A Danish delegate very sensibly chose not to attend the conference I was chairing in Bahrain last week, even though I’m sure he would have been quite safe. His travel insurance company declined him any cover.
I see however, that in Pakistan, a cleric, Muhammad Yousef Qureshi, the leader of the hardline Jamia Ashrafia religious school in Peshawar has offered a £600,000 reward to anyone who kills the cartoonists from the Danish paper Jyllands-Posten. The reward also included a Toyota car, which is very generous I’m sure but I doubt that Toyota would wish to be associated with this particular brand awareness exercise.
Remembering the tragedy of Theo Van Gogh in Holland, one wonders who might be first to drive away the Toyota in Copenhagen?
"This is a unanimous decision by all imams of Islam that whoever insults the prophet deserves to be killed and whoever will take this insulting man to his end, will get this prize," Mr Qureshi said in an interview, which I suppose is alright then. In reply, I can announce I have now reconsidered the suggestion that I might pop over to Pakistan and help them with the design of their national eGovernment project. I have been known to use Lurpak butter on my morning toast in the past and such visibly liberal Danish sympathies might prove too risky in the present emotional climate.
A week ago, the news agency, Reuters, took the conventional line: that the cartoons had created a "crisis" between Europe and the Islamic world but not only is Europe ill-prepared to wage a "clash of cultures," it is not even willing to admit that it is in one!