Cartoon coverage not rational

Zaher Ibrahim and Zaher Ibrahim

As a Muslim student, I felt sick of reading one article after the other in the BG News talking about the cartoons issue from every point of view except a fair one.

The cartoons issue started when a Danish newspaper released 12 caricatures depicting Prophet Mohammad in a satirical fashion thus arousing the anger of deeply offended Muslims around the world who considered this incident an appalling act of disrespect to their belief and a violation of their basic human rights.

On Feb. 3, 2006, almost two weeks after the cartoons issue started to surface in the media, and synchronous with the beginning of the sporadic violence acts carried out by a minority of protestors, BG News started its coverage on the cartoons issue from a very acute angle.

Starting with some articles from external sources talking almost exclusively about the violence acts, and then releasing some articles written by students who clearly showed lack of an informed opinion, The BG News disgracefully failed its mission as a fair, trustworthy newspaper.

These articles never failed to mention the destruction of the embassies, the burning of the flags and anything else that went wrong.

However, the fact that these cartoons represented a shameful act of discrimination, the fact that the Muslim leaders took every possible peaceful channel to find a solution to the issue before any rallies took place, the fact that millions of Muslims protested in peace and the fact that all acts of violence were forcefully condemned by the Muslims were all mysteriously disregarded.

The point of view these articles came from tried to label the majority by the acts of a minority in order to stir the feelings of hatred and resentment.

If we build on the same irrational logic the writers of these articles used, we could easily come to the conclusion that “British people are a bunch of savages” after watching the brutal beating of Iraqi teenagers by British soldiers.

However, this is obviously a distorted conclusion to make.

The issue is not about few cartoons that offended few Muslims. The issue is that these cartoons presented a direct offence to the person of Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him).

If anyone would like to see an end to this anger, he/she must first understand the deep respect that Muslims have for Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and realize that such disgusting cartoons are totally unacceptable to the millions of Muslims around the world.

If you still cannot understand the amount of rage this causes, try using the “N” word in front of an African-American, then you’ll understand.

For it is as wrong to label Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) and the Muslims for the unjustifiable acts of the few as it is to label the American people for the deeds of Lynndie England.

Muslims are not attacking the freedom of press, but are rather asking for their basic human rights and the respect of their beliefs. A freedom that suppresses the rights of others is not freedom, it s aggression.

As a matter of fact, these rights were supposed to be protected by the Danish blasphemy law under which the state can imprison its own citizens for up to four months if they “publicly offend or insult a religion that is recognized in the country.” In addition to this blasphemy law – which has not resulted in a conviction since 1938 – is section 266b of the Danish penal code, in which the Danish government reserves the right to punish anyone who publicly makes threatening or degrading statements based on “race, color of skin, national or ethnic background, faith or sexual orientation.”

Now a question might come to mind; why do these laws find their way to oblivion when Muslim rights are at stake? They seem to be valid when other people are attacked, but it seems that Muslims rights are just illusions.

Some people try to paint the picture with a political color and frame it as a conflict of civilizations.

This is clearly untrue with the evidence that the Christian and Jewish leaders supported the Muslims’ position and condemned the cartoons too.

The administrations of the United States and the United Kingdom also showed an understanding of the Muslim demands by preventing the release of these cartoons in the American and British media.

In conclusion, as we all aspire to a future with more peace on Earth, we have to work together to make it come true.

And as Prophet Mohammad (peace be upon him) said “Not one of you truly believes until you wish for others what you wish for yourself.”

Send comments to Zaher at [email protected].