Thursday, March 20, 2008

Bin Laden "Celebrates" the Prophet Muhammad's Birthday

Picture credit and NYT (3-20-08) article about the Danish Cartoonist Kurt Westergaard

UPDATE: There is circumstantial evidence that the controversy over the cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammed may have been choreographed by the SVR--the Russian foreign intelligence service (See "Active Measures: the Russian Art of Disinformation," p. 2).

Some Muslims observe a holiday called Mawlid---the Prophet Muhammad's birthday---which falls on March 20 this year; but Osama Bin Laden may have chosen the occasion of the Prophet's birth to post a new audio message on the As-Sahab website in order to incite violence by his followers against the European Union because European papers have republished some offensive 2005 political cartoons depicting Muhammad.

Bin Laden is even claiming that the cartoons---which some experts believe may have been inspired by the Russian foreign intelligence service---are part of a "new Crusade" against Islam in which [Pope] Benedict has played a "large and lengthy role," a claim that the Vatican denies. The Pope and the Vatican have criticized the cartoons more than once. The Pope said that religious symbols must be respected, but he also criticized the violent protests and the resulting deaths that followed the publication of these cartoons.

Pope Benedict XVI is scheduled to speak in April at the United Nations, pray at the site of the former World Trade Center, and celebrate Mass in Yankee Stadium, so Bin Laden's accusations against the Pope are being noted in New York City.

Time (3-19-08) reports that the Pope has been negotiating to build a Catholic church in Saudi Arabia, and the possibility that Catholic churches might eventually be permitted in Saudi Arabia is probably what is really enraging Bin Laden. There are 800,000 Catholic guest workers in Saudi Arabia.

To me, it seems very disrespectful of Bin Laden to observe the Prophet Muhammad's birthday by threatening people with death just because of a few offensive and possibly Russian-inspired cartoons in a Danish newspaper or because the Vatican may be allowed to build churches in Saudi Arabia. After all, Muslims have mosques in countries with Christian majorities.

Some Muslims do not observe Mawlid and some do, but from what I could find out, Muslims do not observe their Prophet's birthday by inciting murder.

Wikipedia explains:

Where Mawlid is celebrated in a carnival manner, large street processions are held and homes or mosques are decorated. Charity and food is distributed, and stories about the life of Muhammad are narrated with recitation of poetry by children.

That sounds perfectly lovely. I wonder what the Prophet Muhammad would say if he knew that Osama Bin Laden wants to turn his birthday into an occasion for murder in his name?
Did the Prophet Muhammad have a bomb in his bonnet, or is Muhammad the leader of the "religion of peace"?

The Bible says that when Jesus was crucified he asked God to forgive the people who humiliated and crucified him. Indeed, the humiliation of Jesus on the cross has become the symbol of Christianity.

For some reason, the crucifixion of a real human being who asked God's forgiveness for his killers has become the symbol for Christianity and the mockery of a man in a cartoon (possibly as the result of a Russian "active measures" operation carried out by the SVR) has become the focus of Bin Laden's outrage and the occasion for riots and incitement to murder real people.

On Sunday, March 23, 2008, Christians will celebrate the greatest day in their religion--the humiliation and murder of Jesus.

Other Bin Laden observers believe that Bin Laden's tape is occasioned by the five-year anniversary of the March 20, 2003 invasion of Iraq. Maybe in Osama's mind there is a symbolic importance to this date because it is both Muhammad's birthday and the date of the Invasion of Iraq. [Note: Mawlid fell on May 13 in 2003 and did not coincide with the March 20, 2003, Invasion of Iraq.]

Kurt Westergaard is a Danish cartoonist who published a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten on 9-30-05. Twelve editorial cartoons called Muhammad's Face [see English captions] were published that mocked the Prophet Muhammed. Westergaard's cartoon showed a picture of the Prophet Muhammad with a bomb in his bonnet.

The Danish paper said that these cartoons were published to make the point that newspapers are afraid to criticize Islam. Wikipedia has an article about the background of the cartoon controversy and a timeline.

