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Estonian paper publishes Mohammed caricatures

Educational or publicity stunt?

The Estonian alternative newspaper KesKus published the 12 scandalous caricatures of the prophet Mohammed this week. The editor-in-chief Juku-Kalle Raid said they published the images with “general educational aims” in mind. He said he does not believe publishing the caricatures will put Estonia in danger.

Estonian government officials disagreed. Foreign Minister Urmas Paet was among them: “We all saw what reactions publishing these pictures created; thus, it will be on KesKus-makers conscience if something should happen.” Parliament’s foreign committee’s Deputy Chairman Marko Mihkelson noted, “It is sad when thirst for scandal clouds rational thinking.”

Editor Raid seemed unperturbed, claiming to have made the decision long ago. “I made decision in principle immediately, but we delayed it since I didn’t want to pour oil to the fire at the hottest time,” said Raid.

While City Paper sees logic in Foreign Minister Paet’s statement, it also seems a capitulation: if Islamic fundamentalists attack Estonia because of a few cartoons, should it not be on the fundamentalists’ conscience? Since when are reasonable human beings to blame for the actions of a few psychotic terrorists?

But Mr. Raid’s reasoning also seems specious. If he’s looking to create scandal, waiting to publish the caricatures certainly seems the way to do it. Publishing the cartoons when the rest of the world did would have gained some degree of anonymity for Estonia. Do it weeks later and it’s more than oil on the fire: it’s tearing the scab off a healing sore.