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The Cartoon Controversy

Updates 22 Feb: Competitive madness spreads as self-styled Hindu Personal Law Board and Madhya Pradesh Congress Minority Cell functionary offer cash rewards for M.F. Hussain's head and hands.

The Cartoon Controversy
The Cartoon Controversy
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

22 Feb, 2006: India: Ashok Pandey, the president of a self-styled Hindu Personal Law Board says in Lucknow that "anyone who kills painter M.F. Hussain for making obscene paintings of goddess Sarswati and Bharat Mata; the Danish cartoonist; those in the German company printing pictures of Ram and Krishna on tissue paper and the French filmmaker desecrating Lord Shiva will be given Rs 51 crore in cash by the Board" and if Yaqoob Qureshi undertakes the job "he will be given Rs 101 crore". "Peace will not prevail on earth unless such people are eliminated," he said and urged Qureshi to set out on the mission immediately.

22 Feb, 2006: India: In a statement in Indore, Madhya Pradesh Congress Committee Minority Cell vice- chairman Akthar Baig says MF Hussain has "played with the sentiments of the people and tried to disrupt communal harmony in the past by painting nude pictures of Hindu gods and goddess and now of Bharat Mata" and he will give Rs 11 lakh to a " patriot" who will chop off his hands.

22 Feb, 2006: Cyber and Mobile Protests: After a round of street demonstrations, protests against publication of cartoons depicting Prophet Muhammad enter the virtual world with SMS messages urging people to boycott products made in Denmark. Terming circulation of SMS messages as the "best way" of non violent protests, Kamal Hasan, working president of the United Muslim Morcha says the technologies developed by the western countries have to be used against them.

22 Feb, 2006: United Kingdom: The far-right British National Party (BNP) says it will distribute a campaign leaflet featuring the Danish cartoons in protest of a recent rally by Muslims in London where some demonstrators celebrated the London bombings of July 2005 which killed 52 people. Ian McCartney, chairman of the ruling Labour party condemns the leaflets as "straight out of the Nazi textbook".

21 Feb, 2006: United States: More than a dozen Muslim student protest at the campus newspaper office at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill against an editorial cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad. Ryan Tuck, the editor-in-chief of The Daily Tar Heel says he's sorry if anyone was offended, but won't print an apology. The cartoon was published earlier this month showing a turban-wearing man between two mosque windows.

21 Feb, 2006: India: A criminal case is filed in a local court in Ghaziabad against UP Haj minister Yaqub Qureshi for his inflammatory and criminal speech wherein he announced a reward of Rs 51 crore for anybody beheading the Danish cartoonist who had caricatured the Prophet. The hearing of the case will be held on February 24. However, a defiant Qureshi claimed in Meerut that he has received offers of several crores of rupees and gold from various places and that he is not going to withdraw his offer of money and gold. Terming the post of Minister "small", Qureshi says if he got the slightest hint from Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, he would not hesitate to resign from his ministerial post. "Yadav is a true well-wisher of Muslim community."

21 Feb, 2006:
Nigeria: Christian mobs rampage through the southern Nigerian city of Onitsha, burning mosques and killing several people in an outbreak of anti-Muslim violence that followed deadly protests against caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad over the weekend where the Muslim mobs had been on the rampage against Christian churches and people.

21 Feb 2006: Pakistan:
The Organisation of Islamic Countries (OIC) denounce calls for the death of the Danish cartoonist who satirised the Prophet Mohammed. Its Secretary General Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu says in Pakistan that the calls were un-Islamic and urged Muslims to refrain from violent protests. Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz says Pakistan will send a parliamentary team to Brussels to meet members of the European parliament to discuss the caricatures of Prophet Mohammed and also ask the Organisation of the Islamic Conference to convene a special meeting of foreign ministers of member states to discuss the issue.

