February 8, 2006

Islam, Cartoons… and New Zealand?

Islam, Cartoons… and New Zealand?

Muslims all around the world are pissed. Pissed at those people who are publishing irrelevent pictures of our prophet, Muhammad (peace be upon him). These people, who are ignorant and pathetic include Kiwis here as well….NZ is the latest country who will publish these pictures after many weeks of silence, pathetic losers. I’m going to loathe Kiwis even more and would pick a fight with anyone who calls me a terrorist or mocks my religion.

Anyway, I was PROUD to be amongst the many muslims protesting down Queen Street here in Auckland City today.

Asad, Protest X-Rated

I hope you understand that I am not the type of person who accepts violence in order to get a message across, such as the burning buildings etc. This is why I joined the Auckland protests as they were peaceful.

Asad Khalid Naseem, from an email to Open Source on 2/7/06
Muslim protesters in New Zealand

Muslim protesters in Auckland [Courtesy of Asad Khalid Naseem, X-Rated]

Denmark, Norway, Bulgaria, France, Germany, Italy, Jordan, the U.S., Iceland, Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland, Spain, Hungary, Poland.

Oh, and now New Zealand.

War-on-Terror hawks might say New Zealand dropped us as soon as things got rough (they officially opposed military action in Iraq); then again, New Zealanders might say they supported us when they thought our actions fair (i.e. in Afghanistan).

Regardless, it may seem out of character that three NZ newspapers, The Dominion Post, The Nelson Mail, and The Press printed the Danish cartoons as a free-speech protest. In separate statements, editors of all three newspapers defended New Zealand’s right to know “what all the fuss was about,” and defended their duty to “keep readers fully informed”. Only the editor of The Dominion Post has claimed solidarity with the European newspapers that ran the cartoons last week.

Not all of New Zealand agreed.

The simple fact here is that, freedom of speech is not absolute in Europe, there is precedence where it is restricted. So in that sense, these European countries do not have the same values as New Zealand (as far as I know denying Holocaust or any other type of speech does not get you prison time in NZ).

Publishing cartoons that insult members of a major religion does more harm to the precious freedom of speech than good.

Berkay Mollamustafaoglu, “Your say: Mohammed cartoons,” The Dominion Post, February 7, 2006

As an expat Kiwi, I was proud of our small country’s ideals and sensible culture that embraced diversity, and which was so highly thought of overseas. I question the wisdom of a NZ newspaper which follows the lead of a Europe that is often filled with racism, led by greater powers, and breeds division. Respect, and tolerance for one another’s differences is the essence of peace. Publishing the cartoons was not a lesson in freedom of the press, but a tactic for selling more newspapers to the detriment of our wonderful country’s reputation and the backlash it will most likely cause to our exports. My head hangs in shame.

Yvonne Xygalas, “Your say: Mohammed cartoons,” The Dominion Post, February 7, 2006

Though local Islamic leaders are preaching peace, NZ student blogger Asad Khalid Naseem — quoted above — was one of at least 700 protestors in Auckland who marched on Sunday. Asad is a member of a small but growing population of Pakistani and Indian expats who have been settling in New Zealand since the 1970s. Recent numbers estimate the Muslim population in New Zealand at close to 6,000. One in eight marched in Auckland.

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  • digitalcommuter

    Speaking of banning insensitve speech how soon before they go after Dante:

    “”In the discussion over Islam, cartoons, and religious intolerance, has anyone chimed in about Dante? Or have the fanatics already boarded buses and planes for Italy?

    In any case, in Canto 28, Page 237, line 30, Mohammed must spend eternity tearing himself apart, for that is his punishment in Hell.

    Consistent with medieval Christian thinking, in which the Muslim world was viewed as a hostile usurper, Dante depicts both Mohammed and his cousin and son-in-law Ali as sowers of religious divisiveness. Dante creates a vicious composite portrait of the two holy men, with Mohammed’s body split from groin to chin and Ali’s face cleft from top to bottom.”

    It seems to me that the cartoon riots are a challenge not just to our freedom of the press but to Western culture and art since at least the Middle Ages.

  • digitalcommuter

    btw: why a program on New Zealand? Why not one on Denmark the country that started the latest cartoon rage?

  • loki

    We need a cultural DMZ: A space where we can learn and listen to one another.Talk gently. Rdney King said it best “Can’t we all just get along.

    One place that is searching for this space is http://www.culturaldiplomacy.org . One prduct of war has been to reduce”the other” For Hitler,Jews wer inhuman. Our trouprs refered to Vietnamese as gooks. Now we have the cartoons.

  • http://www.scienceblogs.com/gnxp razib

    It seems to me that the cartoon riots are a challenge not just to our freedom of the press but to Western culture and art since at least the Middle Ages.

    some italian muslim activists (as opposed to the majority of italian muslims) have campaigned against mosaics that depict scenes from the inferno with muhammad that are in local churches.

