despite the latter story’s intensity and its direct impact on journalism itself, only three major American papers – the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Austin American-Statesman and the Rocky Mountain News in Denver – had the integrity to print any of the offending caricatures with their coverage and commentary on the issue. The rest offered weasely justifications for their pusillanimity, such as the Feb. 7, 2006 New York Times editorial that called that paper’s reticence “a reasonable choice ... especially since the cartoons are so easy to describe.”

Ease of description, of course, was not the point. The point was to properly practice journalism by printing the Danish cartoons to show readers what the fuss was about and enable them to decide whether it was warranted. “The people’s right to know,” it’s called – and the people certainly had a right to know what was fueling the Islamist fire that would leave at least 139 dead and 823 injured in the cartoon jihad. The point, moreover, was to push back against the malign sentiments expressed on placards and banners borne by Muslim throngs worldwide – which, in addition to calls for the deaths of the cartoonists and their editors, included, in Pakistan, “Our religion does not allow unconditional freedom of speech,” in Nigeria, “Free expression is Western terrorism,” and in Indonesia, “A Muslim’s faith is above Western values.”

Now a Muslim group, Sveriges Muslimska Förbund, is taking legal action to initiate the prosecution of the paper Nerikes Allehanda under a Swedish law prohibiting “agitation against an ethnic group” – never mind that Islam is not an ethnic group at all – and it considers not just the reproduction of Vilks’s drawing but the editorial next to it to be defamatory. “The text is about ridiculing religion,” declared Mahmoud Aldebe, the group’s chairman – though what the text really agitated against was the art world’s timorousness in shunning Vilks’s drawings.

(A stronger defamation case could in fact be made against Vilks, Ingmarie Froman, and the paper Sydsvenskan for the “Jewish sow” cartoon, a slur considerably more vicious than portraying Muhammad as a canine statue in a traffic circle. As the British historian Paul Johnson noted in his 1987 book “History of the Jews,” for centuries in Germany the “judensau” was “the commonest of all motifs for the Jew, and one of the most potent and enduring of abusive stereotypes,” whose “endless repetition helped on a process which in Germany was to become of great and tragic importance: the dehumanization of the Jew.” Likening Jews to animals, specifically monkeys and pigs, is also a common practice among jihad-oriented Muslim clerics, as Robert Spencer points out in his new book “Religion of Peace? Why Christianity Is and Islam Isn’t.”)

The stage is set for an intensification of Islamic ire. Last Friday in Lahore, Pakistan, Muslim demonstrators burned Swedish flags and carried signs reading “Down with Sweden” and “Death to Lars.” A more widespread wave of wrath could come this Friday, when imams preach to the faithful in mosques worldwide. It was after Friday prayers that last year’s cartoon jihad exploded into violence and mass demonstrations throughout the Muslim world.

It is time for the West to teach that world that there are certain things we hold sacred, and are not about to yield to prideful zealots and their ugly tantrums. Paramount among these are the inalienable human right to freedom of expression, and the right of the press to report freely on controversies surrounding its use. Should things get hot this week, let the Swedes hold their ground – and let the American press redeem itself by not shrinking from the graphic depiction of what has prompted the furor.