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Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The accidental Muslim martyr for free speech

The Yemen Observer made a dire mistake last month. As its now-jailed editor says:
When we ran our article on the Danish cartoons, it was all about how the Prophet should be honored, with quotations from famous people about what an important figure he was, and a news story on Yemeni protests. We reprinted the cartoons but blacked them out. Unfortunately by an innocent mistake in the production process, a thumbnail of the cartoons appeared on the front page—only 1.5cm [0.6 of an inch] by 2cm [0.8 of an inch], you could hardly read it.
Uh-oh.

Insane Islamists complained (he claims that is was a rival government newspaper) and the Yemeni government, our close friends and allies, arrested the editor on the serious charge of insulting the prophet and put him in a special jail for journalists.(!) They also suspended the license of the newspaper to publish.

Now he is on trial and the prosecution is seeking the death penalty:
SANA’A – Up to 21 prosecution lawyers called for the death penalty against Mohammed Al-Asadi, the Editor-in-Chief of the Yemen Observer, and the permanent closure of the newspaper, during Al-Asadi’s trial on Wednesday. The lawyers, commissioned by Sheik Abdul-Majid Zindani, the Chairman of Islah Shura Council and led by Mohammed Al-Shawish, also called for the confiscation of all the newspaper’s property and assets, and for financial compensation to be paid to be the Muslim’s ‘Finance House’, which last existed during the time of the Caliphs, 1200 years ago. They recounted a story in which a lady was killed during the Prophet’s lifetime after she insulted him, and that the Prophet then praised the killer.
I think that poor Mr. Al-Asadi is in some serious trouble. What self-respecting Yemeni court can ignore such an ironclad legal precedent?

The cartoon bloodlust continues unabated, and if they can't kill any Westerners over the issue, by Allah, they'll kill some Muslims!