Monday, February 06, 2006

A bit late to the controversy...

I try to stay away from what I think are really obvious news stories. But after viewing some internet fora and speaking with some people I'm beginning to realize that the reaction from the Muslim world to the Muhammad cartoons is apparently less obvious than I'd thought. So let me summarize a few things:

1) This is not like having insulting cartoons of Jesus. For the iconophilic Christians, the heresy and insult that these cartoons represent is unfathomable. You cannot depict Muhammad. Simple. This isn't like depicting Jesus on a cross festooned with Christmas lights - that's in bad taste, it would insult Christians, but it's not a violation of Christianity. Depicting God or Muhammad in Islam is forbidden. Respect that.

2) The US places much value on its first amendment - the freedom of speech. We allow people to read whatever books they want, to protest and wear Nazi emblems - we pretty much allow any hate speech. But generally, mainstream newspapers respect certain things and don't go out of their way to be insulting. That's called self-censorship. Now, Europe doesn't have the same viewpoints on freedom of speech - and many things are banned - like hate speech. So how is a cartoon like that ok?

I feel like after my previous post I'm on an anti-European jag - I'm really not, but this latest scandal is simply unacceptable. It shows less respect for Islam than anything I've heard of outside of Gitmo and US-run prisons in the Middle East, and that's not a good thing. Especially not coming from Europe, which likes to act so superior to the US and emphasize its democratic values and respect for human rights and other cultures. How about trying to respect Islam for a change?

6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

While I agree that the cartoons were in poor taste, I must take issue with your assertion that Islam forbids depicting God and Muhammad. This is completely false. A distinction must be made between what Mohammed and the Koran (the foundations of Islam) forbid, and what Islamic tradition has subsequently dictated.

Nowhere in the Koran does it say that it is forbidden to depict God and Mohammed. A nice synopsis of this can be found at BBC online at http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/4674864.stm

In fact, paintings of the two have existed and been accepted throughout the Islamic art world from very early on. I refer you to images which can be found at the "Mohammed Image Archive" at http://www.zombietime.com/mohammed_image_archive/

Isn't it strange that these cartoons first appeared in the Danish 'Jylland Posten' in September 2005, but are only now garnering this outrage and attention? In fact, there is more than meets the eye to this cartoon controversy.

If you scroll down on the "Mohammed Image Archive" you will find the 12 original cartoons published in the Danish 'Jylland Posten'. You will also find an additional 3 cartoons, not included in the newspaper, and much more offensive. These cartoons were willfully and fraudulently attributed to 'Jylland Posten' by the Islamisk Trossamfund (Danish Islamic Community,) a delegation of Danish imams, on a subsequent trip to the Middle East.

In fact, one of the fraudulent cartoons, supposedly depicting Mohammed as a pig, has been traced to a picture taken of Jacques Barrot, a contestant in the French Pig-Squealing Contest in August 2005. So, it isn't even related to the controversy, but has been doctored and used by these Muslim imams (hence committing the same blasphemy they are supposedly railing against) to add fuel to the fire and foment anti-Western hatred.
It is believed that the outrage we are now seeing in the Islamic world was sparked by this visit and the fraudulent cartoons, which would explain the delayed reaction.

One of these imams, Ahmad Abu Laban, is a known troublemaker within Denmark, and twofaced, saying he is against the boycotts to the Danish press on the one hand, and on the other hand encouraging the boycotts on Al Jazeera.

I recommend for your reading the Wikipedia article on the cartoon controversy for a clearer understanding, broader understanding, and good synopsis: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jyllands-Posten_Muhammad_cartoons_controversy

6:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

One other thought: the Muslim fundamentalist movement is very quick to cry foul against what it perceives to be anti-Islamic sentiments. It is just as swift and willing, if not more so, to disrespect other religions and beliefs. For example, the demolition of the 1,800 year old Bamiyan Buddha statues by the Taliban in Afghanistan.

Or, let's look at Saudi Arabia and its blatant human rights violations with regards to the persecution, imprisonment and torture of people whose only "crime" is that they are Christians, worshipping privately and in fear in their own homes. People entering Saudi Arabia with their own private Bible have to witness it being seized from them and put into a shredder. This is all legal, enforced by the 'Committee for the Propagation of Virtue and the Prevention of Vice', the religious police. Heaven forbid the same is done to a Koran in the West! What an outcry, what an outrage, those evil, disrespectful Western infidels!

Crimes against religious freedom are allowed and swept under the carpet in Islamic states, after all it is all done in the name of the one true God. Yet we in the West are not allowed to publish cartoons? What if it had been cartoons of Buddha satirized in a Saudi Arabian newspaper- that would have been acceptable I am sure. Is anyone else angered by the arrogance and hypocrisy?

