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Name: Antony Loewenstein
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Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Putting in perspective

Muslim scholar Tariq Ramadan, discussing the Muslim reaction to controversial cartoons:

"There are three things we have to bear in mind. First, it is against Islamic principles to represent in imagery not only Mohammed, but all the prophets of Islam. This is a clear prohibition.

"Second, in the Muslim world, we are not used to laughing at religion, our own or anybody else’s. This is far from our understanding. For that reason, these cartoons are seen, by average Muslims and not just radicals, as a transgression against something sacred, a provocation against Islam.

"Third, Muslims must understand that laughing at religion is a part of the broader culture in which they live in Europe, going back to Voltaire. Cynicism, irony and indeed blasphemy are part of the culture.

"When you live in such an environment as a Muslim, it is really important to be able to take a critical distance and not react so emotionally. You need to hold to your Islamic principles, but be wise enough not to overreact to provocation."

24 Comments:

Blogger Shabadoo said...

Number One: This is far from the case, and Ramadan should do his homework. Figurative art is a common theme of Ottoman art, which anyone who's been to Turkey has seen, and there have been depictions of Mohammed in Islamic books throughout the ages - here's a very nice gallery showing many examples, some of which reside in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Number Two & Three: I'm not sure it's so much to do with a lack of sense of humour as much as an incredible entitlement complex that stems from Islam being the be-all and end-all of the universe for its adherents. While the inability to laugh is a terrible thing, I think the fact that Islam is a shame, rather than guilt, culture has something to do with it - here's a good exposition by a shrink on the subject.

Anty, I hate this moderation thing. Utterly destroys the ebb and flow of the conversation.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 11:41:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

Link doesn't work Shab.

More of the hispocrisy of the Danich paper is commign to light every day:

Danish paper rejected Jesus cartoons
http://www.guardian.co.uk/international/story/0,,1703501,00.html?gusrc=rss

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 12:02:00 pm  
Blogger John Faber said...

I'd have to agree that Islam is taking itself far to seriously when a few comics provoke such a reaction. Realistically though, the cartoons themselves are probably not the central issue; rather, it's yet another expression of the simmering tension between certain ardent Islamists, and certain antagonist westerners.

I should think many of us don't really care either way. The comics weren't even particularly good.

A question though: if Mohammed is rendered by a non-believer, can it be accepted as Mohammed? How can a non-believer be believed able to depict him?

jf

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 12:24:00 pm  
Blogger Shabadoo said...

Just go to http://drsanity.blogspot.com - it's the top post.

How is this hypocritical? There's plenty of stuff that uses Jesus imagery every day; the Danish paper, which is quite large, not some little obscure neo-con outfit as everyone likes to pretend, ran them because artists were too scared to draw Mohammed, and they decided to make a point. You may not agree with it, but what's the alternative? Letting theocrats cry "blasphemy" to curtail freedom of speech?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 12:54:00 pm  
Blogger smiths said...

reinforcement,
moderate intelligent west,
raving violent intolerant arabs,
over and over again

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 1:32:00 pm  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

Your so-called "top post" is just another right-wing Islam-hating blog. But then, what else would we expect from you?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 5:31:00 pm  
Blogger JohD said...

The question to ask, I suppose, is whether the 'debate' would advance if Muslims used legal action to seek redress? It is a no-win situation: if they challenge the cartoons legally, as I believe they are doing, they are branded as being opponents of 'free speech', if they react emotionally they are depicted as being irrational fanatics. My feeling is that this episode has been a deliberate attempt to vilify the religion, and it should be provable in court.

The economic sanction IMV is a legitimate reaction. If it is considered appropriate to target entire countries for the actions of a few, (the Taliban did not attack anyone in the West, yet were targeted for extermination), then it is appropriate to institute trade sanctions against people who target you becuase of your race or religion.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 6:28:00 pm  
Blogger smiths said...

one point 'freedom of speech' does not trump all others, like respect of others religion or culture,
it is an ongoing dialogue where the aim is increased harmony within a soceity, not chaos,
the french didnt think much of it when two brazilians pissed on their eternal flame a few years ago, freedom of expression? i dont think so, it was pure insensitivity designed to offend and provoke, and it did,

the muslim world is being constantly and systematically vilified and demonised by western governments and media,
they are rightly very sensitive, and this was only ever going to cause offense and harm,
so what was the point,
freedom of speech my arse

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 6:38:00 pm  
Blogger Iqbal Khaldun said...

I've got to disagree with Ramadan on this one. The fact is nothing is so sacred that it cannot withstand criticism, humour or derision. A key article of belief (perhaps not faith) is the ability to withstand challenges to it.

