Thursday, February 02, 2006
Aniconism and fundamentalism: the case of the Danish cartoons
Denmark, with all the cows and the milk and the sacred freedom to utter nonsense and print garbage, is now a threat to Muslims everywhere. A few badly drawn cartoons, offensive yes, but harmful no, sparked a flurry of condemnation unrivalled in the Islamic world. And Hizbullah’s contribution to this debate: murder them all.
If there had been a Muslim to carry out Imam Khomeini's fatwa against the renegade Salman Rushdie, this rabble who insult our Prophet Mohammed in Denmark, Norway and France would not have dared to do so... I am sure there are millions of Muslims who are ready to give their lives to defend our prophet's honour and we have to be ready to do anything for that.So counter the stereotype of a murderous and jihad-obessessed prophet with a call for Jihad and murder. And top it off by attacking freedom of expression in a foreign country.
We do not understand the rationale of the Danish authorities who refuse to apologize under the pretext of freedom of expression.And who needs freedom of expression when you can have freedom of murder?
Who tells them that this freedom is absolute? OK, if someone decided to blow himself up himself somewhere in Norway or Denmark, then he is also free to do so.Yes, of course Nasrallah does not understand freedom of expression and confuses it with the freedom to kill, for he inhabits a totally different intellectual universe. Did the Danish paper intend this for readers in countries where Islam is a dominant faith? I think not. Did the cartoonist intend to offend Islam? Of course he did. Could he have gotten away with a cartoon doubting the Holocaust or attacking the Jewish faith? Probably not. But Orientalism and prejudice aside, who is Nasrallah to sanction the murder of Danish, French and Norwegian citizens, who live under different laws? And where is it but in the laws of religious dictatorships that governments feel responsible for the artistic actions of its citizens? For only in oppressive countries such as Nasrallah's beloved Iran and Saudi Arabia, can governments can try people for drawing lines and contours.
One should thank the Danish artists for unwittingly thwarting the attempts by Islamic religious zealots to render Islam aniconic, where all representations of living beings are prohibited, albeit the ones that glorify the leader. But perhaps their greater contribution was in not understanding that Islam prohibits the depiction of prophets and other religious figures. Correction: Sunni Arab Islam, for Persian art has plenty of miniatures depicting the prophet and his cousin, Ali. Islam might not have religious icons, but with so many leaders, Imams and religious figures immortalized in pictures and drawings, I no longer understand why it is a sin to give religious figures a human face. If that is not the idol worship that allegedly is the basis for banning pictures, I don't know what is. I bet you Muslim artists will do a better job at depicting the prophet. But that is not the problem today.
The problem lies with the people who preach and pretend to defend Islam. It’s people like Nasrallah, and ideologies like Wahabism, that have made Islam the easy victim of bad foreign art. Some in our region think that the problems in Islam started when “Muslims” could not agree on who should succeed the prophet. Yet very few, except a few luminaries in the west who enjoy the freedom to critically study the origin and development of religions, know that Islam is as much man-made as Christianity and Judaism. The religion developed in the Middle East, not Saudi Arabia as tradition claims. It was influenced and shaped by non-Muslims and Muslims alike. Hundreds of years of intellectual oppression hid the important fact that many of the traditions, including the ones cited in banning figural representation, were written to construct a religion that suited the temporal authorities. What we have today is no different. There is no attempt whatsoever to encourage Ijtihad or scholarship in the religion. We have a few old traditions rehashed and sometimes redacted to suit extremist and reactionary forces within the countries that sponsor them. And the poor people take it and don’t question any of it. Orientalism and ignorance are fought with more ignorance, fundamentalism and orientalism-in-reverse.
And the result?
Yesterday it was a call to massacre innocents, Muslims and Christians, to "defend" Islam. Today, it’s the same call albeit to terrorize the citizens of other nations, who have arguably supported the “Arab cause” more than most so-called Muslims. And it’s all done in the name of a construct that is being marketed as more than a religion, but that is being denied the opportunity to adapt and evolve. Result: more oppression and a death force that touches us all.
I know, I know, there are christians in the south, but they can be relocated. If the Jews can do it in Ghaza, I am sure the christians can do it in Lebanon. And think of the benefits: 1)Get rid of the pro-syria camp, 2)you are no longer in war with Israel, 3)Tourism income will jump up quickly since Hezballah is gone, 4) the economy will improve since the instability caused by having part of Lebanon fighhting with Israel will be over and done with. And in an unexpected bonus you get to get rid of the palestinian refugee camps and make it Hezballah's problem. They can use them as their recruits for their Jihad with Israel, which will no longer involve you. You really can't lose out on that deal, you know?
