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February 11, 2006

Democracy and Islam Go Together?

by Eric

Excerpts from a Forbes update on the Jyllands-Posten Mohammed cartoons brouhaha. Or, as Reason’s Hit and Run has called it, the “Intoonfada”. So, I pulled out a few excerpts, and my reactions, just for you. :-)

Saudi Arabia’s top cleric called on the world’s Muslims to reject apologies for the “slanderous” caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed and demanded the authors and publishers of the cartoons be tried and punished, Saudi newspapers reported Saturday.

Hmmm, when’s the last time you heard the Pope demand that the author of a cartoon that was against the teachings of the Catholic Church be tried and punished? Yeah, the Pope would love to have censorship that prevented anyone from saying anything he doesn’t like, but he is not living in an autocracy were something gets said only if the government approves. If you think the government doesn’t want this published, because you are used to the West, you need to re-evaluate how things work in Saudi Arabia. If these folks actually supported liberal, western ideas, then the cleric would have never called for such a trial. If they were at least moderate then they would also call for trials and punishment for the Iranian “holocaust contest”.

Arab governments, Muslim clerics and newspaper columnists have been urging calm in past days, fearing that recent weeks of violence have only increased anti-Islamic sentiment in the West.

No, the real truth is that the recent weeks of violence, first in France, and now over these cartoons, has opened people’s eyes to the reality of Middle Eastern and Islamic culture. They are seeing, often for the first time, a culture of oppression and intolerance. This is a culture that not only forbids gays to marry, but makes homosexuality a crime. A culture that stones women to death for infidelity, that allows men to rape their wives with no legal recourse. A culture that represses free speech, that openly calls for the destruction of the state of Israel and the genocide of the Jewish people. The so-called moderates want the same things, they just refrain from violence. They don’t condemn the violence, making them enablers of violence and extremism.

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan warned the controversy over the cartoons has created unprecedented tension between the Islamic and Christian world.

The tension always existed, and always will, until one culture or the other triumphs. Why? Because the cultures are diametrically opposed, with completely different values. Western culture could tolerate the existence of Islamic culture, but Islam can never permantly tolerate the existence of a culture that holds values they cannot accept. People like al-Seedes, bin Laden, al-Zawahiri, Assad and the others understand that a free and open culture challenges their power in ways they can’t overcome. Which is why they have censorship and police states. Ultimately, when people are given a choice, they choose capitalism and liberalism.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated that many Muslims consider the cartoons an insult to their faith, but he called on Muslims to forgive those who have sincerely apologized.

“Reprinting the cartoons in order to make a point about free speech is an act of senseless brinkmanship,” he said in a commentary in the International Herald Tribune.

First, no one should apologize for these cartoons. Second, it’s only brinksmanship for the people enabling or inciting the violence, rather than calming it, which is just about every Islamic leader out there. Most Western governments have cravenly offered to surrender freedom of speech rather than confront religious totalitarianism.

“It is also a disservice to democracy. It sends a conflicting message to the Muslim community: that in a democracy it is permissible to offend Islam. This message damages efforts to prove that democracy and Islam go together.”

That is the message. In a liberal society the sacred cows get exposed, the emperor is told he has no clothes. This, of course, is extremely frightening to men who rule by protecting the sacred cows and pretending the emperor has beautiful, new clothes. They can never accept such a situation, because it will mean their loss of power.

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14 Comments

  1. Flemming Rose born 3/14/1956 into a Jewish family in the Ukraine has a major in Russian language and literature from University of Copenhagen. From 1990 to 1996 he was the Moscow correspondent for the newspaper Berlingske Tidende. Between 1996 and 1999 he was the correspondent for the same newspaper in Washington, D.C.. In 1999 he became Moscow correspondent for the newspaper Jyllands-Posten and January 2005 the cultural editor of that paper (KulturWeekend). He fled Denmark where he was under police protection to Miami, Florida in fear for his life where he is currently in hiding.

    Comment by David Allen — February 11, 2006 @ 1:58 pm
  2. The root of the entire Muslim problem is very simple: The Koran forbids alcohol. Think about it!

    Comment by John Newman — February 11, 2006 @ 2:02 pm
  3. Mormons have it even worse, then. No alcohol and no caffeine.

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 2:22 pm
  4. And David, that is the key difference. Are the editor’s of the Washington Post or NYT hiding in fear of their life after publishing “piss Christ”, which even a secular humanist like me can see is 10 times more offensive than the cartoons the Jyllands-Posten published.

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 2:24 pm
  5. You did it again! Comparing caffeine to alcohol is like comparing second hand smoke to assault.

    Comment by John Newman — February 11, 2006 @ 2:52 pm
  6. No, I didn’t compare one to the other. And is not a comparative statement.

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 2:56 pm
  7. How exactly did you mean it then?

    Comment by John Newman — February 11, 2006 @ 3:00 pm
  8. exactly as I said it. There’s no comparison of one to the other at all.

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 3:11 pm
  9. On the topic of second hand smoke (an object) and assault (an action), read what I wrote again.

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 3:15 pm
  10. Why would the Mormons have it worse than the Muslims if they can’t have caffeine?

    Comment by John Newman — February 11, 2006 @ 3:17 pm
  11. Humans three favorite (at least by usage statistics) recreational drugs are alcohol, caffeine and nicotine. Mormons are banned from two of the three, Muslims only one of the three.

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 3:18 pm
  12. In relationship to Muslims and alcohol and Mormons and caffeine your usage statistics are about as useful and relevant as…oops, I better stop you may confuse a statement with an ad hominem attack – again.

    Comment by John Newman — February 11, 2006 @ 3:32 pm
  13. Hm, you say that “The so-called moderates want the same things, they just refrain from violence. They don’t condemn the violence, making them enablers of violence and extremism.”

    On the contrary, legions of mainstream, moderate Muslims have condemned the violence as extremely anti-Islamic. Read about it here. What you were saying kind of sounds like undigested propaganda.

    When it comes to Islam, very few MSM journalists know what the hell they’re talking about, so it’s especially important to be a critical thinker when it comes to this topic.

    Comment by Left Behinds — February 11, 2006 @ 4:25 pm
  14. If you will notice, there is a common theme in what I’m writing. It is that there are a group of people who are using violence and religious extremism to keep their hold on power, or to gain power, depending on their position.

    That doesn’t change the fact that the people you are referring to are not standing up and saying “that’s part of free speech and western political tradition and it should be tolerated”. Rather, they are saying that violence is not the appropriate reaction. Their stand for tolerance is notably missing. Why is that? Critical thinking is definitely required, in more ways than one.

    Comment by Eric — February 11, 2006 @ 5:21 pm

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