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Free speech

Holy intolerance
How difficult is it to understand that Western governments can not tell their media to enforce Islamic Sharia just as they do not enforce the Jewish laws?



David Etebari
February 6, 2006

The recent worldwide Muslim reaction to the cartoons that were published in a Danish newspaper is a good opportunity for the Muslims and their religious leaders to take a deeper look at their own actions before blaming the western media and governments:

1- These cartoons were published in a privately owned Danish newspaper 4 months ago (September of 2005). The publicity for the cartoons were initially created by the reaction of the Muslims in Denmark and later in other parts of the world. It was only after the news of the Muslim reaction that the European media (as well as others) started printing the news as well as the cartoons for their readers. Therefore the people who truly publicized the cartoons were Muslims by their over-reaction and not the Danish government or people. This was also the case with the Salmon Rushdi’s book which thanks to some Muslims and Khomeini death fatwa it became one of the worldwide best sellers!

2- If one reads the Danish newspaper and its positions, it is obvious that the intention of the drawings were to spark an INTERNAL debate on whether there still exists freedom of expression or it has given way to the self-censorship in Denmark. However the Muslim reaction resulted in an atmosphere of death threats to the cartoonists to the extent that they are now forced in to hiding.

3- It was not until after the publicities by the Islamic Conference and the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as Saudi, Egyptian, Kuwaiti, Iranian ... governments that the worldwide reaction by angry Muslims mushroomed. In fact after 4 months many people (Muslim and non-Muslim) have not yet seen the cartoons but every time that the news of another Muslim riot is shown in the world wide media , more people get curious to see what the cartoons were all about and therefore more media coverage is given to them. If cartoons initially portrayed to the limited Danish newspaper readers a hostile or intolerant vision of Islam and its prophet, it is now the angry and intolerant Moslem mobs who are proving such view of Islam worldwide! The ones who now give legitimacy to the cartoons are no longer the cartoonist, but the ones who make death threats and those who burn flags and the buildings! In the words of a Jordanian journalist who is sadly now arrested for expressing his opinion: "Muslims who turn to violence in order to register their displeasure with the cartoons only turn themselves into the same caricatures against which they protest. "

4- Governments such as Iran, Saudi Arabia , Kuwait, Egypt, etc are facing many internal problems and dissatisfaction with their own people. What better tactic than turning their people's attention to satanic non-Muslim west while buying themselves legitimacy with their masses for standing up for the prophet of Islam? They also are giving their people the subliminal message that: "This is what happens with Freedom of speech. It depicts your prophet, so let us handle your affairs!".

5- Western media (and even Moslem media) is often filled with cartoons of Jesus, Moses and even GOD (the old beaded man) but we do not see some Muslims burn flags nor their governments boycott products when they see the caricature of God in the European papers but somehow they get outraged when it comes to their prophet. One wonder who is holier for some: God or his prophet? The Muslim concept of not drawing the prophet was supposedly to prevent his idolization, but aren’t such reactions in nature an example of idolization of him while tolerating the cartoons of the old bearded man!? Doesn't Islam also believe in Jesus and Moses as prophets of God? If so, why is it that Muslims and their leaders did not get outraged when Al-Jazeera portrayed the invading western troops as a armed fat Jesus or when it showed him as a pot smoking hippy? Why do Christians have to tolerate that and Muslims should not? Why didn’t Muslim show their public street outrage when Taliban bombed engraved statue of Buddha in Afghanistan?

6- How difficult is it to understand that the laws of Islam may state that portrayal of the Muslim prophet is not allowed, but the laws of Denmark does not. How difficult is it to understand that Western governments can not tell their media to enforce Islamic Sharia just as they do not enforce the Jewish laws. Denmark and western countries have many newspapers and media from extreme left to right, from Muslim to Communist, From Buddhist to Zionist, from democrat to Nazi and they all are tolerated and not controlled by their government as oppose to most papers in Muslim countries which are under government control. How difficult is it to understand that these papers do not reflect the opinion of their government or all of their people. Punishing Danish citizens and businessmen by telling them to leave middle east or not buying their products for cartoons that were printed in a privately owned Danish magazine is an attempt to force Muslim beliefs on non-Muslims and to control their media against their constitution.

It is time that Muslims focus on those who create the atmosphere for creation of such cartoons. It is those who kill innocent people in the streets of Baghdad, New York, Paris, London, Madrid, ... and those who cut the journalists throats in the name of Islam who truly present an intolerant, hateful and angry image of Islam. Where are the outraged Muslim Imams and Mullahs of Europe and middle east when their Muslim brothers and sisters are blown in to pieces in the street of Baghdad by suicide bombers on a daily basis?

May be if the Muslims masses in Indonesia or Beirut would also had shown their anger over such atrocities done in the name of their religion, such cartoons would not have disappeared. Sooner or later many Muslims have to get a thicker skin and come out of the bubble many live in and stop getting so outraged over a cartoon while they don't seem to mind the very real issues affecting their own people. In the streets of Baghdad and in the jails of the Islamic republic of Iran, Danish people and their cartoonists do not kill Muslims... those who call themselves Muslims do.

A French editorial hit the nail right on the head when it wrote: "Islam forbids any representation of the Prophet,... The question is, are all those who are not Muslims obliged to honor that prohibition? Can you imagine a society that added up ALL the prohibitions of the different religions? What would remain of the freedom to think, to speak, or even to come and go freely?"

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