February 21, 2006

Muslim Reactions Misinterpreted

A couple of good letters to the editor, both published in the Arizona Republic:


Muslim reactions misinterpreted (17 February 2006)

It sickens me that people are comparing the reaction of outrage by the Islamic community at the satirical depiction of the Prophet Mohammed to the lack thereof at the beheadings of Caucasians by Islamic extremists.

Apparently it has never occurred to these people that the vast majority of Muslims strongly decry the actions of the terrorists who profess to act in the name of Allah. People weren't rioting in the streets at the execution of kidnapped tourists because they don't consider - and correctly so - the terrorists to even be of the same religion as themselves.

On the other hand, the prohibitions on depictions of Mohammed in any medium is part of the core of Islamic doctrine, so it is equally absurd to make any comparisons, for example, to the lack of a violent reaction by the Christian community to blasphemous depictions of Christ.

Also, in addition to the depictions that incited the rioting, I wouldn't be surprised if the Islamic community were strongly offended by the seeming inability of us Westerners to distinguish between the true, pacifist believers in Islam and the raving lunatics who have been made into a racist generalization by the majority of us over recent years.
- Jesse Hannah, Tucson (The writer is 16.)



Seeing reality of Islamic protest (20 February 2006)

The letter by 16-year-old Jesse Hannah is a balanced perspective of Muslim response to the degrading caricatures of their prophet by Danish cartoonists ("Muslim reactions misinterpreted," Letters, Friday)

As such, it stands in contrast to the steady stream of syndicated columns that evidence their composers' basic inability - or unwillingness - to see the issue from the Muslim side (See Kathleen Parker column, "Re: Free speech - see A. Gore," Opinions, Friday).

I am not a Muslim nor particularly pro-Islam but, like Hannah, I have allotted enough effort to the subject to avoid the misconceptions, inherently biased or not, perpetrated by so many pundits.
- A. Wayne Senzee, Phoenix

5 comments:

Celal said...

"People weren't rioting in the streets at the execution of kidnapped tourists because they don't consider - and correctly so - the terrorists to even be of the same religion as themselves."

Which kidnapped tourists ? Where ?

"On the other hand, the prohibitions on depictions of Mohammed in any medium is part of the core of Islamic doctrine, so it is equally absurd to make any comparisons, for example, to the lack of a violent reaction by the Christian community to blasphemous depictions of Christ."

So if it is part of the "core of islamic doctrine" then by what logic do Muslims insist on Islamic behaviour from non-Muslims ?

JD said...

Celal wrote: "Which kidnapped tourists ? Where ?"

I suspect the writer was thinking of the various people who have been kidnapped in Iraq over the past few years. I doubt if anyone in Iraq today can be considered a "tourist."


"So if it is part of the 'core of islamic doctrine' then by what logic do Muslims insist on Islamic behaviour from non-Muslims ?"

By virtue of the logic of common sense, that all people - regardless of their religion - should not mock, disparage or insult the beliefs and symbols of another's religion. (And, yes, some Muslims are just as guilty of doing this as other people are.) Likewise, that all people should "do as the Romans do" with regard to their religion. If I were to enter a synagogue (which I've never done) and was asked to put on a hat, to respect their beliefs, I would immediately put on the hat. If I were to enter a building at a Buddhist temple (which I've done many times) and was asked to take off my shoes and not take pictures of the Buddha, then I would take off my shoes and not take pictures (as has been the case a number of times). Likewise, when we ask people to follow our customs (to take your shoes off and wear appropriate clothing inside a masjid, to treat the Qur'an with respect, and not to create any likeness of Muhammad (pbuh)), we are only expecting you to do (1) what we expect of ourselves, and (2) what you would expect of us if the roles were reversed.

Is that so difficult to do? Is that so much to ask for?

DrMaxtor said...

I wonder if the people who are upset about beheadings feel the same way about the 120000 dead Iraqis whose "liberation" they supported....Hypocrties.

Celal said...

Hello J.D.,

You didn't address my question.

Going inside an Islamic place of worship and misbehaving is one thing.

Insisting that secular journalists in a secular western country comply with Islamic doctrine is completely different.

Do you find it difficult to understand that distinction ?

JD said...

Celal wrote: "You didn't address my question."

Actually, I did answer your question when I wrote, "By virtue of the logic of common sense, that all people - regardless of their religion - should not mock, disparage or insult the beliefs and symbols of another's religion."

"All people," in this case, would include secular journalists in secular Western countries.

I don't insist that secular journalists - regardless of where they live - comply with only Islamic doctrine, but with the doctrines of *every* religion. (Christianity is mocked by many journalists and so-called "artists" throughout the "secular western" world, and that's just as wrong as mocking the beliefs of Muslims.)

When the beliefs, symbols, doctrines, etc., of any religion are treated lightly in a public forum, such as a newspaper, the people of those religions are going to become angry. It doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure that out.

The question that needs to be asked is, what is more important, the so-called "freedom of speech" or maintaining a harmonious society? In this country, where I live, maintaining a harmonious society is the much greater priority. I agree with this position. The cartoon controversy would never have happened here because nothing of the sort would ever be allowed to be published. And that policy applies not only to Islam, but to Christianity, Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, and every other religion that is practiced here.