Monday, February 06, 2006
by Wayne Besen
It has been said that the pen is mightier then the sword, and it appears radical Islamists are putting this theory to the test. In protest of European newspapers that published cartoons portraying Mohammed as a terrorist, zealous mobs desecrated flags, attacked Christians, threw stones and firebombed embassies. Witnesses of the attack on the Danish embassy in Beirut said they saw people jumping out of windows to escape the flames.
If the aim was to disprove the point of the cartoons - that extremists have hijacked Islam - the protesters did a heck of a job getting their message across. After watching the riots on television, the first thing that popped into my mind was - wow, Islam is a really peaceful religion.
Before we explore this further, let's emphasize that millions of Muslims are peaceful and abhor violence. As a society, we must judge people as individuals, avoid stereotyping and avoid the pernicious sting of discrimination. Muslims who stand for individual liberty, moderation and equal rights are allies. Any attempt to lump all Muslims in the same category is despicable, unconscionable and anathema to the very free, pluralistic society we are trying to promote.
However, it is also time to admit that we have a serious problem that isn't going away. A significant number of Muslims subscribe to a brand of the religion that is nihilistic, destructive, barbaric, backwards, anti-democratic and brutal. There is no point in negotiating or reasoning with these fanatics. They will either self-moderate out of self-interest, or come into direct confrontation with the West.
The reaction to the comics that ran in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten and other newspapers is not normal or civilized. It can only come from an extremist culture that glorifies hatred and violence.
The Islamic Army in Iraq, a Sunni Arab insurgent group, issued an Internet statement calling for attacks on Danish companies and nationals. The group urged followers to "catch some Danish people and cut them into pieces."
"We will not accept less than severing the heads of those responsible," Reuters reported a preacher saying at Al Omari mosque in Gaza. The New York Times reports other demonstrators calling for amputating the hands of the cartoonists who drew the pictures.
What is most striking about the repugnant rhetoric is how it is considered normal discourse in much of the Arab world. As new technology brings the planet closer together, we are increasingly clashing with a culture that is stuck in the 6th Century. It is totally incompatible with modern society and rules that govern basic human rights.
Here are three reasons why greater confrontation is on the horizon:1)
Force may be the only way to resolve the conflict between a culture that believes in freedom of the press and one that believes you dismember those who speak their minds.2)
A culture that is rapidly moving towards allowing gay couples to marry is not going to peacefully coexist with one that beheads gay people simply for existing.3)
Women who are emancipated and educated are not going to live side-by-side with submissive women who are treated like pets.
You know, it is simply unacceptable that women are forbidden to drive in Saudi Arabia and forced to wear oppressive garments that comedian Bill Maher says look like beekeeper suits. If this offends the Muslim extremists, too damn bad. Speaking of which, I'm getting a little offended by how easily they are offended.
In the United States, there are times when our fundamentalists have felt insulted. But they didn't rampage through towns and burn down movie theaters that showed "The Last Temptation of Christ." They didn't fan out in the Wyoming countryside looking to behead gay cowboys after Brokeback Mountain was nominated for eight Oscars. (Maybe, I shouldn't be giving them ideas)
It is also curious that the Islamists are claiming that religion is beyond reproach for editorial cartoonists, considering the Arab press is unquestionably the world's single most prolific offender of denigrating religion. But, I guess habitually mocking Judaism with crude and crass stereotypes doesn't count. The hypocritical double standard by the Islamists is so convoluted and incoherent, it is almost incomprehensible.
Commentator Neal Boortz sums up my feelings on the laughable "outrage" of Muslim radicals:
** Muslims fly commercial airliners into buildings in New York City. No Muslim outrage.
** Muslims slaughter hundreds of children and teachers in Beslan, Russia. Muslims shoot children in the back. No Muslim outrage.
** Newspapers in Denmark and Norway publish cartoons depicting Mohammed. Muslims are outraged.
Fair-minded people, especially moderate Muslims who are also victims of this extremism, must stand up to the insanity. For this violent behavior isn't Islam - it is fascism disguised as religion and has no place in the modern world.
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