The World from Berlin: ‘Most Muslims Want Freedom Rather than Slogans’
The decision by the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo to publish Muhammad caricatures on Wednesday threatens to inflame the already tense atmosphere in the Muslim world. But German commentators argue that the Arab Spring proved that Muslims would rather have freedom than increased radicalism.
With the release of the anti-Islam video in the US earlier this month, the atmosphere among the world’s 1 billion Muslims was tense enough already. Seeing the fire, however, the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo decided on Wednesday to pour oil on it instead of water.
Following a well-worn method for ensuring a few days in the international spotlight, the magazine published several uncomplimentary caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Some of the images depict the prophet naked or in semi-pornographic poses, a sure-fire way to become a target of Muslim fury. Indeed, the French government quickly moved to denounce the magazine’s decision to go to press and also ordered embassies and other French facilities in 20 Muslim countries to remain closed on Friday.
The US too expressed concern over the potential Muslim response to the caricatures, coming as they do on the heels of the inflammatory amateur film “Innocence of Muslims.” Protests against the film have at times veered into violence, resulting in 30 deaths in protests around the world, including four Americans at the US Consulate in Benghazi, Libya.
“We know that these images will be deeply offensive to many and have the potential to be inflammatory,” White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Wednesday, referring to the Charlie Hebdo cartoons. “But we’ve spoken repeatedly about the importance of upholding the freedom of expression that is enshrined in our constitution. In other words, we don’t question the right of something like this to be published, we just question the judgment behind the decision to publish it.”