Westergaard has reportedly been living in safe houses ever since the cartoons were published because radical Muslims are trying to kill him. The NYT (2-13-08) reported that three Muslims had been arrested in Denmark for plotting to kill Kurt Westergaard.

The NYT (3-20-08) reports that Bin Laden has denounced the Danish cartoons in an audio on As-Sahab on the occasion of the Prophet Muhammad's birthday and has warned Europeans of retaliation:

In the message, which appeared on a militant Web site that had carried statements from Al Qaeda in the past, a voice believed to be Mr. bin Laden’s did not specify what action would be taken but said, “Let our mothers bereave us if we do not make victorious our messenger of God.” The message was posted after Danish newspapers on Feb. 13 republished a cartoon showing Muhammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban to show their commitment to freedom of speech after the police said they had uncovered a plot to kill the artist. The drawing was one of 12 cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper that set off major protests in Muslim countries in 2006. “Publishing these insulting drawings,” Mr. bin Laden said in the recording, “is the greatest misfortune and the most dangerous.” The five-minute message, which featured English subtitles, is Mr. bin Laden’s first for 2008. It came as the Muslim world celebrated the holiday that marks the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad [Full text].

The Washington Post (3-20-08) believes that Bin Laden's message may have been occasioned by the five-year anniversary of the beginning of the Iraq war:

Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden warned Europe Wednesday of a "reckoning" for publishing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed, US monitoring groups said.

In an audio message, addressed to the "intelligent ones" in the European Union, a voice purported to be bin Laden's said that publishing the "insulting drawings" was a greater crime than Western forces targeting Muslim villages and killing women and children.

And the "reckoning for it will be more severe," he said, according to a transcript of the message provided by the Virginia-based IntelCenter.

Referring to a series of cartoons published in Danish newspapers, the Al-Qaeda leader also warned: "if there is no check on the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions."

And cryptically he added that the Muslims' response to the insult will be "what you see, not what you hear."

The five-minute audio message, titled "May Our Mothers Be Bereaved Of Us If We Fail to Help Our Prophet," was posted by As-Sahab, Al-Qaeda's media arm, according to SITE Intelligence Group.

...The message said that the cartoons were part of "the framework of a new crusade" in which the Roman Catholic pope "has played a large, lengthy role."

The Al-Qaeda leader also assailed the king of Saudi Arabia as the "one man who can put an end to these drawings, if it mattered to him."

The message coincided with the fifth anniversary of the Iraq War.

The audio track with English subtitles is heard over a video image of bin Laden holding an AK-47 automatic rifle.

IntelCenter chief Ben Venzke said bin Laden's message was "a clear threat against EU member countries and an indicator of a possible upcoming significant attack."

"However, it is unclear in exactly what timeframe it may occur," he said.

Protests have raged in a number of Muslim countries since 17 Danish dailies on February 13 reprinted a drawing featuring the Prophet Mohammed's head with a turban that looked like a bomb with a lit fuse.

The newspapers decided to republish the caricature, originally printed in 2005, a day after police in Denmark foiled a plot to murder the cartoonist.

Bin Laden's message also includes a nugget for US President George W. Bush, whom he describes as Europe's "oppressive ally who -- along with his aggressive policies -- is about to depart the White House."

He said the "savage acts" of the US-led military coalition in Iraq and Afghanistan "haven't ended the war, but rather (have) increased our determination to cling to our right, avenge our people and expel the invaders from our country"

...[President] Bush, in a speech earlier marking the war's fifth anniversary, hailed progress in the "war on terror" and said Iraq was witnessing an "Arab uprising" against bin Laden's Al-Qaeda network.

"In Iraq, we are witnessing the first large-scale Arab uprising against Osama bin Laden, his grim ideology, and his murderous network. And the significance of this development cannot be overstated," Bush said.

The president touted what he called "the Anbar Awakening," when Sunni tribal leaders in the restive province "had grown tired of Al-Qaeda's brutality and started a popular uprising." [Full text].


Anonymous Anonymous said...

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9:36 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

that was a very obscene comment because cursing is not appropriate and is hurtful

9:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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8:49 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:38 PM  

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