The Danish and Iranian cartoon controversies

In an article on US-Iranian relations Haroon Siddiqui takes up the antisemitic cartoon contest in Iran:

“Conspicuous by their silence in all this are those who during the Danish cartoon controversy had mounted a noisy defence of the right to offend. They are neither lining up to reprint the cartoons from Tehran nor are they criticizing the exhibit. It is a predicament of their own making. If they condemn the show, as they should, they’ll open themselves to accusations of double standards, namely, that their defence of freedom of speech last spring was meant only to protect their right to malign Muslims and Islam.

“But anti-Islamic prejudice alone does not explain the West’s conflicting emotions. Some people do believe freedom of speech is absolute. But it is not. It is constrained by the laws of libel and hate. It must be balanced against the right to freedom of religion. It is subject to self-restraint, dictated by our evolving understanding of what is and is not acceptable. The Danish and Iranian cartoon controversies have added another element to this complex equation. The global village demands of us a broadened outlook, one that avoids needless needling across all religious divides in these troubled times.”

Toronto Star, 3 September 2006