Skip to comments.[New Zealand] Trade officials on alert after media show cartoons (money talks supreme)
Posted on 02/04/2006 4:57:55 PM PST by NZerFromHK
New Zealand diplomats in the Islamic world have been warned to take precautions against possible threats to staff and property following the publication here of controversial cartoons of Mohammed.
Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade officials have reacted "with concern" to the publication of the images, and were yesterday monitoring Muslim reaction for signs of retaliation against New Zealanders overseas or our trade interests.
Yesterday The Dominion Post ran the 12 caricatures, originally published by a Danish newspaper in September.
Dominion Post editor Tim Pankhurst said the publication was a test of Islamic tolerance. The Press ran two of the caricatures, including the one considered most blasphemous, of the prophet Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. Images of the cartoons have also been broadcast by TVNZ and TV3.
The cartoons have sparked outrage in the Islamic world. Protests have been held around the world, a leading cleric has called for an "international day of anger", and armed Palestinian groups have threatened to target Western nationals.
Pankhurst said he had received an informal approach from Ministry of Foreign affairs and Trade (MFAT) secretary Simon Murdoch on Friday after the paper's intention to publish had become known.
"They asked us to consider it closely. They put their point of view in a reasoned and rational sort of way. But they began by recognising it wasn't their role to tell the media what to do."
He said it was an issue of solidarity and supporting press freedom, and he was not setting out to deliberately antagonise New Zealand's Muslim communities.
"We weighed up all the issues. I think this is a country with an open society that debates issues. We're inviting comment. I'm sure some of it's going to be in support and some of it's going to be adverse."
The Government has criticised the decision to run the cartoons.
Ethnic Affairs minister Chris Carter said the newspapers had neglected their social responsibility and undermined New Zealand's reputation as a tolerant country.
"We trade with the Middle East and with Muslim countries, we also have soldiers fighting in Afghanistan, we currently have the hostage situation in Iraq."
National leader Don Brash compared publication of the cartoons with the controversy of the Virgin in a Condom display at Te Papa in 1998.
"It seems to me there is a responsibility on the part of major institituons, like museums and newspapers, to avoid gratuitously insulting anybody."
He said the Virgin exhibition had offended most New Zealand Catholics and believed publication of the cartoons would be equally offensive to most Muslims. Mark Brewer, brother-in-law of kidnapped Auckland student Harmeet Sooden, said he did not believe the publication of the images would have any bearing on Sooden's fate.
Local Muslims have greeted the publication with dismay, with Federation of Islamic Associations president Javed Khan saying he was "deeply saddened and extremely disappointed".
He called on the newspapers to apologise.
Some Muslim dairy owners withdrew their copies of the offending newspapers for sale.
- additional reporting David Clarkson
Just like the French, New Zealand can be bought with a price.
Note: "dairy" as used in the article is a New Zealand English usage. It means "convenience store" in American English.
Every day is an "international day of anger"
New Zealand will probably surrender tomorrow and blame it on the USA.
This is why I believe in principled free trade rather than blind free trade which New Zealand holds dear to. We have ended up being at the mercy of unsavoury characters (Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, PR China, etc).
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