Reading a typically retarded thread on Melbourne Indymedia regarding what are apparently the only cartoons ever to have been published in a Danish newspaper, some troll called ‘Ing’ weighs in with the rather sensational claim that the offensive cartoons were published months ago in an Egyptian newspaper called “Al Fagr”: with negligible effect on (Egyptian) public opinion.
Cue the Herald Sun’s resident vaudeville performer Andrew Bolt:
I’m sure plenty of Muslims would agree with me, and here is proof provided by yet another blogger, this one from Egypt: some of the cartoons were published in an Egyptian weekly newspaper, al Fagr, last October, during Ramadan no less, without inspiring any Muslims to reach for their guns or incinerate things Danish.
Ing, unlike Bolt, provides a link to one of these brave and intrepid bloggers: Rantings of a Sandmonkey. (Bolt also speculates that Christians would be offended by a ‘blasphemous’ portrayal of Jesus now showing at Red Wall Gallery in Hobart… but that’s another story.) So, according to our male, Gemini, sandmonkey correspondent in Cairo, Egypt:
Freedom For Egyptians reminded me why the cartoons looked so familiar to me: they were actually printed in the Egyptian newspaper Al Fagr back in October 2005. I repeat, October 2005, during Ramadan, for all the Egyptian Muslim population to see, and not a single squeak of outrage was present. Al Fagr isn’t a small newspaper either: it has respectable circulation in Egypt, since it’s helmed by known journalist Adel Hamoudah. Looking around in my house I found the copy of the newspaper, so I decided to scan it and present [it for] all of you to see…
And well, I don’t know what you see, but what I see makes me think there’s more to this story than meets the eye…
Freedom for Egyptians is, like the rantings of the sandmonkey, another anonymously authored blog, whose creator in this case claims to divide their time between Washington, DC and Cairo, Egypt. While being unable to provide an online reference, ‘FfE’ thoughtfully provides the following details regarding “Al Fagr”:
Name: Al Fager الفجر
Editor-in-Chief: Adel Hamouda عادل حمودة
Edition/issuance no. #: 21
Date: 17 October 2005, Hijri (Islamic Calendar) 14 Ramadan 1425
Reporters: Youssra Zahran and Ahmed Abdel Maksoud
يسرا زهران وأحمد عبد المقصود
Pages: Front & 17 for details and images
The headline in Arabic said : الوقاحة المستمرة. السخرية من الرسول وزوجاته بالكاريكاتير
Translation: Continued Boldness. Mocking the Prophet and his wife by Caricature.
Somewhat confusingly, our anonymous, freedom-loving Egyptian blogger claims that “it [was] not my idea to bring the details of this Egyptian paper [to public attention], it [was] Gateway Pundit’s”; some weird-arse wingnut from ‘Jesusland’ who unhelpfully adds this to the story: “Freedom for Egyptians has the details”! So, given the absolute dearth of information available from these, deeply suspect sources, what does searching for “Al Fagr”, “Al Fager”, “Adel Hamouda”, “Youssa Zhran” and “Ahmed Abdel Maksoud” actually reveal?
Well, while neither “Youssa Zhran” nor “Youssou Zhran” nor “Youssera Zaharan” nor “Ahmed Abel Maksound” appear to exist — and “Ahmed Abdel Maksoud” appears to be more respected for his wrestling than his journalistic skills — ‘Adel Hamoudah’ is described as being the editor of ‘Al Fagr’ in one of precisely two ‘news’ articles regarding the editor and the newspaper which allegedly published the cartoons in Egypt in October 2005. Thus the UAE-based Khaleej Times, citing an AP article which makes no mention of either Al Fagr or Adel, states:
…an independent Egyptian weekly newspaper known for dealing with sensational topics published the upper half of some of the controversial cartoons, omitting any facial representations. Adel Hamoudah, editor of Al Fagr (The Dawn), said he took copies of the cartoons from the Internet for the Tuesday edition and published them as a means of emphasizing their “impudence.” He did not explain, however, why he chose only to print the upper half of the caricatures.
Note that this report, dated February 6, 2006, makes absolutely no reference to the cartoons in question being published in October, and instead quite clearly implies that they were first published in The Dawn in February 2006.
Al-Fagr / The Dawn — established in June of last year by the former editor of Sawt Al-Umma — does have an online presence, however. By way of background, according to Dina Ezzat writing in Issue No. 746 (9-15 June, 2005) of the Al-Ahram Weekly Online:
Al-Fagr, a new independent weekly, hit the newsstands on Saturday. Edited by Adel Hamouda, former editor of Sawt Al-Umma, a Sunday independent weekly, Al-Fagr promised its readers to be “the voice of freedom”.
Unlike the green of Al-Wafd, a partisan daily, the red of the partisan [and since closed?] Al-Ahali, Al-Arabi, the independent Al-Osbou, Sawt Al-Umma and Ad-Dostour, and the orange of Al-Ghad, another partisan, Al-Fagr chose blue as its masthead colour.
In its first issue, Al-Fagr ran an introduction by its editor who promised that the paper will “reveal all the truth on all its pages to help the reader reach the shores of knowledge”. This, Hamouda indicated, will be done in a way that is not particularly loud. “After all, those who scream do not necessarily voice a worthwhile opinion.”
On the front page of its first issue, Al-Fagr offered a wide range of stories that had a political/editorial line of slapping the government with one hand and patting it on the shoulder with the other — just as Sawt Al-Umma — at least under Hamouda — and Al-Osbou attempt to do. “Have the president’s men became a burden?” was the most attractive front- page piece of Al-Fagr on Saturday. Like similar stories, and for that matter opinion articles by other independent papers, Al-Fagr argued that some old-time advisors of President Hosni Mubarak have become more of a burden than an asset to the head of the state.
So, Al-Fagr exists, as does Adel Ham(m)ouda(h), its editor. But what about the original article? The edition of the newspaper (#21, dated October 17, 2005) in which some of the (censored) cartoons were (allegedly) published is, unlike every other edition of the paper, unavailable online. But still, according to ‘Tasneem Brogger in Copenhagen’ writing for Bloomberg: “The Egyptian newspaper Al Fagr on Oct. 17 published six of the 12 Muhammad cartoons printed by Jyllands-Posten on Sept. 30, Danish state-owned broadcaster Danmarks Radio reported yesterday, citing Denmark’s ambassador in Egypt Bjarne Soerensen.”
Reuters contains a more detailed article on the same subject. Interestingly, while the Reuters article notes that “A blogsite, egyptiansandmonkey.blogspot.com, brought the publication to prominence in recent days by showing images from the October edition”, it also states that “Adel Hammouda told Reuters he had published the cartoons in el-Fagr in October after he said he had seen them on an Islamist Web site. He said he had not taken them from the Danish newspaper where they first appeared in September”. Further, “The images could not immediately be traced on the Islamist site. It was not immediately possible to confirm the publication in other Egyptian journals”.
To be continued…
[See also Arab Press Freedom Watch and The Caricature Crisis in Brief]