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.