11 February 2006

For Want of a Nail

Okay, we can't all be captain, as my father used to say, there has to be crew--there has to be something for you to do. Apparently in France they have something called a pig-squealing contest (not to be confused I guess with our own American hog-calling contest). Last August the AP circulated a picture of a man taking part in the contest. AP Protests Use of Photo in Controversy: "The picture shows a bearded man wearing fake pig ears, a pig nose, and a pink embroidered cap on his head. He was wearing the costume while participating in a pig-squealing contest at an annual festival in a farm village in southern France last summer." Okay, fair enough--so what?

So how did this picture help lead to riots, the burning of embassies, the destruction of property and the deaths of at least ten people?

Well, see, that's the sixty-four thousand dollar question, as they used to say in my time. Somehow this picture got included with the eleven caricatures of the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) that were published last September in a Danish newspaper. The Danish Muslim leader responsible for this had no explanation, except that it had been "sent to the group as an example of a provocation" according to the AP report. Earlier accounts claimed that it had been sent to an unnamed Muslim (presumably in Denmark) who apparently interpreted it as a depiction of the prophet Mohammed (peace be upon him) as a pig. (Maybe a friend sent it to him as an example of the idiocies of the West?)

Somebody's been hoaxed here, and my money's on--well, okay, I don't know who's responsible. I do find it puzzling that the Danish delegation felt it necessary to add other material to the eleven caricatures, if those caricatures were the issue. There's no question about the eleven--why intermingle extraneous and irrelevant material then? Is it, as some have charged, because the cartoons themselves weren't considered inflammatory enough? In other words, is this just an elaborate publicity stunt for Islam?

In any case, it's clear that the Muslim rioters owe Denmark a humble and abject apology over this issue. Will they get one? I'm not holding my breath.

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