I suspect the real story is that centres of power in Muslim-majority countries and in the West are feeding off the Danish cartoon backlash. For the corporate media, it is a good way to shore up the latent belief that Muslims are violent and incapable of compromise ("these people cannot be negotiated with"). For countries like Saudi Arabia or Iran, the cartoons are a useful diversion. Every power system needs its Goldstein.

Underlying much of the 'on the street' activities, the burnings, the shouting, and the general carrying on is a genuine sense of offence. I think this reflect a deep-seated sense of despair and resentment. With the West, and probably with Muslim-majority governments too. But I think it goes beyond that too. The fact is no religion, including Islam, can provide all the answers. The problem is many Muslims have been brought up to believe Islam is everything, and that everything must be viewed through Islam. But Islam can't provide answers to most everything that the modern world throws at us. As a sprititual, personal journey it may be a source of great inspiration to many. But beyond that it can only do so much. That's the honest truth. Until we confront that I'm afraid cartoons will continue to offend.

People are angry but they don't know how to express that anger, what to be angry about, and what to do about it. Incidentally, that summary probably applies to every society.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 6:44:00 pm  
Blogger JohD said...

Juan Cole makes some interesting observations here:

http://www.juancole.com/2006/02/caricatures-roil-muslim-world-beirut.html

1. This affair began in September 2005.
2. Danish Muslims responded in a measured manner, with a legal challenge and appeals to the Danish Prime Minister to condemn the published cartoons - he basically told Muslims to go fly a kite.
3. Muslims then appealed to Muslim countries to intervene with the Danish government. Consular officials from eleven Muslim countries requested a meeting with the Danish Prime Minister - He told THEM to go fly a kite and refused to meet with them.
4. Danish Muslims participated in four peaceful protests over the following three months. There were no threats of violence and no violence perpetrated at all.
5. When the provocations did not achieve the desired result (pictures of fanatical Muslims burning down Western embassies), the Norwegian newspaper decided to reprint the cartoons in solidarity with their Danish counterparts.
5.The Danish newspaper was not besieged or under any pressure to submit to Muslim dictates at all. Danish Muslims were marginalized on the issue. On the contrary, the paper was given support beyond the call of duty from its government and the public.
6. After the republication managed to provoke protests from Muslim governments, and the withdrawing of ambassadors, the provocation was ramped up, and a series of republications appeared in newspapers throughout Europe.

I think the timeline indicates a deliberate orchestrated campaign of incitement, and need to be thoroughly investigated.

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 6:51:00 pm  
Blogger smiths said...

that is truly hilarious shab,
the fucking cranks and half wits at that site, drsanity.blogspot have to be read to be believed,
if you link on her profile and go to some of the other bloggers sites, like 'rightwingsparkle' you really do see it laid out bare,
theres no left and right wing,
only people with a functional brain, and those who mistakenly believe they have a functional brain,

one of the links led me to http://shrinkwrapped.blogs.com, and this guy/girl draws a comparison with the reichstag fire of 1933, hitlers rise to power and the publishing of the cartoons and reaction, quite amazing stuff,

i've got some news for you 'right wingers and conservatives'
the only aggressive fascist power that is even closely comparable to hitlers germany is the USA,
true, the muslim brotherhood took on a lot of the fascist technique and ideology,
but the american ruling elite learnt and applied the principles and lessons most effectively,
its modern, sophisticated, and harder to pin down, but its fascism

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 6:58:00 pm  
Blogger Angela M said...

Antony,

Are you going to publish these cartoons on your site? If not, why not?

What are your views on these questions ...

If it's prohibited in Islam to make caricatures of Muhammed, then how do the imams get away with distributing the leaflets showing the cartoons without transgressing these same laws?

If the imams can distribute these leaflets containing these cartoons, then why can't blog owners such as yourself show them?

How did so many Danish flags being burned suddenly appear in the Middle East so quickly?

Where was the fuss in October 2005 when these cartoons were first published in the Danish paper?

Is it mere coincidence that Denmark will hold the presidency of the Security Council when Iran is referred there by the IAEA?

Tuesday, February 07, 2006 8:37:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Interesting questions indeed Angela. Thanks for raising them.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 12:05:00 am  
Blogger TimT said...

've got some news for you 'right wingers and conservatives'
the only aggressive fascist power that is even closely comparable to hitlers germany is the USA,
true, the muslim brotherhood took on a lot of the fascist technique and ideology,
but the american ruling elite learnt and applied the principles and lessons most effectively,
its modern, sophisticated, and harder to pin down, but its fascism


Interesting comment. Absolutely no substantive evidence provided, but golly!, it sounds convincing, doesn't it?

