Tonight Bloody Cartoons will be shown on Danish TV. The movie is part of the Why Democracy? project that has been launched to make 10 documentaries from around the world.
It involves 35 broadcasters worldwide and a global web presence. Bloody Cartoons was made by Danish filmmaker and journalist Karsten Kjaer. It’s a great documentary, though it doesn’t tell the story behind the publication of the cartoons; the fact that they didn’t come put of the blue, but were commissioned and published as a reaction to widening self censorship in Denmark and Western Europe regarding the coverage of Islam.
The documentary very effectively shows that the outburst of violent reactions in the Muslim world was a well planned operation by Islamic clerics and political leaders in the Middle East. Few of the angry people had actually seen the cartoons.
Phillippe Val, editor of the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, that was put on trial for republishing two of the cartoons marvels at the fact that anyone may perceive the cartoon of the prophet with a bomb in his turban as a provocation.
”Is it a provocation to ridicule people bombing trains? No, if we cannot ridicule them, we have lost. This kind of ridicule represents the mental well being of our citizens,” says Philippe Val.
Bloody Cartoons talks to the global mufti and TV-imam Yussuf al-Qaradawi who back in February 2006 called for a ”day of rage” against Denmark. The old man reveals that in the documentary he sees the cartoons for the first time. He is not happy with the interview and demands that the reporter signs a letter confirming that al-Qaradawi’s words will be translated properly. The secretary general of the Organization of Islamic Countries (OIC) Ekmeliddin Ihsamoglu isn’t happy either, that he is being confronted with the fact that he bears some responsibility for the violence.
He insists that this part of the interview be left out. Obviously, it isn’t easy for these people in powerful positions to answer critical questions. They are not used to this kind of speech. Free speech
The scoop of the movie is an interview with a professionel demonstrater in Iran. This 72-year old man is instructing the Basij forces of the revolutionary guard to attack the Danish embassy. Reporter Karsten Kjaer finds him in a town outside Teheran, and contrary to all the official figures the guy is honest.
”We heard that the Prophet had been insulted, so in a letter to the Danish ambassador we demanded that the Danish government punish the offenders and apologize,” he explains.
“But did you see the cartoons?”
“No, I did not.”
When he is presented with the cartoon showing Mohammed with a bomb in his turban he replies.
”Is this Mohammed? He doesn’t look like the prophet. He is an Indian Sikh.”
Oh, that’s really insulting.
Watch out for November 11. That’s the day Bloody Cartoons will be broadcasted on Al Arabiya. It’s going to very interesting to follow reactions in the Middle East.