Yamani or Your Life
By CHRISTOPHER HITCHENS - SLATE
Added: Sat, 13 Mar 2010 00:00:00 UTC
Thanks to Dan for the link.
I have just finished reading one of the most astoundingly stupid and nasty documents ever to have landed on my desk. It consists of a letter from a law firm in Saudi Arabia, run by a man named Ahmed Zaki Yamani, to a group of newspapers in Scandinavia. I quote directly from its main paragraphs:
Over the past months my law firm has been contacted by several thousand descendants of the Prophet, who have learned about your newspaper's republication of the drawing, depicting their esteemed ancestor as a terrorist suicide bomber with a bomb in his turban.
As descendants of the Prophet, these individuals feel personally insulted, emotionally distressed and defamed by your newspaper's re-publication of the drawing. They have therefore retained my law firm and instructed me to approach you …
So that's the stupid part—the idea that people who claim descent from a seventh-century warlord and preacher have standing to sue for hurt feelings. The nasty bit comes a few paragraphs later:
[I]t is my belief that your newspaper's fulfillment of the above-mentioned conditions would be perceived as a sign of respect and understanding throughout the Muslim world in general, and your newspaper might thus help resolve the severe conflict, which your re-publication of the drawing has created. As you may be aware, this conflict is still affecting Danish and Arab interests, in particular in the Middle East, where a number of Danish products are still being boycotted.
It is impossible not to notice the element of threat and menace contained in the second extract. It's not difficult to remind Danes of the organized campaign of hysterical retribution, ranging from the burnings of embassies to the mob-killing of civilians, that followed the first publication of some mild caricatures of the prophet Mohammed in 2005.
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