Thursday, February 14, 2008

Responding evil with hateful ignorance | Danish newspapers republish Muhammad caricature

Danish Muhammad Cartoon CaricatureNo sane, intelligent person, be muslim or non-muslim will support the handful fanatics' reaction and willingness to harm and kill the cartoonists who depicted the caricature of Muhammad. Obviously the cartoons and the caricatures were wrong in the first place as they were done with political bias with no fair understanding of Islam or the teachings of the Prophet. Those who drew such cartoons stupidly equate a handful of terrorists with the teaching of Islam, which condemn such behavior in the slightest degree let alone killing innocents. I bet those who drew and decided to publish those cartoons never cared about reading the life of the Prophet Muhammad for real from any reliable sources or his teachings. Sadly they still live in medieval Europe's ignorant mentality where Muhammad was used to be depicted as a blood thirsty anti-Christ figure.

If it is terrorism, which all people of the world condemn, then it made much more sense to draw Osama Bin Laden (who was infact an ex-CIA contact and supported by U.S. while fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan not so long ago, incase you didn't know) instead of the Prophet of Islam. Instead of drawing caricature of a real terrorist, when cartoons of a religious figure is drawn given the sensitivity of the faith, its no brainer to understand the lack of intellect and ignorant intention.

Danish police conducted a series of raids Tuesday (Feb 12, 2008) morning and arrested several individuals suspected of planning to murder one of the 12 cartoonists whose unflattering depictions of the Prophet Muhammad led to worldwide protests. Those arrested include several people with both Danish and foreign citizenship, according to the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which originally published the caricatures in the autumn of 2005. The paper reports that cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was the target of the plot and that Danish authorities have been investigating the threat for some time. (credit)

Now, whole-heartedly all muslims do condemn mindless terrorism and such plot to kill a paid cartoonist. It doesn't represent the ideology of true spirit of Islam yet the media is always eager to portray it in that fashion.

Now here is THE IRONY: More than a dozen Danish newspapers and European media today republished a controversial caricature of the Prophet Mohammed (also written as Muhammad) which shows the prophet with a bomb in his turban, saying they were trying to send a message in support of free speech! what a shame!

I ask, then what's the difference between editors / decision makers of these European and Danish Newspapers and the fanatics, who both are equally ignorant and we have same style of bigotry in display here! It is nothing but responding evil with hateful ignorance. Freedom doesn't mean 'do whatever you like' and discriminating others just because they are minority. It is a naked display of promoting islamophobia and intolerance when world needs it no more. Just as terrorism is abhorrent and unacceptable, so is intolerance, encouragement for fanaticism and promoting hatred in the excuse of terrorism.

Reaction from Muslim leaders | "There could have been other ways to do it without the drawing, which I personally do not like," said Abdul Wahid Petersen, a moderate imam, according to the Associated Press.

In Denmark, all eyes turned toward the Islamic Faith Community, a network of Muslim groups that many Danes say provoked the riots of 2006 by embarking on a Middle East tour seeking support for their fight against the paper that first published the cartoons. Group spokesman Kasem Ahmad said even though printing the cartoons "was like a knife in our hearts," the group would not take action this time.

"We are so unhappy about the cartoon being reprinted," said Imam Mostafa Chendid, head of the Islamic Faith Community. "No blood was ever shed in Denmark because of this, and no blood will be shed. We are trying to calm down people, but let's see what happens. Let's open a dialogue. He told Reuters that the decision to republish these images is unfortunate. "We are not against freedom of speech, but we are opposed to continued discrimination of the Muslim minority in Denmark".

The British Muslim Initiative, a group devoted to fighting what it calls Islamophobia worldwide, said the republication showed the West's double standards. "Every time they say: 'We have the right to offend,' and then they tell you don't have the right to be offended," said Ihtisham Hibatullah, the group's spokesman. (credit)

Cartoon of Mohammad Muhammad Jyllands-Posten. Why image of Prophet Muhammad was an issue and why it should not be big anymore for Muslims

In the earlier days of Islam Prophet Muhammad himself forbade other to draw his image or make idol because he didn't want repeating what happened to Christianity to be repeated again in Islam. Sects of Christianity turned from worshiping One God to worshiping Jesus and taking him as God Icon which was even against the teachings of Christ himself. Thus Islamic law (which is dynamic, and came into formal shape many years after the Prophet's death) opposes any depiction of the prophet, even favourable.

Depiction of Prophet was forbidden as graven image or idol primarily because of concern that it could lead to idolatry in a pagan arab society of 1400 years ago, where idolatry was an active practice then. The Kaba of Mecca itself held 360 idols in pre-islamic time.

Infact the discouragement about make image or icon of Prophet is also inline with respect for 2nd Commandment of Torah. Remember the 2nd Commandments that read, Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth. Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: (...) and keep my commandments. Islam doesn't claim to be a new religion but a continuation of what was revealed to mankind from ageless time, thus the universal spirit of not worshiping anything other than One God is part of its religious teaching.

Thus no image is used inside any mosque, since its a place of worship of One God, Who has no likeness and no comparison. Similarly making image of any Prophet, Messenger or Apostles of God was and is discouraged.

Because it happened repeatedly in the history of mankind that people start to worship that messenger instead of God and forget the real teachings. All sort of idolatry start to happen. They become busy making huge statues instead of following the very principles. This happened in case of Buddha, Jesus Christ, Hindu avatars and other religions in the past.

In modern day's perspective, the image of Prophet Muhammad is not used or will be used for idolatry or worshiping icon. That intention is not there any more. Nobody is going to worship a picture (or cartoon) which was the original case in tribal pagan society. So the treatment of the instruction of the Prophet make little sense from islamic point of view in modern day to push it to extreme agenda as far as viewing it as blasphemy. Muslims all over world also need to understand this before they jump with useless and nonsensical over-reactions.

From social, civilization, integration and cultural point of view its now more of an issue about defining freedom of speech in its full-circle, respecting another faith (which still is a fundamental component of human society) and being sensitive / tolerance of a religious practice. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right no doubt, everyone deserves and wants that irrespective of any differences. So how freedom of speech in a progressive society can be ensured and still can maintain respect for the people of that very community is what people needs to engage with intellectually. Ignorance and mis-information about neighbors is a real shame in our increasingly integrated global village where information and knowledge is what we nurture.

# previous posts on this issue
. When we lose the sense for sacred : Imaging Prophet
. Who is really disrespecting the Prophet?
. this is Mohammad | writings from Alphonse de Lamartine

+ Norwegian press won’t touch "Mohammad" cartoons
+ Islamophobia in Europe
+ European Monitoring Centre on Racism and Xenophobia report: Muslims in the European Union: Discrimination and Islamophobia
+ Cartoon Censor | Osama Saeed writes: ... censorship by the powerful troubles nobody, and instead we just have hand-wringing about Muslims and the threat they pose to free speech.

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