20 Feb, 2006: India:
In her reply to a letter written by Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Delhi's Jama Masjid, Congress president Sonia Gandhi shares her " sense of outrage of the Muslim community" over the insensitive publication of cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. The reply further goes on to say that the "Congress party has the greatest regard and respect for all faiths and is committed to protecting their rights and beliefs for preserving and strengthening the secular nature of our society."

20 Feb, 2006: Denmark: Danish foreign minister Per Stig Moeller warns that Al-Qaeda will try to exploit the Muslim uproar over cartoons satirising the Prophet Muhammad.

20 Feb, 2006: Saudi Arabia: The publication Saudi newspaper, Shams is suspended as part of an investigation into its decision to publish the cartoons three weeks ago. The newspaper had printed them next to articles urging Saudis to take action against Denmark where the cartoons first appeared. The two-month old tabloid , which is aimed at the country's young people, said it was doing so to mobilise the campaign in Saudi Arabia against Denmark.

20 Feb, 2006: Russia: Nash Region, a Russian newspaper in the Vologda Region is shut down by its owners after it reprinted the Danish cartoons satirizing the Prophet Muhammad on February 15 along with an article entitled "A War of Caricatures: Opinions". Mikhail Smirnov, the owner of the holding company to which the newspaper belongs, says "the decision to close down the newspaper was made in order to ward off attacks on anyone in the editorial team" and "it is a sacrifice we have made to remove any pretext for speculation about inciting hatred". The newspaper's editor-in-chief Anna Smirnova had earlier testified at the regional prosecutor's office under a probe into the cartoon publication. Another Russian newspaper, Gorodskiye Vesti, had earlier published a drawing depicting Christ, Moses, Buddha and Muhammad accompanying an article entitled "Racists Must be Barred from Power". Vologda Region Governor Vyacheslav Pozgalyov has apologized to the Muslims for the local newspaper's publication.

20 Feb, 2006: Vatican: Reacting to violent protests in Libya and Nigeria, Pope Benedict XVI says "it is necessary and urgent that religions and their symbols are respected, and that believers are not the object of provocations that harm their progress and their religious feelings " but "intolerance and violence can never be justified as responses to offences".

19 Feb, 2006: India: Thousands of Muslims protesting the publication of caricatures of Prophet Mohammad in European newspapers fire some shots in the air and partially damage a hotel and a coffee shop during a demonstration outside the Vidhan Sabha in Lucknow. Addressing the gathering, noted Shia scholar Maulana Kalbe Jawwad says that there was a "conspiracy" against Islam and "unfortunately, India too has joined this conspiracy and has surrendered meekly before the US" and inviting President Bush to India amounted to "insulting and hurting the sentiments of 20 crore Muslims in the country".

The Qazi of Lucknow based Idar-e-Sharia Darul Kaza and Ifta Firangimahal Taksal (Islamic courts) issue a religious decree sentencing the Danish cartoonists to death saying "it has been clearly stated in the Quran that whosoever hurt the Prophet, deserved to be sternly punished". Though All-India Muslim Personal Law Board's spokesman S Q R Iliyasi says that the fatwa has no significance in India, the Qazi maintains "it is applicable wherever Muslims live".

In an interview to CNN-IBN news channel, Samajwadi Party leader Amar Singh describes UP minister Yaqoob Qureshi's 51 crore offer as "irresponsible" and "frivolous". The All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board's general secretary Parveen Abdi condemns Qureshi's offer saying "such statements are made with an aim of gaining cheap publicity" and "why does the minister himself not perform the act of beheading?"

19 Feb, 2006: Denmark:
Kurt Westergaard, one of the Danish cartoonist behind some of the drawings, says he has no regrets (for drawing the controversial cartoons) and that freedom of expression and the press were vital to a democratic society. In an interview to Scotland's' Glasgow Herald newspaper through a list of written questions, Westergaard said the cartoons were intended as a protest against double standards in Denmark and Western Europe - a reference to perceived taboos in addressing aspects of Islam.

