After Jordan’s parliament called for for the punishment of the caricaturists that created images of the Prophet Mohammad, Jordan’s foreign minister got into things Saturday, summoning Denmark’s honorary consul to Amman to discus "the deliberate abuse to Islam and the message of Prophet Mohammad by a Danish paper." Here is the full story from Jordan’s news agency, Petra.
This controversy is snowballing and fast. Both sides feel very strongly about the issue. What one side regards as an important freedom of speech matter, the other sees as a clear case of blasphemy. This debate is likely endless. Although I believe the cartoons were truly offensive to Muslims — with all due respect to the believers — in my humble opinion, I think the issue has gotten out of control, especially with recent calls to boycott Danish products. A number of Arab bloggers have already commented on the issue. Here are some links: Naseem, Roba, Sandmonkey, and Basem.
Being a Westerner living in the M.E. for over 15 years – some of it in your wonderful Amman, Natasha – I can empathise with both sides, but I am also disappointed by both sides.
I really wish that my dear Muslim friends would understand the following: The majority religion in the Western world is NOT Christianity. Please let me explain:
By “religion” I mean an allegiance to a specific way of understanding the universe and the nature of Truth. Within that understanding comes a whole system beliefs and values, that guide members of the community in every decision they make, and by that, their behaviour and lifestyle.
The way to know a person’s “religion” is not by looking on their birth certificate ;o) It is a matter of mind and heart allegiance, not inheritance. A more pertinent question to ask them is: “What defines Truth?”
Until the Enlightenment in the 17th century, the answer to this question was very similar to the way my Muslim friends would answer today: “God defines truth, Truth is in God’s Revelation, and our religious leaders are best equipped explain this Truth”. In the name of defending “Truth” the religious authorities controlled the printing presses, burned “heretics” that offended them, ordered murderous crusades, and ruled with unquestionable absolute authority. Christianity was in those days – as Islam still purports to be (and in some ways Communism is too) – a complete system, political and religious, run by a religious leaders in a system similar to a caliphate.
Well, after many mistakes (eg Copernicus) and much injustice (the Taleban were nothing new – ALL theocracies end in injustice and hypocrisy), the Christian caliphate eventually had to give up their “sole-agency” of Truth. Science became the new authority, Truth’s new agent. Everything that could be proved scientifically was a “fact”, a “public fact” that everyone must believe. Everything that could not be put under microscope or tested scientifically (eg God and religious faith) was banished to the realms of “belief’ – “private belief”. In some ways science became God, and scientists His prophets.
From this came the majority religion of the West: The heart and mind allegiance is to Science or Positivism or whatever “ism” you want to call it. Its creed is the separation of Church and State, the “right” to hold unprovable private beliefs, the value of tolerance, the right of free speech. Because of the evil and ignorance caused by a religious/state-controlled press, the freedom of the press is enshrined as sacred.
Ironically, the West’s majority religion also claims to be a religion of peace and tolerance, however it is highly intolerant of anything that breaks its core value of tolerance (as with Islam, it judges its tolerance by its own core values)
Dear Muslim friends. I agree that what was done is blasphemy when viewed from within your religious system. It should not have been done. But what many Muslims now demand (state apologies, desecration of the free press etc.) is JUST AS BLASPHEMOUS to the ears of most Westerners when viewed from within their religious system. It’s like the West demanding Muslims publish these cartoons to prove they have tolerance – it just won’t happen.
Of course these systems are incompatible. Both sides see the other’s system as totally offensive to all their values and their understanding of Truth – i.e. intolerant
It’s a small world. No-one will win this one… Lets hope we survive it…
Dear Kakky, You are wrong. There is a direct connection between Islam and terrorists. While you may be tired of those Muslims who use violence as an answer, far too many in the Mulsim world praise the suicide bombers, support martyrs, and call for Jihad. Worse yet very few in the Muslim world speak out against these actions. For example there is nearly universal condemnation by Jews against the rare actions of their fanatics like Goldstein. Since there is no comparable outrage by the Muslim world on must honestly conclude there is support for terrorists actions. Where are the protest against hostages having their heads cut off by those claiming to be doing Mohammed’s will. Which brings us to the Danish Cartoons. Since there are no pictures of the prophet, all cartoons are incorrect by definition. The offense is in the head of the simple minded and easily offended. Perhaps this is an eductational issue, perhaps it is a Moslem issue, but clearly the Islamic world has issues that they need to address internally. Welcome to the 21st century.
I am sick and tired of those people who brain wash the public with false claims about terrorism and it’s relativity to ISLAM. There is no connection between Islam and terrorists because those who commit suicide and kill the innocent are recognized as known Muslims. I am also sick and tired of those Muslims who exaggerate matters and use violence as an answer. However, I am very disappointed with Denmark and their president. He has thousands of Muslims living in the country and yet he cannot apologize for something that has extremely angered Muslims .
the 12 cartoons… http://www.humaneventsonline.com/sarticle.php?id=12146
By Dan: “A case in point is the cover of Rolling Stone with Kayne West wearing a crown of thorns.I would boycott the magazine but I have never read it anyway.”
– see, there’s the problem – you don’t look for the explanation to see the reason why: Hmmm, why IS Kanye wearing thorns? Gee, maybe it’s b/c it goes deeper than that. The man obviously believes in God (his lyrics). He’s not insulting his own religion (I didn’t read the article either but simply b/c I rarely buy the magazine.) It’s exactly that kind of attitude (literally judging a book by it’s cover) that spreads intolerance
By Patherik: “Until Islamic countries are governed by people who at least understand, even if they do not accept, the basic ideas of freedom of thought and expression, there can be no rational negotiation with the Islamic world.”
– I soooo AGREE! Why? Because…it…makes… SENSE!
By Joergen: “When I see a Muslim women walking down the streets of Copenhagen in a Burka I’m offended, But I respect her right to offend me. Thats freedom”
– AMEN! Y’know, I never really could put into words the feelings that stir up inside of me when I see women covered up like that in this part of the world but that’s it! I’m OFFENDED! Uh…if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get a shot gun and kill the next one I see…b/c I’m offended – Ridiculous, huh?
i dont see any depiction of G-d making G-d any less in stature or holiness
the publisher’s own spirituality and moral value do fall but G-d remains unchanged
Running through the streets with machine guns and threatening violence and kidnapping because someone insulted your god of chioce is nothing short of riduculous. You really wonder why the rest of the world views islamic countries in such a negative light? If someone drew a picture of my god depicting the same action, I’d find it amusing. Pretty sad.
That is the problem, you don’t understand. In Denmark in a danish tradition for a Danish public we make much harsher jokes about chritianity or any political movment, than the very light cartoons of Muhamed. In Denmark in a free country we have a right to disagree, to offend. When I see a Muslim women walking down the streets of Copenhagen in a Burka I’m offended, But I respect her right to offend me. Thats freedom
A Gay dane who thanks Jyllands Posten (peace be upon them)
The most telling cultural disconnect between western and Islamic societies is revealed not by the outrage against blasphemy – after all, people have as much right be outraged as others have to blaspheme – but by the fact that Islamic governments seem to take it as obvious that a national government has the right, and even the duty, to punish its own free press. And the most shocking aspect of this is not the presumption itself, but the profound and appalling ignorance that it displays. Until Islamic countries are governed by people who at least understand, even if they do not accept, the basic ideas of freedom of thought and expression, there can be no rational negotiation with the Islamic world.
The Muslim culture will either have to view the world in realistic terms and understand what freedom of speech is all about, or face the destruction of their culture.