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 12:54:00 am  
Blogger JohD said...

"Are you going to publish these cartoons on your site? If not, why not?"

I think Anthony is well aware Islamophobia is not restricted in Australia, and is in fact encouraged. There is therefore no reason for him to test to see whether it is or not.

"If it's prohibited in Islam to make caricatures of Muhammed, then how do the imams get away with distributing the leaflets showing the cartoons without transgressing these same laws?"

Quite simple, the Imams are simply producing evidence that has been published by others, they are not publishing it themselves.

"If the imams can distribute these leaflets containing these cartoons, then why can't blog owners such as yourself show them?"

Do you have an example of these Imams 'distributing' these cartoons? Muslim editors have been fired and arrested for publishing them to provide context. This is just a furphy, manufactured by yourself. If Imams are not publishing them, then it is ridiculous to argue that you can publish them on the basis that they are.

"How did so many Danish flags being burned suddenly appear in the Middle East so quickly?"

Perhaps they were shipped in by Ahmad Chabali and his neocon buddies? Perhaps it is simply an illusion, and multiple replays of the same few incidents on TV contributes to this illusion. Many of the flags I saw burning were homemade.

"Where was the fuss in October 2005 when these cartoons were first published in the Danish paper?"

There was a fuss, although it was quiet and local, just as the Islamophobes proclaim it should have been. However, it escalated after a Norwegian Newspaper and several other European newpapers published using the ridiculouis argument that it had become unacceptable to be an Islamophobe in Denmark - a blatant fabrication. Islamophobia is a requirement for entry into polite society in Denmark.

"Is it mere coincidence that Denmark will hold the presidency of the Security Council when Iran is referred there by the IAEA?"

My understanding is that it is the United States that will hold the presidency of the Security Council when Iran is discussed there. I don't think Denmark is even on the Security council at present, nor do I believe that it will be then.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 1:21:00 am  
Blogger Progressive Atheist said...

Flemming Rose, the culture editor of Jyllands-Posten (Jutland Post), lied when he denied that the purpose of the cartoons had been to provoke Muslims. In fact he is strongly anti-Islamic.

Rose traveled to Philadelphia in October 2004 to visit arch-Zionist Daniel Pipes. Like Pipes, he wants to bring about the so-called "clash of civilizations".

Here is an opinion piece he wrote then:

According to Daniel Pipes, the Muslim world is, at the moment, going about its third attempt at defining itself in relation to the West. The first two attempts were concerned with imitating different aspects of the West. The third represents a totalitarian ideology in line with fascism and communism. ...
http://www.originaldissent.com/forums/showpost.php?p=145023&postcount=5

More comments off the web...

There is a deeper reason behind the publication of the offensive cartoons. Given the unapologetic position taken by the Danish government and the editors it appears very likely that tension with Islamic nations will increase and the international crisis will deepen. This is, after all, exactly what the global planners behind the "clash of civilizations" want.
http://cphinterpretation.blogspot.com/

"Agents of certain persuasion" are behind the egregious affront to Islam in order to provoke Muslims, Professor Mikael Rothstein of the University of Copenhagen told the BBC. The key "agent" is Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of JP, who commissioned cartoonists to produce the blasphemous images and then published them in Denmark's leading morning paper last September. The International Herald Tribune, which reported on the offensive cartoons on January 1, noted that even the liberalism of Rose had its limits when it came to criticism of Zionist leaders and their crimes. Rose also has clear ties to the Zionist Neo-Cons behind the "war on terror."
http://mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?sh_itm=1adc02f5d68a164e739a445dfefc0929

The leader of the Liberal Democrats in Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said that the publication of the offensive cartoons was a planned psyop on the part of the US and aimed to “provoke a row between Europe and the Islamic world”.
http://www.prisonplanet.com/articles/february2006/070206attackiran.htm

Merete Eldrup, managing director of JP/Politikens Hus, the company that published the cartoons, is the wife of Anders Eldrup, chairman of DONG (Danish Oil and Natural Gas), a currently state-owned energy provider about to be privatized.
http://www.freemarketnews.com/WorldNews.asp?nid=7020

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 11:12:00 am  
Blogger Anthony_ said...

Tariq sounds like a resonable man. He seems to understand thats its ok to live as a muslim....BUT it is also ok live a western lifestyle as well.

Too bad John Lennon's imagine is only a song. A world with no religion...how much better would it be!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 9:07:00 pm  
Blogger Angela M said...

Johd, is your name Antony? Let's assume Johd is the mouthpiece for Antony. Or is Antony.

Johd/Antony: "Quite simple, the Imams are simply producing evidence that has been published by others, they are not publishing it themselves."

