EuropeNews February 25 2008 By Henrik R Clausen
Being based in Denmark, EuropeNews has a natural interest in the resurgent Muhammad cartoon crisis. It evokes a clear feeling "We've been here before", and it shows also that we'll end up here again. The Danish press stands tight in solidarity this time.
Islamists find the sancticity of Muhammad challenged, and in true Islamic fashion responds with anger. Religions differ, and we see here Muslims express their religious feelings in accordance with their tradition. Now, to a Christian or Western mind, it is strange that Muslims react with such fury. Is it because we have the audacity to indicate that Muhammad had a criminal mind? We would never do that, would we? Accuse Muhammad of instigating a regime of terror, emulated by Jihadists today? Would we come across the notion that perhaps Muhammad would assassinate critics just like Jihadist assassinate critics today? Why would we do that?
Actually, there's no need for us to do anything like this. It would constitute an insult to Islam, and we all know what the punishment is for doing that. The Religion of Peace would never resort to violence, except in the direst need. Or would it?
The 'unless' is loaded with significance. Anyone claiming that Islam is under siege by the West can invoke this clause - and the 'claiming' is important here. Traditionally, Muslims have great confidence in their leaders, and these leaders are now drawing heavily on this confidence to evoke anger over the Muhammad cartoons. When an Islamic leader claims Islam is under attack, Islam *is* under attack, and violence is justified.
The Motoons are central to this. It depicts Muhammad in a significantly different way from how the imams and muftis are used to depicting him. Further, the idea that Muhammad was a murderous plundering rapist undermines their authority, because religious figures are supposed to be good examples for their followers. Beheadings do not look like nice examples to follow.
And in a way, they are right. Islam is being attacked by rationality and freedom of information. Everyone is now able to look up the Life of Muhammad (the Sirat), either by reading the original books or modern critical analysis such as The Truth about Muhammad, The Legacy of Jihad, Prophet of Doom or Defeating Jihad. The picture isn't pretty, and we are struggling between the freedom of the West and the religious dogma of the Middle East.
But conversely, the assertion that Islam is under attack from the West is patently false. Islam is being exposed in the world of rationality and freedom of information, and the Islamic scriptures, read literally and uncritically, are self-incriminating. There is a lot of material in there pertaining to the life and example of Muhammad, material that simply doesn't look holy, by any reasonable definition of the word.
By implication, it is near impossible to say anything about Islam or Muhammad worse than what is in the Islamic scriptures themselves, and the so-called "Islam critics" are largely pointing out the nature of the Islamic scripture and the legacy of Islamic history. This is, of course, the root cause for the Islamic attack on freedom of expression.
As for the opinion of EuropeNews, let it be expressed by the Motoon above. Muslims need to relate to and solve the problem it expresses. If the Muslims burn our flags, our embassies or even kill our artists, we shall respond by publishing more Motoons! Violence is not holy, and should be completely banished from religion, even in face of (gasp) mockery! Without freedom of expression, there can be no democracy, no human rights, and no freedom for artists and other exiting people.
Muslims must accept scrutiny of their religion, criticism and suggestions for bringing it up to date with a modern world. Islamic leaders are encouraged to interpret the Motoons not as an evil insult, rather as an encouragement for reform. Muslims need that.
The truth shall set us free.