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Cartoon Fun  - Irshad Manji: Impure Islam

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Cartoon Fun - Irshad Manji: Impure Islam

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There is nothing good that can be said about the entire affair of the Danish cartoons of Muhamed, and it gets worse from day to day. An Iranian newspaper announced a contest for Holocaust denial cartoons. In the Arab and Muslim world, rumors circulate that the editor of the Jyllands Posten is a Jew named Rose, and that the whole decision to launch the campaign was his - proof that it is a Jewish-Zionist plot presumably. The Muslims who are so respectful of the dignity of Muhamed circulate these cartoons on the Internet while feigning outrage at others who do so. The Muslim world version of the cartoons includes one of Muhamed with the face of a pig, and others of Muhamed performing indecent acts. However, the editors of the Jyllands Posten deny that they ever published such cartoons. The extra cartoons that were particular insulting were added by the Islamisk Trossamfund, a Danish group of "conservative" Imams who sought to stir up trouble between Muslims and the West.

The American Free Press had this to say about the controversy:

"Agents of certain persuasion" are behind the egregious affront to Islam in order to provoke Muslims, Professor Mikael Rothstein of the University of Copenhagen told the BBC. The key "agent" is Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of JP, who commissioned cartoonists to produce the blasphemous images and then published them in Denmark's leading morning paper last September.

The International Herald Tribune, which reported on the offensive cartoons on January 1, noted that even the liberalism of Rose had its limits when it came to criticism of Zionist leaders and their crimes. Rose also has clear ties to the Zionist Neo-Cons behind the "war on terror."

Rose told the international paper owned by The New York Times that "he would not publish a cartoon of Israel's Ariel Sharon strangling a Palestinian baby, since that could be construed as 'racist.'"

Asked why he was protecting Sharon, a known war criminal, while abusing Muslims and their Prophet in the name of free speech, Rose told American Free Press that he had been "misquoted" in the Times article.

Rose traveled to Philadelphia in October 2004 to visit Daniel Pipes, the Neo-Con ideologue who says the only path to Middle East peace will come through a total Israeli military victory. Rose then penned a positive article about Pipes, who compares "militant Islam" with fascism and communism.

(republished in many places including "http: // www.mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?x=508448" )

The cartoons were the initiative of  Carsten Juste the  editor of Jyllands Posten, according to the Guardian. His views regarding the Jewish question are not stated. 

Western and Jewish reactions to the burning of embassies and the anti-Semitic campaign that has been, inevitably, spawned by an incident that had little to do with Jews, have been remarkably mild and more than tolerant. In Ha'aretz, Bradley Burston took the position that the publication of the cartoons was a new variety of anti-Semitism. Edgar Bronfman, writing in Saudi Arabia's Arab News, asserted that "Muslims Deserve the Same Respect as Christians or Jews." He surely meant to write that Muslims should be treated respectfully, and not what he wrote. When the Jordanians conquered the old City of Jerusalem in 1948, they destroyed all but one of the synagogues there and used the gravestones of the Jewish cemetery in the Mt. of Olives. Much more recently, the Taleban destroyed two venerable statues of Buddha. Perhaps Buddhists don't deserve the same respect as others. In Saudi Arabia, a newspaper published an article claiming that Jews make Hamentashen (Purim holiday pastry) from the blood of Christian children. Christian religious services are not permitted  in public in Saudi Arabia. Do Bronfman and the Saudi editors of Arabic News want us to treat Muslims like that?

It is difficult to be wise about this miserable affair. We have to deplore intolerance and those who stir it up, whatever the source and whatever the reason. At the same time, we have to support freedom of expression: "Die Gedanken Sind Frei." Freedom is not just for the American Free Press. We have to support the principle that people, including Ariel Sharon, are innocent until proven guilty. The American Free Press forgot that one too. At least the same exercise of responsibility and good taste that should have prevented publication of the cartoons, should have prevented the editors of American Free Press and so many others from publishing their gratuitous speculations about connections between the publication of the cartoons and "Zionist" conspiracies, dressed up with irrelevant accusations against "known war criminals" who were never tried except in the pages of degenerate journals.  The same tolerance that should have restrained the circulation of the cartoons, should also deplore the waves of violence and race hate that they evoked.

If we are looking for the roots of intolerance, then we have to ask, who fanned the controversy over some some cartoons in an obscure Danish newspaper into an international incident and what does it prove about intolerance and race hate?

A particularly perceptive commentary by Irshad Mani, below, originally published in the Wall Street Journal, explores the disparity between Muslim respect for other religions and Muslim expectations of respect from other religions. It is written with wisdom and compassion, both of which are sorely needed, and good-natured humor as well. Let's learn to love the best in people of other religious beliefs. The decent people of all faiths and nationalities are united in their beliefs about the essentials, as this article proves.

Ami Isseroff

The above commentary is copyright 2006 by the author.

Cartoon Fun - Irshad Manji: Impure Islam  appears at Zionism and Israel Information Center at http://www.zionism-israel.com/ezine/manjiIslam.htm and should only be circulated by email with this note, giving the sources and copyright. Other uses require permission.

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08/02/2006

Impure Islam

By Irshad Manji

At the World Economic Forum in January, I observed something revealing. In a session about the U.S. religious right, a cartoonist satirized one of America's most influential Christian ministers, Pat Robertson. In the audience, chuckling with the rest of us, was a prominent British Muslim. But his smile disappeared the moment we were shown a cartoon that made fun of Muslim clerics.

Since then, a fierce fight has erupted between the European Union and the Muslim world over caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. Months ago, the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten, published cartoons that showed Islam's messenger wearing, among other things, a turban-turned-time bomb. Although the paper has apologized, the controversy has metastasized: A Norwegian magazine and French paper recently re-printed the drawings, as have other broadcasters and publications while covering this story.

In response, Muslim rioters torched Scandinavian missions in Syria, Lebanon and Iran. An Italian priest was murdered in Turkey. Bomb threats have hit the offices of more than one European newspaper. Various Arab countries have recalled their ambassadors from Copenhagen. Boycotts of Danish products are sweeping across supermarkets in the Arab world, and Muslims as far away as India and Indonesia are pouring into the streets to burn Danish flags - which feature the cross, among the holiest of Christian symbols.

Last week, thousands of Palestinians shouted "Death to Denmark!" Copenhagen has evacuated Danish citizens from the Gaza Strip and has sternly warned nationals in the West Bank to get out as well. Muslims themselves are getting pummeled in the riots: four died in Afghanistan on Monday alone.

Arab elites love such controversies, for they provide convenient opportunities to channel anger away from local injustices. No wonder President Lahoud of Lebanon insisted that his country "cannot accept any insult to any religion." That's rich. Since the late 1970s, the Lebanese government has licensed Hezbollah-run satellite television station al-Manar, among the most viciously anti-Semitic broadcasters on earth.

Similarly, the Justice Minister of the United Arab Emirates has said that the Danish cartoons represent "cultural terrorism, not freedom of expression." This from a country that promotes its capital as the "Las Vegas of the Gulf," yet blocks my Web site - muslim-refusenik.com - for being "inconsistent with the moral values" of the UAE.

Presumably, my site should be an online casino.

Muslims have little integrity demanding respect for our faith if they don't show it for others. When have we demonstrated against Saudi Arabia's policy to prevent Christians and Jews from stepping on the soil of Mecca? They may come for rare business trips, but nothing more. As long as Rome welcomes non-Christians and Jerusalem embraces non-Jews, we Muslims have more to protest than cartoons.

None of this is to dismiss the need to take my religion seriously. Hell, Muslims even take seriously the need to be serious: Islam has a teaching against "excessive laughter." I'm not joking. But does this mean that we should cry "blasphemy" over less-than-flattering depictions of the Prophet Muhammad? God no.

For one thing, the Koran itself points out that there will always be non-believers, and that it's for Allah, not Muslims, to deal with them. More than that, the Koran says there is "no compulsion in religion." Which suggests that nobody should be forced to treat Islamic norms as sacred.

Fine, many Muslims will retort, but we're talking about the Prophet Muhammad - Allah's final and therefore perfect messenger. However, Islamic tradition holds that the Prophet was a human being who made mistakes. It's precisely because he wasn't perfect that we know of the so-called Satanic Verses: a collection of passages that the Prophet reportedly included in the Koran. Only later did he realize that those verses glorified heathen idols rather than God. According to Islamic legend, he retracted the idolatrous passages, blaming them on a trick played by Satan.

When Muslims put the Prophet on a pedestal, we're engaging in idolatry of our own. The point of monotheism is to worship one God, not one of God's emissaries. Which is why humility requires people of faith to mock themselves - and each other - every once in a while.

Here's my attempt: A priest, a rabbi, and a mullah meet at a conference about religion, and afterward are sitting around discussing their different faiths. The conversation turns to the topic of taboos.

The priest says to the rabbi and the mullah, "You guys can't tell me that you've never eaten pork."

"Never!" intones the rabbi. "Absolutely not!" insists the mullah.

But the priest is skeptical. "Come on, not even once? Maybe in a fit of rebellion when you were younger?"

"Okay," confesses the rabbi. "When I was young, I once nibbled on bacon."

"I admit it," the mullah laughs (not excessively). "In a fit of youthful arrogance, I sampled a pork chop."

Then the conversation turns to the priest's religious observances.

"You can't tell me you've never had sex," says the mullah.

"Of course not!" the priest protests. "I took a vow of chastity."

The mullah and the rabbi roll their eyes.

"Maybe after a few drinks?" the rabbi teases.

"Perhaps, in a moment of temptation, your faith waned?" the mullah wonders.

"Okay," the priest confesses. "Once, when I was drunk in seminary school, I had sexual relations with a woman."

"Beats pork, huh?" say the rabbi and the mullah.

Clearly, I'm as impure a feminist as I am a Muslim. The difference is, offended feminists won't threaten to kill me. The same can't be said for many of my fellow Muslims.

What part of "no compulsion" don't they understand?

The writer is a Visiting Fellow at Yale University and the author of The Trouble with Islam.

Source: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/680091.html

 

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