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Solutions?

Reader comment on item: Something Rotten in Denmark?

Submitted by Umer Shehzad (Pakistan), Feb 14, 2006 at 06:44

In the Islamic history, beginning with the life of Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him), Muslims were never taught to attack any religion whether by destroying places of worship or burning books or material. Muslims' ultimate aim is to share what he/she believes is the truth, a Muslim must respect others and expect to be respected by others. Attacking religions, therefore, cannot be justified under any pretext.

There is no difference between these cartoons and other expressions of racism that have been condemned in the past. In recent times, a book has been published in America titled "The 100," or the Top One Hundred, or the Greatest Hundred in History. A certain Michael H. Hart, described as a historian, mathematician and astronomer has written this novel book. He has searched history, seeking for men who had the greatest influence on mankind. In this book he gives us The hundred most influential men, including Asoka, Aristotle, Buddha, Confucius, Hitler, Plato, and Zoroaster. He does not give us a mere chart of the topmost "one hundred" from the point of view of their influence on people, but he evaluates the degree of their influence and rates them in order of their excellence from No. 1, through to No. 100. He gives us his reasons for the placing of his candidates. We are not asked to agree with him, but we cannot help admire the man's research and honesty.

The most amazing thing about his selection is that he has put the Holy Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) as No. 1, the first of his "100!" Thus confirming, unknowingly, God's Own testimony in His Final Revelation to
the World:
By teaching respect and good manners to their adherants.The Qur'an teaches: "O you who believe! Be not like those who hurt Moses, but Allah cleared him of the calumnies they had uttered: and he was honorable in Allah's sight." And then Allah set the standards of the believers by admonishing them saying, "O you who believe! Fear Allah, and make your utterance straight forward that He may make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins…"

That is the point we want to make today. Are we free to insult and ridicule others just for the fact that we have freedom? The press in North America is biased against Islam. In Canada, things have improved in part because of the work of organizations like CAIR. The situation in the US to be very different because of the control of media by a few right wing corporations. But I know many Christians in the US are working together with Muslims to try to change this. I don't believe that we can leave this question entirely to the media but rather must work at the grassroots level to build relationships between Christians and Muslims. I think the most important task that we can undertake is very simply to bring together representatives of mosques and churches in their communities.

It is obligatory on us today as Muslims to develop our own media and as we many Muslims are willing to go and protest in the streets, they should know that the best reaction is to build strong, efficient media that addresses world issues in the language that is appropriate.

One of Iran's popular daily newspapers has started the international competition asking people to submit cartoons about the Holocaust, the Nazi genocide against the Jews in World War II.
Iranian newspaper Hamshahri says it wants to test the limits of Western freedom of speech. According to Hamshahri, they have already received several cartoons, including one from Mr. Leunig.

The terms of the competition are that anyone can email or post up to three cartoons each before May 5 on the theme of the Holocaust. The title of the contest is "The Boundaries of Western Freedom of Speech," and the Hamshahri newspaper hopes that those European papers that printed cartoons insulting the Prophet Mohammed will also publish the winning cartoons about the Holocaust.
Already a Danish and a French paper have expressed interest in doing this.

There is no difference between these cartoons and other expressions of racism that have been condemned in the past. The sanctity of human life is so important and unfortunately in today's world it has become cheapened. People have forgotten over the time the most important element of life. However, we cannot underestimate any action that disrupts any aspect of life.

All this should have never happened. The issue of "Freedom of Expression" has to be addressed in the light of laws and ethics. Unfortunately, there aren't any Ethics & Laws & Guidelines of Freedom of Expression that are internationally defined and there is no formal consensus on the issue. In some countries such as Canada, hate literature is illegal and it falls under defamation laws.
There are universal values and principles that we all agree about. They should be the ground on which we can discuss and solve our problems. This will define the border lines of freedom of expressions and also how far we can go in our reaction to abused freedom of expression such as in the case of the Danish cartoon and the protests that followed it which involved acts that we strongly condemned.

There are far more fundamental problems everywhere in the world and this goes back to a built-up history of ignorance and spiritual decadence. The Europeans need the Muslims world and the Muslim world needs the European. Mutual cooperation between Europe and the Muslim world is necessary. The bitterness inherited from the colonial age has to disappear because today we are closer to one another than ever and common sense suggests that we should treat one another as neighbour next door. We share the walls the separate us but at the same protect us.
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