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Friday, February 03, 2006

Offend me

While controversy continues across the world over drawings of Muhammad that allegedly offend Muslims - and the pictures themselves are certainly inflammatory - a number of Danish Muslims have long complained of growing Islamophobia. Equating Islam with terrorism, an increasingly common ploy in the Western world, rightly upsets Muslims and should be resisted.

However, this issue should be placed in context. Canberra-based Iqbal Khaldun puts forward the most rational argument:

"May I be the first to say that the first sign of wavering faith is the inability to countenance criticism of it? Yes, the cartoon is likely racist, and I suspect there are more tasteful ways to lampoon a religion. But seriously, aren't there more pressing concerns? Should the 'Jesus Christ' character from South Park be similarly condemned (remember, he's slept with Eric Cartman's mother!)? Reading such stories is quite frustrating for someone like myself. Western progressives are the natural allies of moderate Muslims, and it is unlikely this quarter will dare say anything much too critical of the response to the Danish cartoons. But seriously, are Muslims so intolerant, yes intolerant!, and so lacking a sense of humour that we cannot even accept cartoon images of the Prophet, even where they are caricatures?

"I imagine the real answer to this question is no. We aren't that intolerant, and yes, we do have a sense of humour. But as usual, the self-proclaimed moral arbiters of the faith are vociferous and vocal, and the rest of us dare not contradict them."

Press freedom also requires that images and words - truly free speech doesn't exist anywhere - be allowed to provoke, offend and challenge. The sign of a mature democracy is a media unafraid to offend everybody. A war against Islam, however, is a developing menace, fanned by ignorance and fear. After all, doesn't every age need an "enemy"?

18 Comments:

Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

In Islam, any depiction of Muhammed is forbidden. It is not the caricatures that Muslims find offensive, but depictions. The cartoonist and his editors know that very well. They depicted Muhammed knowing that it would offend Muslims.

Do they have a right to publish these caricatures? My guess is that under Danish law they would. And Muslims everywhere have the right to protest their publication, by boycoots and demonstrations, but they would not have the right to have them withdrawn; because it is free speech.

Their publication is stupid, because the publishers should have anticipated such protests, but there is no law against being stupid.

However common sense should tell you that being provocative could lead to violence.

Friday, February 03, 2006 12:28:00 pm  
Blogger David said...

It is my understanding that the cartoons were originally published by a right-wing newspaper as a deliberate act of provocation against the Muslim population. The justification offered, that they were "testing the limits of free speech," sounds very nice--it just happens not to be true. Just as Ariel Sharon's march to the al Aqsa mosque in 2000 had nothing to do with personal religious observation, but was an act of deliberate provocation.

Like Sharon, the right-wing Danish group created a calculated provocation. It is a category of hate crime, and should be analyzed as such--the issue of press freedom is a red herring.

Friday, February 03, 2006 12:43:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Good point David.

Friday, February 03, 2006 1:58:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

David said...
"It is a category of hate crime, and should be analyzed as such--the issue of press freedom is a red herring."

While the newspaper's hiding behind the skirt of free speech is lame, it doesn't follow that free speech should be abolished in such cases.

I think that the best way to deal with this intentionally offensive act of free speech, is more, not less, free speech in response: free speech about what the newspaper knew about Muslim attitudes to representations, who backs the newspaper, what the intention behind the depictions was, etc. Exposing the newspaper's true nature and motives thereby undermining its credibility as a newspaper is the best solution.

Friday, February 03, 2006 2:50:00 pm  
Blogger OshKosh said...

It would be a point had not the Palestinians stated that the Intifada was planned.

It had nothing to do with Sharon's walk which he had every right to do.

Friday, February 03, 2006 3:23:00 pm  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

Oshkosh is rewriting history. The Palestinians did not state they planned the Intifada. It was a direct result of deliberate provocation by Sharon.

Friday, February 03, 2006 4:50:00 pm  
Blogger boredinHK said...

Edward ,
isn't that is a bit of a modernist , even traditional response for a post modernist like yourself?
I thought the "author" was dead?

Iqbal Khaldun's response is spot on .

Friday, February 03, 2006 5:21:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

boredinHK said...
"isn't that is a bit of a modernist , even traditional response for a post modernist like yourself?"

HA! If I were a postmodernist, then I would be quite comfortable being called a modernist because it would enable me to revel in the reflexive irony of the subverted discourse ... or something like that. I'm not even sure what I just said, so I'm not sure whether that really was a postmodernist statement just then - which, I suppose, only proves that I am a postmodernist; the text has a life of its own independent of its author. And so on and so forth. :P

"Iqbal Khaldun's response is spot on."

Iqbal's response is a good example of more free speech!

Friday, February 03, 2006 9:36:00 pm  
Blogger JohD said...

Freedom of Speech is nothing but a propaganda slogan anyway. There are thousands of Westerners are lanquishing in goal because of incorrect speech.

Despite the image, Muslims are incredibly apathetic. This is a good test case on which to flex the economic muscle and raise consciousness. The target is small, and even if everybody in Europe gets on the bandwagon, Muslims can remain focused on the Danes and exact a terrible economic price. Word is that the issue was announced in every Mosque in Indonesia and Malaysia earlier today. The boycot should broaden as a result. Australians should keep their mouths shut, the Saudi lamb trade, and a host of agricultural products are at stake.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 1:47:00 am  
Blogger Melanie said...

While we are on the subject of free speech - are you going to continue with your censorship of comments?
johd: "Freedom of Speech is nothing but a propaganda slogan anyway.There are thousands of Westerners are lanquishing in goal because of incorrect speech"
So secret too - who knew?
Autralians should keep their mouths shut?
Threats are the biggest threat to freedom of speech.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 2:19:00 am  
Blogger boredinHK said...

I have to agree with Melanie and express my bewilderment at johd's idea .
"keep our mouths shut '????
Self censorship is an insidious problem and should not be considered desirable at all.
The neutered press in Asia is a perfect example of the difficulties that develop if this idea is followed.

As others have stated I also hope the flow and speed of posting comments can be improved but I don't miss all the insults and trolling. Comment moderation is not censorship.
And talking about freedom of expression I'm again asking people to identify who they are - clicking through to closed bloggers profiles and home pages - pure cop out.

Saturday, February 04, 2006 11:04:00 am  
Blogger boredinHK said...

AL,
A friend sent the following link about the cartoon controversy.
The explanation which is given for the controversy includes some details I can't check - apparently a delegation to the middle east to explain the situation only made things worse.
It's your choice about making this available on your site or not.
Some of the images are crude and deliberately offensive but then the web is full of such stuff.
The link is http://www.zombietime.com/mohammed_image_archive/

Saturday, February 04, 2006 10:40:00 pm  
Blogger JohD said...

Don't blame me. Any Australian editor of website administrator that published these cartoons would find themselves in the crapper so fast, their heads would spin. It would not be Australian Muslims, but their beloved Howard government that would throw the book at them.

Don't believe me? Get your favorite newspaper to publish even an example to give context as see what happens. Autralia worships the almighty dollar, and principles don't even rate in that context. The Saudi sheep trade is a vital constituency block of the Howard government, as is the wheat trade. So Australia, keep your mouths shut if you know what is good for you. That shouldn't be a problem at all, Australians should be used to it by now.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 3:40:00 pm  
Blogger dusty_buster said...

This depiction of the Prophet (pbuh) is indeed blasphemous - the people involved in distributing this hateful bigotry should be brought to account.
I would even go so far as to say that the 'so called' artists involved in the production of this disgusting libel should be shown their own blood to KNOW that the Prophet (pbuh) should not be vilified.
If that means death for them then so be it.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 5:38:00 pm  
Blogger PeterTB said...

johd - get real - the only Australian government likely to censor fair or unfair comment in this country is that of Victoria

Sunday, February 05, 2006 6:03:00 pm  
Blogger Edward Mariyani-Squire said...

Meanwhile, the 'boring', non-newsworthy Muslims of the bloggosphere take a slightly different tack:

Some Thoughts on Danish cartoons and Danish pastries by Irfan Yusuf

The Dirty Dozen (And The Damage Done) by Zahed Amanullah

Through The Looking Glass: The Danish Cartoons by Sheila Musaji

Stupid Cartoons, Even Stupider Reaction by Safiyyah Ally

Danish Cartoons (not pastries) by As'ad AbuKhalil

Some Thoughts on the Danish Cartoons by Amir Butler

Sunday, February 05, 2006 11:04:00 pm  
Blogger David said...

Those in the U.S. know of the techniques of Zionists relentlessly working to stir up islamophobia (Daniel Pipes springs to mind, as well as such well funded organizations as MEMRI).

Imagine my surprise (he said with dripping irony) to learn just now that the "cultural editor" of Danish newspaper in question was a rabid Zionist by the name of Flemming Rose.

Freedom of the press indeed!

Monday, February 06, 2006 7:30:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Interesting information David. Thanks.

Monday, February 06, 2006 12:16:00 pm  

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