Friday, February 03, 2006

rights, reactions, and the closing of the Red Sea

The cartoons of Muslims, particularly depicting Muhammed, published by Denmark's Jyllands-Posten is still getting quite a lot of attention today. I sincerely hope that this awful tragedy in the Red Sea will turn attention agitated in the West and East to something that can be agreed upon - that death is an inhuman thief that can come in the night.

Yet from the comments I've received I'm coming to suspect that there are several deeply significant issues taking place here:

  • There's the matter of european solidarity (via Michael). Non-muslim europeans have probably been looking for something worthwhile to unite them on and I think the loss of Spirit non-muslim europeans have in contrast to their muslim counter parts could be an effective motivator. This interpretation quite strongly suggests that jealousy is the motivator. Are europeans jealous of the muslim spirit?

  • There's the matter of christians comparing their reactions to insulting depictions of their God in a freedom of speech society to the reaction of some in the muslim world (via DP). Christians can look at a people who are burning Danish flags and boycotting Danish goods and too easily say that they're not capable of the same thing. Christians believe strongly in consciencious freedoms. But I think this is the part of the truth that will be emphasised to the point of becoming a myth. Christians may not burn flags, but they sure do enjoy reacting. Christians love to react to images insulting their values. It thrills them to be insulted. Can't have evolution taught in school, insulted. Homosexual cowboys in the movies, insulted. Sharon pulls out of Gaza, insulted. Jesus Christ Superstar, insulted. Britney Spears mocking Christ, insulted. Of course there are many Christians who are on the opposite coin of all these offensive ideas and images, but I don't know if it is a complete picture to focus on just those that don't get insulted.

  • The west's religious history of iconoclasm has reduced the value of images for them and therefore makes them insensitive to peoples who do not share that same history (via Anastasia). "I seriously think that Christians in the West having been the predominant religion for centuries have completely forgotten what it’s like to be persecuted for your beliefs the way that Muslims have been lately," says Anastasia.

  • Many in the west are confusing this matter with the war on terrorism (via Anastasia). I agree, but I think it will be too easily done. Apart from telling people that these are two different matters, I do not know how to substantiate it.

  • Should good manners trump rights. Michael procured two interesting quotes: "Kofi Annan said freedom of the press should not be an excuse for insulting religions. The French interior minister, Nicholas Sarkozy, said he preferred “an excess of caricature to an excess of censure”."

1 comment:

Jonathan said...

You make some good points on Christians being insulted. I totally agree.

However, we can't equivocate insults to violence. It is one thing to feel offended by culture; it is quite another thing to violently storm embassies and threaten to bomb churches over a cultural offense.