Islam against freedom of speech
Then a couple of days ago I got this e-mail from someone identifying himself as Majed Jarrar. I have no idea where he got my e-mail address from or why on earth he thought I would be sympathetic to him, but apparently he must have mass e-mailed a bunch of bloggers. A Google search reveals that he posts at a blog, Words from Iraq, and appears to have a blog of his own, Me Vs. MysEIF. The message was both in English and Arabic, and this is what it said:
The attached document is a letter to the minister of foreign affairs in Denmark, regarding what the Danish newspaper "Jyllands Posten" had published on September 30th, 2005, showing 12 caricatures ridiculing the prophet Mohammad last messenger of God -May prayers be upon Him-. The caricatures were part of a contest made by the same newspaper to show the funniest cartoons that show the prophet Mohammad. One caricature showed the prophet wearing a turban-shaped bomb and other caricatures showed him in horrendous positions. This is a very humiliating act toward every Muslim on the globe.
This petition is very important because it's an attack against one-fifth of the population of the world (est. 1,300,000,000 Muslims in the world today), and it's important because it breaks the code of ethics of the International World Federation Council of Media and Media-People, which explicitly prohibits any action or behavior that might raise the risk of discrimination against any group of people based on their religion, sex or any social differences. This is exactly what the Danish newspaper had done with that unacceptable hideous action.
This is an attack against Islam and the Muslim population of the world, this is also an attack against Christianity and Judaism; Mohammad after all brought a message from the same one God who sent the massage to Jesus and Mosses, prophets of God may peace be upon them. This is also an attack against anyone who wants to live in a world free of discrimination; who amongst us accepts to see their religion being insulted in public media?
Please, help your Muslim brothers and sisters around the world saving the dignity of this religion; help us stop the discrimination against any peoples around the globe.
You may send the attached document to the email of the Danish ministry of foreign affairs at firstname.lastname@example.org
It would be very appreciated if you help spreading the message around as much as you can.
Thank you and God bless you all.
The letter itself said:
To: _Dr. Per Stig Mller, Minister of the foreign affairs of the Denmark
We have reviewed what some of the news agencies dealt with concerning the Danish news agency Jyllands-Posten had published, which I believe it to be a heinous mistake and dreadful deviation from the path of justice, reverence and equality. The said agency published 12 cartoon caricatures on the 30th of September, 2005, ridiculing The Messenger Mohammed. One of these cartoons pictures Allah's Messenger (prayers be upon him), wearing a turban that resembles a bomb wrapped around his head. What a pathetic projection! The news and the cartoons were horrifying and extremely disturbing to us.
We believe all Muslims who read, viewed or learned about this news were equally saddened, disappointed and disturbed. All criticized such work and felt awful and dismayed about it. Similarly, I do believe that all sane and wise people would feel the same about it.
The contemporary world is witnessing today great much confusion all over. Innocent blood is being shed. Innocent lives are being harvested by oppression and transgression. We are in utmost need to spread peace, justice and love all over the world. We need to call for the respect and reverence of all Divine and heavenly Messages and Scriptures. By doing so, we would be able to preserve the divine messages and demonstrate love, appreciation and reverence to the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, the Almighty to this world.
We would further help to preserve the souls, honor and belongings of all mankind all-over-the-world. We would further demonstrate the respect and honor of the human rights all over the world.
The claim of Jyllands-Posten newspaper that they allow, promote and practice freedom-of-speech, by publishing cartoons ridiculing Mohammed the Prophet of Islam, is a non-convincing claim. All worlds' constitutions and international organizations insist on and demand to respect all the Prophets and Messengers of Allah, the Almighty. Moreover, they confirm the necessity to respect the Divine Messages, respect others and do not attack the privacy, dignity and honor and principles of others.