In an opinion article written for the Washington Post, Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten says running the cartoons was responding to "widening fears and feelings of intimidation in dealing with issues related to Islam." Rose - who is on 'indefinite holiday' from his newspaper - wrote that "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"

19 Feb, 2006: Pakistan: Defying a ban on protests over the cartoons, thousands of protesters armed with sticks and stones evade cordons and roadblocks to rally in Islamabad. Qazi Hussain Ahmed, the head of Pakistan's six-party Islamic coalition Muthahida Majlis Amal vows to continue street protests and says he is aiming at bringing down President Musharraf's government. The MMA protest rally is backed by the moderate Alliance for Restoration of Democracy (ARD) which includes the Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) and Pakistan Muslim League-N (PML-N) headed by former Premiers Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif respectively. In the city of Sukkur, Sindh, police arrest 23 people after two churches were burned down by a mob apparently enraged by reports that a copy of the Muslim holy book, the Quran, has been desecrated.

19 Feb, 2006: Turkey: Tens of thousands of protestors chanting slogans against Denmark, Israel and the United States, rally in Istanbul, Turkey.

18 Feb, 2006: India: Terming the Rs 51 crore reward announced by UP minister Haji Mohammed Yaqoob Qureshi on the head of the Danish cartoonist for lampooning Prophet Mohammed a result of a "mad competition" of vote-bank politics between Samajwadi Party and Congress, former BJP president M Venkaiah Naidu demands immediate dismissal and arrest of Yaqoob. Addressing a news conference in Chennai, Naidu says that "the BJP disapproves such caricatures, whether Danish or Indian. The so-called secularists have shown no opposition to the caricatures by noted painter M F Hussain" .

Describing the publishing of Prophet Mohammad cartoons as a "Satanic act", J&K National Conference asks the Centre to take up the issue with the countries, where the "blasphemy" was committed.

18 Feb, 2006: UK: Nearly 10,000 people, led by the Muslim Action Committee - an umbrella body for mosques and community groups- march to London's Hyde Park demanding a ban on religious discrimination. One of the committee member Ishmaeel Haneef says the way to "get back to being a civilised world" was to "give the copyright [of the cartoons] over to the Muslim community".

18 Feb, 2006: Nigeria: Rioting in Nigeria leave at least 16 people dead, as protesters in the northern city of Maiduguri go on rampage, burning 30 churches and attacking Christians businesses. Most of the dead are from Maiduguri's minority Christian community. The International Red Cross later puts the death toll to 50.

17, Feb 2006: Libya/Italy: At least 10 people are killed and several injured in in the Libyan port city of Benghazi in clashes during a protest over the cartoons outside the Italian consulate. The unrest began on Friday evening, when a crowd of about 1,000 protesters surrounded the consulate and set fire to the building to protest against Italian minister Roberto Calderoli, who had worn a T-shirt displaying the drawings. The minister later resigned from the government. The Libyan government has said it regrets the violence, and blamed it on what it called "a small irresponsible group that it said did not reflect the Libyan spirit".

17, Feb 2006: United States: Acton H. Gorton, editor in chief of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign's student-run newspaper The Daily Illini, and its opinions page editor, Chuck Prochaska are suspended for reprinting six of the 12 Danish cartoons in its February 9 issue. The cartoons were printed on the opinion's page beside a column by Gorton saying he found the cartoons bigoted and insensitive to the Islamic faith". The New York Muslim Leadership Council holds a peaceful rally of 400 protesters in front of the Danish Consulate. Another group of 300 people led by the Muslim Student Association West hold a protest march in front of the Danish Consulate in Westwood, California.

