While most media accounts of the "cartoon jihad" focused on the publication of the cartoons, and on the ensuing violent reaction by some Muslims -- who were depicted by the much of the press as victims! -- few reporters have ventured to describe the increasingly hostile climate that Muslim extremists had succeeded in creating in Denmark before the publication. In fact, an examination of Jyllands-Posten's own pages reveals why its editors likely decided to publish the cartoons in the first place -- as well as why the obscurantist rioters were so confident that they would prevail.
In late 2004 -- a University of Copenhagen professor of Moroccan Jewish descent -- was kidnapped in broad daylight and brutally beaten by three Muslim youths for the "crime" of having read from the Quran during a lecture. A few months later, a Danish publisher used anonymous translators for an essay collection critical of Islam for fear that any named assistant would suffer a similar fate. And in an incident immediately preceding Jyllands-Posten's decision to run the cartoons as a test of self-censorship, Danish artists refused to illustrate a children's book about Muhammad.
These incidents, all disturbing, don't even scratch the surface of the appeasement Danes have made to accommodate the people who unleashed violence against them. In Copenhagen's public schools, the only food available to students -- regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof -- are Halal (prepared according to Islamic dietary requirements). In Denmark, a country which enjoys well-deserved praise for the courage with which citizens came together to save its small Jewish community during World War II, Danish Jewish students today cannot attend certain public schools because their very presence is viewed by administrators as "provocative" to radicalized Muslim peers. The country's only Jewish school, Copenhagen's 300-pupil Carolineskolen, founded in 1805, nowadays is constrained to operate behind a double ring of barbed wire.
Naser Khader, the Damascus-born son of a Palestinian father and Syrian mother who has served as a Danish parliamentarian from the Social Liberal Party since 1994, now lives under round-the-clock police protection because he committed the "crime" of giving his daughter a kafir ("infidel," read "Western") name. Compounding his "apostasy," he founded a moderate Muslim group with over 700 members, Democratic Muslims, after the outbreak of the "cartoon jihad" to campaign against Islamic establishmentarianism. Imam Ahmad Abu Laban -- the same character who instigated Middle Eastern anti-Danish riots with his portfolio of doctored cartoons -- then labeled Mr. Khader and his supporters "rats in a hole." One of the members of Khader's new group, Iranian refugee Kamran Tahmesabi, recently told a Belgian newspaper, "It is an irony that I am today living in a European democratic state and have to fight the same religious fanatics that I fled from in Iran many years ago."
After the "cartoon jihad" had seemingly run its course, this past February 12, the Danish chapter of the radical group Hizb ut-Tahrir availed itself of the Scandinavian country's "decadent" freedoms to hold a meeting in the Copenhagen neighborhood of Nørrebro, where it attempted to stoke the flames of hatred. The participants at this gathering minced no words about the "infidels" who populate their country. Leader Fadi Abdullatif (who had previously received a 60-day sentence for threatening to kill Jews) turned his wrath on Denmark's popular bicycle-riding sovereign, Queen Margarethe II, whom he accused of involvement in a "conspiracy" with Jyllands-Posten and Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen to "harm Islam." The state prosecutor, under pressure from Muslim groups, declined to bring charges.
Historically, non-Muslim minorities (i.e., Jews and Christians) could escape the ravages of violent jihad only by surrendering to Islamic domination through a treaty of agreed-upon subjugation and oppression (dhimma) that turned them into "protected persons" (dhimmis) with second class status within the real of Islam. Today, it seems that even non-Muslim majorities are requested to descend into dhimmitude to avoid the wrath of some new immigrants. But, to paraphrase our own American Freedom Marchers, we are citizens, not dhimmis. Of course, once one has let oneself be treated like a dhimmi, it becomes hard to protest.
J. Peter Pham is director of the Nelson Institute for International and Public Affairs at James Madison University. Michael I. Krauss is professor of law at George Mason University School of Law. Both are academic fellows of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies.