Brewtown Politico

Carrying a little stick and speaking loudly in Milwaukee


On the Muhammad cartoon uproar

Riots continue in relation to the cartoon depicting Muhammad in an unsavory light in the eyes of many Muslims. Iran has now scaled back trade relations with the country for the time being (at least until the issue dies down politically). Professor Ajami of Johns Hopkins University put the issue in perspective tonight on the Newshour.

MARGARET WARNER: I mean, do you think Europeans deserve any responsibility for this, especially the ones who republished them?

FOUAD AJAMI: Well none whatsoever because part of the challenge, if you will, of living and the advantage of living in a liberal society is the willingness to be offended.

And I think what these Muslim populations in Europe, what these Muslim populations are telling us today is that they're in the West geographically but not of West. They don't accept the challenge; they don't accept the difficulty of living in a pluralist liberal society; that they have brought with them the fire from Morocco, from Tunisia, from Algeria, from Egypt and Syria.

And I think these European societies have a problem because they tended to think that there is a battle between America and the Islamic world, and that they are innocent bystanders. They're not innocent bystanders and now they know this. They know this in Denmark. They know this in Holland. They know this in Sweden. And that's what we're really seeing.

We're really seeing millions of Muslims who have come to Europe; they've been granted the chance for a new life. And I think they need to make their peace with this modern society in which they find themselves. And they haven't done it yet.

Ajami is right on, and this is a lesson a lot of people in America and other western nations should keep in mind as well when they fain outrage at something they're supposedly offended by whether they be espousing political correctness or the uptight religious right.


At 2/07/2006 09:17:00 AM, Blogger Craig said...

I haven't even seen a copy of this on the web (the actual cartoon). Anyone know where it is?

At 2/07/2006 01:26:00 PM, Blogger Scott said...

You can view them at this site.

Frankly, the quality of the cartoons isn't that great, and the uproar has only drawn attention to them they otherwise wouldn't have gotten.

The issue is obviously about more than cartoons. This is just the match that exposed a much deeper cultural schism.

At 2/07/2006 07:32:00 PM, Anonymous Ben said...

There was a great piece on the BBC today about how Islamist riots in Pakistan are frequently instigated for political gain.

Yes, this is just the match to the powder-keg but who's lighting it?

At 2/07/2006 10:11:00 PM, Blogger Scott D. Feldstein said...

I agree completely, Scott. I was going to blog about this myself. Civilized people need to learn how to be insulted without resorting to violent uprising. I'm afraid a lot of the Muslim world has a rather 14th-century view of this matter, however. Any and every slight to their religion must result in calls for someone's death. These people need to be brought firmly but gently into the 21st century.

At 2/08/2006 08:16:00 AM, Anonymous Ben said...

Well, let's be careful on where this conversation goes. While we can't relate about the holiness of a religous icon, one editorialist compared the sanctity of the vision of the Prophet to the sanctity in the West of the Holocaust.

Just because we can't relate on a free-speech level (which I tend to agree with) doesn't mean it should be so quickly dismissed as primitiveness.

In fact, back to the powder-keg analogy, isn't that kind of dismissiveness what has led to this volatility in the first place? Clearly it is or, as the previous article post stated, Pakistan would have spontaneously exploded into riot.


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