Tuesday, 7 February 2006

More On the Cartoons Crisis

Page three of Jyllands-Posten's culture section - 30 September 2005

As the madness continues to spiral out of proportion (the Danish embassy in Beirut was burnt down on Sunday,two people got killed in Afghanistan while protesters in the UK called for the beheading of whoever they thought were responsible), I heard, yesterday morning on the Today Programme, the leader of al-Muhajiroun, Omar Bakri Mohamed, and the Secretary General of the Arab League, Amr Moussa, both making the point that while there are laws in many (western) countries to forbid anti-Semitic discourses, there is nothing to prevent anti-Muslim attacks.

I don’t think this is a relevant argument in this debate to be honest and these people are simply clutching at straws to try and justify their messages of hatred. It seems to me that anti-Semitism and what the media like to call Islamophobia are two completely different situations, which are not comparable. Each feeling has quite different ways of expressing itself. While one is verbal and not actually violent but simply critical (although the response to it is violent), the other has been expressed through unqualified levels of violence. Arguably the Israeli state is not always behaving as well as one could expect from a nation that knows from its own history the potential results of some of it policies but this same history is also the proof of the undeserved level of suffering that can be inflicted on the Jewish people. Conversely, so-called Islamophobia is often the exacerbated result of a fear stirred up by the actions of a minority of Muslims (fundamentalists and terrorists) magnified by media coverage. However I don't think there is anywhere an ideology preaching a systematic destruction of all the Muslims.

Muslims tend to want to identify as being some sort of united people, grouping themselves within the Ummah, often putting their religious allegiance before any national sense of belonging. I don’t think this is a true representation of the Muslim phenomenon, as it is clear that there are many divergent groups within the Muslim faith. However, the price of this self-identification, which in many respect would mirror that of the Jews as a race more than a religious group, might be to become the focal point of more attacks, and violent ones at that, in the manner experienced by the Jews for centuries.

Most of the cartoons were however pretty innocuous and rather mediocre to be honest. Only one (on the right) could really be seen as offensive. This cartoon is so grossly biased (in that it supports the amalgam that all Muslims (symbolised here by their prophet) are terrorists) that it doesn’t deserve to be dignified by a comment, let alone the violent reactions we have seen in the past few days. As I have mention before, these reactions do nothing to dispel the bad image of the Muslims.

Of course, something no-one seems to be ready to mention in this business, is that Arabic newspapers have notoriously been running a virulent cartoons campaign against Israel for many years. Those cartoons are much more vicious, I think, than the ones that sparked the recent violence; still, no one bats an eyelid.

I mentioned in my previous post on the subject that I believed that the protests were politically motivated and organised by small militant groups. It is interesting to note that in the pictures of the London demonstrations on the BBC News website, the signs held by protestors are quite visibly of the same make and show the same handwriting. Nothing spontaneous about this, I think. I find the slogan "Freedom go to hell" truely shocking. If this young man does not approve of freedom, what is he doing in this country using the very freedom given to him by its laws and society? Shouln't he try and move to a more repressive country?

In any case, the fact that one of the protestors dressed up as a suicide bomber and was a drug dealer says a lot. It also seems that it is fine and enough for him to apologise for his mistake while the newspapers are not so lucky.

Again, while I can understand that people feel offended, I can not understand why they are so violent in their reactions which seem so completely out of proportion to the offence.

Read my previous post on the subject.

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  1. I actually do not think that the cartoon of the prophet with a bomb in his turban is that offensive!

    As i argued before! How can muslims think that Muhammad+bomb+cartoon=attacking Islam while Allah+bomb+kill=defending Islam? If the moderate muslims wants to be offended by the cartoon(-s) and show their anger peasefully! Then they have the obligation also to do so when terror is being executed in the name of Islam!

    I don't think we will ever reach the radical muslims. No matter how we all in these forums, muslims and non-muslims, can agree to be nice to each other and to respect each others way of living.

  2. The Muslim blogger "Iraq The Model" writes:

    "You know that those cartoons were published for the 1st time months ago and we here in the Middle East have tonnes of jokes about Allah, the prophets and the angels that are way more offensive, funny and obscene than those poorly-made cartoons, yet no one ever got shot for telling one of those jokes or at least we had never seen rallies and protests against those infidel joke-tellers.

    "What I want to say is that I think the reactions were planned to be exaggerated this time by some Middle Eastern regimes and are not mere public reaction.
    And I think Syria and Iran have the motives to trigger such reactions in order to get away from the pressures applied by the international community on those regimes."

    Read the rest here:

  3. I agree with you that this is so stupid all of this rage they are showing in the Middle East. I can also understand that they feel offended but they are acting like LITTLE IMMATURE BRATS!(6 years old kids or something!!) And they don't even use their actions towards the ones that really are responsible! How immature is that! It was NOT The government that published the pictures and still they attack government buildings and they make threats to Danish citizens! do they not know how to count over there? The pictures were 12, the news paper was one, how do they add that up to a guilty WHOLE nation????


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