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Author Topic: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.  (Read 793 times)

gadfly

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A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« on: February 07, 2006, 05:08:31 PM »
Since there have been several "Islam is crazy" threads popping up I thought I might address the whole cartoon issue here. From my view, this whole ordeal is irrational from both sides.

The danish press have definitely crossed a line by resorting to cheap, prejudiced and inflammatory material that would have not been published had it been derogatory towards jews or christians. Freedom of press is a poor excuse: their execution was distasteful and depended more on shock value than an actual meaningful purpose. With free speech comes responsibility and free speech is not an absolute. From what I understand, after an initial uproar following the original publication, major newspaper throughout Europe republished the cartoons simultaneously on February 1, 2006. The publishing of these cartoons, for no other reason than that the press could legally do so, is gratuitous. Imagine the NY Times and the Washington Post republishing anti-semitic cartoons from an obscure California newspaper just because.

As for the reaction; it's grossly exaggerated. In reading the newspapers this morning I have to say I'm scratching my head at some of the things going on. I'm ashamed of the people who are unable to handle this in a rational and civil way. The group or institution that allowed the publishing of these caricatures should be held responsible. Setting fire to embassies and attacking people who have no role in the situation is wrong. The often repeated scenes of violence in the media is not and should not be a reflection of the average Muslim. In many of the instances of violence, peaceful demonstrators were insighted by extremists.

When I first saw the cartoons I was disgusted. The problem was not the depiction of the prophet Mohammed, on which Muslim opinion is not even unanimous. Rather, these cartoons portrayed a cherished religious figure in Islam inviting people to terrorism and suicide bombings. Many Muslims felt they were being demonized and targeted for attack. Put this in the context of the growing tensions between many Muslim and Western Countries and you get an idea of where this uproar stems from.

In the end, Western rhetoric notwithstanding, Islam is not some stateless entity with mindless hatred for non-Muslim societies. I hope you guys understand that.

In concluding this rant, I'll leave you guys with a quote: "Understand before you condemn and do not condemn before you understand"--Dave Chappelle ;)

peace out.



nmb238

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #1 on: February 07, 2006, 05:47:02 PM »
so im going to aks you a question, with ALLL due respect and in no way even disagreeing with your post... I find the cartoons grossly offensive, stupid and trashy, and in NO way think its cool to depict religious leaders/figures/prophets as terrorists. I also think the entire NATURE of the cartoon campaign- which sought to actually recruit thses types of cartoons to be silly and mean-spirited.

You condemned the reaction, so I know in no way you are supporting burning embassies or military bases in response.

What I dont understand is simply the hypocrisy of those in the Muslim world- NOT Muslims in the US or Britain or elsewhere, but in the Middle East- who are so outraged by these cartoons when their own newspapers, which are STATE-OWNED AND OPERATED, as opposed to the Danish and other European newspapers which have NO affiliation with their respective governments, continuously depict viciously anti-Christian, anti-Semitic cartoons that depict Bush, Sharon, Blair, Jews and Westerners as murderers, bloodsuckers, you name it. Objectively speaking, if one reads the paper every day and sees Jews depicted as child killing infidels on a regular basis, how can he rationally be outraged when a similar thing is done in Denmark?

Its ALL offensive to me, and its ALL trashy, and I think rallying behind this as "free speech" is kinda silly, because we can condemn some of the ugliest speech while still protecting it. But if ANYONE has to look in the mirror about cartoon bigotry and hatred, its NOT the Danes, or the Norwegians or any of the notoriously liberal countries being targeted now. Its the Arab world- Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia, to a degree Egypt. It just boggles my mind to see Syrians and Palestinians and Iranians condemning the Danish, Norwegian and Spanish press for insensitivity given their own papers.

anyway those are my thoughts/observations. i really do appreciate your post and agree that there is a level of irrationality both in the "furious outrage!" on the Muslim side, and on the "Lets show 'em!" attitude of the Europeans. I wish the Arab governments would do a little more to stop the violence but what else is new...