  • Nikos

    Thank you Greta! (I was beginning to wonder whether ROS had planned to take a permanent pass on this global near-crisis. I’m happy to have my worries disabused.)

    Little ol’ ROS aside, we in the USA are woefully behind the story. I’ve heard plenty of bits and pieces from NPR, but virtually nothing comprehensive. It’s as if the American press has been viewing it as somebody else’s tastelessness gone bad. Or standing off in the corner while wiping its brow and muttering: ‘Finally an Islam vs. the West story in which we’re not the Satan-of-the-month!’

    But it’s bigger than that. Much bigger.

    It’s been the BBC’s lead story every evening for a week or more. (Until tonight, anyway.)

    Firebrands like Osama bin Laden must be grinning to split their cheeks. Not to mention the sanctimonious Islamophobic nuts of American mullah-dom like Falwell & Roberstson.

    So what’s the true genesis of this world-trauma? The story is so riven with misinformation—as exemplified by the new disclosure that the three most offensive cartoons were never in the Danish paper to begin with, yet included nevertheless in the complainants’ dossier and shown to Muslim leaders in the Middle East—that it’s a real struggle to make sense of it, let alone to settle into a defensible personal opinion.

    One early presentation pointed out that the cartoons weren’t slurs against Muslims but against tenets of Islamic dogma—especially its thinly veiled and scripturally ‘justified’ (yet objectively unjustifiable) misogyny. This, on its face, seems plausible: the lampooned character isn’t a gratuitously ‘Sambo’-like stereotype named Abdullah the Camel-Jockey or Ali the Wife-Beater, but a religious icon akin to Jesus or Saint Peter of the Pearly Gates. In western culture, this sort of figure is fair game—no matter how many Christians might blow a gasket on viewing such satire.

    Yet it seems in fact that the originator of the cartoons is the third largest selling paper in Denmark, notoriously right-wing and anti-immigration, and had called for these cartoon submissions specifically to let its Muslim minority know what their native countrymen thought of Islam’s ‘invasion’ of an unwitting and unwilling Denmark.

    That’s a lot to chew on.

    Let the chewing begin, please.

    And should any of you find websites that are truly illuminating and not disguised hate-venues, please let us know here.

    Thanks.

  • elphaba

    We have had movies and art that have upset the fundamentalist Christian community here in the US mightily. Wasn’t it The Last Temptation Of Christ that made people mad enough to boycott theatres and have demonstrations? There probably have been others. A commentator today on radio said it would be like Jesus being depicted as a pedaphile because of the sex abuse scandals in the Catholic Church or Mary shown as a prostitute. While that would rile people up considerably, I don’t think that would lead to massive violence. I agree with the people who have said it is well within the bounds to boycott, and peacefully demonstrate against the cartoons; but the violence is beyond what is called for. Most of the Muslim countries do not have traditions of freedom of the press and freedom for minority opinions. I can see how they can equate the publications as being officially sanctioned by the government, because that is how it would be in most Muslim countries. The press and the government are essentially one.

    I think we should emphisize that while we can agree that it is in bad taste, we have a tradition of freedom of the press.

    Freedom of expression and freedom of the press is something we must stand up for; even if we don’t like or agree with the views being expressed.

    Oh heavens, my spellcheck doesn’t work in this format.

  • Nikos

    Between this post and my previous one, I decided I had to go myself into the WWW cesspool and try to find an ‘illuminating’ website worthy of posting here.

    It was ugly, folks.

    Google was my guide, but its ‘legitimate’ news-sites were either annoyingly saccharine or annoyingly deceptive.

    So I was happy to at last find this one: http://www.reclusiveleftist.com/?p=99

    Which may only seem ‘objective’ by comparison to the places I’d just escaped from.

    Nevertheless, I’m willing to advocate it and take my lumps from any who care to club me. (Luckily ‘Nikos’ isn’t really me but the character I play on ROS. So flog away. I’m really only in this to learn a thing or two. Teach, please, if you care to.)

    elphaba, re your post above: you’ll likely find the site I’ve recommended interesting in that it posts satiric depictions of Jesus along with the Mohammed cartoons. Very provocative ones, at that.

    And one blogger, at response-post number 39, who claims the name ‘Halimi’ says: “I am a Muslim and don’t find these pictures offensive at all. Thanks for posting them on the net.�

    Of course, the blogger’s real name could be Bruno and he could also be a white supremacist male chauvinist slumming through an ‘enemy’ site, but that difficulty notwithstanding, the site’s contents are at least interesting if not fully worthy.

    It’s also worth stating that, like ‘Halimi’, I don’t find the depictions beyond the norms of Western satire either. (I suppose I’m due death by thunderbolt now.) So, if you haven’t seem ‘em but are relying on press descriptions only, I suggest giving it a look.

