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This isn't normally the type of writing I do, so forgive the rambling nature. Here are some thoughts on Muhammed cartoon riots.
Just a couple of weeks ago I was watching South Park and they depicted Muhammed. I told Bryna, my fiance, that I thought this was a bad idea. While I am an atheist, I respect that certain Muslim's wish not to have images of Muhammed. However, it is ridiculous to demand the destruction of a nation because some of it's citizens are discrespectful of your religion.
Further more, The Koran does not call for it's followers to react violently toward those that do not follow it's teaching. The Koran instructs it's followers to follow it's teachings themselves. And why burn the Danish flag? Show the respect that you want to be shown. That flag is a holy symbol to many, and flag burning in the middle east is as common as bbq-ing up some hot dogs (make mine soy please) on our side of the world.
It's strange that this has garnered a stronger resonse than the reports of the Koran being disrespected in American war prisons, or the photos of American's abusing Iraqi detainees.
There's a glaring irony in all this too. Muhammed is not to be depicted in order to avoid idolatry. When people are responding this strongly to a supposed disrespect of "The Prophet" than isn't it clear he is being treated as sacred, as holy, as an idol?
My desire to see peace between east and west does not mean I can approve of this kind of fundamentalism. Nor am I comfortable seeing our leaders scramble to make ammendments to the freedom of speech we enjoy.
I fully support peoples right to say stupid, hatefull things. It is my faith in my ability to walk according to my own beliefs and my belief that those who walk together, in tolerance will ultimately triumph that allows me to not be affected by what someone else choose to say, write or draw. Not to say I offer no response to offensive material. If I don't like what you say I do not buy it, repeat it, support it or otherwise lend it my strength. If the situation calls for it I will seek dialogue to express my disagreement and offense. In the long run this proves to be the most effective approach. And if I am insulted, I will take the insult and I will learn to bear it. If I was not able to do this, I'd have never made it through public school.
Why did they do it? Why'd they publish these pictures? To prove that the press was self censoring on Muslim issues supposedly. I have been supportive of religiously offensive expressions in the past, Serrano's Piss Christ for example. These cartoons were not done purely as art, but were supposed to prove a point. Would they have published images equally offensive to Christians? Or Jews? They'd have been better off just running some pieces that dealt with the Muslim issues they felt were not being dealt with rather than shaking the hornet's nest and intentionaly ignoring the sensibilities of Muslims the world over. One article I read made the point that it's not righ to punch people in the face to test their dedication to nonviolence. Respect isn't censorship. Let me again state that I would fight for their right to publish these images, even as I say that they should not have done it.
So the papers were wrong (while within their rights) publishing the pics, and those responding with violence and calls for violence are wrong in their response.
It's frightening and sad watching and wondering how long the rioting will continue. Will Blogger be condemned or even theatened if they don't censor blogs that depict Muhammed? And what about google or other search sites that allow us all to see these images quite easily? It'll be interesting to see where this goes.