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February 9, 2006
Saudis Snub Danes; Will Americans Endorse It?

Judith Klinghoffer notes that the Saudis have snubbed the Danes by disinviting them to the Jeddah Economic Forum to be held in the Saudi city this weekend. Arab News reports that the JCCI disinvited the Danish delegation after the publication of the Prophet cartoons by private Danish newspapers -- four months later, actually -- although apparently no other European countries have been barred despite their media republishing the editorial cartoons:

The organizers of the Jeddah Economic Forum 2006 decided yesterday not to invite the Danish delegation at the annual event.

The organizers made the decision in the wake of Muslim anger over the publication of the blasphemous caricatures published by a Danish newspaper on Sept. 30. ...

The Council of Gulf Countries’ Chambers and the Council of Saudi Chambers of Commerce & Industry have praised the positive reaction by businessmen in Saudi Arabia and the Gulf in responding to the deliberate humiliation of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him).

Condemnation of the cartoons mocking the Prophet published in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten has been voiced throughout the Muslim world and in the past few days has taken the form of demonstrations and attacks on some Danish and other Western embassies.

This isn't any little backwater conference, either. The Saudis have invited high-profile people from around the world for seven years to the JEF, hoping to take leadership on economic development, especially in the Gulf region. In fact, theArab News lists some of the participants expected this weekend, and a couple of very familiar names pop up (emphases mine):

According to JEF 2006 Chairman Hassan Enany, global speakers include Irish President Mary McAleese, Congo Brazzaville President Denis Sassou N’Guesso, Gambia President Al Hajji Jammah, Ghana’s former President Jerry Rawlings, former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder, former US Vice President Al Gore, human rights lawyer Cherie Blair, Forbes Inc. President & CEO Steve Forbes, Forbes Magazine Editor in Chief Peter Roberston, Vice Chairman of Chevron Corporation, Abdul-Salam Al-Majali, former prime minister of Jordan, Haifa Al-Kaylani, founder and chairman of Arab International Woman’s Forum, Mohamed Alabbar, director general of the Department of Economics Dubai and Chairman of Emaar Properties, Bahia Hariri, member of the Lebanese Parliament and sister of Rafik Hariri, Andre Azoulay, counselor to King Mohammed VI of Morocco.

Al Gore and Steve Forbes, both of whom have run for President of the US on at least two occasions, plan on speaking at this conference. Cherie Blair may be a human rights lawyer, but she is better known as the wife of Tony Blair, the British Prime Minister and George Bush's partner in the war on terror. Gerhard Schroeder just got kicked out of office for his incompetence, despite his anti-American rhetoric based on our supposed disregard for international law and foreign policy.

Do these Westerners still plan on attending the JEF now that the Saudis are using it as a means to stir up more protest against the Danes? Does Al Gore and Steve Forbes intend on endorsing the position that the Danish government should have suppressed their media from publishing their opinions? I find it hard to fathom what made Cherie Blair decide to attend an economic conference in a nation that doesn't even allow its women to drive -- but does she plan to attend after this protest against free speech? And Germans will have yet another reason to re-evaluate their former Chancellor more negatively if he temporarily relocates his lips from Putin's posterior to that of the Saudis by tacitly approving of the ejection of the Danes from this conference.

All of the above like to talk about human rights, dignity, and freedom. I wonder if any of them will literally put their money where their mouths are.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at February 9, 2006 5:19 AM

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