European-Islamic Dialogue in Post Cartoon Fisaco

Putting aside that these cartoons were offensive to all Muslims we should look at some of the reactions here. I was stupefied by the call of boycotts. I am not an advocate of boycotts because I believe in this globalized world that we live in, boycotts do not work.

Most Muslim nations condemned the cartoons, some went as far as to call for appropriate punishment and some went even further and recalled their ambassadors to Denmark and others jumped off the cliff and implemented boycotts which targeted Danish companies that had absolutely nothing to do with this. But the fiasco was based on the faults of both the Danes and Muslim governments. I stress the word government here because no government in our part of the world is representitive of the people.

First thing’s first, those cartoons should have never been published in the first place, free speech quickly changes to hate speech when the intent is to cause offense; I highly doubt they would have done the same thing with any other religion but that’s not the point. Muslims had a right to react and to protest them. One cannot put aside the fact that through worldwide condemnation there was a desire to seek a diplomatic solution upon which the paper should have apologized but instead Muslim protests were met with silence. It is at this point that things started to go awry.

Islamic governments failed to distinguish between a newspaper in Denmark and the whole of Denmark. Instead of focusing on the newspaper they went after its government which had nothing to do with it. Instead of focusing on the newspaper they went after companies that had nothing to do with it. Did they not think that there are Muslims who live in Denmark that could be affected by it?

What drives me crazy is that the Gulf governments, most of who were the architects of these boycotts, were so prepared to boycott over offensive cartoons yet I havenâ??t seen such a reaction towards Israel since the oil embargos in the 70’s. I mean, come on! The cartoons were offensive yes but this land is being occupied for heaven’s sake!

In conflict there is something called the proportional response. If someone calls you names you don’t set their house on fire. What was done here by some governments was far from proportional. Everyone was trying to hold the whole of Denmark responsible for the actions of a newspaper.

More inappropriate reactions were the gunmen who took over an EU office in Palestine, flag burning and my favorite: beating up Christian university students in Iraq. All of this was despicable in my opinion, specifically the last one which I am stunned by. The irony here (and Muslims reading this will appreciate this) is that upon feeling their religious teachings had been offended some Muslims reacted by forgetting their religious teachings.

It should however never have gone that far all diplomatic means should have been exhausted first before resorting to such inane measures in my opinion.

I consider the cartoonists who started all this to be stupid but I consider the reactions of some Muslims to be just as stupid, which goes to show that in any society, despite your origins or your religious beliefs, you will find a good sample of stupid people.

There needs to be improved dialogue with the western world, especially since many people do not understand Islam and have started to fear it and even hate it, specifically with the media, the likes of Bin Laden and the series of reactions we saw in the past few days. I noticed many angry Danes and Europeans these last few days whose comments reflected their lack of knowledge of anything Islamic and thatâ??s something that needs to be addressed.

A dialogue is a two way street, it allows everyone to come together and compromise. While Muslims cannot expect everyone to have the same respect for their religion in Europe as they would in their native land at the same time European governments should protect its citizens from hate crimes and racism when it comes to their religion.

Muslims play such a major role here; this is after all a time when we are haunted by the ghosts of Bin Ladens and Zarqawis who have made our lives miserable since 9/11. This is a time when we should be breaking stereotypes and not enforcing them.

In the end both parties played a role in the escalation and hopefully this incident will serve as a starting point for initiating greater dialogue between Muslims and Europeans where a mutual respect can be cultivated.

see also:
Danish Muslims Urge Calm After Apology

10 Comments

  • I agree that an out right boycott of Danish goods is not the most effective way to deal with this situation. However, I wonder if the newspaper would have issued the apology (which I think is enough) if there had not been such a huge outcry against the cartoons?
    What bothers me more about this boycott is who it comes from. I know that ordinary Saudis, Qataris, etc, are really doing this because they believe it will show how offended they are. But the fact that the governments got involved is ludicrous. Hello? Are we talking about the same Qatar and Saudi Arabia who have the largest American military bases in the Middle East from which the Iraq War was planned and executed? I hate these double standards. They’re rightly offended by dispicable cartoons, but they’re not offended that they are directly responsible for the success of American invasion of Iraq and subsequently the deaths of thousands of innocent Iraqis? They’re willing to take a strong stance on something that won’t cost them that much, but when it hits their oil resources, they shut up. Give me a break. I hate when they use religion when they want to, and forget about it when they want to (Arab governments that is). It’s so convenient.
    Thanks for your post.

  • Moi, yes i too despise this double standard. It’s hypocricy at its best. As for an apology, I’m not sure if they would have. At this point their apology may not look as sincere as it should since it’s a result of boycott pressures. Nevertheless a dialogue should have been established and all other means exhausted first. This kind of action only reinforces the stereotypes, makes more people hate Muslims, all for a forced apology. People will probably be more inclined now to aggrevate the Muslim world in retaliation.

    thanks for the comment

  • Well said Nas and Moi, I too wonder about the timing of apology that was really quite meaningless at this point, I would’ve even had more respect for the newspaper if that have stuck to their guns and preached free speech, I mean what has changed? Which is truly sad because the outlandish response by Arabs and Muslims will now be celebrated in our countries as victory and the reason for the apology.
    We chose to write very similar pieces Naseem, of course yours is much more articulate 🙂

  • Oleander, thank you for your opinion on the matter. as for “Muslims will now be celebrated in our countries as victory and the reason for the apology”, oh God, I did not see that one coming. Hopefully it wont. I’m imagining people talking about how God made them do it. sigh, stupidity has no limitations 😀

    Roba,
    ah well, opinions are a dime a dozen. it’s actions that i’m more interested in. thanks 😉

  • I agree on many things you posted here, but your are totally wrong with the following: ” I highly doubt they would have done the same thing with any other religion”. You can find far worse caricatures or even “art” work of Jesus, compared to those caricatures in the danish newspaper. I can post you some links if you don’t believe me.
    But the difference is the reaction of the people. I have never heard of christians boycotting products from the UK because of the popular movie “The life of Brian” by Monty Python, for example. There are law suits if the church thought a caricature does go too far, but no one threatens to kill other people.

    I don’t know if you have actually seen the caricatures, they are drawing a connection from your prophet to the terrorists. And what is the reaction to it? Terrorism. From my western point of view, I have to say that the muslim world is going to lose the respect it always demands through those reactions.

    However, it is good to see that you and some other bloggers I have read don’t support the boycott or violent reactions. I can understand if you feel offended by the caricatures, but like you, I cannot understand the reactions by part of the muslim world.

    I hope you don’t mind my open words here. Best regards from Germany,
    Chris

  • Chris, I appreciate your comment, and respect your point of view. You made some valid points. I guess it boils down to the differences in religion and culture, although Islam itself does not support such violent reactions.

    thanks

  • you raise some interesting point that totally slipped my mind. Remember when the US was preparing to attack Iraq, and Saddam was the only one to stop oil production. The other Arab countries were secretly preparing with the Americans, while publicly opposing the war…

    What appaled me most was beating up Christian students, in protest!! Such ignorance….

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