Friday, February 03, 2006

Freedom of speech?

The debate over the caracatures of Mohammed printed in the Danish paper rages on on Reem's blog as it does in the world. The Danish government has now stated that they can not and will not apologize "on behalf of a free and independent newspaper" and that the dispute is "between some Muslims and a newspaper." I agree that it is outrageous to print derogatory images of any culture or religion, but I stand firmly behind my argument that you can not expect someone else to live by the rules of YOUR religion. It bothers me if Christians ask that of me (Bush I am talking to you!) And I find it outrageous that the main beef that Muslims have with the paper is not that the images were derogatory, but that any images of Mohammed were printed at all. I just can't understand why they find it blasphemous for people of other belief systems not to follow Islamic law. Should we collect the doctrines of every single itty bitty religion out there and make sure no one ever, ever breaks any rule of any of them? Or should we worry about Islam more because it is one of the the top religions?

The anger against Denmark seems only to be increasing even though, as I understand it, these images were printed back in September. Danish goods are being boycotted, flags are being burned, embassies are being attacked, and death threats are rampant (large scale and small.) Apparently other newspapers around Europe have reprinted the images in a display of solidarity with the Danish editor and others who argue that it was an act of free speech and no one need apologize. Now those newspaper editors are also getting death threats. I don't think they should have reprinted the images because they are offensive, but maybe they should have done drawings of Mohammed that were not derogatory to make their point. on the other hand is playing high and mighty saying "CNN has chosen to not show the cartoons out of respect for Islam." Don't give me that crap. You're doing it out of fear.

This issue seems to really be escalating. And tensions are getting global.

Are there any non-arab, western muslims reading? I want to hear from you! How do you react to these images? Do you want to burn the Danish flag? I wonder how much of this is because arabs already feel slighted and vilified in the western world and how much is a really purely muslim issue.

I feel strange in this debate. It is incredibly heated and I feel alliances to both sides. On the one hand, I will fight for freedom of speech, and I am connected with Denmark since they own the Faroe Islands (my mother's home country.) On the other hand, I am extremely sensitive to the issue of how muslims and arabs are treated and represented. So sensitive in fact that I lost my job over it 4.5 years ago. Furthermore, one of my absolute dearest friends is an arab and a muslim.

It seems like this is boiling down to another east/west relations issue. Funny thing is, I had thought of leaving the US for Denmark when Bush was re-elected. I wanted this for two reasons. 1) I was furious and ashamed of my country for making such an appalling choice. 2) I didn't want to be in the US when the world started retaliating for the crap we've done. (OK, yes, that already started in 2001, and earlier, but I didn't want to be here for the next attack.) Turns out that in the current east/west tensions that plague the world, I wouldn't be safe in Denmark either!

Ugh! It's all going to get a lot worse before it gets better, isn't it?

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