In a brazen attempt to stifle free speech in the West, a Jordanian court recently summoned twelve European citizens to answer criminal charges of blasphemy and inciting hatred.It is, of course, outrageous to have courts issuing summonses on behalf of groups with an obvious political agenda, in this case, something called "Messenger of Allah Unite Us", for something done in other countries where it is not a crime. We would never do such a thing in our civilized European Union, would we now.
Among those sought by the court is Geert Wilders, the Dutch liberal politician who made the anti-Islamist film, Fitna. Released last March, the Dutch MP’s production caused an uproar in Islamic countries, since it equated Islam with violence. Now a Middle Eastern court would like to prosecute Wilders for the “crime.” (Ironically, a Dutch court dropped charges against him for inciting hatred against Muslims with his film the day before the Jordanian court issued its subpoena.)
The Jordanian court’s move is only the most ambitious attempt to silence debate about Islam. Until now, the preferred strategy has been to file civil lawsuits in western courts to intimidate critics. The latest version of what may be called the legal jihad is even more disturbing.
In one subpoena, issued in early June, the Jordanian court ordered ten Danish newspaper editors to travel to Jordan for the “crime” of having republished the “Mohammad cartoons” last February. The cartoons, first published in 2005, were also greeted with disturbances in Muslim lands. Seventeen Danish newspapers republished the controversial cartoons as a response to the discovery of an Islamist plot to murder Kurt Westergaard. Westergaard, a caricaturist, drew the most famous of those cartoons in the form of Mohammad wearing a bomb-shaped turban, for which he is also included in the summons.
If, as is presumed, the Jordanian court will try to issue an international arrest warrant, the people in question will have to rethink their future travel plans. As they all seem to be under police protection because of threats from other peace-loving, free-thinking groups and individuals, such as the man who butchered Theo van Gogh, this may not be such a big problem.
However, the boycott on Dutch and Danish goods has restarted, having been interrupted by, would you believe it, business considerations:
The boycott campaign actually began late last February but was suspended due to the losses Jordanian importers were incurring that had large stocks of unsold Danish and Dutch products.As I recall the supposedly widespread boycott of Danish goods in the Middle East did very little damage to that country's economy and, in fact, encouraged other people to buy more lego and Danish cooking utensils.
The boycott, however, was resumed June 10. One million posters containing the logos of banned Dutch and Danish products will eventually hang in Jordanian businesses under the title “Living Without It.” The boycott will also be spread by television and radio ads, t-shirts, and bumper stickers.
It seems logical that all the businesses in question have to do is sit back and say: "Do your worst but don't expect any trade with us in future." Or words to that effect. Instead of which they do what businesses do best: they shake and shiver. Oh and grovel.
Dutch and Danish companies were instructed they could get their products off the boycott list if they, essentially, betrayed their nations’ values and their countrymen. The affected companies, according to The Jordan Times, were told to denounce the Dutch film and the Danish cartoons in the media both in Jordan and in at least one publication in their own country, support the Jordanian legal action taken against Wilders and the Danish newspaper people as well as the creation of an international anti-blasphemy law.Somebody remind me again why we are supposed to listen to businessmen on matters political. It's just as well that some unnamed Danish official has kept his head in all this hullaballoo.
Several companies have already complied. When informed of the stipulation that requires a denunciation be published in a Dutch newspaper, a spokesman for a Dutch food company that exports to Jordan said his company “…would print it if needed.”
But such groveling will only buy these companies a little time, as another Dutch company discovered. It had immediately distanced itself from Wilders and Fitna after the film’s release last March but still had products placed on the boycott posters.
The Dutch government did not fare much better in its appeasement efforts. One Dutch embassy official in Jordan said he was surprised his country was included in the boycott in the first place since his government had already printed statements in the Jordanian press distancing itself from Wilders’ film.
And, naturally, the Jordanian blackmailers’ demands have not stopped. Only last week, Dutch and Danish companies were told to put the boycott posters up in their own countries if they did not want their products blacklisted.
Perhaps to further intimidate Holland’s and Denmark’s populations, the Jordanians are also claiming their boycott campaign is causing these countries huge financial losses of over four billion Euros in four months. A Danish official, however, says that is ridiculous since his country only exported about $50 million worth of goods to Jordan in 2007.