In the April 4-5 NATO meetings in Europe, most European nations backed former Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen for the new head of NATO. Turkey, however, objected -- so strongly that it took President Obama's personal intervention with Turkey's President, Abdullah Gul, to have Rasmussen grudgingly accepted. Even then, Turkey said it would agree only if it were given concessions by the European Union in negotiations on Turkey's accession, the appointment of two Turks to senior NATO posts, and some sort of mea culpa by Rasmussen. It received all three.
These concessions were given not to overcome objections by Ankara to any NATO policy. Turkey objected to Rasmussen because, after the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published cartoons of Mohammed in 2005, Rasmussen, as prime minister, had robustly defended the rights of a free press. Thus, in partial recompense for cartoons published in a private newspaper over which Rasmussen had no control, and sought no control, Turkey succeeded in extracting concessions from the West's premier military alliance.
By demanding concessions from Western governments for what Western newspapers publish, and by actually receiving political recompense from those same governments, Turkey has made major steps in requiring Western governments to be held accountable for what their newspapers publish. From there, it is a short step to the need to control what those newspapers publish.
This imbroglio has not sprung suddenly from the sky: It is -- like the forthcoming April 20-25 United Nations World Conference on Racism ("Durban II") and the current state of the UN Human Rights Council -- the latest stage of a long campaign by the Organization of the Islamic Conference to outlaw anything that its members claim is religiously offensive, often including any criticism of their own conduct.