The ongoing controversy over caricatures of the Prophet Mohammad.
In France, the dispute takes a new twist
Why there’s been a muted reaction to the images in Russia?
What role can Turkey play to mediate in the conflict?
Freedom of speech vs Muslim tradition
The United Nations, the European Union and the Organization of the Islamic Conference urged restraint and dialogue this week following world-wide Muslim anger over the widespread publication of the caricatures. In France, which has the largest Muslim population in Europe, the satirical weekly ”Charlie Hebdo” reprinted all twelve of the Danish cartoons this week, as well as new caricatures of their own. French president Jacques Chirac accused the publication of ”provocation”. And several French Muslim organizations went to court, seeking a ban of the paper. They argued the cartoons were inciting religious hatred. The court refused to grant the injunction on technical grounds.
Scandinavia in shock
The cartoons were originally published in a Danish newspaper last September. Then in January, a small Norwegian paper reprinted them. Although they’ve since appeared in papers in numerous countries, Muslim protestors have specifically targeted Scandinavians. Last weekend, demonstrators set on fire the building housing both the Swedish and the Danish embassies in Damascus, Syria. Radio Sweden’s Azariah Kiros spoke with Per Rik Körström, a Swedish conflict consultant who has worked in Syria for the United Nations. He feels that the crisis can still be neutralized.
Russian Muslims remain calm
Newspapers in Russia have refrained from reprinting the satirical cartoons of the prophet Mohammed. The country has a sizeable Muslim minority of about 20 million. But the controversy about the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammed has - so far - not led to street protests.
Secular Turkey in a unique position
Turkey finds itself in a unique position in this dispute. It wants to become a member of the European Union and its 65-million-strong population is overwhelmingly Muslim. There have only been a few small protests over the cartoons, although there’s widespread anger in Turkey over their publication.
Across Europe’s Alps, the winter ski season is in full swing. Thousands of holiday makers are already enjoying almost perfect snow conditions. Thousands more are packing their skis and getting ready to go. But skiing has become an increasingly dangerous sport. Now, one Swiss resort has come up with a novel way to try to ensure guests leave the slopes as they arrived - in one piece.
Prague: Wedding tourism boom
Most people would probably say that the most romantic city in the world is Paris. But the Czech capital Prague is now also staking its claim. It has become an increasingly popular wedding destination for couples from all over the world. Czech town halls can only welcome this new type of tourism, as it brings extra cash into their coffers.
Closing Music: “Liebe ist alles” (Love is everything), Rosenstolz