Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Radicals are Exploiting the Backlash over Mohammed Cartoons

First off, kudos to Al Jazeera for being the first media outlet to run this story. Hasan Wirajuda, Din Syamsuddin, a Muslim leader in Indonesia, admitted what we are all witnessing: that the minority radical elements of Islam are exploiting the protests of Muslims around the world.

"All Muslims feel that their hearts have been wounded, because this matter is really contempt against the Prophet Muhammad who is loved by all Muslims," he said. But do not go overboard and get trapped into a situation that can be used by elements bent on painting an image of Indonesia's Islam as an intolerant, rigid and anarchic society."

Are the cartoons of Mohammed a form of discrimination, a form of racism towards the Muslim community? I believe every person would agree that yes, these cartoons are. Do they go against the tenants of the Islamic faith? Yes they do. We differ only when we come to the question of should they have been printed in the papers, where Islamic law is in contradiction with the secular laws of free countries around the world.

But extremists have moved the issue to one of hatred towards their community, when in reality I believe hostilities on both side of the Muslim/Western conflict have only been thinly veiled. And by moving this issue, extremists have found an issue that can mobilize the Muslim people to action, and maybe towards war. It is not like there have not been anti-Muslim cartoons, commentaries, articles, movies, television debates, and other widely distributed statements over the past 15 years (or past 50, or past 500).

At the same time, there has been anti-Western material distributed in Muslim communities, as well as anti-Jewish and anti-Christian commentaries. Remember scenes of the streets of Iraq during the first Gulf War? There were people with nooses hanging stuffed likenesses of George Bush Senior, and placards saying “Death to the West” and other pithy slogans. In Hebron, there were the stuffed images of Moses and of Ariel Sharon at the beginning of the second Intifadah. And the list goes on.

This is not a question of hatred, the animosity between both sides has been apparent for a long time. This is Muslim extremists exploiting one particular act of hatred, and using it to push people to violence. Most of the Muslims I know don’t want violence. They abhor violence, and prefer a peaceful life. Push back, maintain the peace, and do not let yourselves be manipulated. Hatred can only be eliminated by dialogue, not through violence!

Posted by Scottage at 2:04 PM / | |