Friday, February 03, 2006

When the Shiite hits the fan

I heard and read about the recent demonstrations by the Muslim communities in Europe and the Middle East.

What is stirring up the controversy? Abuses at Abu Grahib? High unemployment and racism in Paris? The rising civilian death toll in Iraq?

Nope. All of the recent protests and outrage are the result of a Danish editorial cartoon. The cartoon depicts the Prophet Muhammad wearing a turban with a fuse attached, as if it were a bomb. The caricature was picked up and published by several newspapers throughout Europe and the Middle East.

Of course any reasonable Muslim would be offended, just as Christians are offended when Jesus is depicted in unflattering caricatures.

But the reactions in Europe and the middle east are, how shall I say, extreme. For example, according to the Associated Press, 150 demonstrators in Indonesia hurled eggs at the building housing the Danish Embassy, then stormed in, pushing past security guards.

The problem is that all of this outrage is misplaced. The editorial cartoon is the reflection of a world view that has developed as a result of the actions of extreme element of the religion.

There should be outrage by Muslims, but is should be directed inward (in-rage?) toward the people in their religion who adopt violent and terroristic tactics, thus undermining the message of peace, love and understanding from mainstream Muslims.

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, the top Shiite cleric in Iraq, hit the nail near the head when he said the militant Muslims bore part of the blame for distorting Islam's image.

According to the AP, he referred to "misguided and oppressive" segments of the Muslim community and said their actions "projected a distorted and dark image of the faith of justice, love and brotherhood."

What I would like to see is a call by the Muslim leadership, both abroad and in the U.S., for large demonstrations to denounce the militant edges of the Islam. That would go much farther than burning a Danish flag.

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  1. "What is stirring up the controversy? Abuses at Abu Grahib? High unemployment and racism in Paris? The rising civilian death toll in Iraq?

    Nope. All of the recent protests and outrage are the result of a Danish editorial cartoon."

    And you are probably one of those who believes that the cause of WW1 was the assasination of the Archduke. It's alright. You're american aren't you.

  2. This is a difficult issue for me, and I appreciate your well-written thoughts. My gut says "screw 'em", and I'm impressed with the newspapers showing the courage to stand up for free speech. On the other hand, I want to respect the traditions of a religion I don't fully understand, that views these cartoons as blasphemy.

    Ultimately, I stand by the papers, I think. The right wing christians, who I tend to think are almost as bizarre as the radical islamists, don't go this far in objecting to what they view as blasphemous portrayals of Jesus. They might boycott a few advertisers, but you don't see parades of them chanting "death to CBS" (yet, though I think they may be trending that way).

    The point is, your religion definitely has the right to impose restrictions on you, but it doesn't give you the right to impose those restrictions on me. If your religion opposes abortion, then don't have one, but don't try to ban it for the rest of us. If your religion says not to eat beef, don't eat beef, but I want my ribeye.

    It was probably poor form for the papers to publish the cartoons, just as I wouldn't choose to munch on a rare chunk of prime rib in front of a Hindu. But I support their right to be obnoxious.

  3. If a Hindu is out at the same restaurant I am, it will not stop me from ordering steak. See what I mean? We all need to be patient and understand and understanding is not supression. The papers aren't going to stop publishing what they want b/c there is a population that opposes them. Why should they? The age old thing: If you don't like it, you have the choice not to read watch or listen and you have to choice not to agree as well. To each their own. You know what your own values are so why be outraged? If you have a strong core within you then who cares???? Leave it to religion and a bunch of nuts to start shit over nothing. Simply said. They just haven't realized that yet. And btw, inquisitor, I am American, as is emaw_kc and just b/c we are American does not mean we are ignorant.

  4. Inquisitor, thanks for illustrating a very important point.

    You take exception to something I have published, but your response isn't to track down where I live and throw eggs at my house or explode a suitcase bomb, or to call for violent uprisings against American embassies.

    It's to publish something in return. It's the proper response and the best way to compete in the marketplace of ideas. And it doesn't make me think you're an extremist wacko.


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