Thursday, March 02, 2006

Phoenix weekly paper New Times publishes Mohammed cartoons

The Phoenix New Times, one of the country's oldest free "alternative" weekly newspapers which has won numerous awards for its investigative reporting, has published the Mohammed cartoons that have stirred up so many protests. The cartoons appear in conjunction with an article titled "The Chosen One," about local feminist Muslim Deedra Abboud, the director of the Arizona chapter of the Muslim American Society's Freedom Foundation, a civil rights group headquartered in D.C., and former director of the Arizona chapter of the Council of American-Islamic Relations (CAIR). She left CAIR after growing tired of responding to Ann Coulter, whom she feels doesn't deserve the attention. (I agree.)

Abboud is a recent Muslim convert, a former Southern Baptist business major at the University of Arkansas. She converted after a period of arguing against Muslims, then reading the Koran. Apparently she found Islam more sensible than Christianity, as she questioned the Trinity and how the notion of Jesus dying for the sins of mankind could possibly make any sense. It's too bad she jumped out of the frying pan into the fire, dropping one bogus religion only to adopt another.

Regarding the cartoon controversy, she is quoted saying
"I don't think Americans have been given the full context of those cartoons," Abboud tells Uncle Nasty, her voice becoming louder as she tries to speak over the one on the other end of the phone. "I'm not defending the violence. But the editor of the Danish paper wasn't trying to make a point; he was clearly trying to offend people."
Actually, the editor of the Danish paper, Jyllands-Posten, solicited the cartoons because Danish author Kare Bluitgen had written a children's book about Mohammed and was unable to find an illustrator. The editor wanted to see if there was really such a chilling effect against artists that they were afraid to illustrate the book, and solicited artists' renditions of Mohammed, without specifying that they take any particular position. The instruction was to "draw the Prophet as they saw him."

That children's book, The Koran and the Life of Mohammed, is now a best-seller in Denmark, by the way--though its illustrator remains anonymous.

The controversy arose four months after the Danish paper published the cartoons, and was heightened by Muslim imams who circulated the cartoons along with other, more offensive cartoons which were not published by the paper. Abboud claims she has been following the controversy since the original publication, and is aware of these other cartoons not being published by the Danish paper.

Zuhdi Jasser, another prominent local Muslim (a politically conservative doctor who previously worked as a doctor at the U.S. Capitol and often writes op-ed pieces in the Arizona Republic) is described in the New Times piece as not trusting Abboud or the organizations she represents. Jasser organized a "Muslims Against Terrorism" rally at which CAIR representatives were not permitted to speak, because of what Jasser describes as their promotion of victimhood within the Muslim-American community.

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