Cartoons Even In Southern Africa

Here's a skirmish that broke out in the cartoon conflict between Islam and all comers, in a place very far from Copenhagen. TV Cabo, a Maputo, Mozambique news website reports that the Islamic Council of Mozambique (CIM) called for a boycott of a local newspaper that had printed some of the European cartoons of Mohammed (article here, Google "translation").

According to the article, dozens of Muslims gathered outside the paper's offices, held back by only two police officers, shouting "Allah is great" and "Death to the Savana [newspaper]." The publisher agreed to apologize, but said that he was being pressured. The Islamic Council rejected the apology and demanded an end to all "'commercial, instutional, professional, and social relations' with the weekly and its collaborators." ("Collaborator" being a milder word in Portuguese).

The demand for an apology from Savana was issued on February 18, and since the apology was judged insufficient, the CIM continues to demand the dismissal of the newspaper's publisher.

According to TV Cabo,
"The Muslim community of Mozambique is the strongest from an economic standpoint, but its strength is seldom extended to political power. Even recently some of the community's leaders complained that they did not feel represented in the new State Council named by the president of the Republic, Armando Emílio Guebuza."
Guebuza assumed the presidency in 2005, and neglected to name any Muslims to his cabinet. The CIA website reports that nearly 18% of the Mozambican population is Muslim. It is a primarily urban population, with a high degree of commercial potency.

The state news agency published an article written after a later, larger protest (English-language article here), in which thousands gathered outside the newspaper's offices. Photos of the larger protest can be seen at this blog, Ideias Para Debate, which is maintained by a man who has contributed to Savana in the past. Ideias Para Debate features some acerbic cartoonage (in Portuguese), but he is careful to mention that the large protest was peaceful, with no "mention" of boycotts or violence.

Amusingly, the state news agency's article takes a tarter tone in its article, pointing out that the offices of Savana ended up being vandalized during the earlier (let's call them spontaneous) protests, and that the "followers of Mohammed" were wearing t-shirts saying "Islam is equal to Peace and Tolerance."

Unhappily for folks like Ideias Para Debate, this isn't an Idea Debate, especially not for Africa. It's an Idea War.

From Nigeria in west Africa, to Chad and the Sudan in central Africa, to the nations south of the Horn of Africa, that continent is the principal battleground for the fight that will ensue over the next century.