    I welcome any feedback (as always).

  • http://www.bicyclemark.org bicyclemark

    For those who may be interested, democracynow dot org ‘s program from Tuesday Feb 7th has the Angry Arab Newservice blogger and he participates in a very heated but worthwhile debate with another “critic” of muslim culture.

  • digitalcommuter

    “One prduct of war has been to reduceâ€?the otherâ€? For Hitler,Jews wer inhuman. Our trouprs refered to Vietnamese as gooks. Now we have the cartoons.”

    loki, This is a wild and irresponsible exaggeration. The cartoons are in no way comparable to the soldier’s bad mouthing their enemies not to mention to Hitler’s insane hatreds.

  • Jon

    ““One prduct of war has been to reduceâ€?the otherâ€? For Hitler,Jews wer inhuman. Our trouprs refered to Vietnamese as gooks. Now we have the cartoons.â€?

    loki, This is a wild and irresponsible exaggeration. The cartoons are in no way comparable to the soldier’s bad mouthing their enemies not to mention to Hitler’s insane hatreds. ”

    One thing to note is that the UK and US governments have both been somewhat critical of the publication of the cartoons, but have done so at the same time as playing key roles in military operations which are currently killing a large number of muslims. There’s a danger here that, if we focus too much on the ‘violence’ of cartoons, governments will use denounciations of this ‘violence’ to divert attention from their use of much more ‘real’ violence.

    On a lighter note, this reminds me of the arguments about Cradle of Filth’s ‘Jesus is a c***’ t-shirts that we had here in the UK, where there have been arrests etc. of people wearing the t-shirt – http://www.mediawatchwatch.org.uk/?p=265

    I’m all in favour of free speech, but the right to make offensive remarks about religions should surely be applied fairly. You wonder how many of the countries defending the publication of these cartoons would also limit speech about *some* religions or some other issues…

  • digitalcommuter

    “some italian muslim activists (as opposed to the majority of italian muslims) have campaigned against mosaics that depict scenes from the inferno with muhammad that are in local churches.”

    I wasn’t aware of this, Razib.

    It seems to me that one should make a distinction between political speech, which includes satire, artistic representation, and religious dogma.

    From such a perspective, I see nothing wrong with Churches being asked to remove imagery intolerant of other faiths or peoples. On the other hand, one should not give in to demands of censorship of the press or of art which in one case touches on the very character of our political culture, while on the other hand infringes on the right of freedom of speech.

  • digitalcommuter

    “You wonder how many of the countries defending the publication of these cartoons would also limit speech about *some* religions or some other issues… ”

    The right to satirize religion, all religions, is a fundamental right in our country.

  • digitalcommuter

    Jon, the British laws against offending religious sensibilities are excessive, me thinks.

  • digitalcommuter

    One last comment.

    I just cam across this interesting article in the London Times online:

    “All right, I insulted Americans – but they are not planning to behead me,”

    It beigns thus:

    “LAST WEEK I devoted this space to a diatribe against George W. Bush, conjoined with a paean of praise for the American system and Alan Greenspan, the retiring Chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. The purpose of the article was to discuss the genius of a nation whose economy, culture and spirit of public service could operate so successfully, despite — or perhaps because of — such doltishly incompetent leadership from its top politicians. To my astonishment, this article generated a huge response, largely because it was read out on the radio by Rush Limbaugh, the country’s most famous right-wing talk show host.

    Within hours of publication I received nearly 500 e-mails from American readers. About a quarter of these emails were split between praise and rational disagreement. However, the vast majority — some 300 — were abusive to the point of obscenity (homo Arab ass-f*****, Commie Jew-boy, Nigger-lover and so on). What opened the sluices on this flood of electronic sewerage was neither the offensiveness nor the originality of my article. As several of my correspondents disparagingly noted, President Bush has lived quite comfortably with this kind of ridicule in the US media every day. And as for originality, most of my favourable observations about the American system were expressed much more eloquently 200 years ago by Alexis de Tocqueville. It seems, however, that an article in a foreign newspaper full of condescending derision for the US President touched a raw nerve in America’s conservative heartland — and that is why, with the Muslim world apparently in turmoil over some mediocre cartoons in a little-known Danish paper, I return to this subject….”

    read the whole piece:

    http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,6-2031276,00.html

  • Jon

    “Jon, the British laws against offending religious sensibilities are excessive, me thinks.”

    Yeah, and a new (more extensive) law has just gone through Parliament. FWIW, the current laws only apply to Christianity (blasphemy is still technically illegal) and to the Jewish and Sikh religions (protected under incitement of racial hatred legislation). This will change shortly.

    “The right to satirize religion, all religions, is a fundamental right in our country.”

    I know, and it’s definitely something to be grateful for.

  • loki

    Tariq Ramadan-Boston Globe(2/8/06 Essay”At the crossroad of Islam,the West”

    should be read by all: http://www.boston.com/globe/editorial_opinion/oped/articles/2006/02/09

    “we are at a crossroad.The time has come for women and men who reject the dangerous divisions into two worlds to start building bridges between two universes that share common values”

    Why was Tariq Ramadan prevented from teaching in the US?

  • fiddlesticks

    http://www.workersliberty.org/node/view/4004

    40 reasons why Tariq Ramadan is a reactionary

    Submitted on 4 April, 2005 – 14:16. Islamism

    “40 reasons why Tariq Ramadan is a reactionary bigot� was written by the French Marxist, Yves Coleman and has been reproduced by the Alliance for Workers’ Liberty (AWL). The text presents factual information about the politics of Tariq Ramadan.

    There are many issues the Left must address.

    First is the question of honest polemic.

    Useful political debate requires clearly presented political positions and an attempt to honestly engage with opponents.

    And yet Yves Coleman believes that it almost impossible to either ‘catch’ or ‘corner’ Tariq Ramadan. He is difficult to pin down. The reason is simple: Tariq Ramadan often says one thing to one group, and something different, or contradictory, elsewhere.

    —-

    MARRIAGE, POLYGAMY AND DIVORCE

    12) In a book called « Peut-on vivre avec l’islam ? Le choc de la religion musulmane et des sociétés laïques et chrétiennes » (“Can we live with Islam? The clash between Muslim religion and secular and Christian societiesâ€?), Ramadan wrote: “a Muslim man can marry a Christian or Jewish womanâ€?, but, “the reverse is not possible because a Muslim woman can’t marry a man from another religionâ€?. In his book-interview « Faut-il faire taire Tariq Ramadan ? » he takes a more “moderateâ€? position writing that this is the Muslim ‘norm’ (he loves this word – a strange attitude for somebody who pretends to be a “reformerâ€?…), but that people should think it over and over before taking such a decision: “I say that one should be careful, and that a mixed marriage, on the religious or cultural level, for women as well as for men, is always difficult and obliges both partners to be conscious of all the efforts they will have to make.â€?(*). What is his real position about mixed marriages?

    13) In 2002, Ramadan wrote a preface to « Musulmane tout simplement » (“Simply Muslim�), a book written by Asma Lamrabet, in which she says that the Western world can not criticise polygamy because “many men have one, two or three mistresses in western societies�! In the same book Asma Lamrabet explains that husbands should give their wives a “light slap� because, “many women become hysterical when they quarrel with their husband�! And this does not prevent Tariq Ramadan writing in his latest book-interview that, “it is Islamically forbidden to beat his wife.� (*) Even the Quran says the opposite!

    14) Tariq Ramadan is not in favour of forbidding polygamy. According to this great “Islamic feminist�, it is the wife’s responsibility to add a special clause in the marriage contract if she does not accept polygamy: “The role of the marriage contract has to be restored (…) [the woman]] can ask that the contract stipulates her refusal of polygamy, her right to work and her right to a financial autonomy.�(*). In other words the law can not defend women against the mechanisms of patriarchy which have oppressed them for centuries: it is up to each individual woman to defend herself, against the pressures of her own family, her future husband and her future husband’s family. In the real world only Muslim Wonderwomen will be able to win such a battle!

    15) In « Peut-on vivre avec l’islam ? » Ramadan writes: “Divorce is, among the permitted things, ‘the one God hates most’, according to the teachings of the Prophet. It’s not an innocent act (…). That’s not unfortunately the case today.â€?

    PHYSICAL VIOLENCE AGAINST WOMEN AND STONING

    16) Ramadan condemns physical violence against women when it is committed in the name of Islam and at the same time he quotes as a theological reference the writings of Yusuf al–Quaradawi a man who, according to Tariq Ramadan, knows how to “formulate appropriate Islamic solutions�. Mr al-Quaradawi wrote: “When a husband detects in his wife signs of proudness or insubordination, he has to fix the situation by all possible means�. After having tried to discuss, and then refused to make love to his wife, the husband is advised to, “try to hit his wife with the hand while avoiding hitting her violently, and preserving her face�. What a strange reference for an “Islamic feminist� like Tariq Ramadan!

    17) Tariq Ramadan promotes an “absolute moratoriumâ€? on stoning “unfaithfulâ€? women or men: “… I’m asking for an absolute moratorium on all the sanctions in order to organise a large debate among the ulemas (to discuss their interpretations) … The aim of this measure is clearly to enable us to progress towards the end of these procedures: but we will not succeed if we do not have a thorough debate inside the Muslim communityâ€?.

    Ramadan says it would be easy for him to condemn stoning but that he prefers that Muslim “scientists� discuss about it until they reach a final agreement. Should women wait thirteen more centuries so that the most reactionary Muslim “scientists� finally abandon stoning and all sanctions against “unfaithful� women and men?

