Wednesday, February 22, 2006

Denmark's Diplomatic Breakdown

Here is another interesting post from Random Platitudes about the background of the Muhammad cartoon crisis, coming from a historian and lecturer in Denmark. It's nice to see a dispassionate examination of the origins of this crisis from somebody who really knows the background.

In his first post, RP detailed some inconsistencies in the story of Danish author Kåre Bluitgen, who allegedly could not find anyone willing to illustrate his children's book on Muhammad. RP raises the possibility that these "unwilling illustrators" may not, in fact, exist.

In part two of his exposition, RP deals with the chain of events that turned the cartoon controversy into a diplomatic crisis. The mainstream press has made much of the fact that the cartoon protests were "orchestrated" by governments in the Muslim world. What they don't offer is an explanation of how this came to be.

Shortly after Jyllands-Posten published the original cartoons on Sept. 30, 2005, the Danish prime minister got a letter signed by the ambassadors of eleven Muslim countries requesting a meeting to discuss Islamophobia in Denmark. At issue was not only the cartoons, but three other incidents of anti-Muslim hatemongering, several originating from within the Danish government itself.

In a serious breach of diplomatic protocol, the prime minister refused to meet with the eleven diplomats and cut his own foreign minister out of the loop. RP sees this as a missed opportunity, calling the foreign minister "a highly intelligent man with a gift for diplomacy."
Had he been involved from the start, it is fair to say that the situation might not have escalated.
But, we all know how it ends. The prime minister of Denmark (purposely or not) turned this into a diplomatic crisis which then spiraled out of control. None of these revelations excuse the rioting and killing—nor do they justify Muslim governments manipulating their citizens into violence—but it is extremely useful to have this background information.

RP's post is part 2 of a 4-part series on the cartoon crisis. Definitely worth a read.
Listed on BlogShares