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April 06, 2009

Nominee To Head NATO Doesn't Quite Apologize For Cartoons Of Blasphemy

Last night there were reports that former Denmark PM and soon to be Secretary General of NATO Anders Fogh Rasmussen was going to apologize for his previous support of the Danish newspaper that ran the cartoons.

Today in Istanbul he didn't specifically apologize but did address the controversy that won't go away.

"I was deeply distressed that the cartoons were seen by many Muslims as an attempt by Denmark to mark and insult or behave disrespectfully toward Islam or the Prophet Mohammad. Nothing could be further from my mind," he said

"I respect Islam as one of the world's major religions as well as its religious symbols," he said during a panel discussion at the conference aimed at building bridges between the Muslim world and the West.

The row over his appointment, which threatened the image of unity at NATO's 60th anniversary summit, was resolved after Obama guaranteed Turkish commanders would be present at the alliance's command and that one of Rasmussen's deputies would be a Turk.

Rasmussen previously defended publication of the cartoons, which caused protests in the Muslim world, on the grounds of free speech and refused to apologize to Muslim countries.

"During my tenure as the secretary-general of NATO I will pay close attention to the religious and cultural sensibilities of the different communities that populate our increasingly pluralistic and globalized world," Rasmussen said.

So he didn't exactly apologizes but honestly the fact that he even had to address this is still troubling. I get that we don't need to go poking Muslims in the eye just for sport but we also don't need to be defensive about our civilization and values.

I see an awful lot of talk about the sensitivities of the Islamic world but where's the full throated defense of free speech? Last I checked that was a cornerstone of our values, the kind of thing NATO was created to protect. Where's the Islamic leadership meeting us halfway by saying, 'no, we don't like these cartoons but we understand that's just how you discuss things'.

Funny how that never seems to happen, isn't it? And by funny I mean pathetic.


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posted by DrewM. at 10:27 AM

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