The uproar over the Danish cartoons has some intriguing parallels with the furious dispute over Salman Rushdie’s Satanic Verses almost exactly 17 years ago.
Then, as now, it took several months for isolated protests over the affront to the Prophet Mohammed to explode into an international fireball involving Islamic indignation, western outrage, death threats - and a good deal of political manipulation.
In 1989 it was Iran’s Ayatollah Khomeini who sued a fatwa sentencing Salman Rushdie to death. Today it is Saudi Arabia, Iran’s rival for influence in the Islamic world, that has given force to the campaign against the Danish cartoons.
In the space of a few days at the end of January, Saudi Arabia withdrew its ambassador to Copenhagen, its top religious leader called for the Danish government to punish the Jyllands-Posten for the “ugly crime” and Saudi religious leaders instigated a boycott of Danish goods – all publicised by Saudi newspapers and satellite television stations...
...Mr Abu Laban himself appears to concede the point when he admits that Saudi-owned satellite stations such as al-Majd and Iqra had a "big influence" in fomenting the trade boycott.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
Despite Condoleezza Rice's blaming Iran and Syria, Anton LaGuardia says Saudi Arabian agitation turned the publications of 12 Danish cartoons into an international crisis: