Ceci n’est pas Mahomet

Persian or central Asian illustration showing Mohammed (on the right) preaching

Sickos. That is the overwhelming feeling I have while watching the pictures of furious muslims besieging Scandinavian embassies and consulates in Syria and Lebanon because of a few cartoons. It is not the first time we see pictures of furious muslim masses rioting against something “the West” did to them. But the disturbing thing is that most of those previous times I could understand at least some of their anger by picturing myself in their situation. This time I just feel completely alienated from a major part of the world population.

That is not to say that they don’t have a case at all. The cartoons are not funny and are, considering their context, perhaps rightly understood as racist. But by turning onto everything and everyone Danish or Norwegian instead of just the newspapers concerned, so is the response.

VoltaireAnd no, ridiculing the holocaust as the symbol that is as holy to the West as Muhammad is to the East is not the equivalent thing. First of all, it was not Muhammad but the extremists pretending to follow him who were ridiculed in the Danish cartoons. Secondly, it is not forbidden to picture the holocaust in the west, only ridiculing it is (at least in most countries). Thirdly and most importantly, there is a huge difference in terms of good taste and moral righteousness between ridiculing mass murder and ridiculing those who commit it.

Had the Danish cartoons ridiculed muslim victims of western violence, the protesters would have found most of western public opinion on their side. Now, despite having a point on western racism and discrimination, they are just bad PR for their case.

6 Responses to “Ceci n’est pas Mahomet”

  1. beatroot Says:

    But what exactly is ‘their cause’? If it is that certain European nations have been racist towards people from Asian or Arab backgrounds – and that they have regularly made imperialist foreys into that part of the world – then I think that is a reasonable claim. But if they are asking for special pleading because their religion is being picked on in a unique way by the western media, then I think that is nonsence. It is only beause they are Mulims that this has got to be such a big story and governments are treating it with kid gloves. When the BBC broadcast an opera about Jerry Springer, which had a significant amount of what could be called blasphamous content, there was a fuss in the newspapers…and then everyone went back to normal.

    But I think western nations have only themselves to blame. The culture in somewhere like Britain has created a nation full of self perceived victims where doing or saying anything ‘offensive’ is turning into a criminal activity. Liberals have now joined conservatives in the daily chant that: “You can;t say that…it’s offensive!’

    Well, so what if something is offensive? What about that old playground chant: “Sticks and stones can break my bones but words…’

    All Muslims are doing is throwing back this victim culture in the west’s faces…

  2. eulogist Says:

    I am not sure the victim culture thing is the entire story. It may have started there with the Danish muslims who were the first to complain against the cartoons, as they live in a Western country. But (at the risk of sounding like an old fart) I see the fundamental problem as more connected to the way the world has become a virtual village thanks to modern means of communication, without people having had time to adapt. Those pictures you linked to of Muhammad throughout the ages illustrate how different views of what is acceptable could co-exist at a time when contacts between those views were limited. We did not know of each other’s insults of another, nor was there any need to sit together and develop a way of dealing with them. Now there is.

    Freedom of speech laws as a way of dealing with insults in a peaceful manner worked fine as long as most interaction was confined to the western cocoon in which they were developed. Now that is no longer the case, we suddenly find ourselves in this “my value system is better than yours” meta-battle – which has Catch-22 characteristics because in this case having a discussion at all means that one side has lost.

    What we seem to be getting back may well not be our victim culture, but years of suppressed frustration that are now set loose not on some local oppressant, but on Jyllands-Posten all the way in Denmark. They are the scapegoat because the grapevine is now global instead of local, as is the outburst. But Western-European failure and unwillingness to incorporate immigrant communities, Israeli policies in Gaza and the West Bank, Arab dictatorship, oppression, failure and propaganda, and American warfare are the real causes of this clash.

  3. eulogist Says:

    PS: This and this makes interesting reading too…

    And this, fortunately.

  4. beatroot Says:

    I just looked at my last comment and it was a bit a ‘ranter’. Sorry.

    But there is no doubt that Muslims feel got at by the west, and humiliated. And that’s the worst thing you can do to male Muslim. Have you noticed that three of the places where the protests have been most spectacular – Afghanistan, Iran and now Iraq, are also the places feeling the most heat from the US at the moment?

    John Simpson, I remember reading, might say that these were the places with the most cameras in them just now, and the crowds might be reacting a little to them.

    I don’t believe that this reaction would have gone off like this 15 years ago. It’s not really about the cartoons at all.

  5. Marcel Says:

    Islam is not compatible with western culture and democracy. We should not give them an inch.

  6. Amsterdamsky Says:

    Time for Muslim senstivity training by Mrs. Garrison:
    In the muslim faith there is

    1) No sex before marriage
    2) No jacking off

    and where do muslims live?

    3) Sand

    So picture yourself on a friday night, you cant get laid and you can’t jack it. There is probably sand in your eyes and in the crack of your ass and then someone comes along from a country where people ARE getting laid and makes fun of your Prophet! What would you do? Damn, that almost pisses me off too.

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