/ Jimmy's Corner: Review on the cartoons: Redirecting power!

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Friday, February 03, 2006 

Review on the cartoons: Redirecting power!

Flashback:
On September 2005 the Jyllands-Posten, which is a popular Danish independent newspaper whose history related to fascism and support of the Nazi policies, published cartoon greatly insulting Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) spreading a greatly negative stereotypical image of Islam and Muslims. The protest against the cartoons started with Danish Muslims asking the Danish Prime Minister for a formal apology and more responsibility on freedom of expression. They were ignored. With a slow pace, protests spread all over the Islamic countries asking for a boycott of Danish products. The boycott could very well snatch apologies by the Prime Minister and the newspaper. They can be considered half apologies but the Prime Minister's call for more responsibility when using freedom of expression met the needs of offended Muslims. The situation is developing but I just think I should give a final word on it now here.

Final word on the situation:

Difference between western and eastern societies:
The western societies used to read and see on everyday basis cartoons, articles, movies and even sketches harshly attacking religion and Jesus Christ. Naturally many get offended but they just thought it is freedom of expression. The point is, in eastern societies people have a more conservative approach when it comes to religion. Eastern Arab societies, including Muslims and Christians, put religion in the highest regard. Literally, religion possesses a sacred position for them. I remember that a few years ago an independent newspaper in Egypt published photos and an article about a priest involved in sexual relationships with different women. Christians all over Egypt became furious and attacked the office of the newspaper and great scorn spread among them as they were greatly offended by the article and the photos (and they had every right to do). The newspaper was shut and the editor was jailed. This story just tells us that it is not only Muslims who are very conservative about their religion, but it is the Arab eastern societies in general. Now being so conservative and sensitive when it comes to religion, Muslims were greatly offended by these stupid childish negative stereotypical cartoons. Add to that, they were ignored when they asked for an apology.

My point here is life is different in eastern societies. You cannot offend someone's religion and get away with it waving a the flag of freedom of speech. And to me, applying the western societies' rules over the eastern societies is just like applying the rules of biology over math. Consequently, there should be more responsibility (I am not saying censorship) and self-censorship when someone is dealing with the religious beliefs of others. Specially if the other is from a totally different culture.

Freedom of expression and double standards:

Those who stick to the idea that freedom of expression is more sacred than religion itself and there should be no protests against the cartoons whatsoever, I have a couple of questions for you. If freedom of expression is sacred and should not be questioned, this means that the rules apply to everyone and everything, right? Well, there are countries in Europe (France is an example) that punish anyone who attacks the or discusses the reality of the Holocaust. Isn't it an attack on the freedom of expression? Some would say that the Holocaust is different as the magnitude of the massacre is sooo heavy and bla bla bla, but there is freedom to attack the Torah and the Talmud, no problem about that.

Here comes my second question, Michael Jackson was recorded on a phone call saying that the Jews are "leeches" and they suck his blood (meaning always ask for his money). The pop singer was sued and faced a massive campaign asking him to formally apologize. Moreover, his song "They don't care about us" was attacked when he said "Jew me, Sue me, Kick me, Kike me" and he apologized and changed the lyrics of his song!... Isn't this an attack on the freedom of expression and freedom of speech??? I believe if there are rules banning discussing or attacking the Holocaust, there should be rules banning attacking religions in general including Islam. Otherwise, it will be just a dangerous sign of hypocrisy and double standards.

The aim of the boycott:
The boycott of Danish products in the Middle East deservedly started as a reaction to the way the pleas of Danish Muslims were ignored. Thus, the aim of the boycott was to have an apology from the newspaper and a call for more responsibility over freedom of expression if it is going to offend other people's beliefs. After the economic losses and having 11,000 jobs at stake in Denmark, the government apologized, ambassadors started to correct the image to Muslim societies and the newspaper itself apologized. Now, calls from Danish Muslims to end the boycott started to get heard. The aims of the boycott was met, now things should get back to normal. Stop the boycott... So what's now?

