With the comments about minarets spooling up I figured I ought to try to defend my position in a podcast. So I asked Roger Hardy, BBC's Islamic Affairs analyst, for an interview but he politely declined. Roger did, nevertheless, recommend Jytte Klausen, of Brandeis. The name was familiar — it's pretty unusual — so I checked and yes, indeed, a month or so after I'd started the EP podcast in 2006 I'd asked Jytte for an interview, but hadn't then managed to make it happen. Well, this was a good time to try again, and this time I succeeded. Jytte was very kind to talk with me just on the day she was off to London to present her latest book to a parliamentary group. So following the podcast of the 18th, and after I have my vacation, this will be the podcast when we pick up again on January 8th; all those who disagree with my views on minarets will be heartened to know that they have some expert support. The whole story, however, gets complicated.
Jytte's latest book, The Cartoons That Shook the World (Yale University Press, 2009), was published just a few weeks ago. It's about the crisis surrounding those Danish cartoons of Muhammad. But there's a twist. Just before the book was to be printed the President of Yale ordered the Press to remove reproductions of the cartoons and several other famous, historical illustrations of Muhammad. The press then added a statement of explanation on a front page with Jytte contributing below that a short statement of her own. The press offered to show Jytte a document upon which it had based its decision but only if she signed a confidentiality agreement, which she declined. She considers herself a victim of censorship and several civil liberties groups have taken up the case.
Here we find common ground for complaint though we generalize from it in different ways. It's an interesting conversation which I learned from greatly, and I hope you find it thought-provoking even if you don't ultimately agree with me.