Monday, February 20, 2006

Moderate Muslims?

I posted about the Free Muslims Coalition earlier, noting a moderate Muslim group. Interestingly, a Washington Post article by Fleming Rose, the Jyllands-Posten editor who commissioned and published the 12 cartoons, points out some moderate Muslim victories in Denmark:
Since the Sept. 30 publication of the cartoons, we have had a constructive debate in Denmark and Europe about freedom of expression, freedom of religion and respect for immigrants and people's beliefs. Never before have so many Danish Muslims participated in a public dialogue -- in town hall meetings, letters to editors, opinion columns and debates on radio and TV. We have had no anti-Muslim riots, no Muslims fleeing the country and no Muslims committing violence. The radical imams who misinformed their counterparts in the Middle East about the situation for Muslims in Denmark have been marginalized. They no longer speak for the Muslim community in Denmark because moderate Muslims have had the courage to speak out against them.

In January, Jyllands-Posten ran three full pages of interviews and photos of moderate Muslims saying no to being represented by the imams. They insist that their faith is compatible with a modern secular democracy. A network of moderate Muslims committed to the constitution has been established, and the anti-immigration People's Party called on its members to differentiate between radical and moderate Muslims, i.e. between Muslims propagating sharia law and Muslims accepting the rule of secular law. The Muslim face of Denmark has changed, and it is becoming clear that this is not a debate between "them" and "us," but between those committed to democracy in Denmark and those who are not.

Still, I think the cartoons now have a place in two separate narratives, one in Europe and one in the Middle East. In the words of the Somali-born Dutch politician Ayaan Hirsi Ali, the integration of Muslims into European societies has been sped up by 300 years due to the cartoons; perhaps we do not need to fight the battle for the Enlightenment all over again in Europe. The narrative in the Middle East is more complex, but that has very little to do with the cartoons.

This is good to know, and it is good to know the moderates seem to have won some battles in Denmark. What will the net effect be? I don't know, but I do think this cycle of events has kicked a few more Westerners awake, particularly Europeans. I hope it leads them to address the real issues, with moderate Muslims where they can be found, instead of burying their heads in the sands of submission (aka, tolerance). I also have to agree that the narrative in the Middle East has little to do with the cartoons.

On the other hand, Muslim commentator Mansoor Ijaz tells us in the LA Times:
The first truth is that most Muslim ideologues are hypocrites. What has Osama bin Laden done for the victims of the 2004 tsunami or the shattered families who lost everything in the Pakistani earthquake last year? He did not build one school, offer one loaf of bread or pay for one vaccination. And yet he, not the devout Muslim doctors from California and Iowa who repair broken limbs and lives in the snowy peaks of Kashmir, speaks the loudest for what Muslims allegedly stand for. He has succeeded in presenting himself as the defender of Islam's poor, and the Western media has taken his jihadist message all the way to the bank.


The second truth — one that the West needs to come to grips with — is that there is no such human persona as a "moderate Muslim." You either believe in the oneness of God or you don't. You either believe in the teachings of his prophet or you don't. You either learn those teachings and apply them to the circumstances of life in the country you have chosen to live in, or you shouldn't live there.


But to look at angry Islam's reaction on television each night forces the question of what might be possible if all the lost energy of thousands of rioting Muslims went into the villages of Aceh to rebuild lost homes or into Kashmir to construct schools.

In fact, the most glaring truth is that Islam's mobsters fear the West has it right: that we have perfected the very system Islam's holy scriptures urged them to learn and practice. And having failed in their mission to lead their masses, they seek any excuse to demonize those of us in the West and to try to bring us down. They know they are losing the ideological struggle for hearts and minds, for life in all its different dimensions, and so they prepare themselves, and us, for Armageddon by starting fires everywhere in a display of Islamic unity intended to galvanize the masses they cannot feed, clothe, educate or house.

On moderate Muslims, specifically, I don't think Ijaz understands what we mean by 'moderate Muslims,' so I guess I should explain what I mean: tolerant Muslims. Since he is advocating Muslim tolerance, I think his definition is different. I think he means 'half-way Muslims,' which is not what I mean at all.

Still, that last paragraph is excellent: Islam's mobsters and terrorists are terrified that the West has it right, so terrified that they must, at all costs, prove to themselves that they are still relevant by destroying the West, first by humbling it into submission, then gradually by taking over. I don't know if the West has 'perfected the very system that Islam's holy scriptures urged them to learn' or not. I don't know enough to comment on that part, but I agree with the rest. The terrorists themselves are acting out of the all-consuming fear that the West has made them irrelevant.

If Rose is to be believed, some Muslims, like the moderates in Denmark, see this and are taking action to become relevant to the West not through violence, but through assimilating to it and practicing their religion within the boundaries of liberal democracy. This inspires hope that peaceful resolutions can work, hope that we are winning over some Muslim hearts and minds, but the rest of the world right now leaves me very uneasy about the foundations of that hope. Is it silly to say that I hope my hope is well-founded?

Well, anyway, here's hoping ...

