Sunday, February 19, 2006
WILL NORMAL MUSLIMS STEP UP TO THE PLATE?
here have been signs in the past week that, while the cartoonish rage of fundamentalists continues growing across the world, that maybe -- just maybe -- there might be other Muslim voices willing to take the risk of expressing themselves. But as I sit down to begin writing this, the AP satellite feed is showing what appears to be a massive demonstration in Turkey. It looks absolutely massive, this one surely counts in the hundreds of thousands. Dare I hope that it turns out to be Turkish Muslims for moderation? The signs are all in Turkish, and the event appears to be driven by a political party. I only surmise this by the banners and matching t-shirts most are wearing, which bear the words "Saadet Partisi". Saadet Party? Who knows, but by the screaming of the speakers, it doesn't sound much like Muslims for moderation.
The rioting fundamentalists elsewhere are Islam's worst enemy, and pose a much bigger threat to the ummah than Denmark or "the West" or democracy or freedom of the press. People around the world are scratching their heads wondering what the heck is the matter with these people, and amidst the virtual silence of would-be dissenters from the hard line, beginning to assume that the lunatics actually do represent the Muslim masses. Rioting fundamentalists in Nigeria have attacked their own Christian countrymen, killing at least 15 and burning down churches. What can these people possibly think that Nigerian Christians have to do with their trumped up outrage over some European cartoons? Another dozen or so were killed in Libya, and nobody can figure out how to split the count in Pakistan. In that country, the rioting and burning has been over both the mo-toons and the Sunnis annual attacks against Shia Muslims on the occasion of the latter's Ashura festival. In any case, the death count in this stupid issue has far surpassed the numbers killed last year over a false story in Newsweek magazine.
I've been called upon here by Thai friends, knowing that I have many Muslim close friends in Indonesia, to try to explain what's going on. Why do they attack everybody -- seemingly the entire non-Muslim world -- when they could just be mad at some Danish artists and newspapers? Why does a guy get marked with a death fatwa if he draws a stick figure with a turban? I assure my friends that most people of that religion are certainly not so brainless as that, but I'm going to need some help here soon before I'm written off as someone who knows nothing about Muslims whatsoever! Because it seems I'm being proven more wrong with each passing day.
There is another side of Islam which is increasingly difficult to hear, being drowned out by screams of "death to the infidels!" -- which of course makes for more dramatic news copy. One could read the thoughts of Pierre Akel, editor of the liberal Muslim website Middle East Transparent (wai Wretchard). One could take some encouragement that London's Muslims recognised (perhaps) that last weekend's protest, loaded with placards of "Exterminate / Slaughter / Butcher / Behead / Massacre / Those Who Displease Us" were replaced by slightly more moderate sentiments in yesterday's festivities. It doesn't mean they've stopped believing the former, but possibly realise the damage it did to their own image. One could also note the Democratic Muslims of Denmark showing support to their adopted country (the group seems to be mainly of Iranian origin). That reminds me, I need to pick up a dozen "Roses of the Prophet Mohammed" on the way home. That's the new name for Danish pastries by the way, as decreed by the theocratic fascist regime in the Danish Democratic Muslims' former homeland. We're having a party tonight, and plan to polish off some ham and pineapple pizzas and a moderate quantity of Chateau de Loei, finishing up by using our infidel fingers, tongues and teeth to masticate and ingest some of the Prophet's lovely sacred Roses.
Don't these Iranian mullahs think before making their pronouncements?
I think I need some help in another area too, some hints that maybe the secular democracies are not all prepared to get down on bended knees and ask the forgiveness of lunatics. There were reports in recent days that former President Clinton had indulged in this activity over in Pakistan. A Pakistani newspaper had reported that Mr. Clinton "condemned the publication of Prophet Muhammad's (PBUH) caricatures by European newspapers and urged countries concerned to convict the publishers." It now turns out that this was incorrect. Other sources reported Clinton had said that, "...religious convictions of the people should be respected at all costs and no media should be allowed to play with the religious sentiments of people of any faith." Wai to Mark in Mexico for getting to the bottom of that one. Mr. Clinton was on one knee only, not both.
Some adherents of free expression are planning a march to (around?) Trafalgar Square next month, in support of, well, free expression. I hope some British Muslims will turn out for that. Here's a place to watch for updates on this event, slated for March 25 from 2 - 4 pm.
Some editorial cartoonists are refusing dhimmitude as well, but rather than doing toons about Mohammed, they're doing toons about toons. But be careful, Chip Bok already has a few death threats under is belt simply for needling CNN's censorship. In response to the Iranian newspaper's call for Holocaust-denying, Jew-bashing cartoons, Israelis have proclaimed that "we can do it better!" It's a teaching moment: this is how mature people can poke fun at themselves.
It's not all lighthearted fun though. The Caped Crusader (oops, a poor choice of words?) will soon be taking on the newest threat to the good citizens of Gotham City -- a devilish fiend called Osama (wai Wretchard again).
But when people act like fools, it's hard not to poke fun at them (at them) as fools. Surely the folks at FARK.com will have expected a fatwa or three for putting Mohammed into an American sit-com themed Photoshopping extravaganza. Don't lose your temper too quick now, Habib -- many of the "Mohammeds" pictured are not that one, but the likes of Khalid Sheik Mohammed, Mohammed Atta, etc. "Allah in the Family" is perhaps to be expected, "Married to Children" may be a bit contentious. (Wai lgf) I reiterate: if you act foolishly, don't be surprised when people notice. Notice this, Habib! Wai to Mark, who thinks the film was taken in Gaza, but it could be a lot of places, maybe even Iran. The lesson here is, when the mullah slaps his head, you must slap your head too. Everybody -- slap your head!
I tell ya, if people like this were pretending to represent me, I'd be mightily pissed off. Where's the outrage?
UPDATE: REAL Muslims getting pissed off
A Boston area Muslim wants his imam to condemn a Pakistani cleric's million dollar bounty for dead cartoonists.
I just got back from my mosque. I was late and missed prayers but I talked to the Imam, told him what I wanted him to do, and that, as a journalist, I would be back next Friday to quote and publish him. He will be delivering the sermon at the MIT interfaith prayer hall.A Pakistani blogger writes:
Karim Elsahy has a post which I think every Pakistani should read. I am sorry Khaled I am afraid of asking such a thing to my mosque's Imam. There are nearly five mosques near my place and I am afraid that I can not ask them such a thing. They could get furious and even ask other Muslims to beat the Western Shit out of my head.The system whereby the leadership of the mosque can be acquired by a clique, group or organisation (often with direct associations with things like Hamas), is an issue that normal Muslims need to be seriously questioning.