Once again both Muslim, and Christian (represented by the US Administration), fundamentalists concur in their support of public demonstrations against the cartoons in Denmark depicting the Prophet Mohammed, which brings to the forefront many questions, the most important of which is this: What exactly is going on?
- Why was reaction delayed for four months? To say that the issue reached its climax after the Danish government refused to meet with a delegation of condemning Ambassadors is nonsense. For the simple reason that, if this piece of news were true, this is not the first time that Ambassadors and representatives of Arab Regimes are at receiving end of such insults, indeed this may actually be the lesser of insults.
- Why did Arab regimes this time participate by supporting, permitting, and even more, by kindling the embers of these protests? Did not these very same regimes contain and abort, even sometimes suppress the activities and movements of associations advocating the boycotting American and Israeli products at a time when Sharon’s armies were committing heinous crimes in the West Bank and one of the ugliest massacres of this era in Jenine?
- The newspaper apologized, and the Danish Prime Minister expressed his personal regret, within the lawful boundaries of his country .. what are the specifications of the apology requested? Should offenders crawl on their bellies? Should enemies declare that they have embraced Islam?
- And by the way, which of the two is worse: European governments’ obligation to respect their own laws and constitutions; or American forceful imposition of the exemption of their soldiers and officers from persecution by international law as War Criminals?
- Why did administration within the Arab Regimes take charge of the issue of whether or not the apology is accepted?
- Is suspicion not increased further by Mrs. Rice and US Administration’s sympathy with Muslim feelings in this crisis? Should not their sympathy have been extended to world-wide outrage as protests increased at the time when the US was getting ready to destroy Iraq and commit massacres on its soil?
- Why did Arab regimes creatively cover-up, turn the other cheek, forget and ignore the (Bush Qu’ran) issue? A decision by Bush to delete and cancel whole Qu’ranic verses, thus creating a “diet, fat-free” version of the Qu’ran which coincides with the visions and the strategic interests of the New Conservatists. This version was distributed in the US, and, it is said, in Arab countries where US forces are stationed. Does not the disfigurement of the Qu’ran constitute a direct and organized insult to Muslim Arab culture and heritage, an issue which concerns Arabs – Muslims, Christians, and Jews alike – and represents an attack which should provoke prompt reaction, involving the UNISCO perhaps, to counteract?
- Was there truly an insult to the Prophet? Is he, or his status, subject to insult simply by the appearance of bad cartoons in a periodical suffering from unpopularity, published in a far-off land of which we barely read about except on containers of cheese, when a member of its monarchy gets married or during football matches?
- In any case, who is to blame for the appearance of these cartoons? Those who drew them? Those who published them? The country in which the newspaper is published? And why do governments intentionally dilute this question?
- Can we blame Europeans, as individuals and as a nation, for drawing what they envisage? If the answer to that is yes, then who carries the blame? And who caused Europeans to envisage the Prophet Mohammed in this way? Is it not those same people who spend their nights at the bars and gambling tables of Europe? And those who contribute to engraving the consciousness of Europeans with images of the threatening, pirate-like, steel-hook-handed Muslims, the likes of Abu Hamza Al Masri, with the result that he becomes the typical image of a Muslim residing in European consciousness?
- Why the comparison to the holocaust? Why involve Roger Garoudi? Did these people not address the courts? If laws in the West include protection against anti-Semitism, then why should we not work at establishing long-term, well studied plans to address the European public explaining that anti-Islam is another form of culture-war? And this in turn is another face of inhumane racism which does not sit-well with their values of democracy, and their respect for freedom and human rights.
- Would it not have been more productive for the suitable Muslim authorities to form an aware, perceptive and orderly committee to study these cartoons? And to seek the assistance of academics, physiologists, and analysis experts in the fields of arts and sociology to study the socially and physiologically reasons behind the appearance of these cartoons? The issue is not just the cartoons but rather the images that have been created in the consciousness of the creators of the cartoons, and the fear that it reflects wide-spread public opinion which cannot be counteracted with shouting, lamentations and the burning of flags.
- What if Arab regimes were to declare that they received a conclusive / remedial apology: would those who raise objections today return delighted to continue their daily submissiveness to the US and Israeli regimes, puffing at well studied doses of humiliation, persecution, insult and US nicotine?
- On the Syrian front (for example), did not Syrian TV declare that it has received an apology from Belgium? So why the arson? Was it necessary for Syria to demonstrate its skill at losing its friendships, even with such peaceful countries?
- Is it not funny and entertaining that a Syrian National Security official (again as an example) should claim as an excuse that National Security was unable to harness the angry “public” – which he estimated to be numbered at 2000 demonstrators? And his claim that National Security would be able to “defend” other government buildings if attacked by the public, because in such instances, the public would not be moved emotionally by a cause that concerns them. Does this mean that the Syrian public, where it does not concern the Prophet Mohammed, exercises the luxury of thought un-charged by emotion?
- The slogan “anything but the Prophet” is reminiscent of the slogan “anything but Ali” which some Iraqis threw in the face of the US / UK occupying forces – a message which was grossly misinterpreted to mean that the Iraqi people will forgive or forget everything else committed against them.
- In light of all of the above, and in the shadows of daily assaults on the humanity of nations – robbing them of their freedom, their livelihood and their security – is not the slogan “anything but the Prophet” exceptionally deluding? Coinciding in its support of fundamentalist Islam, New Conservative Christianity, both of which are not far from Zionism?
Maher Al Junaidy
Journalist and Founding Partner of TransArabia (media services, content providers and translations)