17 Feb, 2006: India: Uttar Pradesh Minister for Haj and Minority Welfare Haji Mohammed Yaqoob decides to emulate Khomeini and issues his very own fatwa, announcing a reward of Rs 51 crore for beheading the Danish cartoonist who lampooned Prophet Mohammad. Speaking at a gathering in Meerut after Friday prayers Yaqob says "Any person who chops off the head of the cartoonist from Denmark who dared to make a caricature of Mohammad Sahib and bring it to me shall be rewarded Rs 51 crore in cash and given gold equivalent to his weight". Protestors then burnt an effigy of the cartoonist and courted arrest demanding that India sever diplomatic ties with the Scandinavian country. The state government shockingly maintains says it is not contemplating any action against the minister for the inflammatory speech, because, in its view, it was "no offence" to make such an announcement against someone living in a distant country: "The announcement had been made taking into account the feelings of the people... There is no offence to make such an announcement about a person living in a distant foreign country," Home Secretary Alok Sinha told a news conference in Lucknow. When queried further, he said "in a democracy such announcements are made in a normal way. It cannot be said to be a law and order issue."

In Hyderabad, protests against the cartoons turn violent as the agitators pelted stones injuring five people, looted shops and attacked a police patrol vehicle. Six gold and textile shops are looted and some RTC busses are pelted with stones injuring the passengers inside.

17 Feb, 2006: Pakistan: Hafiz Mohammed Saeed, the founder of the Lashkar-e-Toiba, and over 100 of his supporters are detained in Lahore to prevent him from leading protests against the cartoons after the Friday's prayers. More protest rallies are held in Karachi, Peshawar, Multan and Faislabad. Denmark temporarily closes its embassy in Pakistan because of the security situation. Copenhagen also advises against all travel to Pakistan and urges Danes there to leave as soon as possible. Pakistan recalls its ambassador in Denmark for consultations. Peshawar cleric Maulana Yousaf Qureshi offers 7.5m rupees ($125,000) and a car to anyone who kills the cartoonist. The reward is later reportedly raised to $1m. Visiting former US President Bill Clinton calls the publication of the cartoons "a mistake".

17 Feb, 2006:Hong Kong: More than 2,000 Muslims, mostly of South Asian origin, stage a peaceful anti-cartoon march in Hong Kong.

16 Feb 2006: Pakistan: Nearly 40,000 protesters march through Karachi and burn effigies of the Danish prime minister in Pakistan's latest round of protests over cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. About 5,000 police and paramilitary forces, wearing helmets and wielding guns and shields, are deployed along the three-kilometer route of the rally to prevent the violence that has plagued other protests throughout the country this week.

15 Feb, 2006: Europe: Members of the European Parliament condemn the violent protests in Europe and express solidarity with Denmark, saying an attack on one EU country was an attack on all. MEPs also strongly reject the idea that a clash of civilisations was at the root of the uproar, but called for dialogue.

15 Feb, 2006: Pakistan: Security for the Indian cricket team is beefed up in Multan following protests in the country over cartoons of Prophet Mohammed. The team is advised not to venture out of the hotel unescorted.

15 Feb, 2006: India/UAE: Thirty-one-year-old sailor Sudheer Nonia Jagannathan, hailing from Mumbai, is beaten to death by his colleagues on board a Norwegian oil tanker in the international waters off the coast of Fujairah in the UAE following an argument over the cartoon controversy. The entire crew on the ship is from India, which was coming from New Mangalore Port in Karnataka and going towards Fujairah with chemicals.

15 Feb, 2006: Pakistan: Three more people die in Pakistan in the second successive day of fatalities over the publication in of cartoons satirising Prophet Muhammad. An eight-year-old boy and a 28-year-old man are killed in Peshawar as some 70,000 protesters, many of them students, set fire to a KFC restaurant, a cinema and several other buildings, including a Daewoo bus terminal that contained 16 buses, as they rampaged through the city. A number of cars and motorcycles were also burned. In Lahore, one person is killed when police clashed with about 1,500 madrassa students outside Punjab University. The chief minister of Punjab, Chauhdry Pervez Ilahi, says demonstrations intended to be held in a peaceful manner had been hijacked by miscreants.

15 Feb, 2006: Philippines: Hundreds of Muslims burn Danish flags outside the Danish consulate in the Philippines capital, Manila. They also demand that President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo should condemn the caricatures.

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