Arab Spring

Ar(a)b[or]
A barren tree, once full of life
Stands leafless, brown ice in gloom
A barren tree, once full of strife
Stands not a spark, not a flower in bloom
A barren tree, once full of promise
Stands in sorrow, a promise but for tomorrow
As for today, not a leaf dares there stay

Monday, February 13, 2006

Danish Cartoons Revisited

While it is true that Europe has been more forthcoming and honest about the Palestinian question and core European countries (France and Germany) refused to partake in the war on Iraq, Spain, Britain, Poland, Italy and Denmark gladly joined the United States on a rampage the likes of which Iraq has not seen since the days of Ginghis Kahn.

I agree with you that European societies are free and I wish that European governments were so keen on seeing those same freedoms implemented in the Arab world. Instead, Europe and the United States curry favors with such unsavory regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt, Pakistan and Morocco.

I don't think these riots were about the cartoons in and of themselves. I for one would not have cared at all if Denmark had published those cartoons but then stopped there. There is something extremely insulting about the fact that the prime minister would not even meet with Arab and Muslim ambassadors to Denmark but what's more is that the government is being ruled by a rightist party not unlike France's Le Penn and Belgium's Flams Block, which campaign on anti-immigrant platforms and forced integration (i.e. Europeanization and secularization) without addressing issues that make integration difficult if not impossible (such as jobs, discrimination, and economic opportunity). At a time of extreme tension between the Muslim world and the West (because of Iraq, Palestine, dictators), the Danish government handled the situation very badly and the European newspapers that followed suit in publishing the cartoons did so knowing it would be a provocation. Remember that the first newspaper that republished the cartoons was an evangelical Christian Norwegian daily.

All that being said, world Arabs and Muslims are hardly blameless. I agree that in normal circumstances, one should depict Mohammed in what ever light one wants to and I do not expect non-Muslims to abide by Islamic rules of not drawing the prophet. But we are not living in normal times, we are living in times of an Israeli wall on Palestinian land, four years of Guantanomo, secret CIA prisons in Europe, renditions of suspects to torturing regimes, ruthless Arab and Muslim dictators that will not share power, and American and European governments that have only narrow interests with no vision in the longterm repercussions.

Violence by Muslims (although, I must say, was very small compared to the hundreds of thousands who protested peacefully) is abhorrent and did nothing but emphasize the racist and xenophobic stereotypes drawn by the Danish artists in the controversial cartoons.

As to the Arab and Muslim governments (those which are not democratic) have my greatest contempt. Because, it is true, they used this whole debacle cynically to foment anger against a disengaging West, no longer interested in buoying up their sagging, sinking ships. Arab and Muslim governments tried to paint Western democracy as irreverent and even evil, because it is their greatest threat. The angry Muslim reactions we saw on the streets are an indictment of those regimes and their utter failure. There cannot be bridging between the Muslim world and the West, until those regimes are dismantled, because Muslim mouths are closed shut and their hands are tied behind their backs with no representative nor accountable governments.

2 Comments:

At 3:07 PM, Blogger Ramzy S. said...

Hi Sama,
I enjoyed your essay on the Danish Cartoons. I completely agree with you about how basically this was a reaction from highly sensitive muslims who are already under assault from so many fronts.
The Danish cartoons added insult to injury on a people who are sufferring so much. All they posses is their religion and belief that justice lies with god, since their is no justice at hand. The violence seemed like a natural human/sociological response to me. I find it hard to believe that the reporters did not expect such a reaction. It is time for thinking people on both sides to start thinking.

 
At 10:48 AM, Blogger Slaton Jay said...

I appreciate you position regarding the Danish Cartoons. May I ask you position regarding the Christain convert that had to be spirited out of Afghanistan?

 

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