Well, Maybe It's A Gradual Wind-Down
Is the intoonfadah winding down, as I guessed yesterday? It's dropping off the front page, but things are still pretty hot: A 14-year-old boy was shot by police during a protest in Somalia. Four people were killed in protests in Afghanistan—though these protests, like others, may be more about local issues than the cartoon flap. Meanwhile, a South African court has prohibited republication of the cartoons, and Ferial Haffajee, editor of the Mail and Guardian, receives death threats for having reprinted one of the cartoons as an illustration to a news story. In the UK, politicians are looking to punish protesters who issued "direct incitements to violence" last week; one Omar Khayam (last scene getting mega-props from the literati for his Rubaiyat) explains why he dressed like a suicide bomber at last week's festivities. And as Jacob noted below, people trying to kill innocent Danes are at least being civilized about it.
Daily Kos comes up with a novel theory: that the Saudi government blew the protests wide in order to distract attention from yet another lousy security performance at the Hajj, during which 342 pilgrims were trampled in the annual stoning-the-devil mêlée. I'm somewhat partial to this theory because it gives the best explanation I've seen for why the issue suddenly blew up after four months of simmering. But there are problems with this view too. A survey of Arab press reactions to the stampede doesn't indicate the Saudis were under an unprecedented amount of public pressure—at least, no more than usual, since the Hajj produces a high body count every year, and this year's total death toll isn't even close to the record.
You may or may not know that there is a pretty long history of images depicting Muhammad in Islamic art. Here's an image gallery that traces the development in eastern and western pictorial history, and shows how the abstraction of the prophet's image evolved. (I wish Hollywood would take a hint for future Jesus movies, and take us back to the glory days when Christ and Franklin Roosevelt were represented onscreen by a silhouette and a disembodied voice.)
Another running theme lately has been the anti-Semitic art that thrives in the Arab and Islamic media, with nobody calling a foul. Here's a gallery of that kind of stuff. The funniest gag on this theme has been at a site called Filibustercartoons.com:
Speaking of this kind of having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too critique of anti-Semitism, here's the best evidence that the furor is dying down. After many interesting emails about my intoonfadah opus, I'm finally starting to get hotmail messages from real or fake Nazis that go like this: How's this for "free speech" the hollocaust is a lie.the biggest deception ever publish that and see what the jews do to your career! And once those volks show up, the topic has definitely jumped the shark. Allah Makun.
Pakistan's biggest protest yet draws 5,000 people.
Austrian and Danish embassies attacked in Teheran.
Palestinian police break up protest at EU office in Gaza City.
Omar Khayyam's a crack dealer, and he's really, really sorry.
Muslim Council of Britain calls for incitement prosecution of protesters who made ominous 7/7 references.
Philly Inquirer becomes first U.S. paper to publish cartoons, draws a peaceful protest of about two dozen.
Iran's most popular paper will sponsor Holocaust-cartoon competition. Art Spiegelman, call your agent.
Wind-down/non-wind-down factor: A push. Several of these are peaceful demos, and the Holocaust thing, though grotesque, is non-violent.