legalacidity's musings


Find Something Real to Fight About

I've been watching with detached amusement at the recent reaction of Muslims in the Arab world to a series of cartoons, or caricatures, of the Prophet Mohammad that were published some days ago in a Danish newspaper and have been reprinted across Europe and the Middle East. Mobs have formed in Ramallah, in Palestine, burning French flags and proclaiming that an "assualt on the Prophet is an assault on Islam." In a Palestinian refugee camp in Lebanon, protestors burned a Danish flag. Even in the lobby of the Danish Embassy in Jakarta, Idonesia, up to 300 Muslims shouting "Allahu Akbar" (God is Greatest) smashed lamps, threw rotten eggs and tomatoes, and tore up a Danish flag. The Egyptian ambassador to Denmark, while acknowledging that she was satisfied with the Danish government's position, noted that the prime minister stated that he could not interfere with the press and stated that the "government of Denmark has to do something to appease the Muslim world."

Why? Don't you get it? Not all countries are alike; not all governments make the same laws; not all countries tell the press what they can and cannot print or broadcast. This same little nugget of truth is part of why the United States is in so many entanglements around the world; I think some of us are starting to get it, but the Muslims who are reacting in these ways are far from understanding the simple notion that all countries are different and unique. Period. What's popular in France is probably unpopular in Israel. What makes people laugh in Denmark may induce silence in Germany. That's the way it is.

Another thing I've noticed, and maybe it's just me (and I could be wrong), but it seems like Muslim radicals have to find something to be angry about at all times of their existence. While I realize that depicting a picture of Mohammad is prohibited under "Sharia" law, and some Muslims consider any images of him to be blasphemous, I just don't get the outrage flowing from the Middle East. I think that some of the friction stems from the fact that most of Europe adheres to a "free speech of the press" type of ideology while most of the press in the Middle East is much more rigid in what they are allowed to print. As the Prime Minister of Denmark pointed out, the people of Denmark cannot be held responsible for something that a free newspaper printed. It would be akin to calling for the death of all Americans because the New York Times ran an article that bashed Islam (and that's probably happened in some way, shape or form). It'd be ridiculous. But, unfortunately, for whatever reason, certain Muslims are essentially walking powder kegs, waiting for a stray spark to set them off into full riot mode.

Many Muslim leaders have insisted that their religion is a peaceful one, that suicide bombers are wrong, that Islam is a message of peace. The problem is that perception is reality, and every time the words "Muslim" or "Islam" are seen in print or heard on television, it is usually in reference to a suicide bomber, or a riot, or another thin-skinned, kneejerk reaction.

It's a cartoon, people. I don't think that God wants you to attempt to destroy a country's embassy or riot in the streets because some newspaper thousands of miles away from you printed cartoons you don't like.

Get over it. There are much more important things to worry about.

12:15 p.m. - 2006-02-03

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