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Josh1l

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #2 on: February 07, 2006, 07:11:15 PM »
Since there have been several "Islam is crazy" threads popping up I thought I might address the whole cartoon issue here. From my view, this whole ordeal is irrational from both sides.

The danish press have definitely crossed a line by resorting to cheap, prejudiced and inflammatory material that would have not been published had it been derogatory towards jews or christians. Freedom of press is a poor excuse: their execution was distasteful and depended more on shock value than an actual meaningful purpose. With free speech comes responsibility and free speech is not an absolute. From what I understand, after an initial uproar following the original publication, major newspaper throughout Europe republished the cartoons simultaneously on February 1, 2006. The publishing of these cartoons, for no other reason than that the press could legally do so, is gratuitous. Imagine the NY Times and the Washington Post republishing anti-semitic cartoons from an obscure California newspaper just because.

As for the reaction; it's grossly exaggerated. In reading the newspapers this morning I have to say I'm scratching my head at some of the things going on. I'm ashamed of the people who are unable to handle this in a rational and civil way. The group or institution that allowed the publishing of these caricatures should be held responsible. Setting fire to embassies and attacking people who have no role in the situation is wrong. The often repeated scenes of violence in the media is not and should not be a reflection of the average Muslim. In many of the instances of violence, peaceful demonstrators were insighted by extremists.

When I first saw the cartoons I was disgusted. The problem was not the depiction of the prophet Mohammed, on which Muslim opinion is not even unanimous. Rather, these cartoons portrayed a cherished religious figure in Islam inviting people to terrorism and suicide bombings. Many Muslims felt they were being demonized and targeted for attack. Put this in the context of the growing tensions between many Muslim and Western Countries and you get an idea of where this uproar stems from.

In the end, Western rhetoric notwithstanding, Islam is not some stateless entity with mindless hatred for non-Muslim societies. I hope you guys understand that.

In concluding this rant, I'll leave you guys with a quote: "Understand before you condemn and do not condemn before you understand"--Dave Chappelle ;)

peace out.




I think that the Muslim reaction is one of the most important occurences in the past few decades. Its a wake up call to all people who care about democracy and rational thought to realize that we are in a state of war.
As to your post....
The Muslim world has been publishing literally thousands of deeply anti-semitic pictures (which make the Danish cartoon seem like child play) and articles for years and years.
Irrational on both sides? HEHE. Do you see Jews with signs saying that all non-Jews should be beheaded. Do you see masses going on the rampage ( and even demonstrators died from the masses).

Apologists for radical Islam are starting to run out of excuses. Suicide bombings, crazy rhetoric and oppression, honor killings, etc.... "Its all because of poverty". Based on that argument all of Bed Stuy Brooklyn should rise up and start killing people. What do we have to do to start to realize whats going on? Should we wait till violence erupts. There is a freedom in a democracy to be insulted. If someone comes up to me and says Judaism sucks, I am not going to put up signs asking to behead him and burn his house, even though he was "insensitive".
Peaceful demonstrators were "incited" by radicals? That is the just reenforcing the fact that was have a larger problem then it seems since the so called "moderates" are apprently easily "incited".
Now I know that in law school we are trained to see every side and argue both sides, etc.... but there is a limit. Maybe we should also rationalize Hitler..... since people were insensitive to him.
But as I mentioned this is a good thing, a blessing in disguise.

gadfly

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #3 on: February 07, 2006, 10:08:53 PM »
whoa, talk about irrationality. a state of war ? against muslims ?I'm not even going to get pulled into that dead end argument.

