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it’s just a picture

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Denmark is under virtual siege over some Islamophobic cartoons published in a newspaper. We expect Religion to have no sense of proportion, but what about boundaries? Ask a Muslim cleric, and he (never she) will say that Islam is destined to rule the world, that it can not tolerate differing opinions on matters of religion. It is a monoculture, and does not understand pluralism or multi-culturalism, the idea that a different viewpoint can be as valid and correct as their own.

The Islamic taboo against images of Prophets (Mohammed, Jesus, Abraham etc.) is one of those cultural things that I don’t get at a basic level, but have little trouble working around. I went to Dubai a couple of years ago, quite prepared to do without pork or alcohol, but with so many Westerners there there were no real restrictions. I think freedom of speech is fundamental, and central to democracy, but that doesn’t mean you ought to rub peoples’ faces in it for the sake of selling newspapers (i.e. to make money). I walk this same tightrope every day, since some of my views would offend each person I meet in a different way. Religion is only one facet.

Neither is it acceptable to threaten people based on what they say alone – that is an attack on the freedom of speech of non-Muslims, people that Islam has no jurisdiction over. Tolerance works both ways – Muslims must respect the freedom of the press, as it exists in Denmark (a non-Islamic state).

Or to put it another way: the Prophet Mohammed is revered as a historical figure, with little direct relevance to the modern world I live in. To offend his memory, or not, is meaningless to me – but I’m a meritocrat, and judge people by their actions, what they do. Talk is cheap, whether it’s my blog, a politician’s promise, or a cartoon in a newspaper.

Written by brian t

February 4, 2006 at 7:07 pm

Posted in culture, philosophy

3 Responses

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  1. Publishing the pictures proved their point: Muslim fundamentalist forces really do have a bomb in their turbans.

    Dane

    February 4, 2006 at 7:25 pm

  2. As Muslims we are required to respect all religions, be it people who are Christians, Jewish, Hindu e.tc.

    So i’m really surprised at the pictures published in the newspaper, and also of their false nature. Maybe people should read about Prophet Muhummmad peace be upon him, and realise that he was a mercy to all mankind.

    Attacking the prophet peace be upon him by drawing such pictures is attacking Muslims directly.

    We dont draw pictures of other prophets like Abraham, Moses, Jesus, infact we respect them, and would never think to do such drawings.

    be

    February 4, 2006 at 7:29 pm

  3. Note to “be”: do you think all Westerners are as ignorant of Islam as the most bigoted Americans? That we only need to read from the Qu’ran, and we will believe? Sorry – my Muslim friends stopped trying to convert me years ago, because I refuse to take sides in this religious game. The words written by a person are not objective evidence of anything but the person’s opinion.

    Of course the cartoons are “false” – they are opinions, commentary, and art. If only “truth” could be published, you would first have to have everyone agree on what the “truth” was, so we could tell if someone was violating that rule. You and I would never agree on what the truth was; for example, as a “qafir”, I would call the Qu’ran “opinion” and “fiction”, maybe “art”, but not “truth”. You may insist that it is, as forcefully as you can, but no amount of force can turn fiction in to fact, can it?

    Press Freedom in Europe and the USA is almost a secular religion, an institution with its own creed and beliefs; this makes the Press an effective weapon against lies and corruption, as unbelieveable as that may seem at times. Even though I think they were wrong to print (and reprint) the cartoons, I have no right to force my opinions on them, and neither do you. By thinking you can control what people say in the Press, you are merely strengthening the Western perception of Islam as an intolerant monoculture, one that can not deal fairly with non-believers such as myself.

    I will not delete your comment from this site today; this my choice, in a domain that you have no control over, while I have full control, and you have to live with that in this (virtual) world. Today I choose to keep your comment, and the link to your religious writings, even though I do not agree with it. What would happen if I posted this comment on your site, I wonder?

    brian t

    February 4, 2006 at 9:51 pm


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