Note that I refer to the fundamentalists, who have sold their religion out in favor of exciting anti-Western anger, and not Muslims in general. I have several Muslim friends who are decent people and respectful of other religions. I have nothing against them and their religion. Sadly, there are several other Muslims who are blinded by these self-serving false imamas into lashing out at the West. I'd say to them: clean up your own act when it comes to religious intolerance if you expect the rest of the world to respect you.

6:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Islamic "imagiphobia" is a neocon talking point (like the idea, which cold war fans will recognize from the One Global Communist Conspoiracy run out of Moscow, that Islam is one big uniform ideology). In fact there are numerous depictions of Muhammad (there is a great big picture with his face on the cover of a book at the College of Mystery library). Because of their subject, they are -- wait for it -- respectfully done. They do not use lurid caricature to equate an entire world thought system with bloodthirst as trhe bomb-headed Muhammad did. No amount of Israeli torture or murder justifies a scrawl of a drooling demon-rabbi kidnapping gentile children and about to sink his teeth into them. That isn't even discussable, and in fact in the hypocritical, letter-of-the-law Europe so eager to prove they bear no relation to Nazis (especially in a Germanic and very formerly "cooperative" state like Denmark) you will go to prison as if you were a murderer if you publish an anti-Jewish caricature like that.

*It has now been established that these cartoons were deliberately cooked up by a right wing party depending on the old anti-immigrant scare, called by the locals "fascists" (the paper that originally ran it is parodied as the "Plague of Fascism"), and that they were intended to seek this very response; it has furthermore been established that local Muslims did try to protest these cartoons, which have nothing intelligent or relevant to say except to equate Islam with bloodthirst, and their legal protests got them nothing but more insults. These are important facts that totally damn the Danes. While the violence against sacred embassy property is inexcusable, it came after the Danes practically begged for it over time.
We might remember the American use of their Tehran embassy to coordinate the murderous coup against Mossadegh, which directly led to the view that that embassy was no longer off-limits (indeed, it was now seen as a necessary target) when Carter was craven enough to give shelter to the evil Shah.
More here, here, here, here, here and in the posts below it.

Here is an excerpt from one of the linked sites:

"The official Danish response, that nothing can be done because it is a free speech issue, has been proven to be a lie as the same newspaper had rejected cartoons insulting to Christians on the basis that they would offend its readership and 'provoke an outcry.'"

12:08 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Crimes against religious freedom are allowed and swept under the carpet in Islamic states, after all it is all done in the name of the one true God.

Here us motivated pedantism. Actually, when bad things like this do happen over there, they have a certain amount of official support that makes "sweeping under the rug" silly and unnecessary.

Yet we in the West are not allowed to publish cartoons?

Under Danish law only racist caricatures of Muslims (maybe you could get away with Bangla or Tamils) are allowed -- these strict constructionist protectors of categoric freedom of speech will imprison you for straying from the proscibed limits!

What if it had been cartoons of Buddha satirized in a Saudi Arabian newspaper- that would have been acceptable I am sure. Is anyone else angered by the arrogance and hypocrisy?

Indeed, or Buddha satirized (as I have read in an actual christian fundy best-selling book) as a rapist with criminal indifference to human suffering. Incidentally, I have come across a story of a bigot smuggling in a lurid anti-Jewish story to a Saudi newspaper. The editor apologized, claimed he was out at the time, and fired the bogot -- the only part that was reported in the Western press was that the uniformly bigoted Arabs were at it again, and only not repeating the Holocaust because of the incompetence guaranteed by their racial inferiority. Inefficient wogs! No Danes they! Let the Danes show you how to field an SS regiment (they had their own, those speechfreedom lovers)!
Why is this logic being plied in a law school? Should Hitler go free because Stalin killed more -- or, indeed, to stick to your logic -- just because Stalin kiled too? You knew since you were four that your neighbor's crime is not your license.

12:27 AM  
Anonymous Citations said...

All the interesting and learned discussions of religion aside, I think it strikes many of us as hideously ironic that people are protesting the cartoons with such deadly violence.

It makes no more sense than Christians baptising people at sword-point.

10:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it strikes many of us as hideously ironic that people are protesting the cartoons with such deadly violence.

Indeed. This violence is undeniable. But it is hardly out of proportion -- it comes as Israel's illegal occupation has gained a horrible gigantic twin in Iraq, and as the invader promises leeringly to march all over the Muslim world to change it to something more to its liking. Everybody's on edge for extremely good reasons and the Danish equivalent of Le Pen just happens to decide to champion "free speech" when it means hating those evil and coincidentally powerless and nonwhite immigrants.

But why can't I hear about the fact that these free speech champions are actually anti-immigrant rightist extremists, or that they wouldn't publish cartoons similarly insulting to other religions specifically because of fear of prison or outcry, or that the Muslims did try peaceful protest months ago and it got them only more insults, from any mainstream source?

Why are we always treated like children and asked to disapprove of those unruly blacks who won't stop their unpardonable violence and only later find out that the LAPD was shooting them for sport and none of their complaints were respected?

12:26 AM  

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