mugatu and nmb, the answer to your question is really very complicated. Actually, in examining the issue I have to admit it is a bit more than just a religious affront. It is telling of the political situation that exists in the middle east today (I say the middle east because not all muslim countries, including the one I come from, have reacted in the same manner). So why are countries like Egypt doing nothing while they may condemn violent reactions? Many of the heads of states in the middle east, if you haven't noticed, are dictators. And as such,fundamental political freedoms as well as any sort of freedom of speech that may reflect badly on the regime are prohibited. Case in point Egypt and it's irreverent dictator Mubarak, who ironically and not surprisingly is propped up by the US government-Egypt is the second largest recipient of US foreign aid. So, as you might imagine, there is a great deal of pent up anger and frustration boiling under the surface. Where does this all go ? Well, toward the US and in the past week Denmark (I'm suprised actualy considering the fact that Denmark has had a very favorable foreign policy toward the middle east). These governments do not step in and in some cases encourage such violent protests because it diverts this anger toward an external boogyman (and sometimes this boogeyman is real, ahem, but I digress) rather than their suppressive policies. When you go to Egypt let's say, you can really sense this dissatisfaction and frustration. So yes, this sort of two-faced stance or positioning on the part of some of these countrie is not new. It really is all a complicated mess and is not as black and white as some people may have you believe.


nmb238

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #4 on: February 07, 2006, 10:23:56 PM »
Ive been all over Israel, the Palestinian Territories, Jordan and Egypt. I know all about the frustration that goes on- its palpable and outrageous.

But I guess I am saying that I am getting tired ot this pent up anger being directed at the US, the UK, Israel and this week Denmark and Norway. Obviously the West has a lot to answer for, and I am no fan of the war in Iraq or Israeli settlement policy for example. But this pent up rage results in either a) blind hatred of the West, which gets us absolutely nowhere or b) the overrunning of the dictators in place of democracy, which can have some nasty results (see Hamas last week).

i guess im just saying that I understand the frustration, and I understand the anger. But religious fundamentalism gets no one anywhere, and i hate to see the Danish economy suffer a as a result of one newspapers crass stupidity.

anyway nothing new, thanks for your response, i definitely hear your point

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #5 on: February 08, 2006, 12:36:09 AM »
Since there have been several "Islam is crazy" threads popping up I thought I might address the whole cartoon issue here. From my view, this whole ordeal is irrational from both sides.

The danish press have definitely crossed a line by resorting to cheap, prejudiced and inflammatory material that would have not been published had it been derogatory towards jews or christians. Freedom of press is a poor excuse: their execution was distasteful and depended more on shock value than an actual meaningful purpose. With free speech comes responsibility and free speech is not an absolute. From what I understand, after an initial uproar following the original publication, major newspaper throughout Europe republished the cartoons simultaneously on February 1, 2006. The publishing of these cartoons, for no other reason than that the press could legally do so, is gratuitous. Imagine the NY Times and the Washington Post republishing anti-semitic cartoons from an obscure California newspaper just because.

As for the reaction; it's grossly exaggerated. In reading the newspapers this morning I have to say I'm scratching my head at some of the things going on. I'm ashamed of the people who are unable to handle this in a rational and civil way. The group or institution that allowed the publishing of these caricatures should be held responsible. Setting fire to embassies and attacking people who have no role in the situation is wrong. The often repeated scenes of violence in the media is not and should not be a reflection of the average Muslim. In many of the instances of violence, peaceful demonstrators were insighted by extremists.

When I first saw the cartoons I was disgusted. The problem was not the depiction of the prophet Mohammed, on which Muslim opinion is not even unanimous. Rather, these cartoons portrayed a cherished religious figure in Islam inviting people to terrorism and suicide bombings. Many Muslims felt they were being demonized and targeted for attack. Put this in the context of the growing tensions between many Muslim and Western Countries and you get an idea of where this uproar stems from.

In the end, Western rhetoric notwithstanding, Islam is not some stateless entity with mindless hatred for non-Muslim societies. I hope you guys understand that.

In concluding this rant, I'll leave you guys with a quote: "Understand before you condemn and do not condemn before you understand"--Dave Chappelle ;)

peace out.




