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Wednesday, February 08, 2006

A view from Pakistan 

Inasmuch as I link to several Pakistani blogs, I figured I'd visit them to see what they're saying about the Danish cartoon issue.

Here's what Teeth Maestro said, in part, on February 7:

The world around us continues to ask for peaceful protests in response to the Blasphemous cartoons published a few months back. From the gloomy day of 9/11 the Muslim community has continued to take accusations for a good five years sitting quietly taking punches and have generally adopted an apologetic attitude....

When these cartoons come forth, we have now been forced to scream Enough is Enough, and have come onto the streets in protest, call it a boiling-over of all the anger built up over these five years finally let loose. We don’t mean harm, and I on behalf of all Muslims sincerly apologize for the actions of a radical few who have resorted to rioting and vandalism but in the same breath as followers of Islam we will do our part to inform the world of the grave offense against our beliefs. Muslims, like followers of other religions, are extremely emotional when it comes to disfiguring [religious idols]....

The author [of a children's book] claimed that illustrators feared that extremist Muslims would find it sacrilegious to break the Islamic ban on depicting Muhammad. Juste, the editor in chief [of Jyllands-Posten], was well aware of this dilemma but continued to set up a competition to find illustrators willing to mock Prophet Muhammad in an illustration, his actions and later the printing of the 12 blasphemous illustrations can’t be termed as a naive mistake on his part due to oversight but instead a well thought out aggression against the peaceful religion of Islam....

For him to even indicate that “the cartoons had been a Journalistic Project” …is making a mockery of our religion and is Simply unacceptable.

Many ask, Why are the Muslims so vociferous? I don’t justify the rioting around the world but when you irritate a persons religious beliefs, he/she usually tends to react in a very unpredictable manner. Amongst the thousands of muslims a select few reacted poorly. The world should now warn idiots like the Danish publication to think twice and hard before ever repeating such a mistake....

Teeth Maestro certainly means no harm, and may not want to cut off the hands of the offending cartoonists. Yet he asks that publications refrain from irritating the religious beliefs of people.

He should have no problem getting support for this idea in the United States, when even self-proclaimed First Amendment champion KFI has publicly proclaimed that they will no longer make light of the deaths of people engaged in religious observances, and where most papers are refusing to print the Danish cartoons. But what about other parts of the world where free speech is valued?

[OE UPDATE] I posted the following comment:

For the last few weeks, I have made several posts in my (U.S.-based) blog regarding the issues of “what you CAN say” and “what you SHOULD say.” In the United States, there are relatively few limits on what you CAN say - we’ve made joking traffic reports about the Hajj deaths, put a cross in a jar of urine, and done all sorts of things. The harder issue, of course, is “what you SHOULD say.”

Is it appropriate to make religious humor off-limits? Or is it appropriate to make some religious humor off-limits? If so, where do you draw the line? Should we refrain from “Bill Gates met St. Peter” jokes? Should use of the phrase “Jesus H. Christ” result in a prison sentence?

I’d like to know the views of the readers here on where such a line should be drawn. I don’t see an easy answer to this.

From the Ontario Empoblog (Latest OVVA news here)

There is no easy answer to the question you have posed, every individual has a different threshold of tolerance, muslims are very emotional about religion, most muslims who might be generally liberal will get inflamed when their scriptures, religious personalities and beliefs are dishonored in anyway. I feel that this whole issue has gone out of hand because at the innitial stage instead of understanding the sentiments of the muslim people and stopping, different papers across Europe tried to cash in on the controversy and started reprinting the cartoons even though they were aware of what the reaction would be, I personally would consider this irresponsible journalism on their part. The line should have been drawn once they knew the reaction of the people and they should not have inflamed the issue even furthur
Good point, Dest. At some point I want to compare the reaction to the Danish cartoons to the reaction to John Lennon's 1966 comments. In both cases, there were varying levels of response, from the extremely measured "that was inappropriate" comments to the more raucuous protests to the threatened/actual physical violence (although I don't know offhand if anyone was physically injured in the 1966 case). It's an interesting way to look at the issue - Muslim terrorist groups equivalent to the Ku Klux Klan (the most vocal of the anti-Lennon forces)?
Destitute Rebel makes a very good point, and I agree that it was irresponsible journalism. My pastor gave a message a while back that basically said the world will stop taking God’s name in vain when we do (we being Christians). What he meant is that we blaspheme God’s name all the time when we do things that are not right.
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