I’ll get to the title of the post in a minute. Yesterday while watching the news I became furious. And I mean out of my mind mad with what I saw. Protesters in London holding up signs calling for beheadings, warning Britain of another 9/11, warning them of an upcoming “holocaust” and the most ironic one: condemning freedom of speech. Who the hell are these people and are they on any form of medication? I’ve actually been wondering if perhaps this is some conspiracy to make us all look bad; a group of people decided to dress as Muslims and protest. Of course this is unlikely but it baffles me how any sane Muslim living in London could actually march through the streets holding up such a sign. You might as well buy a gun and shoot yourself in the foot. These protesters to me were honestly much more offensive to my religion than all of these cartoons combined. And add to that the group of Syrians burning the Danish embassy in Syria. I cannot wrap my head around it.
Moving on (kind of)
Jihad Momani who was the editor of the tabloid Sheehan, who decided to print the cartoons, has been arrested on Saturday afternoon. This move comes after he was fired by the paper’s mother company on Friday.
The much smaller tabloid paper: Al-Mehwar, also printed the cartoons on January 26th and its editor-in-chief Hashem al-Khalidi will be facing a similar fate soon.
Here is the dilemma: Both these papers printed these cartoons alongside editorials which condemned the cartoons and urged Muslim reasoning.
“Muslims of the world, be reasonable… what brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony in Amman?”
Security forces may be carrying out these arrests based on a statement by the King in a speech earlier this week where he said: “a crime that cannot be justified under the pretext of freedom of expression.”
Here is other part of the dilemma: Jordan does not have freedom of speech. You cannot say whatever you want. Nor does it have a great deal of freedom of the press. You cannot print whatever you want. But those things aside, Jordan also has laws against insulting the religion.
Some people upon hearing of the Shihan printing of the cartoons have used it to ridicule Muslims who have decided to boycott Denmark: ‘do we boycott Jordan now?’, they ask.
In my opinion a better question which should be asked is: “Can the press use these images in the midst of this crisis if its intentions are honest?”. In other words: is there a difference between printing such cartoons with the intent to mock religion and printing these cartoons with the intent to urge reason amongst Muslims or even to condemn them?
If both Momani and al-Khalidi are charged with insulting their religion, will they take into account their intentions? The manner in which they presented the cartoons? The context?