What's now?
I have noticed that the cartoons triggered great emotions and power among Muslims, especially Muslim young people. Such emotions and power should now be redirected to a different better direction before we lose it. No doubt that Islam's image is tarnished all over the world by the misdeeds and mischief done by the likes of Bin Laden, Zwahiri and Zarqawi. Therefore, in order to make sure that such photos will not be published again Muslims have to show the world the reality of Islam. The question is, how can we do so?

Start the work!

On the individual level:

First of all, in order to tell others about Islam, you should know it very well yourself. The greatest problem is that most of the Muslims are just very bad models of their religion, simply because they don't apply it in the right way. Therefore, the people who boycotted the Danish products and went out in demonstrations denouncing the caricatures should save some of their power to know their religion very well to be good representatives of what they believe. There are websites that offer great help for Muslims and non-Muslims to look into and discover Islam. I recommend Islam Online.

Let's start with the blogsphere. The blogsphere is a great place to start introducing the true image of Islam, I believe Muslim bloggers should dedicate a space in their blogs or even introduce on regular basis articles from authorized or trusted sources about Islam showing and analyzing the noble message of the religion. It would be even better if these bloggers form circles or blogrolls, cooperation is much better than individual work I believe. As for me, I have decided to dedicate part of my blog to show the reality of Islam and publish recent articles on the relationship of Islam and current events.

As for the way to start out of the blogsphere, I believe we should participate in big foundations and organizations, or even form them, working on purifying the image of Islam to the world. There are organizations that are working hard on showing the true image of Islam like Bridges Foundation. Bridges Foundation has a motto which is "Peacemaking through Education", so if all the Muslims are so angry about the caricatures, then they should be similarly eager to be educated and then educate the true word of their religion which calls for peace inside oneself and with others. For any other suggestions please leave a comment.

On the businessmen level:
Businessmen should participate in this campaign too. In "El Beit Beitak" there was a call for launching a world-wide space channel with one aim is to speak the truth about Islam and show the true image. I believe if this channel is to start there should be positive participation from Muslim businessmen so that this channel can reach everyone all over the world. Moreover, businessmen can donate and help foundations working in the same field.

That way the Muslims' power and feelings about Islam can be redirected into a better more useful way. I suggest that the campaign should not only work on showing the reality of Islam to non-Muslims, but also spreading the true values of Islam among Muslims themselves. Be it a universal human message that calls for respect to religions and beliefs of others.

Is this just another dream I add to my dreams' list? Well, I hope this dream comes true as soon as possible.

Whispers in your ears: Indonesia and Malaysia are two great Muslim countries, they are developed, clean, economically stable, modern and greatly participating in the technological progress and industries. Islam is not backwardness.

They shouldn't have published pictures like that.

In Islam we're not even allowed to draw pictures of the Prophet peace be upon him.

We dont draw pictures of Jesus or Moses, we respect all the prophets.

We love our prophet peace be upon him.

You're right about the egyptian christians thing. I believe that rejecting freedom of expression is a disease in our region no matter which religion is involved.

However, there is a slight comment I have to make. In Egypt, it is much easier to find anti-Christian stuff than anti-Islam stuff. For example, books disputing the authenticity of the bible are sold everywhere while books taking a critical look at the quran are no where to be found. Who knows, may be if both religions were treated equally, as is the case in Europe, muslims and christians in egypt won't react so foolishly when someone excercises his/her right in attacking their religions.

Muslim and BP, u missed the point. BP, I am not saying people should not attack Islam, I said they should not attack each other's religion in general because it is a privacy of everyman that should not be offended or intruded. So attacking religoins or beliefs from the root is unacceptable, be it Islam or Christianity.

Muslim, I am not arguing that pictorial depictions of Prophet Muhammad are okay. I was arguing on how we should make the best use of this power caused by anger at the caricatures in order to reform the image of Islam in the western societies' minds.

Looking for information and found it at this great site...
» » »

Where did you find it? Interesting read » »

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