Saturday, February 04, 2006

Appeal to Bloggers: Help Diffuse Volatile Situation Caused by Danish Cartoon

I was not going to get into the Danish cartoon fray, as I feel too much has already been said on all sides of this highly-controversial, sensitive issue. However, after reading an article in the paper edition (I don't know if it's in the online version, as I haven't seen it) on the front page of today's Toronto Star, I've decided to add my few words, and also to appeal to ALL BLOGGERS to help diffuse this volatile situation.

I do not know why the other European papers thoughtlessly reprinted the offensive, blasphemous cartoons, which were first published last September in the Danish Jllands-Posten. Did they not think that this would further fan the flames with perhaps dire consequences? Can newspaper editors really be that ignorant about their reading public? Why were they published in the first place? 'Free speech' does not give any media organisation or individual the right to blaspheme someone else's religion. Did these editors not know that Islam forbids any pictorial depiction of the Prophet Muhammed? (Peace be upon him). By such irresponsible, insulting, reprehensible behaviour, the Danish paper only showed its ignorance of history and religion, and ignited a flame which has turned into a conflagration.

The backlash has even reached Toronto, where some Muslim stores are pulling Danish products off their shelves, and calling for a boycott of Danish goods.

The Star article I am referring to starts with this headline: "Muslim Stores Join Ban",, and states that:
"Danish products pulled from shelves - Cartoon controversy hits Toronto
The international controversy over Danish caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad reverberated in Toronto yesterday - with hurt and sadness in the mosques and action in grocery stores.

Muslim-owned grocery stores removed Danish products from their stores, joining a worldwide boycott stemming from publication of the cartoons."

The article goes on, further mentioning about the reaction of Muslim and other customers, and that they agree with this action, and saddened by the insulting cartoons. The rest of the article is quite lengthy, continuing on page 10, with more photos and articles about the "Cartoon Controversy", showing worldwide reaction.

However, in the online version of today's Star (Saturday, February 4th), there is an article by cartoonist Doug Marlette, defending his work: (Can you believe this guy?)

Cartoonist: We don't apologize for opinions
Doug Marlette defends his work
Insists humour mistaken for hate
Feb. 3, 2006. 01:00 AM

You would think that after drafting an editorial cartoon that brought the wrath of Islam down on his head, a man would think twice about stepping back into the fray.

But Doug Marlette, a Pulitzer-prize winning cartoonist from North Carolina, says he admires the European newspapers that are defending their right to publish controversial cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. ....Read full article here

As a blogger, whether you are for complete artistic freedom and total freedom of the press or not, this issue can be debated rationally, sanely. Please do not fan the flames further by incitements on your blogs. This is not the time for finger-pointing, name-calling, or nasty commentary and opinions. Reason, sanity and goodwill must prevail. As we can see by reading our newspapers, this situation has grown into possibly heretofore unimagined proportions. As bloggers, we must not further this insanity by using "us against them" language, which only increases tensions.

Hence, I appeal to all my fellow bloggers to help spread the word of peace, sanity, reason, goodwill, regardless of your political leanings, or religious beliefs. The internet is a powerful tool, let's use it wisely. Fanning flames and furthering violence is detrimental to ALL of us.

While I am a proponent of a strong, 'free' press, I strongly condemn when that freedom is used to incite violence, hatred, intolerance, blasphemy. Common sense should ALWAYS prevail.

As for those who use these cartoons as a reason for egregious acts of violence, that is not the way show your disgust. Boycott is one thing, violence is another and it only serves to further alienate those who truly may not know the depth of pain their actions have caused. If you are a Muslim blogger, tell others about your religion -- explain and educate.... Those who are of other faiths, please listen and learn. No name calling, no mud-slinging, just rational, sane dialogue... Instead of pointing out the differences that divide, show the similarities that unite. Remember, as human beings, we are all members of the same family, and aside from our customs, ethnicity, religion, we are no different from one another.

My thanks to Syncategorematic for a similar appeal on their blog, which you can read here.

Note: To: The bloggers at Syncategorematic
I haven't seen your blog when I posted this. However, I did just now, so thought I'd thank you. It is heartening to see that some of us here do think along the same lines...Much appreciated. - AMD

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