    BASIC WOMEN’S RIGHTS

    18) On the right of women to work, Tariq Ramadan has a traditional macho attitude, in the name of the so-called “freedom of choice�: “As regards work, women have one right: the right of not being obliged to earn their living. But this right can’t be transformed into a prohibition to work.�

    Mr Ramadan is very generous when he “allows� women to work, but his generosity has some strict limits: women must respect, “the rules of modesty (the respect of the person)� when they, “participate in social life�. Women must “be discrete and not expose the form of their body (their clothes should be neither tight-fitting nor transparent.� (*).

    Mr Ramadan also wrote: “Women have the right to work and to be financially independent, but they have no financial duty as regards the home.� (*)

    In other words, women are not equal to their husband, because they do not have the same financial responsibilities. And if women do not have the right to use the pill and consequently have many children, obviously they can not work and be financially independent. So where does this freedom of choice lie?

    19) Ramadan forbids certain sports to women: “Women do not have the right to practice sport in conditions which unveil their body to men.� He has the gall to write this while pretending that Muslim sportswomen are free… to choose their own outfits! Who is he trying to fool?

    20) Ramadan is against mixed swimming pools: “From an Islamic point of view, I don’t see how you can even think of going to such places …. Especially when one knows the conditions of swimming pools today, and what is permitted concerning the exhibition of the body. We are defending an ethic, we are not fooling around with it.�

    SEXUALITY, CONTRACEPTION AND ABORTION

    21) Ramadan opposes flirtation and sex before marriage. A young Muslim woman asked him: “I have a boyfriend. Until what point can we go, without going too far?� Tariq Ramadan answered her, “You have already gone too far.� In the book « Peut-on vivre avec l’islam » he writes, “fornication and adultery are very serious things in the eyes of God�. On the tape “The Muslim woman and her duty of commitment�, he says, “What is forbidden in the relation between men and women, it’s to be isolated in a given place. When a man and a woman are in a room, they are taking the biggest risks, so they must not put themselves in such a situation.� (*)

    22) The only form of contraception Ramadan accepts is ‘coitus interruptus’, a “natural contraception�, “practised by the Prophet�! Contraception and freedom of women to control their body and sexuality are unknown to this “Islamic feminist�! He writes, “the practice of natural contraception – coitus interruptus – was known in the times of the Prophet, so contraceptive means are not forbidden in Islam.� So let’s ignore women’s right to control their body and return to medieval contraception and “weak� men’s good will!

    23) On the right to abortion Ramadan has a very strange position. He thinks access to abortion should depend on an individual fatwa (a religious decision): in other words it should not be guaranteed by law, but should depend on the decision of religious (male) Muslim authorities: “(…) it is preferable to avoid it. Then the approach has to be made on an individual basis (…). This is the principle underlying the fatwa, which is formulated for a precise individual in a specific circumstance.� (*)

    What’s the difference between Ramadan’s position on abortion and that of John Paul II?

    HOMOSEXUALITY

    24) In « Peut-on vivre avec l’islam ? » Ramadan strongly opposes homosexuality: “Homosexuality is not allowed in Islam and its public legislation, like it is practiced in Europe; it can not been admitted in Islam either on the social level, nor in marriage in any form. There is a limit on the expression of the norm which applies to the social and public space.â€? And he adds : “For Islam homosexuality is not natural and is alien to the path and norms of accomplishment of human beings in front of God. This attitude reveals a trouble, a disfunctioning, a disequilibrium.

    “Islam fixes very clear limits. God wanted an order, and this order is men for women and women for men. Homosexuality is not something admitted in Islam. (…) Homosexuality does not correspond to divine exigence as regards sexual relations� (*).

    Ramadan pretends in the same book that he respects homosexuals, works and participates in “struggles with men and women who are homosexuals.� (*). So when does he express his true feelings about homosexuality? Is it when he compares sodomy with bestiality and dares to write: “This act pushes men towards something that is quite similar to bestiality�?

  • Nikos

    On reflection, and aided by the perspective afforded by the ‘Reclusive Leftist’ site linked above, I am increasingly of the opinion that the smoke from the firestorm is occluding the questions we should be asking about the cartoons, the West, and Islam – not Muslims, but Islam.

    Did the cartoons lampoon Muslims, or tenets of Islamic dogma?

    I suggest the latter.

    Are Muslims like the putative ‘Halimi’ on the Reclusive Leftist blog pleased to see the cartoons not from some inner self-loathing, but because Islam seems incapable of adding a progressive strain to its moderate and fundamentalist strains?

    And what do I mean by THAT?

