New Zealand dairy company Font Error, I mean, Fonterra, ran full-page ads in some of the Arab press to emphasize its country of origin. Fat lot of good that did after two Fairfax newspapers in New Zealand published the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Fortunately, while some trade deals are in jeopardy, Muslim-extremist protests have not called for a New Zealand boycott (which, incidentally, would drive the New Zealand dollar down and seriously harm exports). But Kiwis should not be surprised, nor should we question why Muslims have become angry about the blaspheming of their prophet—peace be unto him, as our Muslim neighbours will add—if a ban or violence takes place.
I can imagine it now: shops that even hint at one particular culture are vandalized. Cars from the country are damaged—never mind they are owned by locals. Expatriates feel fearful, even though the majority of their nationals disagree with what has happened. Goods are banned, from toys to wine. Where did this chaos occur? Damascus? Beirut? No. New Zealand. In 1995.
The French government tested nuclear weapons at Mururoa Atoll in the mid-1990s. And instead of realizing that 75 per cent (a ﬁgure I heard then) of French people shared their views, a few New Zealanders took to protests. They caused criminal damage. Anti-French sentiment ran high. I attended that year’s 14e juillet celebrations in New Zealand with not a little concern. Boycotts began in the mid-1990s that held for over half a decade, in some cases.
These folks did not publicly call for the death of François Mitterand: that was a notable distinction. But to say that the reaction of some Muslims was unexpected? Pull the other one. Doesn’t take a giant leap of imagination to go from New Zealand in 1995, with its small population, to the violence in some of the hot-spots around the world in 2006.
Then as now, I’m not in favour of boycotts because they usually do not target the people who are responsible for an action.
For two newspaper editors in New Zealand to sit smugly across from Muslim leaders at a meeting today and claim they meant no offence is ridiculous. Of course they meant offence, as they ﬂexed their muscles to show their power was not waning. Today, they climbed down from their free-speech excuse. We all know the press is free: no point needed to be made here, and no public interest was served.
One of the newspapers claims that 56 per cent were against the publication. That’s probably asking: freedom of the press or refraining from offending Muslims? The real question is: do you agree with the personal aggrandisement of a few editors? The percentage might rise on that.
So they apologized, unlike TV One and Canwest’s TV3, who are ﬁnding it hard to do that. How hard is it?
At the end of the day, we, too, have enough people among our own population who are capable of causing similar mischief. Once again, Muslims and the Anglos that make up most of the New Zealand population may have different creeds and cultures—but, per capita, we have just as many ratbags. Posted by Jack Yan, 06:32
Thank you, Taran. I’m a big believer in cleaning our own doorstep before dissing other people for their beliefs. BTW I had a small problem clicking to your web site—can you check for me if the address was correct, please? Would hate for you to miss out on clicks.
Sorry, Taran: all is cool now. Must have been a temporary glitch on my end.
Just heard Tim Pankhurst of The Dominion Post now tell National Radio that he did not expect people to get that upset over the republication of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons! That’s an awfully short memory for a newspaper editor considering the above happened in 1995. And we New Zealanders did a lot more damage in 1995 to French bakeries and parked Citroëns than Muslim protesters did last week.
One would even say that Mr Pankhurst was lucky that local Muslims are more tolerant than the majority of Kiwis—and that he might be able to remove the extra security around his home that he put up after the uproar. Oh, and it would have been nice to have had extra security at the newspaper the Saturday after the affair erupted.
Update: I wonder if this is why TV3 found it hard to apologize: an Adbusters link provides a possibility.Post a Comment
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