Wednesday, February 08, 2006


So I’m sure you’ve heard about the riots taking place in much of the Muslim world over a Danish newspaper’s publication of twelve editorial cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad in caricature. Many Muslims consider any visual depiction of Mohammed to be a sacred violation; in addition , of course, they also don't appreciate the satire.

In the ensuing maelstrom of Muslim protests and Danish freedom-of-speech rebuttals, twenty other countries’ newspapers printed the cartoons in a show of freedom-of-the-press solidarity, which in turn elicited calls from the foreign ministers of seventeen Islamic countries to demand that the Danish government punish those responsible for the cartoons. Later, mobs of Muslim protesters set fire to the Danish and Norwegian embassies in Syria and the Danish consulate in Beirut. Demonstrations and protests continue.


I don't normally comment on “political” issues in this space but this one has a religious component so please extend me the latitude.

Scott MacLeod of Time magazine makes a valid point when he notes that protest over the cartoons has become a “channel for outrage over Iraq and a political weapon for Muslim regimes seeking support against the West.” Yes, this episode is being used by cunning leaders as a tool to foment more hatred against the “Judeo-Christian West.” Fine, but one cannot help but feel a sense of incredulity at the double-standard.

As Dennis Prager puts it (, 2/7/06), “When Muslim governments and religious spokesmen attack the West for its insensitivity to Muslims and its anti-Muslim prejudice, one has entered the Twilight Zone. Because nowhere in the world is there anywhere near the religious bigotry and sheer hatred of other religions that exists in the Muslim world.”

My sense is that with this newest conflict (conflagration?) we have crossed a line of sorts. The huge reservoir of tolerance among “westerners” is wearing thin. As Tim Rutten, a left-of-center columnist for the L.A. Times, writes: “It’s no longer possible to overlook the culture of intolerance, hatred and xenophobia that permeates the Islamic world” (L.A. Times, 2/4/06)

Am I wrong for longing to see one demonstration by Muslims to protest foreigners taken hostage and beheaded in the name of Allah?

Am I wrong for wondering where the protests have been over the million non-Arab and non-Muslim men, women and children who have been slaughtered by the Islamic regime in Sudan?

As Prager puts it, “Which casts Islam in a worse light – political cartoons depicting Muhammad, or Muslims who murder innocents around the world in the name of Allah and Islam?”

Listen. I’m sure there are millions of honorable, devout, compassionate Muslims around the world who abhor violence in the name of Allah.

I’d sure like to hear from some of them.


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