Monday, February 13, 2006

Excuses with a Capital E

My, my. It's been a while. So much for all that talk about keeping resolutions.

But before you turn away in exasperation ("that girl's gonna try to keep us reading?"), lemme revert to the one thing we all do in times like this: excuses.

On coming home from two wonderful weeks in LA, i was bombarded with projects and tests and the SAT. All the good stuff we lucky high school seniors have to deal with. My school works on a trimester system, and instead of having finals at the end of the second term, we have to turn in projects. Easy, you think? It's not. Imagine, 8 projects to turn in. Eight. Ai yai yai. Not fun. And they're all due when? In the first week of March. Which is in two weeks.

So you see, i haven't just been bailing out on this blog. I had reasons. Today, i took an environmental science test and presented my history project to the class. When i came home, i realized that, shockingly enough, i had no homework of any type to do. (Minus the three math problems i'll be doing on the bus tomorrow.) So, i went online and started typing this thing up.

Okay, now that my excuses are out of the way, i can get to writing about what i want to write about. This whole Denmark issue.

The Muslim world basically went berserk when news spread about how a Danish newspaper published offensive pictures of Prophet Muhammad. After hearing about all the trouble they'd caused, i looked them up online to see just how "bad" they were.

Let's just say i was a bit disappointed. Although some of the cartoons were what i, as a Muslim, would consider offensive, 7 out of the 12 cartoons (over half) were very witty, insightful, or just plain pretty to look at. The Muslim outrage over these pictures seemed completely overblown. Now, Islamically, Muslims do not portray pictures of Prophet Muhammad. This is a precaution, because over time, humans have a tendency to deify anything of importance to them; and artistic rendition of that "important thing" can be passed on from generation to generation until it becomes idolized. I believe that if the Danish paper had known this, they might have approached the subject differently.

Speaking of "the subject", the whole point of the Muhammad cartoons was to break away the bonds of "self-censorship". The Jyllands-Posten (the name of the Danish newspaper that published the cartoons) believed that people were becoming too afraid of Muslims to say what they really thought of Islam, and therefore inhibiting their right of free speech. The paper "invited members of the Danish editorial cartoonists union to draw Muhammad as they see him." Many Muslims outside the West already thought that Westerners were anti-Islam, so the 5 negative cartoons of the Prophet shouldn't have been surprising. It would have been nice though, if the Muslims had at least acknowledged the other, more perceptive pictures.

Had they seen them at all. I discussed the Muhammad cartoons with many people here in the Middle East, and very few had actually seen the cartoons themselves. The governments here banned the pictures from the local media, and many Muslims don't want to look them up on the internet because they believe they shouldn't see visual depictions of the Prophet's face. (For the record, i'm just stating a fact, not implying an opinion about it.)

Then there are those Muslims who are too lazy to look the cartoons up, but have the ability to go around yelling about how the West is against Islam. Many of these particular Muslims tend to be very "Westernized"; dressing, eating, talking, and acting like "the West". Speaking out against the West in this situation makes them feel that they haven't wholly betrayed their religion, language, and culture.

Protecting the moral and humanitarian values taught by the Prophet is a huge undertaking. Especially when the majority of the world is busy violating them. Instead, the Muslim world chooses to pick on a few, scattered details in an attempt to soothe its aching conscious. That way, when the question of why the Muslim world is in such a sorry situation comes up, Muslims can say "Hey, we let the West know it's bad to show the Prophet's picture. We're trying!" Excuses, Excuses. And yes, with a capital E. Wasting all this energy on a bunch of cartoons when people all over the world are dying from poverty, occupation, and natural disasters.

A cartoon hits closer to the true spirit of the Prophet than it's artisan may have realized. Two red faced "Arabs" running with swords in hand are checked by "the Prophet", who says, "Relax guys, its just a drawing made by some infidel South Jutlander." Let's not let the aforementioned Excuses get any more out of hand, shall we?

Below are some links for further reading:

1. (An in-depth look at the "Jyllands-Posten Muhammad cartoons controversy", along with a description of each of the cartoons.)

2. (An article describing what each of the Muhammad cartoons display. Kudos to the BBC's professional and mature portrayal of the issue.)

3. (WARNING! This is a link to actual images of the Muhammad cartoons. They are not censured in any way, so for those of you who would not like to view the cartoons, please read a description of them at one of the above sites.)


Here are links to some sites that were published as a result of the "Muhammad cartoon" controversy: