Religious Pride Is Fine, But Prejudice Is No Joke

(Sunday Age-Australia) Tom Hyland - A Danish newspaper publishes cartoons of dubious merit and taste purporting to portray the Muslim Prophet Muhammad, an act of blasphemy under Islamic faith. The cartoons sink with barely a trace, until four months later, after a concerted campaign by clerics to draw attention to the offense, riots erupt across the Islamic world. In retaliation, an Iranian newspaper runs a cartoon contest of its own, but the target is not the Danish perpetrators of the original offence, but the Jews. Of course. Muslims in the West, like members of any religion, have a right to tolerance for their customs and beliefs, so long as they accord with the law and wider community standards. But they can't expect elements of their faith won't sometimes be subjected to the satire that other religions suffer in Western secular societies. Offensive? Humiliating? Particularly hurtful in a climate of Islamophobia? All of that. But that's the way it is. Just ask the Jews. If you can deny the reality of the Holocaust (an attempt to erase Jewry from the human map of Europe), you can then erase Israel off the political map of the Middle East. Ahmadinejad's outbursts are an extension of an entrenched prejudice across the Middle East, which in seeking to deny Israel's legitimacy questions the humanity of Jewish people. An Internet search will find scores of cartoons from the Middle East press depicting Jews as subhuman. No satire here, no legitimate political comment about the real grievances of Palestinians, just blatant racism. All of this comes as Iran is apparently seeking to develop nuclear weapons - just what you need if you want to wipe an opponent off the face of the earth. Now that's no joke.

2006-02-24 00:00:00

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