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almuhajaba

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #6 on: February 08, 2006, 02:30:42 AM »
But gadfly, that's the thing.  It is obviously not solely the West's fault.  Why aren't more people blaming their dictators and suppresive government?  It seems that it is mostly then the government's fault for not allowing people to complain.  Why aren't these people then blaming their governments?

um...the key words there are "dictators" and "suppressive governments"

One cannot really speak out against one's own dictators/suppressive governments, as they are dictatorial and suppressive! They would definitely do so if they had the opportunity to speak out without harm to themselves/their families.

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #7 on: February 08, 2006, 02:41:02 AM »
But gadfly, that's the thing.  It is obviously not solely the West's fault.  Why aren't more people blaming their dictators and suppresive government?  It seems that it is mostly then the government's fault for not allowing people to complain.  Why aren't these people then blaming their governments?

those who speak out or act out get massacred...like the kurdish people.
sometimes outside help is necessary.

you are thinking with broad strokes...think about individual tribes in some places...you want to place everything in a big box...it creates generalization.
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redemption

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #8 on: February 08, 2006, 08:49:21 AM »
To the OP:

While I understand the original post to stem from a need to counter-balance the nature and level of discussion to be found elsewhere on this board, and while I sympathize with the spirit with which it is written, I nevertheless believe that it has some flaws important enough than opposing view is warranted.

I sense in this post and in some that Al Muhajaba has written and posted, a willingness to efface the significant differences between faiths, cultures and identities between the peoples who find the caricatures of Muhammad offensive enough to take to the streets and those who see fit to re-publish them. I think that this is a mistake, and, in the long-run, a disservice to all parties involved.

I am leery of the idea that you can scratch any person anywhere, in any culture at all and in any time, and find, just beneath the surface, an American itching to get out if only his/her government would let him/her. The belief in democracy and liberty and freedom of speech is contingent, geographically specific, and, I believe, not natural at all. We have some evidence that, if left to vote and chose governments through the ballot, there are at least some polities in the middle east and beyond (by no means just "muslim" polities, but, yes, including them) who would vote for an end to democracy and the installation of a strong so-called Islamic state and government. Algeria and Palestine are examples, and, if the vote were free, it would take a brave person from betting against Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and many others from doing so as well.

Culture matters, then, and it is a tricky matter to make a judgement as to which culture is right and which is wrong in the absolute. The one thing that we can be sure of is that culture is quite complex; that there is no necessarily unique direction in which it should evolve. The right to free speech is fundamental as understood here in the United States, and works for us. It doesn't, however, have that same central place in many European countries (they seem to work fine, nonetheless), and may not be the most valued right in societies outside of the West.

One can only organize societies, institutions and forms of government in such a way as to accord with peoples' notions of how life is and how it should be lived. We cannot imagine southern baptist women, or for that matter, valley girls, wearing burqas any more than, say, many women in muslim communities can imagine not wearing them. Saying which is right and which is wrong is not just difficult, but, more importantly, makes (literally) no sense. The mistake of the Western feminist movement on this issue, and on other related issues such as female genital cutting, is to assume that many/most/all women in societies that practice this form of dress and this sort of procedure are necessarily "oppressed". This represents a failure of imagination, I think, on their part, and a sort of arrogance.

More generally, I think that it is quite possible to have a society that functions perfectly well without placing invdividual rights at the center of its philosophy, and, in fact, most of the world is so, from Japan to Morocco. To suggest, therefore, that everything would be fine if people just were given more individual rights, if they were aloud to vote and speak freely, is, I believe, to misstate the issue and to do so in a particularly problematic way: it adopts the assumptions, vocabulary and categories of the "War on Terror" types, and adopts a posture that is close to the sort of proselytizing that we see from Bush, Cheney et al. and that just contributes to the sense of "the West" as, again, arrogant and pushy.

It is much better, I think, to reject the very idea, the very category of "a muslim world", and to complicate people's understandings of what they mean by it. Is it true that a muslim Somali lives his/her life in the same way, for example, as a Saudi or a Javanese? Unlikely.

