Iran Supports End to Cartoon Violence

Iran Supports End to Cartoon Violence” is the headline of an AP story running in YahooNews at the moment.

No, the mullahs are not trying to ban Wile E. Coyote from chasing Road Runner.

Iran backed calls from other Muslim and world leaders Monday for an end to violent protests over the Prophet Muhammad cartoons, urging calm after weeks of demonstrations that have left at least 45 people dead in the Muslim world. Iranian Foreign Minister Manouchehr Mottaki, on a visit to European Union headquarters, said he and EU foreign policy chief Javier Solana urged better dialogue between the Muslim world and the West over respect and tolerance. “We accepted to cooperate with each other to calm down the situation, not to offend the values, religious values in particular from one side, and freedom of expression from the other side — some kind of balance,” Mottaki told reporters. “We should try to cool down the situation. We do not support any violence.”

A bit rich coming from the regime that began the modern Islamist movement. On the day when protests like this are going on in the Iranian capital:

Tehran, Iran, Feb. 20 – Several dozen hard-liners gathered outside the Danish embassy on Monday in protest to the publication of insulting cartoons depicting Islam’s Prophet Muhammad in European dailies. The group carried banners reading “We hate Denmark”. They accused “Zionists” of being behind the cartoons which first appeared in a Copenhagen daily.

And just a few days after two other protests in the same city.

Photo: Protesters run after police used tear gas in front of the Danish embassy in Tehran, on Monday Feb. 6, 2006. (AP)

And whose former President did his best to stoke violent protests.

Iran’s former President Ayatollah Ali Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani accused the West on Tuesday of carrying out the work of Satan after cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammad negatively were published in European dailies. Speaking to a gathering of senior clerics in Tehran, Rafsanjani, who currently chairs the State Expediency Council, said that Western interpretations of freedom of press were false. “Insulting the prophet of peace and freedom under the pretext of freedom of thought and expression is a satanic conspiracy which without doubt will be disclosed as before with the presence of Muslims everywhere”, he said, the state-run Fars news agency reported.

The powerful cleric said that the West’s goal for publishing the cartoons was “clear” and encouraged Muslims everywhere to rise up against such “plots”.

But, certainly, we’ll take whatever help we can get in ending the madness.

Still, let’s not pretend that this is a simple case of pious Muslims in a spontaneous pique of anger against some months-old cartoons.

In Copenhagen, Danish Foreign Minister Per Stig Moeller warned that al-Qaida terrorists were exploiting the outrage over the drawings and condemned a Pakistani cleric who last Friday offered a $1 million bounty for killing one of the cartoonists. “When money is put on the cartoonists’ heads, then terror is also being used,” Moeller said. “It’s incitement to murder. Murder is also banned by the Quran.” Moeller noted that protests against the cartoons have been tapering off in many Arab countries, while escalating in Pakistan and Turkey. “It’s the extremist forces that wish to keep it going,” he told reporters in Copenhagen. “There is no doubt that all extremists will exploit the situation. Al-Qaida, too, will use it and fan the fire.”

Quite right.

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Danish Muslim Cartoons - Click to enlarge

See these cartoons in full size here.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is a Security Studies professor at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.