Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Viva Denmark!

Being a religious zealot must be such a sorry, paranoid task.

Constantly on the lookout for something sinful, outrageous and worth a fatwa or a round of flagellation. Most recently the limelight in Europe was stolen by Muslim fundamentalists. And satire is one of the many things they really can't stomach, almost as bad as ice-cream-eating women. Remember the 1989 fatwa issued to kill Salman Rushdie for alleged blasphemy in his book The Satanic Verses? Well, we're at it again.

The latest outrage was sparked yesterday by a cartoon published on a Danish newspaper showing the Prophet saying that paradise was running short of virgins for suicide bombers. God forbid. Unbelievably, that was enough to earn the Danes death-threats and state-sponsored boycotts.

Yet, what's really 'intolerable' isn't religious satire (spare a thought for those Christians who a year ago lambasted Jerry Springer- The Musical) , instead it's the fact that a simple cartoon can justify issuing a fatwa! You may be starving and oppressed in Iran or Saudi Arabia, but religious brainwashing turns your scale of priorities into something totally dysfunctional. And so cartoons become a matter of life or death.

But whereas in this and many other countries politicians would bow to the bigots in the name of quiet life, in Denmark Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen defended the freedom of the press and the importance of a secular state. That's the way to do it.

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