More seriously the only question left in my mind is: at what point the supine-PC- suicidal West develops a spine?
“Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split, as a general thing".
To most “civilized” post-Enlightenment Westerners, Islamic Law (mainly based on the Hebrew Old Testament) is straightforwardly barbaric and repulsive in itself- see Hegel, Renan and other mainstream 19th century European thinkers who have contributed to shaping our view of Islam and the Orient.
It’s sad to see this kind of cultural stereotyping still persists to that day, on both side of the cultural/religious divide for that matter: that hapless Danish cartoonist is as backward as his Saudi censors and probably views them as fanatical fools; whereas they’re probably utterly convinced that a second-tier Scandinavian newspaper must be part of some “Occidental Masonic conspiracy” designed to destroy Allah and his beloved bearded vicar!
But it wasn’t always so Manichean: ironically, throughout the Middle-Ages and until the 18th century, many libertine Western aristocrats and free-thinking philosophers were actually attracted by Islam precisely because they viewed it as a more rationalist and modern faith than Christianity: after the defeat of Napoleon’s republican “Grand Army” and the return to power of the rightwing Catholic kings of France, several of Napoleon’s revolutionary generals choose to move to Cairo and some even converted to Islam.
But this was then…the times have changed and two hundred years of fanatical Wahhabi activism boosted by Saudi Arabia’s immense oil revenues, compounded by France and England’s brutal colonial practices in the Middle-East and North Africa, and America’s unwavering backing of Israel’s war crimes have succeeding in tilting the Mohammedan collective psyche towards a very reactionary interpretation of Islam, which in many ways is simply a natural defense reflex albeit an obscurantist and backward one…
Isaac Newton's Third Law of Motion states: “To every action there is always opposed an equal reaction: or the mutual actions of two bodies upon each other are always equal, and directed to contrary parts. Whatever draws or presses another is as much drawn or pressed by that other”.
Prescient words in many ways...
Hizbullah does not own southern Lebanon, and its presence and influence are not limited to that region (same for the refugee camps, they are everywhere). So your proposal, much rejected by me, who happens to be from the south, is not plausible or even on the table. And it's not because of the Christians there, but because Hizbullah should not be given ownership of the Lebanese Shia or of Shia Islam for that matter. And Lebanon is too small for such a division and will not survive it.
In the 1930s and 40s, there were similar ideas proposed by extremist factions, but the 1943 pact ended it all. And I think you will find that most Lebanese today are more committed to the current borders than ever before. And we have Syria to thank for this.
I guess another thing I want to clarify is: the Shia do not own southern Lebanon for the same reason the Christians do not own Mount Lebanon. I don't see any similarities between Lebanese Christians and Jewish settlers.
I might be an idealist Lebanese nationalist, but I think my view is not uncommon.
But I guess one can use his proposal to make a point/threat/pressure on the likes of Hezbo.
Throw it out there and see people howl in the South, Shia, Hezbollah and all...It might clear up a few things.
Along the same lines: suggest the Syrian army re-enter the Hezbo areas, and watch the reaction.
Your sympathy, or whatever it is, for the "uncivilized" non-westerners is admirable.
But remind us again, why is it that you live in Paris, away from the unwashed (but sympathetic) masses????
-Governments wanting to build up their Islamic credentials (Egypt, Syria etc...)
-Islamists wanting to prevent a debate on religion.
-Islamists trying to create anti-Western resentment for political reason. Like Hezbollah in Lebanon, who's trying to instrumentalize this crisis to counter the rise of Western influence in Lebanon and to reestablish the ties with the Sunni community
It is amazing ,to this observer, the unbelievable capacity that you have to confuse and obfuscate.
The Danish fiasco in the final analysis does not pit Islam or the image of Islam vis a vis Christianity. If that is the prism through which you see this conflict then obviously we are talking about completely different things. To pass judgement on Nasrallah or any of the Arab or Moslem rulers that are outraged by this "blasphemous" act of a drawing of the prophet only because of their religion will be the height of obliviosness and yes even ignorance and stupidity. The action of many of our political and religious leaders is ignoble only when it defies a elemental democratic principal and makes a mockery of freedom. The fact that all those that have voiced their opposition to the act of free expression are Moslems is to be noted as a characteristic of analysing the phenomenon but is never to be used as grounds for indictment.Once you do that then you would be commiting a most basic fallcy of logic ; attribute causality based on association.
