Thursday, February 02, 2006

Outrage over... cartoons. (?)

So, it seems that certain individuals within the Muslim world are aghast at a series of cartoons that depict the prophet Muhammed in a less than flattering manner.

One quote attempts to make the case that, if it were Jesus being defamed, the Western world might react differently:

"Freedom of speech has its limits when it concerns others... How would it feel if Jesus Christ was the one insulted instead?"
Randa Ahmed Essa, Egypt

In fact, according to this story at, Jesus has been insulted by a new comic book, entitled The Life of Jesus. And indeed, the article concludes that the book is jumping off the shelves, this in a country where the population is predominantly Christian (or at least, more Christian than Muslim).

Apparently, the Muslim world has trouble comprehending what us Westerners mean when we say "Freedom of Speech." This is the freedom to defame leaders, to poke fun at deities, and to laugh at current world events.

In fact, I thought that some of the cartoons were actually rather funny. See for yourself:

Insensitive to another world religion? Perhaps. But, learn to laugh. In this country (the United States), people make fun of one another all the time. I could see myself having laughed at this cartoon that implicitly compares the Unibomber to back-to-the-land environemntalists back in the 90's. Similarly, what conservative wouldn't at least chuckle at this liberal cartoon site?

Frankly, on this one I must say that I'm going to come down on the side of freedom, liberty, and the free press. At the same time, people do have the freedom to peacefully assemble and express their viewpoints, so if some people in the Arab world would like to come together to express their outrage at these cartoons, sure, that's perfectly OK. As long as it ends there, and nobody, you know, does anything drastic.

And, I sense that some people in the Arab world share this viewpoint. According to that same British (BBC) article, "In Jordan, an independent tabloid, al-Shihan, reprinted three of the cartoons on Thursday, saying people should know what they were protesting about."



Garlynn Woodsong said...

So, as of today, 10 people have been killed in Afghanistan in protests over these cartoons, and more in other countries. Most of the people killed have been shot by police after attempting to storm police, military or diplomatic installations... which makes them seem like pretty needless deaths. However, attempting to storm the police is a violent act, and indeed, the protesters have been urged by their elders to have some sense in this matter. According to The Washington Post :

"Islam says it's all right to demonstrate but not to resort to violence. This must stop," said senior cleric Mohammed Usman of Afghanistan's Ulama Council, the Associated Press reported.

Thus proving that the sheep will be sheep, anywhere, and that these protests are not necessarily the fault of Islam the religion, but rather the fault of certain radical insurgent elements who happen to identify themselves as Islamic. Something about a few bad apples... ?

Garlynn Woodsong said...

Another update/wrinkle:

According to The Los Angeles Times, Ahmed Akkari, who "was part of a delegation of Danish Muslims who in December delivered the cartoons and other anti-Islamic sketches to religious leaders in Cairo and Beirut," has himself come up with one potential solution to the conflict:

"When asked about the Jyllands-Posten's right to publish the cartoons, Akkari said the paper should practice equality and publish derogatory caricatures of the Pope and a rabbi. "Then we will be satisfied," he said."

So... perhaps the Danes could print this one for the Pope:

Weapons of Mass Destruction

...or this one about Catholics in general:
Gay Marriage and the Priesthood

It's a bit harder to find cartoons about rabbis in general. Perhaps somebody could draw one that's timely and related to the current events of today? I found this one about Ariel Sharon:

Drivers License Expired

I also found this website.

...which has the following less-than-glamorous portrayals of rabbis:

What a Rabbi Is

Rabbis beheading the rule of law

OK, so perhaps none of the above cartoons have yet to be published in Denmark. Maybe some need to be commissioned... some funnier ones, to balance out the scales?