    This: ‘progressive’ Christianity wasn’t possible until pastors began reinterpreting biblical passages from the literal to the metaphorical. This is possible because the Jesus character is inconsistent between the various gospels—betraying, in my opinion, a demigod or godling whose origin stems from multiple myths, instead of a genuinely historical figure. (But let’s not argue this here and now, please. And yes, I’m a Christian infidel too. A secularist.)

    Mohammed, by contrast, is an inarguably historical figure. The Koran is inarguably his work—and Muslims are sworn to believe and to live by EVERY WORD of it. It’s not wholly consistent or complete, which necessitates the Hadith and other tertiary Islamic writings, but it’s consistent enough to negate any attempt to cherry-pick its teachings.

    And that’s the problem.

    You’re either a believer or an infidel. All or nothing.

    How lucky that the Hadith offers chances for moderation, even if no real ‘progress.’

    Muslims like the putative ‘Halimi’ might wish for their Imams and Muftis and Mullahs to begin weeding out the Koran’s sexist passages – but this, of course, is a recipe for assassination-fatwas. Worse, Muslims who yearn for their faith to progress as Judaism did from the barbarisms detailed in Leviticus to the Torah and Talmud are almost surely and simultaneously loathe to publicly criticize their religion, not merely out of fear or retribution, but because such criticism plays into the hands of the Islamophobes, whose worldwide numbers grow by the hour.

    What a mess. And what a pity.

    I ask for and encourage corrective feedback this post. Here on ROS we’re all characters playing blogger-roles, which frees us to offer ideas we might otherwise never openly express (like the putative ‘Halimi’). Therefore any Muslims, or those with detailed knowledge of Islam, who can further or refute my thoughts above should feel free to do so.

    And thanks in advance.

  • fiddlesticks

    “Mohammed, by contrast, is an inarguably historical figure. The Koran is inarguably his work—and Muslims are sworn to believe and to live by EVERY WORD of it. It’s not wholly consistent or complete, which necessitates the Hadith and other tertiary Islamic writings, but it’s consistent enough to negate any attempt to cherry-pick its teachings.�

    This is the crux of the issue, Nikos. Muslims don’t admit that Muhammad is an “historical� figure who founded Islam. This is why they say that he is “the prophet of god� and that the Koran is the work of God and not his invention.

    Till they can admit that Islam is the invention of Muhammad who is an historical figure I doubt they will be able to change their religion.

    ““This: ‘progressive’ Christianity wasn’t possible until pastors began reinterpreting biblical passages from the literal to the metaphorical. This is possible because the Jesus character is inconsistent between the various gospels—betraying, in my opinion, a demigod or godling whose origin stems from multiple myths, instead of a genuinely historical figure. (But let’s not argue this here and now, please. And yes, I’m a Christian infidel too. A secularist.)�

    This happened early on with Augustine. It seems to me that it was because Biblical exegesis in Christianity and in Rabbinic Judaism was at the foundation of their creeds that they were able to reinterpret the scriptures later on.

    In Islam there is no interpretive tradition as such. The Koran is read literally or not at all. Even their most “progressive thinkers� like Tariq Ramadan don’t interpret the Koran but apply its principles to modern life. What they need is a “hermeneutic� revolution. I am not holding my breath, though.

  • fiddlesticks

    Here is one brave woman, good looking too:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/4698528.stm

    Dutch MP backs Muhammad cartoons

  • Nikos

    Fiddlesticks:

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali is much more than a Dutch MP. She wrote the honest yet incendiary film ‘Submission’ that got its maker, Theo Van Gogh, stabbed and shot dead on an Amsterdam street last year. nevertheless, she is working unbowed to release a sequel. She and women like Algeria’s Khalida Messaoudi are nothing less than heroes on a magnitude that dwarf utterly the larger-than-life ‘heroic’ archetypes Hollywood spends millions to distract us with. They live under constant threat of bloody, horrible death, and yet never flag in their work to expose and undermine Islam’s scripturally sanctified misogyny.

    Women like these deserve both our awe and support.

    Ayaan, incidentally, was featured last year on Sixty Minutes. If that segment ever re-airs, or if you can find it digitally, I highly recommend it.

  • Nikos

    The BBC online posts eight differing viewpoints, including this:

    http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4676632.stm#mirza

    (and thanks to fiddlesticks for the links)

  • fiddlesticks

    Thanks for the reply, Nikos.

    “Women like these deserve both our awe and support.”

    I couldn’t agree more.

    btw: I am beginning to wonder if the radio show will ever broadcast a program about the “cartton jihad.”

  • Nikos

    An almost startling, but not-so-surprisingly nuanced view from the country with Europe’s largest Muslim minority:

    http://www.opinionjournal.com/extra/?id=110007938

    It’s not quite so pollyana-ish as most other opinions have been (even though I’ve serious quibbles with chunks of it).

  • fiddlesticks

    I like the writer, and one need not agree with every statement in an article to amke the article worthwhile.

