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A sensible article on the cartoon fiasco

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    A sensible article on the cartoon fiasco

    Mohammad cartoon protests aren't unique to Islam By Michael ConlonSun Feb 12, 9:38 AM ET

    The violence linked to cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad is not unique to Islam, experts say, and the protests reflect political and cultural passions more than the faith's core values.
    Looking for distinct features that would make Islam liable for the cartoon-related violence around the world does little to explain it, said the Rev. Patrick Gaffney, an anthropologist and expert on Islam at the University of Notre Dame.
    "There are parallel behaviors in every tradition," he said. "Buddhism has a violent strain despite its pacifism ... You think about Hinduism and nonviolence but (Mohandas) Gandhi was assassinated by a Hindu."
    Other examples of religious violence involving various faiths abound in recent and past history. But attention has focused on Muslims this year as at least 11 people have been killed in protests in the Middle East, Asia and Africa after the publication of cartoons featuring the Prophet Mohammad in newspapers in Denmark and elsewhere.
    "You can't say Islam has a gene for violence," Gaffney said. "It has to do with the dynamics, political and economic, that are at play right now," especially in Europe where there has been a long history of anti-Islamic prejudice that represents "an underlying kind of powder keg."
    While Muslims account for only 5 percent of the European Union's population generally, their numbers are much higher in certain countries. Worldwide there are estimated to be 1.3 billion Muslims, or 21 percent of the global population, surpassed only by Christians, who account for 2.1 billion, or 33 percent, according to the Web site
    Ruediger Seesemann, a professor of religion at Northwestern University, said the present situation has exploded because beyond whatever offense the cartoons carry, "Muslims feel under siege."
    On top of the "physical occupation of Iraq," he said, the cartoon controversy came "at a moment of time when it's the straw that broke the camel's back."
    "It is often said in the media that Islam prohibits images of the Prophet," Seesemann said. "This is not correct. Muslims themselves have portrayed the Prophet.
    "The problem here is not the image but the way it has been published -- as a terrorist with a turban shaped like a bomb. This is what Muslims direct their outrage against."
    Juan Cole, a professor of history at the University of Michigan, said in a commentary on his Web site that the current controversy "must be understood in historical context."
    "Most Muslim societies have spent the past two centuries either under European rule or heavy European influence and most colonial masters and their helpmates among the missionaries were not shy about letting local people know exactly how barbaric they thought the Muslim faith was," he wrote.
    "Indeed, the same themes of Aryan superiority and Semitic backwardness in the European 'scientific racism' of the 19th and early 20th centuries ... led to the Holocaust against the Jews. ... A caricature of a Semitic prophet like Mohammad with a bomb in his turban replicates these racist themes ...
    "Semites were depicted as violent and irrational and therefore as needing a firm white colonial master for their own good," Cole wrote.
    John Esposito, a professor at Georgetown University and author of "What Everyone Needs to Know About Islam and Unholy War: Terror in the Name of Islam," agrees that there is nothing in the faith that makes its adherents prone to reacting differently to ridicule.

    Martin Luther King Jr., he said, once called riots the voice of the voiceless.
    "From my point of view this is a lot more about the context in which this is occurring than about the blasphemy," he said in an interview.
    "It's a European context in which you have a growing right wing that is anti-immigrant and a global situation in which mainstream Muslims feel there is a war against Islam," Esposito said. At the same time many Muslims around the world feel "a sense of powerlessness both within their own countries and, as well, in the international community that exacerbates the situation," he said."
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    Re: A sensible article on the cartoon fiasco

    Overall a decent article.

    Although Muslims may have drawn pictures of Prophet Muhammad (SAW), but it still constitutes as a blasphemy. Therefore, to suggest that drawing the cartoon itself may not have upset Muslims is somewhat inaccurate, but certainly the cartoon with the distorted turban did make add fuel to the fire. In fact, it wouldn't have been so bad had the government intervened appropriately and newspaper apologized.


      Re: A sensible article on the cartoon fiasco

      Dennis Ryerson
      Newspapers must balance rights with responsibilities
      February 12, 2006

      A week ago The Star ran an interview with a political humorist who said of her comic routine, in which she takes on, among others, the head of the Roman Catholic Church, "I've had to learn a whole new pope. Anyway, it's the same-old, same-old, but this guy wears red shoes -- little red pumps. And then he gets upset about gay people."
      That offended a Catholic reader, who wrote, "The Kate Clinton promotion (the story previewed the comic's appearance at Clowes Hall) is an example of bad editorial judgment, similar to the outrageous cartooning of Muhammad."
      Many people have made those kinds of conclusions about the American media in recent days.
      Most American newspapers, The Star included, have decided against printing copies of the Danish newspaper cartoons that have generated a violent reaction in much of the Muslim world.
      Yet, say our critics, we will run cartoons that mock the pope. We will print stories about lifestyles and entertainment that offend the religious beliefs of some readers.
      Where's the consistency?
      A couple of points:
      First, were these questions so automatic, I wouldn't have a job. Most issues involve several layers, and this one is no exception.
      Muslims believe it is sacrilege to present any image, even those that may seem benign, of the Prophet Muhammad. That's in contrast to adherents of many other religions, who view the display of figures such as Buddha or Jesus Christ to be a sign of devoutness.
      An editor of the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten knew that. He intentionally challenged what he regarded as self-censorship in the handling of Islamic issues by printing a dozen cartoons depicting the prophet. It was a provocative act.
      Many outraged Muslims, often encouraged by authoritarian governments eager to be viewed as standing strong against secular Western influences, responded with inexcusable acts of violence.
      Muslim leaders in the United States, including those in metro Indianapolis, have condemned the violence.
      "We all, Muslims and people of other faiths, seem to be locked into a downward spiral of mutual mistrust and hostility based on self-perpetuating stereotypes," wrote Ibrahim Hooper of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. "As Muslims, we need to take a step back and ask ourselves, 'What would the Prophet Muhammad do?'
      "Even when the prophet was in a position of power, he chose the path of kindness and reconciliation."
      It is sadly unfortunate that many people hold the Islamic faith, as opposed to Islamic extremists, as being responsible for world terrorism. It is equally unfortunate that some governments are using this incident to build support for limiting a central component of free societies -- the right of free expression.
      Newspapers cannot do their jobs -- exposing wrongdoing, reporting on cultural changes, providing a forum for the free expression of a wide range of viewpoints -- without offending some people on any given day.
      Newspapers also have every right to be provocative in a truly free society. Indeed, many readers want us to be just that, so long, that is, as our provocation supports their point of view.
      With that right come responsibilities.
      The Star shouldn't be in the business of promoting any religion or point of view in its news columns; we need to respect all religions and all views.
      But our responsibility also is to avoid intentionally giving offense to a basic tenet of an entire religion, which is just what reprinting the controversial cartoons would do.
      Thanks for reading The Indianapolis Star.
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      '); } else { window.print(); }
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        Re: A sensible article on the cartoon fiasco

        the guy above nails it. With freedom comes responsibility. Just because you have a right to do something doesnt mean you should do it.
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