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Free Muslims Coalition

This looks like a promising organization. Here's what seems to be their manifesto:
Taking our religion back one Muslim at a time

We believe in the re-interpretation of Islam for the 21st century where terrorism is not justified under any circumstances.

We believe in the separation of religion and state.

We believe that democracy is the best form of government.

We believe in the promotion of secularism in all forms of political activity.

We believe that equality for women is an inalienable right.

We believe that religion is a personal relationship between the individual and his or her God and is not to be forced on anyone.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Rent-a-mobs, Eh? Oh, and, Yes, Egypt Too

Instapundit links an Amir Taheri article on the Cartoon Wars:
The Muslim Brotherhood's position, put by one of its younger militants, Tariq Ramadan--who is, strangely enough, also an adviser to the British home secretary--can be summed up as follows: It is against Islamic principles to represent by imagery not only Muhammad but all the prophets of Islam; and the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. Both claims, however, are false.
The claim that the ban on depicting Muhammad and other prophets is an absolute principle of Islam is also refuted by history. Many portraits of Muhammad have been drawn by Muslim artists, often commissioned by Muslim rulers. There is no space here to provide an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most famous ...
Now to the second claim, that the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. That is true if we restrict the Muslim world to the Brotherhood and its siblings in the Salafist movement, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda. But these are all political organizations masquerading as religious ones.

Well, that's pretty interesting. He calls the rioters 'rent-a-mobs,' which makes sense to me. I've heard of the same thing in China, where the government buses show up at the schools, the students are told to get on, they head to the US embassy & are issued protest signs as they step off. The students have a field day; government sanctioned anarchy! Sweet! If you look at the photos of some of the Chinese protests last year, a lot of the 'angry protesters' are grinning and really seem to be having fun.

Anyway, remember the claim that an Egyptian newspaper had printed the cartoons back in October 2005? Well, Belmont Club links to scans of it at Egyptian Sandmonkey, an Egyptian blog. Very cool find.

In the comments to that post, a gentleman by the name of Mohamed charges Jyllands-Posten with hypocrisy:
By the way, hypocricy goes both ways, the guardian published an article on Monday about the same paper (yes the same exact hysterical defender of free speech) refusing to publish some cartoons three years ago citing they'd be insulting to christians and would be considered as unneccessary provocation.

Completely different situation. First, the Christians weren't threatening free speech, so what would be the point? The Jyllands-Posten editor made it very clear the Muhammed cartoons were published to test the boundaries, to see if, after the murder of Theo van Gogh for making a film that attacked Islam, Denmark was still free.

Second, a great many newspapers and magazines in the West have already published cartoons lampooning and insulting Jesus, Christianity and Christians. It's been done; it is, in fact, cliche, which is about the same in the publishing world as not being halal, eh?

This Is Evil ...

The People's First Suidaetic Aviation Regiment test pilot

'Anti-Cartoon Criminal Attacks Go Online'

Or so the BBC headline should have read. According to the article, more than 1600 Western websites have been defaced by hacker groups operating out of Muslim countries. The defacements have included many calls for a violent response to the cartoons' publication.

Defacing a website is not 'protest,' it's a crime.


Previous posts on this topic:
Following the Cartoon Wars
Questions for Mo
A Caricature of Islam (link roundup)

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Following the Cartoon Wars

Instapundit Notes:

1. The New York Press editorial staff shows what they're made of:
The editorial staff of the alternative weekly New York Press walked out today, en masse, after the paper's publishers backed down from printing the Danish cartoons that have become the center of a global free-speech fight.

2. Iraqi blogger Alaa reacts to the cartoons:
In this respect I would like to draw attention to the statement issued by the venerable Al-Sistani, who while deprecating the blasphemous sacrilege, nevertheless clearly lays the blame on the extremists and Takfiris for the harm done to the image of Islam in the World, and need I remind you of the religious status of Al-Sistani. The rage of the Islamic world would be far more appropriate if it is directed against those who blow up mosques during prayer time, kidnap murder and torture innocent travelers, and all the other repertoire of atrocities committed in the name of Islam, It is this that is the real blasphemy and real affront to the name and reputation of our religion and its great founder the Prohpet (PBU), and not some silly cartoons in an obscure Danish paper that nobody would have noticed were it not for this artificial uproar of which the real agenda and purpose is all too apparent .

Both are worth reading in their entirety.

In related blogging, Gateway Pundit has been bloggin' up a storm on this. Please note I have not checked the accuracy of these, but they seem legit.
Gateway Pundit links to a Freedom for Egyptians post claiming the Danish cartoons were published in Egypt five months ago, resulting in no riots.
He then points us to evidence that
[t]he organisation Islamic Society in Denmark toured the Middle-East to create awareness about the cartoons, bringing 3 additional images, which HAD NEVER been published in any media source. Evidently, the originals were not offensive enough for the trip so they had to add these three...
He had scans of the three additional cartoons and has more information on the activities of this group.

