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Reader comment on item: Cartoons and Islamic Imperialism

Submitted by patem (Ireland), Feb 10, 2006 at 07:45


Much that it galls me to say anything positive about the present fundamentalist regime in the US, but Condi Rice got it right and the European editors got it wrong.

This debate is not about the right to criticize. Neither is it about the right to protest. Neither of these liberal rights are absolute. The right to assemble and protest must be peaceable and must not be used to incite hatred and violence. Freedom of expression cannot be used to intimidate, incite to hatred, or defame.

Different Western societies have different standards as to where the limits to these rights are drawn, either under law, or what is acceptable. Generally, the European media are much more critical of politicians and less respectful of religous sensibilities. However, one thing is certain, if the anti-Jewish cartoons reprinted in this website as an example of Islamic hypocracy were printed in the US or European press in a similar context as were the Danish cartoons which gave rise to the current controversy, the issue would not have been 'liberty' but the perceived anti-semitism of the publishers. If the anti-Jewish cartoons had been published in Germany or France the publishers would certainly have been prosecuted.

The real issue which has become obscured by the agendas benig pursued by the extremists on either side is 'equality of esteem'. Moslems the World over hear the West preaching democracy and liberal rights, while observing how unevenly these rights are applied by the West in its dealings with Moslems. Even 'free speech' is a contentious issue. Most Moslems in the Middle East, having witnessed the 'behind-the-scenes efforts by the US regime to pressurize the Omanis to constrain 'Al Jazeera' (Not perfectly even-handed, but a damn sight more balanced and reliable than Fox), are pretty much convinced that the killing of 'Al Jazeera' journalists by US forces in Iraq was a pre-meditated effort to silence inconvenient free-speech.

'Democracy and Freedom' will merely be seen as cynical weasel-words by most Moslems until they see the West adopting even-handed policies in its dealings with the Islamic world.

When we are seen to respect the election of anti-American parties in Iran and Palestine as we respect the election of factions which are convenient to us, and when a Palestinian is free and secure to enjoy his private property free from the fear of forceable seizure - as Texans, Frenchmen, and other Westerners are, then democracy and freedom will be an easy sell in the Islamic world.

best regards petem

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