    I read many articles from authors whose politics I detest but who make good points nevertheless.

  • Nikos

    Agreed.

    Where, by the way, is everyone else?

    Not that you’re bad compnay or anything, fiddlesticks.
    ;-)

  • fiddlesticks

    Oh I know, I am just a stand in for better folks.

  • Nikos

    HA!

    hardly dude.

    it’s more likely that any thread with ‘Nikos’ on it is…hmmm…smelly?

    Ach, if they only knew how hard I try…
    ;-)

  • Nikos

    Although, now that you mention it, we HAVE lost one or more of our usual provocateurs. But who knows whether this is from a decision to withdraw or because or an accident or heart attack? It’s a weakness of the WWW’s impersonal-ness that also simultaneously shields us. For example, I don’t think any regular to this site would ever figure out the true identity behind ‘Nikos’ – except, of course, for my librarians.

    Come back Shriber and Prothonotary Warbler!

    The place isn’t the same without you!

  • Nikos

    oh, fiddlesticks, I wish I could replace the last sentence of my last post with this:

    ‘The place isn’t as diverse (or in Warbler’s case as fractious or as idiosyncratically funny) without you!’

    This stems from a memory that perhaps his last unwilling ‘opponent’ was you. Sorry. I was hurriedly on my way out the door for a 5-mile run in the sunny brilliance of this cloudless Northwest afternoon.

    No, I’m not kidding: it’s been pretty much unremittingly spectacular ever since Steeler Bowl weekend. And no! It’s not “God’s consolation prize� for the refs stealing and sealing the game! If there is a god, I’m quite confident that his last concern is football. Despite what the self-absorbed players seem to think.

    Anyway, and seriously, I’m glad to have shared thoughts with you on this thread, and glad we see fit to agree. It’s reassuring. But we’d both probably benefit from the participation of others (respectful others, anyway), and that’s why I ‘wondered aloud’ over our seeming exclusive ownership of the thread.

    That’s all.

    So if you find any more interesting links, please post them. I, at least, will benefit, and gladly, too. Thanks, and…

    See ya.

  • fiddlesticks

    Here is one:

    http://www.metransparent.com/texts/michael_young_interview_with_metransparent_pierre_akel.htm

    No Red Lines

    A Reason interview with Middle East Transparent’s Pierre Akel

    Michael Young

  • Nikos

    fiddlesticks: Thank you!

    What a pleasure to see the words ‘Arab liberals’ as a phrase with real meaning instead of as a seeming product of Washington DC wishful-thinking. Same for the word ‘feminist’ in the article.

    How heartening.

    And then what a shame metransparent.com hasn’t a translation-to-English option.

    Moreover, I googled Wajeeha al-Huweider after Pierre Akel called her a not just a feminist but ‘great’ one, and yet nothing turned up.

    Still, it’s a potential goldmine, I should think. How many Americans or other Westerners know ANY of it, I wonder?

    I liked his hope for a ‘world court’ to try those fanatical Imans and mullahs that sentence to death Islam’s critics, and his make-no-compromises firmness on women’s rights. Men like that are the partners Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Khalida Messaoudi must have if the Islamic world has any chance to leave behind forever its medieval obsessions.

    Again, thank you.

    This whole thread is worthwhile for that link alone.

  • Nikos

    Correction!

    And a happy one too — metransparent’s english page:

    http://www.metransparent.com/english.html

  • digitalcommuter

    hello everyone,

    I found another interesting article for you to mull over

    “”Muhammad overflown by fundamentalists”

    http://www.ejpress.org/article/news/france/5698

    The French Muslim umbrella association CFCM launched a legal procedure on Tuesday to seize copies of Charlie Hebdo, a satirical magazine which published on Wednesday the 12 Muhammad caricatures initially printed in Denmark.

    Islamic associations angered by the cartoons asked Paris county court (TGI) to prohibit the magazine but their request was rejected because of a flaw in its drafting.

    Judge Jean-Claude Magendie said he believed the plaintiffs didn’t respect the “imperative dispositions� of the 1881 law on the press.

    Charlie Hebdo is the second French newspaper to publish the twelve drawings after France Soir. The largest national papers Le Monde and Liberation printed only two cartoons and Le Figaro decided not to publish any.

    Cartoon support

    Charlie Hebdo’s main editor, Philippe Val, is one of the rare journalists who publicly supported the daily France Soir, which was widely criticised for publishing the cartoons and supposedly jeopardising France’s good image in Islamic countries.

    Charlie Hebdo announced last week its own intention to publish the drawings, which appeared previously in Denmark, considering it a “basic right of the press.�

    The newspaper has been fighting intense pressure but its editor said he was determined to go ahead with his decision.

    Being a successful magazine, the new publication is bound to have a certain effect and give an occasion for many French readers to view the cartoons for the first time and judge for themselves whether they are offensive of not.