Further, it is about time that we finally made a conceptual break between muslim and arab. The particularities of Arab belief and behavior stem as much from the tribal/clan traditions and histories of contact with 'the West" as it does with Islam. Yes, there is a sense in which there is an "imagined" umma, but it is currently no stronger than the concept of the West - it is sort of an abstract idea that is unlikely to motivate the average person into any significant passion. That sort of passion is bred only when in opposition to, and under pressure from, a countervailing force that is aligned as its opposite.

My suggestion is that we, in the West, have placed ourselves in that category: by the relentless pursuit to secularize and liberaliize those countries in which muslims live, by slicing and dicing the territories which are their homes, and by putting muslim communities living in the West under cultural, economic and political pressure, we have created a momentum toward a greater consciousness of the umma. Whereas fifty years ago the very idea of an Osama bin Laden would have been a preposterous joke to many muslims, it is now less so. The polls that the bigots in the West cite are not entirely invented: for many bin Laden is a Robin Hood type of figure, fighting for the little man against the relentless hegemony of the West.

"They hate us for our freedoms?" Rubbish. "They" don't want our freedoms. They want to live their own lives, to make their own communities, to form their own norms, and not to be insulted, degraded and assaulted. It is in this context, I think, that a matter that seems trivial to us - a cartoon in some obscure publication in, of all places, Denmark - explodes into a feeling of rage and into the actions that accompany it. When people are pissed off enough, degraded enough, when their very identity is ridiculed and held in contempt, they will, sooner or later be upset and act out. It is not just arabs who do this, or muslims, but anyone and everyone. The 1968 riots here in the United States, the Los Angeles riots after the Rodney King verdict, the Brixton riots in London, the Chinese riots in response to perceived Japanese provocations etc.

There is no point in being saddened and puzzled by the reaction of the rioters in this instance; there no point in saying it is right or wrong, islamic or non-islamic. It is what it is, and we can only be responsible for our own reactions to it. Either the position is that violence is never justified under any circumstances (in which case all of our societies would fail that test) or to say that it is not justified in this case, presuming that either the gravity of the injury caused was not sufficient (who are we to say how others feel?) or to say that this was an excercise of free speech (a paramount value of our own, but not necessarily of theirs).

And so, again, to my point: we need to all just calm the f4ck down. It is nonsense to say that it is ok (or more ok), by some universal standard, to caricature the prophet as a terrorist, and not (or less) ok, again by that mythical universal standard, to sack an embassy building. We don't all live by the same universal - and by implication, American - standard: what may be a joke to some is a grave insult to others. That's why they call it "fighting words".

gadfly

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Re: A Muslim view on this whole cartoon fiasco.
« Reply #9 on: February 08, 2006, 03:56:37 PM »
Redemption, very well put. I do think however that you’ve misinterpreted some of my comments. I am not trying to minimize or efface cultural differences. However, by simply focusing on them you are not acknowledging the very real, political nature of these reactions. From what I understand, and correct me if I’m wrong, you regard them (by them I refer to the reactions as well as the disparity of views between the two sides) as the result of a culture clash, often referred to as a "clash of civilizations” (a term coined by Bernard Lewis by the way-the greatest orientalist of all time). And most of the rhetoric I’ve been hearing in the media describes the whole issue in this manner. It is a bit more than that. Advocates (I'm not saying you are one) of Bernard Lewis’s view and his concept of “clash of civilization,” explain politics and all political movements in the Islamic world as a result of religion and culture. And as a consequence they qualify and explain the practice of terrorism let's say as Islamic. Hence “Islamic terrorism" is thus offered as both description and explanation of many events that take place in the Islamic world. Culture is said to be the dividing line, not the state or economics or politics for that matter. And such talk of an ideological war or clash has become  stuff of front-page news stories. The violence following these cartoons is taken as proof that these people do not respect our values, much less their own. The assumption is that these people's public behavior, particularly their political behavior, can be read from their habits and customs, whether religious, traditional or whatever. So my main contention here is that these reactions cannot be simply referred to as a result of cultural differences.

By the way, you really have a great grasp on some of these issues. May I ask what you've been reading ? ;)