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Monday, January 30, 2006

On the cartoons

I have been thinking about what's going on regarding the cartoons that appeared in an independent Danish newspaper. I have the following remarks:

1. What escalated the issue these days? The cartoons were published over a month and a half ago. The reaction back then was not as extreme as it is today. I even posted about this issue on December 21st, in other words, a whole month ago.

2. The reaction of the Arab/Muslim public points out the fact that we still do not know what a free press is. In our countries, we are used to see total government control over the media. Even our so called independent media (Al Jazeerah, Al Arabiyah, etc) are linked to one government or another. We believe that the Danish government can somehow punish the newspaper or issue a degree banning it from publishing what we consider as blasphemous stuff. The truth is, even if the Danish government is against what the paper did, and I am sure they are, they still cannot do anything to Jyllands-Posten.

3. The cartoons issue brought back the debate of whether Muslims can in fact integrate within European societies and accept the values that Europe bleed for. In Europe, you can say that Jesus had sex with Mary Magdalene and get away with it. Europeans expect their Muslim immigrants to behave the same way. In fact, they should behave the same way if they want to move to prosperous Europe. If they don't want to behave the same way they could just simply stay at home!

4. Muslims have the right to protest against the newspaper by writing emails and boycotting it. However, they should not demand that it issues an apology or expect the Danish government to implement some sort of censorship on the paper. In addition, they have the right to boycott Danish products, yet I find this so naive because it only shows how ignorant they are of the mechanics of a developed country where you can disagree with what someone says yet defend his/her right to say it even if what is being said is so outrageous and inflammatory. Besides, what if a single newspaper in all European countries published those 12 cartoons. Will we boycott Europe?!

5. The Jyllands-Posten case is one of those cases that you hate yet you cannot do anything about it. I really wish it hadn't published such terrible cartoons. Even if the case highlighted something in Denmark (the editor said “the cartoons were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark), it only widened the huge current gulf between Islam and the West. Muslims around the world believe that the Westerners have nothing to do except plotting against Islam. The Jyllands-Posten case gave us another reason to believe this myth.

6. I can't end the post without saying: when will we grow up?? The Da Vinci Code did not harm Christianity, 12 cartoons won't harm Islam either!!


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