    Charlie Hebdo is known for its hostility towards fundamentalists. It dedicated its last week’s front page to the Hamas, calling the group’s charter “the Mein Kampf of the Middle-East�.

    Val said he sees the cartoon controversy as political rather than religious.

    In its Wednesday issue, Charlie Hebdo decided not only to publish the Danish caricatures but to add new ones. The editor announced for the front page a provocative cartoon showing a desperate Muhammad saying “It’s tough to be loved by idiotsâ€? and “Muhammad overflown by fundamentalists.”

    A first organised demonstration against the Muhammad cartoons will take place in Paris next Saturday. The Union of Muslim associations of the Seine-Saint-Denis, an Islamic organisation from in the northern area of Paris, has called on Muslims to protest.

    The Islamic umbrella association CFCM says it does not encourage any demonstration.

    French government members and opposition MPs have been hesitating to react on the Muhammad caricature crisis. While defending the freedom of the press, many political figures are insinuating that newspapers should avoid publishing “upsetting� cartoons.

    Aside from interior minister Nicolas Sarkozy who defended unconditionally the right to publish the drawings, the French government has avoided taking a clear stand.

    “Fifteen years ago, we wouldn’t have reacted this way,� Jewish socialist MP Dominique Strauss-Kahn said. “These hesitations are a real setback. It’s a return to a theocratic-type regime.�

    Former socialist minister Jean Glavany denounced the French leaders’ attitude. “They say “Yes, the freedom of expression exists, but it stops where respect for other beliefs begins.� This “but� sounds like an unacceptable concession to fundamentalists.�

    MP Claude Goasguen from the leading UMP party denounced during a session at the National Assembly the government’s lack of reaction following attacks against French representations and interests in the Middle-East.

    “Following the publication of cartoons portraying prophet Muhammad, French citizens have been threatened, French flags have been burnt, French centres were degraded.

    The freedom of the press and the democratic French regime were the targets of these attacks,� Goasguen said, addressing Prime minister Dominique de Villepin.

    Former minister Dominique Strauss-Kahn considers the cartoon affair is “a manipulation� against the EU. The socialist MP made an unexpected remark when interviewed by journalists on news station LCI on Sunday saying that the cartoon affair is “a manipulation that aims to get the EU out of the Middle-East process.�

    “A sacred alliance between the United States and Saudi Arabia is revealing itself in this affair,â€? he said. Asked whether he was accusing the US of orchestrating the controversy, Dominique Strauss-Kahn responded that he wasn’t.”

  • Nikos

    ‘Former socialist minister Jean Glavany denounced the French leaders’ attitude. “They say, “Yes, the freedom of expression exists, but it stops where respect for other beliefs begins.� This “but� sounds like an unacceptable concession to fundamentalists.�’

    Like it or not, this rings true.

    And like it or not, Bush’s support for the teaching of ‘Intelligent Design’ in US science classes is another “unacceptable concession to fundamentalists.�

    American politicians, of both parties but more typically those of the right, have for decades increasingly pandered to Christian fundamentalists, and, by default, have lent an air of ‘legitimacy’ to the biblical creation myth presented in the King James version.

    The recent Pennsylvania court verdict on ‘Intelligent Design’ would seem a victory in a long fight to turn back the tide of superstition-based beliefs and dogma. But can we consider this a permanent trend considering the possibility of at least a few years more of Republican appointed judges?

    Europe isn’t the only continent in need of vigilance against the growing resurgence of factually absurd ancient beliefs.

    Thanks, d.c., for the article.

  • Nikos

    Relevant illumination concerning the spirit of proto-scientific inquiry vs. historical restraints imposed by Islamic religious dogma:

    From Irshad Majni’s ‘The Trouble With Islam’ (2003), via an endnote of Daniel Dennett’s ‘Breaking the Spell’ (2006).

    “…the deliberate squelching of ‘ijtihad’, the Muslim tradition of inquiry that flourished until the tenth century (and accounted for the glorious intellectual and artistic achievements of early Islam).

    “ ‘In the guise of protecting the worldwide Muslim nation from disunity (known as ‘fitna’ and considered a crime), Baghdad-approved scholars formed a consensus to freeze debate within Islam. These scholars benefited from patronage and weren’t about to chirp an ode to openness when their masters wanted harsher lyrics…. The only thing this imperial strategy has achieved is to spawn the most dogged oppressions of Muslims by Muslims: the incarceration of interpretation.’�

    (pg.59)

    Incarceration of interpretation.

    That’s as weighty as it is memorable.

  • digitalcommuter

    “Like it or not, this rings true.

    And like it or not, Bush’s support for the teaching of ‘Intelligent Design’ in US science classes is another “unacceptable concession to fundamentalists.â€?”

    Exactly so, Nikos.