British Press Roundup
The British press had several good pieces of the Cartoon War and related matters. Many of these links are via Watch.Winds of Change. Others I found myself.
The Sunday Times has a column on a prominent moderate group, the Muslim Action Committee, and their demands to outlaw cartoons of Muhammad :
“What is being called for,” said Faiz Siddiqi, the committee’s convenor, “is a change of culture. In any civilised society, if someone says, ‘don’t insult me’, you do not, out of respect for them.”
Here in one sentence lies the entire, tangled problem; it is all entwined round several different uses of the word “respect”. First of all there is a tendentious conflation of respect for one’s religion and respect for oneself. It may be true that in traditional Muslim thought a perceived insult to the Prophet is an insult to the believer, but in western culture there is a crucially important — and highly prized — distinction. Freedom of speech depends on people accepting that criticism of a belief, even aggressive, satirical or offensive criticism, is not necessarily intended to insult a person or an ethnic community. ...
Freedom of speech is the keystone of western civilisation, of individuality, of scientific discovery, of wealth and of democracy; without it, the entire edifice would collapse.
A fascinating column by Nonia Darwish, daughter of a famous Egyptian military officer who died in a "cross-border" attack against Israel and was hailed as a hero by Nasser himself.
But the rallies and riots come from a public ripe with rage. From my childhood in Gaza until today, blaming Israel and the West has been an industry in the Muslim world. ...
Is it any surprise that after decades of indoctrination in a culture of hate, that people actually do hate? Arab society has created a system of relying on fear of a common enemy. It's a system that has brought them much-needed unity, cohesion and compliance in a region ravaged by tribal feuds, instability, violence, and selfish corruption. So Arab leaders blame Jews and Christians rather than provide good schools, roads, hospitals, housing, jobs, or hope to their people.
Andrew Sullivan, a harsh critic of the Bush administration who supported Kerry in the last US presidential election, comes out very strong for freedom of expression. Imagine a journalists for freedom of the press. Imagine.
The cartoons may not be in the British press but plenty else is.
What are you to think? You’d think, wouldn’t you, it might be helpful to view the actual cartoons so you can see what on earth this entire fuss is about. But the British and American media have decided that it is not their job to help you understand this story. In fact it is their job to prevent you from fully understanding this story. ...
The withholding of truth has, of course, been one of the recurring themes of this war. We were not allowed to see the video deaths of those who jumped out of the World Trade Center. We were not allowed to see the coffins of soldiers arriving back in the US. We are still not allowed to see the most revealing photographs of what really happened at Abu Ghraib (the legal case is still tied up in appeals). We were not allowed to see the beheading of Nick Berg. And now we are not allowed to see . . . cartoons. Cartoons! The very things newspapers are designed in part to publish.
A leading imam in the mosque where the July 7 bombers worshipped has hailed their terrorist attack on London as a “good” act in a secretly taped conversation with an undercover reporter.
Hamid Ali, spiritual leader of the mosque in West Yorkshire, said it had forced people to take notice when peaceful meetings and conferences had no impact.
He also praised the bombers as the “children” of Abdullah al-Faisal, a firebrand Muslim cleric, who was convicted of inciting murder and racial hatred in 2003. ...
Al-Faisal, who has branded non-Muslims as “cockroaches” ripe for extermination, is serving a seven-year prison sentence but is eligible for early release next week.
Add this to last week's conviction of the hook-handed super villain Abu Hamza and the revelations of what was found in his mosque and you have to wonder what the British are thinking. Well, here's a recent poll. Let's just say most people are displeased.
The police and politicians are criticised more generally for not confronting Islamic extremism, with 80% of respondents saying the authorities show too much tolerance of Muslims who urge extreme acts. ...
Where foreigners stir up racial and religious hatred, 81% of people think they should be sent back to their own countries, even if to do so would endanger their lives.
There is widespread gloom about the future, with 87% expecting further attacks in Britain by Islamic groups on the scale of the July 7 bombings; and only 17% seeing a future in which there is peaceful coexistence between Muslims and others in Britain, while 67% think there will be a worsening of tensions.
This is also true internationally. While 34% say western nations can coexist peacefully with mainly Muslim countries, 45% disagree.
And this is in a UK which has been under Labor for what, 12 or 14 years? People feel like this under Blair? Wow. This reminded my of something Geoffrey Wheatcroft, author of The Strange Death of Tory England and contributer to The Atlantic Monthly, wrote in Slate.
[T]he most depressing thing I have seen or heard this past week (which is saying something) was from someone who suggested that there was a fundamental incompatibility between Islam "and our democratic secular values." If that's a view that, as I have more than hinted here, I am close to sharing, why was it so depressing? Because the speaker was a leader of the brutal white-supremacist British National Party.
That's pretty startling, I must say. Not that the BNP isn't working this to the best of their ability. Lucky for Britain the BNP is largely incompetent. But how long can a situation so ripe remain unexploited? People are pissed and things are happening quickly. Even a year ago, who would have imagined what has happened in the last month ...