In the International World Federation Council of media and press people, it is stated:
Therefore, we also base our opinion and/or statements herein on an honest and sound media proclamation requesting the Danish newspaper to apologize for what they did. The proclamations states: "The media person would exert every possible effort to correct, modify any published information that he/she noticed that they are inaccurate and/or harmful to others."
- Media people must be alert of risks that may arise as a result of prejudice and discrimination implied by the media. The Council would exert every possible effort to avoid being involved in such calls, which are based on prejudice and religion, sex or other social differences discrimination.
- A media man may commit a dangerous professional deviation such as: claiming other's work, ill-interpretation of facts, false accusations of others, condemning others for no basis, accusing others with their integrity and honor for no sound basis or accepting bribes to either publish or prevent the publishing of specific materials.
- A noteworthy media-person should believe that it is their duty to give an honest attention to the aforementioned items and through the general framework of the law in each country.
Undoubtedly, what the Danish newspaper; Jyllands-Posten published is harmful not only for more than two hundred thousand Danish citizen, but also to more than one-billion-three-hundred-million Muslims along with others who are fair and just people. All these hurt people honor, respect and love Mohammed the Prophet. This action will continue to hurt and harm all Muslims so long we live on this earth. Denmark, if does not deal with this problem on a fair ground, will also continue to be a source of harm and convulsion to many Muslims. This is because of the mentality of some Danish individuals who are anti-prophets, messengers and divine messages.
We would like to remind also with the decree which the Human Rights Agency in the United Nations adopted on the 12th of April, 2005. This decree insisted on the ban of distortions and vicious attacks against religions and especially Islam; which had been strongly attacked during the last few years.
Finally, we would like to inform you that all Muslims will certainly stop their commercial business dealing with Denmark until the Danish Government openly and officially apologize for the shameful attack to the person of Allah's Messenger -may prayers be upon Him- by Jyllands-Posten newspaper.
Alright. This Majed Jarrar guy got my attention. I had never seen the actual cartoons; so I went looking for them. They weren't hard to find. Michelle Malkin, as much as I normally detest her, has posted them, as has fellow RINO The Commissar (whom I do like). Looking at these cartoons, what do I think? Most of the cartoons are surprisingly mild, actually, way milder than I had expected, given the uproar. True, a couple are rather tasteless and bordering on racist, but none of them are beyond the pale or any worse than many cartoons that Christians or Jews might consider sacrilegious or than many of the tirades against atheists that we can easily find in the press and on the Internet.
My first reaction was to respond with an e-mail telling Mr. Jarrar to grow a thicker skin. The price of freedom is that sometimes there will be people who will criticize or insult your most cherished beliefs. Deal with it.
Then I thought a little more and composed this:
I forwarded the above response to the Danish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.Dear Mr. Jarrar:
I received your e-mail requesting my support in sending a letter to Denmark's Minister of Foreign affairs asking him to pressure Jyllands-Posten to apologize. I regret to inform you that I cannot and will not comply, nor do I support your effort. I understand that the cartoons offended you and your fellow Muslims. However, perhaps the single most important right in a democracy is the right to freedom of speech. It is from this right that nearly all of our other rights flow. Most of the cartoons that Jyllands-Posten published in September were, in fact, rather mild. A minority of them could be considered somewhat offensive or borderline racist.
I would perhaps have more sympathy for you if you and your fellow Muslims were not trying to pressure the Danish government to demand an apology from the editors of Jyllands-Posten and to pressure the French, German, and Norwegian governments to censor or punish the newspapers in those countries that recently republished the cartoons as an act of solidarity. Such an action reveals a profound misunderstanding of the nature of a free nation. In such nations, the government is intentionally severely limited in its abilities to punish or otherwise limit its citizens' exercise of free speech, and its media outlets are not controlled by the state. Also, even though it is within the purview of your right to free speech, I also think that the boycott of Danish goods being threatened by you and your fellow Muslims is misguided and counterproductive. It will only harden the attitudes of Europeans to you. Nonetheless, if that is the way you wish to register your displeasure, it is your right as free speech. Unfortunately, I've learned some of your fellow Muslims are petitioning the U.N. for a resolution banning "contempt of religious beliefs" for member nations. Such a resolution is incompatible with our First Amendment; and I cannot support it, either. In fact, I oppose such a resolution as vigorously as I oppose any threat to free speech here in the U.S. I fully support the refusal of Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Denmark's Prime Minister, to capitulate to your demands and the threats of more radical Muslims.
