I’m forced to ask myself these days…
What does the Prophet Mohammad pbuh who lived 1416 years ago have to do with some crazy terrorists in 2006?
What does the Danish government have to do with a free media newspaper?
What does some food company in Denmark have to do with cartoons published by a newspaper in its country?
It makes as much sense to me as people around the world boycotting Jordan and burning the Jordanian flag because every time Zarqawi is mentioned his name is usually preceded by “the Jordanian terrorist”
So many of the hijackers on 911 were originally from Saudi Arabia. No flag burning there. And that would have been something considering what’s written in Arabic on the flag.
There is a problem in the Arab world that the west is completely ignorant and that ignorance is shared by many Arabs as well: we associate everything with the government.
We are used to the media being governed by the government. Our national resources are governed by the government. Privatization is a new thing in the context of our history. We are used to generations and generations of dictatorships, whether by our own people or the western world. If (for example) Jordanians got really angry and wanted to overthrow the monarchy in the name of democracy, we would replace a King with a President who would remain on the seat for 50 years before dying and handing it over to his son.
Thus there is a tendency to associate everything with the government. It doesn’t matter what it is: the government is responsible, the government controls it. This is of course not completely true and not completely false. Some Arab governments are very free and independent then they were 50 years ago. But the people are stuck with old habits. And hey, a few months back Jordanians burnt the Jordanian flag for the sake of Palestinian solidarity, it’s a big “up yours” to the powers that be. (Jordan is just an example here)
So we don’t hold a newspaper in Denmark responsible: we hold the whole of Denmark responsible. But don’t forget this is all new; the wound is still fresh. It took us a few years before we could say “we don’t hate Americans, we just hate their government” instead of “we hate all of America”. So it takes some time for that knowledge to spread.
But hey, we’re not the only people going through an educational transition.
The west has now discovered the splendor of depicting the Prophet Pbuh. It was right there in front of them, how did they miss it all those years!? Mohammad: such an easy target. Forget Bin Laden, Mohammad is the big fish in the sea. “He’s their ‘god’ right?”
In the years to come the Prophet will likely make appearances on South Park on the Simpsons (to boost diminishing ratings). The cover of TIME perhaps? Newsweek?
A Monty Python reunion?
Already sites are popping up where people can display their own images of the Prophet, as advertised on toilet tissue paper or toilet seats.
But back to the flag. It’s not just about association I suppose, it goes deeper than that. A few comments I read recently on several blogs and websites were related to the question of “why don’t they draw Jesus and be done with it?”. That would have been the expected proportional response I suppose; a face for a face. But in Islam Jesus is revered, so there won’t be a rash of Jesus drawings being burnt on the street anytime soon.
So we’re stuck with a flag.
The flag of a country whose population is roughly that of Jordan.
Of which we are holding all of them responsible for something terrible that was done by a number of people you could count on your hand.
So if you’re from Denmark and you take offense at your flag being burnt: if you’re asking the same questions I have about “what do we have to do with some newspaper?”, well that reply you get back from the abyss of silence is roughly the same reply I get back when I ask myself “what does the Prophet have to do with some terrorists?”
And since I won’t ever publish those cartoons on my blog, I won’t publish a burning Denmark flag either. Not for the sake of equivalency, just for the sake of allowing reason to prevail.