In the same way, the Norwegian newspaper is simply producing evidence that has been published by others, namely Jylland-Posten.

Or does an Imam get special dispensation to reproduce pictures of Muhammad?

As for not publishing it themselves, they managed to create and publish three new Muhammad cartoons themselves. See below.

Johd/Antony: "Do you have an example of these Imams 'distributing' these cartoons? Muslim editors have been fired and arrested for publishing them to provide context. This is just a furphy, manufactured by yourself. If Imams are not publishing them, then it is ridiculous to argue that you can publish them on the basis that they are."

Actually, a Danish Imam went on a roadshow in December to highlight the cartoons. See http://islamonline.net/English/News/2005-11/18/article02.shtml.

He even put together a 43-page dossier for a roadshow in the Middle East. See http://ekstrabladet.dk/VisArtikel.iasp?PageID=329877 and click on the Side links at the bottom.

Complete with 15 cartoons. Not 12, as published in Jyllands-Posten.

One of the three extra ones, misattributed to Jyllands-Posten depicts Muhammad with a pig face. See Side34 or http://ekstrabladet.dk/grafik/nettet/tegninger38.jpg.

Only it's a cheap photoshopped version of the winner of a recent European pig-squealing competition. See http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/8959820

Johd/Antony: "There was a fuss, although it was quiet and local, just as the Islamophobes proclaim it should have been. However, it escalated after a Norwegian Newspaper and several other European newpapers published..."

The date of the article outlining the Imam's intention to tour was November 18, 2005

The tour occurred in December 2005.

A statement was issued on 8 January 2006 by al-Azhar’s Research Center in Egypt following the tour, condemning the cartoons.

The cartoons were published in the Norwegian magazines Magazinet and Dagbladet on 10 January 2006.

Johd/Antony: "My understanding is that it is the United States that will hold the presidency of the Security Council when Iran is discussed there. I don't think Denmark is even on the Security council at present, nor do I believe that it will be then."

You are correct in that US is current president, and will be when the Iranian matter is initially discussed.

You are incorrect re Denmark - they are on the Security Council at the moment (http://www.un.org/Docs/sc/unsc_members.html) and will be President in June, when it is my understanding that the next stage of this matter would likely occur.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006 9:36:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Angela M said...

"Johd, is your name Antony? Let's assume Johd is the mouthpiece for Antony. Or is Antony."

What's your point Angela? Are you feeling a little paranoid, or does the fact that people who disagree with you, find agree with one another, suggest a conspiracy?

Thursday, February 09, 2006 12:37:00 am  
Blogger James Waterton said...

"The leader of the Liberal Democrats in Russia, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, said that the publication of the offensive cartoons was a planned psyop on the part of the US and aimed to “provoke a row between Europe and the Islamic world”."

Bwhahahahhahahhahahhaa

What do you know about Vladimir Zhirinovsky, "Progressive Atheist"? Liberal Democrat he ain't. This is the man who once claimed that he dreamed of the day the Russian soldier would wash his boots in the Indian ocean. The man's a Russian nationalist and borderline fascist.

Just goes to show that a few seconds of Googling is no substitute for some deeper knowledge on one's source.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 5:25:00 am  
Blogger Wombat said...

That may well be so James, but how does this discredit his theory about the cartoons being a planned psyop?

Thursday, February 09, 2006 1:35:00 pm  
Blogger James Waterton said...

Addamo - you should know. Zhirinovsky is famous for his wacky conspiracy theories. Remember who he thinks sparked the riots in France? The man is a loon with a monstrous credibility gap. Thus, it's hilarious that "Progressive Atheist" would quote Zhirinovsky as a source. It's not quite as bad as saying "German Liberal Democrat Adolf Hitler commented that Antarctic Jews were firing lasers into the icecaps, causing a rise in sea levels" but it's not that far off, either.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 8:10:00 pm  
Blogger Angela M said...

addamo_01, perhaps I should type slower to make my point clearer.

Following a response to the first question I ever posted, Antony has decided to avoid answering anymore questions. Perhaps it was because he met his match. Perhaps not. Who knows.

I think it's great that there is disagreement. Consensus would suggest a conspiracy, or a lack of freedom of expression.

Thursday, February 09, 2006 8:24:00 pm  
Blogger Wombat said...

Angela,

You are being a little presumptuous don't you think? Do you have any idea how many posters come onto this forum and demand that AL address them immediately?

Your post wa a tad vague as it was difficult to tell what you were quoting adn what was your reply.

James, I'd forgotten Zhirinovsky's throries of the French riots.

Sunday, February 12, 2006 12:20:00 pm  

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