There is little doubt that the cartoons published by the Jyllands-Posten were a deliberate attempt to be provocative. Annoyance at such antics is the price we pay for freedom. The editors wanted a reaction from you, and you and your fellow Muslims sure delivered, in the process seemingly confirming the very stereotypes that some of the cartoons portrayed. Consider this: I personally am highly angered and offended by, for example, the recent anti-Semitic remarks and denial of the Holocaust by the President of Iran, one of your fellow Muslims, as well as his calling a conference to question the historicity of the Holocaust. I consider his speech every bit as hateful and ignorant as you no doubt consider the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. Even so, I would not support an effort to to suppress his speech through actions by governments and the U.N.. The same is true of noted Holocaust denier David Irving, whose trial for Holocaust denial I cannot support and whose imprisonment I view as wrong. Free speech means little if it doesn't mean freedom for people with offensive views to express them. Protest, yes. Counter the offending speech with speech of my own, yes. Try to have the govenrment or U.N. suppress that speech? Never! Threaten violence, as Palestinians did when they took over the E.U. office in Gaza the other day? Absolutely not!
Tolerating views that no one finds offensive is easy; tolerating views that deeply offend is not. Consequently, I strongly oppose your effort to impose your beliefs (that Mohammed should not be portayed in pictures or mocked) on those who do not share your religion. I also can't help but note a whiff of hypocrisy here. Unlike the media in Denmark, France, Germany, and Norway, the media in many Muslim nations in the Middle East are state controlled, and many of these state-controlled media outlets run vile and anti-Semitic programming, treating as true conspiracy-laden anti-Jewish propaganda, such as The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, Holocaust denial, and the Blood Libel (see also here and here). You do realize, do you not, that, if your fellow Muslims succeed in persuading the U.N. to ban misrepresentations, criticisms, and mockery of religions, certain Muslim countries would certainly be among the absolute worst offenders in that respect. They would either have to stop broadcasting such hate-filled anti-Jewish propaganda or be subject to sanctions.
Be very careful what you wish for; you may get it and not like the consequences.
I understand that your religion teaches you that these images published in Denmark are sacrilegious. So were Piss Christ and an image of the Virgin Mary made of elephant dung sacrilegious to many Christians, who protested vigorously but did not threaten violence (although sadly, in the latter case, some did try to have then New York Mayor Rudy Guliani remove the image from the Brooklyn Museum). We even have toys that many Christians would consider blasphemous, such as Answer Me Jesus (a pink statue of Jesus that functions like a Magic Eight Ball, two of whose answers are, "I'll have to ask my Dad" and "I died for this?"); cartoons like God-Man, The Superhero With Omnipotent Powers; art exhibits that are intentionally sacrilegious to Catholics; and parodies that range from mild to truly offensive, sampling of which can be found in Ads That Shouldn't Have Jesus In Them. At the risk of offending you, my advice to you is: Grow a thicker skin. Not everyone follows the Muslim faith, and some even hold it in contempt, just as many Muslims clearly hold the Jewish and Christian faiths in contempt. If your faith is so threatened by a bunch of snotty cartoonists thumbing their noses at your Prophet that you feel compelled to try to pressure governments to punish the cartoonists and ban criticism of religion, then I have a hard time not concluding that it is not particularly strong. A person's religious beliefs should be no more protected from criticism or ridicule than a person's political beliefs, and there is no "right" to be free from speech that offends you.