Condemnation of Arab outrage is not based on any fundamental principle but that of total disregard for the rights of others to disagree and dissent. You are free to explain that unacceptable behaviour in cultural and religious terms but it is the behaviour itself that is being condemned and not the religious ideals of the practioners. Yes I hold the right of free expression and the right to dissent as sacred and those that exhibit intolerance as bigots and closed minded.
Although I have no way of double checking on the truthfulness of the item that you have hyperlinked i am inclined to believe that it is toyally true.
It is clear that fundamentalists in general and Islamists in particular will stop at nothing that will help prove Samuel Huntington's vision about The Clash of Civilization to be true. These efforts must fail in the long run irrespective of the transitory successes that they might enjoy because they represesnt an antihistorical force. These Islamists are the bane of all what is decent and they will not go away without causing a lot of pain and instability but go away they will. I hope.
"Rumors and misinformation
The organisation Islamic Society in Denmark toured the Middle-East to create awareness about the cartoons, brought an additional 3 images, which had never been published in any media source, allegedly to bring focus on what kind of things Muslims in Denmark have to put up with. The first of the three additional pictures, which are of poor quality, shows Muhammad as a pedophile demon, the second shows Muhammed with a pig snout and the third depicts a praying Muslim being raped by a dog. BBC World also aired a story showing one of the three non-published images, on January 30, 2006, and wrongly claimed it had been published in Jyllands-Posten.
On the tour, the group claimed to represent 21 different Muslim organisations in Denmark, although many of these groups have disclaimed any connection. Akhmad Akkari, spokesman of the Danish Muslim organisations which organised the tour, explained that the three drawings had been added to "give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims." Akkari claimed he does not know the origin of the three pictures. He said they had been sent anonymously to Danish Muslims. However, when Ekstra Bladet asked if it could talk to these Muslims, Akkari refused to reveal their identity. These images had however never been published in Jyllands-Posten. The society also allegedly exaggerated its membership, claiming to represent all of Denmark's 200,000 Muslims, when the actual number of adherents is believed to be fewer than 15,000. ."
I did not intend to convey the impression that I suspected the veracity of the item regarding the misinformation by the Danish Moslem organisations. Actually and regretably I believe that the item is true because the developments as described fit the MO of those that are intent on creating instability. It takes a sick mind indeed to have the audacity to proclaim the sacredness of its rights at the expense of others. Such osified mentalities cannot appreciatethat "the way of segregationand seclusionhas always been anomolousin our perpetually voyaging species".Their dream of recreating the past, as it existed 1400 years ago, is just that, a mythical fantasy.
Ooops, I’m sorry, for I didn’t mean to offend you or anything: after all, it’s only politics…
Plus, I’m even willing to reckon you’re to the left of Tony B. and Attila the Hun!
I have no natural inclination for the Farsi Imam corner per se…but, in relative terms, these guys have proven time and again to be MUCH MORE SECULAR than say faux sheikh Hariri’s Wahhabist handlers and their so-called “progressive” feudal Druze friends: unlike Jumblatti war criminals or Saudi thugs (and the Ottomans before them), the leaders of Amal and Hizbullah never ever killed a single Christian civilian…
Saint Luke (who happened to be a Syrian physician, just like Bachar but I’m digressing as usual!) once said that "a good tree cannot produce evil fruit, nor a corrupt tree good fruit; and nobody gathers figs of thorns, nor grapes of brambles."
Can’t help thinking of these ancient words of wisdom when I watch Future TV, Iqraa’, Al-Arabiyya and other Saudi-owned networks preaching religious intolerance and bigotry to the gullible March 14 masses…
If you haven't yet figured out that Yes the European newspapers or any newspaper in the world has the right to "print cartoons which portray Moses as a hook nosed scheming hunchback" and Jesus as a philander then you have not read/understood any of the simple logic that is being presentedin support of such arguments.
Once again--you're a waste of space and your commentary is certainly not wanted.
Go blog somewhere else.
If you had a point, than that would be a different story.
Unless you would like to call anyone else a fascist besides Kais, go blog somewhere else. Perhaps you can go leave comments on Scorekeeper's blog?