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Threat and Intimidation will Backfire

Reader comment on item: Those Danish Cartoons and Me

Submitted by Aidan Maconachy (Canada), Feb 28, 2006 at 15:48

On reading carefully through some of the comments on this thread, it is fairly evident that some posters simply don't get it.

Democratic societies have Constitutions that enshrine certain rights and freedoms. The people who designed our Constitutions weren't setting out to embarrass Islam, they were laying out provisions for a fair and equitable society. Part of this arrangement, was the understanding that citizens would be confronted with ideas, opinions, characterizations that they personally might find offensive. However part of the magic of democracy, is that we allow for differences of opinion ... we allow challenging art and innovative ideas. What we do not allow, are calls for murder and mayhem because some group finds a comment or a drawing disagreeable.

If Muslims are unable to live in Western societies without resorting to threat and intimidation, when they see something they don't like, then they are threatening the foundation of what democracy and free speech means. When they say "to hell with freedom and your secular laws - we will die to defend our religious rights" - they are really saying - "we are going to dominate you with our religious point-of-view".

There are many in the West who will never accept this intimdation and threat, myself included.

Right now the publishers are backing off support for these cartoons, but there will major fights in the future with respect to artistic freedom. This thing is far from over. It frankly makes me ashamed that there has been this mass capitualation to threat and intimidation.

Many in the West now know what we are dealing with more clearly. If Muslims think that they have won anything by compelling retractions through mass demonstrations, demonization of Denmark, Fatwahs and murder threats - they have another think coming. This does not endear Europeans to Islam, or generate understanding. Such forced retraction generates deep resentment, opposition and even loathing.

I for one have always tried to err on the side of the positive with respect to the role of Islam in our Western societies, but this episode has forced me face certain fundamental truths. I now no longer believe that Islam (in its present form) is compatible with Western style democracy. There are exceptions to this of course, because we have many progressive and enlightened Muslims living in our societies, some of whom were disgusted by the rage that was whipped up over these cartoons.

What is a cartoon? It is a few lines on a page that can be burned. If God is real and his Messengers are who-they-claim-to-be ... can a mere cartoon effect them to even the tiniest degree? Of course not. This rioting was purely about power and control - it had nothing to do with God. God doesn't need the help of deranged rioters who are attacking others because of drawings. In fact, if he is a God of mercy and truth, he would find such behaviour more satanic than Islamic.

If as it claims, Islam is a religion of peace, why then do the Imams and others not use a crisis such as this to demonstrate their stature as men-of-peace and goodwill. Why don't they rise above the petty slur contained in a mere cartoon in order to show the world they are not going to made into "little angry men" by an artist's pen. Why is it, that even though Muslims claim to be adherents of a "religion of peace" - at the slightest hint of a slight or insult, many reflexively resort to mass psychosis and threat? How is this supposed to help us understand them, or respect them?
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