Cartoon Violence Pits Muslim Against Muslim
As the number of people killed by Muslims rioting over some cartoons in a Danish paper has escalated, many have asked, not unreasonably, Where are the condemnation from moderate Muslims? Michael Slackman and Hassan Fattah help answer that question in an interesting piece in today’s NYT.
In a direct challenge to the international uproar over cartoons lampooning the Prophet Muhammad, the Jordanian journalist Jihad Momani wrote: “What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras, or a suicide bomber who blows himself up during a wedding ceremony?”
In Yemen, an editorial by Muhammad al-Assadi condemned the cartoons but also lamented the way many Muslims reacted. “Muslims had an opportunity to educate the world about the merits of the Prophet Muhammad and the peacefulness of the religion he had come with,” Mr. Assadi wrote. He added, “Muslims know how to lose, better than how to use, opportunities.”
To illustrate their points, both editors published selections of the drawings — and for that they were arrested and threatened with prison. Mr. Momani and Mr. Assadi are among 11 journalists in five countries facing prosecution for printing some of the cartoons. Their cases illustrate another side of this conflict, the intra-Muslim side, in what has typically been defined as a struggle between Islam and the West.
The flare-up over the cartoons, first published in a Danish newspaper, has magnified a fault line running through the Middle East, between those who want to engage their communities in a direct, introspective dialogue and those who focus on outside enemies. But it has also underscored a political struggle involving emerging Islamic movements, like Hamas in Gaza and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Arab governments unsure of how to contain them. “This has become a game between two sides, the extremists and the government,” said Tawakkul Karman, head of Women Journalists Without Constraints in Sana, Yemen. “They’ve made it so that if you stand up in this tidal wave, you have to face 1.5 billion Muslims.”
The heated emotions, the violence surrounding protests and the arrests have sent a chill through people, mostly writers, who want to express ideas contrary to the prevailing sentiment. It has threatened those who contend that Islamic groups have manipulated the public to show their strength, and that governments have used the cartoons to establish their religious credentials.
“I keep hearing, ‘Why are liberals silent?’ ” said Said al-Ashmawy, an Egyptian judge and author of books on political Islam. “How can we write? Who is going to protect me? Who is going to publish for me in the first place? With the Islamization of the society, the list of taboos has been increasing daily. You should not write about religion. You should not write about politics or women. Then what is left?”
No doubt. It took incredible courage for Momani and Assadi to take such a bold stand; certainly, much more than for an American blogger or newspaper editor to publish cartoons in the relative safety of the United States.
See these cartoons in full size here.
Previous stories on Danish Muslim cartoons below the fold.
Censorship by the Muslim Mob
Nigerian Christians Riot, Kill Muslims in Retaliation
Iran Supports End to Cartoon Violence
Muslim Cartoon Rage Latest Example of Religious Virus
Why He Published Those Cartoons
Nigeria Cartoon Riot Kills at Least 15
Cleric Offers Million Dollar Bounty for Murder of Cartoonist
Bama Riots Over Bear Bryant Cartoons
The Islamists’ War on the Internet
Pakistan Rioters Burn KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonald’s
Cartoons as Emotional Torture and Intellectual Terrorism (Leopold Stotch)
Moderate Muslims Speak Out (Leopold Stotch)
Danish Muslim Cartoons: Blogger Hypocrisy?
Egypt Published Danish Cartoons During Ramadan
Danish Cartoons & Abu Ghraib Photos (Leopold Stotch)
Hypocrites? (Steve Verdon)
Danish Muslim Cartoons: What Would Mohammad Do?
Iranian Paper Launches Holocaust Cartoon Competition
Danish Muslim Cartoon Protests Kill Six
Dutch Muslim Cartoon: Anne Frank and Hitler in Bed
Danish Muslim Cartoon Controversy in Context
Danish Embassy in Syria Torched over Muslim Cartoons
Danish Muslim Cartoons ‘Offensive,’ Says U.S. Government
Muslim Day of Anger to Respond to Cartoons
French Editor Fired Over Muhammad Drawings
French and German Papers Republish Danish Cartoons
Danish Newspaper Apologizes for Muslim Cartoons