New Jersey Muslims Respond to Cartoon Controversy

February 5, 2006

Source: Herald News

On February 5, 2006 the Herald News reported, "Along the Arabic-speaking business corridor that straddles Paterson and Clifton, television sets Saturday were tuned to protests sweeping Muslim communities worldwide over a series of editorial cartoons making fun of the prophet Muhammad... Although the paper ran the cartoons in September, several European newspapers have reprinted them in recent weeks, citing solidarity with their fellow members of the press and in defense of freedom of speech.

Yaser Baker, the Palestinian-born owner of the Al Basha restaurant in Paterson, dismissed the freedom of speech argument.

'They are low-class people, they are lower than a flat razor,' Baker said.

He was referring to newspaper editors who published the cartoons.

'We know our prophet. He is greater than any of them. Whatever they say, whatever they write, won't make us change our minds. We hate them,' he added.

Baker said he doubted any newspaper in America would dare publish the cartoons. If they ever did, he warned, even The New York Times, whose restaurant review he proudly displays, would go straight into the garbage.

'The United States is a great country,' Baker said. 'I don't think they would go that low. They respect all countries and religions here'... Members of the local Muslim community, including Salaheddin Sasa, 24, of Paterson, dismissed the argument that press freedom gives free rein to offend.

'They're talking so much about freedom of the press,' Sasa said, 'but freedom has a line, and other people's freedom is on the other side of that line. Freedom is not taking other people's freedom.'"