While I haven't checked out Gateway Pundit's story, The Belmont Club has verified one of the additional cartoons, and that it was shown by the BBC who mistakenly claimed it was one of the Jyllands-Posten cartoons. The BBC regrets the error, I'm sure.

Belmont Club also gives a very interesting analysis that you'll have to read nearly all of to get to this:
I think this time the terror puppet masters have miscalculated. They should have remembered that the key to every successful protection racket is keeping your own muscle from making independent demands and maintaining the rate of extortion low enough to make it less trouble to pay than to fight.

So maybe this is about a little more than just 12 cartoons of Muhammed. Obviously, in dictatorships, the government has to aquiesce to any public demonstrations. What are the political goals being pursued in this fight? Hmmm ...

For some very interesting thoughts, I've been following the intriguing blog All Things Beautiful. Her posts, Is There Any Difference Between Exquisitely Refined Multicultural Sensitivity And Shari'a:
But upon reflection, perhaps we as a nation can for once sit back during the predominantly European contest of who are the courageous and who are the cowards. Because, as The Telegraph affirms, "for let us not delude ourselves: it is organized violence, or the threat of violence, that has driven the decisions that have been made in the past week".

We as a nation are far beyond the point of rhetoric in proving our resolve to protect and defend our secular democracy and our civil liberties, and, may I remind you all, those of our allies too!
and Is Western Liberalism Modifying Its Core Beliefs:
At the core are the implicit flaws inherent in the dictum of both Multiculturalism and Political Correctness, best summarized by the brilliant, but fatally academic (I'll get to the 'fatally' in a moment) Professor Stanley Fish essay, 'Boutique Multiculturalism, or Why Liberals Are Incapable of Thinking about Hate Speech'.
are particularly insightful, I thought.

Anyway, over at Captain's Quarters, Captain Ed posts:
A few people have already reminded backers of the cartoonists of Christian outrage over Andres Serrano's "Piss Christ", a picture of a crucifix dunked into a beaker of urine. Other artistic depictions of Christian iconography have also gathered vitriol from religious and conservative circles, such as Chris Ofili's "Holy Virgin Mary".

However, the two issues differ in one important aspect. The exhibitions of the two artists mentioned received federal funds for staging these pieces of "art", and the reaction to their poor taste came from the support of the National Endowment for the Arts. No one disputed the right of the artists to create their offensive displays, but what really rankled most was that their money went into funding their exhibitions.

Actually, the two issues differ in one important aspect: Christians didn't threaten to kill the artists or bomb the museums, nor did they burn down an embassy, or even anyone's flag. The other aspects are of far lesser importance.

Finally, sorry to give you even more of what you've probably already read at Instapundit, but this had to be linked. Jewish Street Explodes:
April 1, 2006. New York -- In response to a series of offensive cartoons published in an Iranian newspaper and subsequently printed in every newspaper around the globe, including many which had refused to publish the now-forgotten "anti-Muslim" cartoons last winter, the "Jewish street" erupted. At Brandeis University, a course on Lesbian motifs in Yiddish literature was briefly interrupted as students asked their professor what he thought about the controversy ...


Previous post on this topic: Questions for Mo

Questions for Mo

A blogger by the name of mo visited my link roundup, A Caricature of Islam, and left a message:
I really was upset about the cartoons. Why make such cartoons when they are infactual and false?
If people really read about the prophet peace be upon him they would realise he was a mercy to mankind.
Moreover, as Muslims we aren't allowed to draw pictures of Prophets, furthermore, we aren't meant to disrespect someone elses religion. We respect all prophets, Moses, Abraham, Jesus, so why not respect our dear Prophet

Frankly, I understand if Muslims are offended by some of the cartoons published by Jyllands-Posten. I have been offended by other cartoons published about causes I care deeply about.

However, Muslims threatening to kill the cartoonists and bomb the newspaper, and actually burning the Danish and Norwegian embassies, only make me think the cartoons were accurate. Mo, what do you say about the violent response of Muslims? Are threats and violence an appropriate response? If so, if Muslims do not condemn such acts, or if they make excuses ("but these people were very angry when they did these things ..."), then the cartoons were quite right.

Also, whether or not you respect the prophet Jesus is meaningless, because he is a Muslim figure. A Muslim respecting the prophet Jesus is not tolerance, it is merely following Islam. Real tolerance would be respecting the Christian divine Jesus, the Son of God, the Savior of humanity, one part of the Holy Trinity, when you don't believe he is any of that. Because that's what you are asking; you are asking Westerners to respect your religion, a religion most of us consider utterly false.

So what do you say, Mo? Do you only respect your own Muslim prophet Jesus, or do you respect Christianity and Christian beliefs and symbols? And given that many in the West are atheists, do you respect them? Do they have a right to not believe in any religion and to express their beliefs openly in articles and cartoons? There are several Buddhist temples in my hometown; do you also respect Buddhism and Buddhists?

Basically, what I'm asking, Mo, is are Muslims tolerant, or are they simply demanding we all become Muslims?

Sunday, February 05, 2006

A Caricature of Islam

I was just mentioning how the opposition are making clowns out of themselves, and now we have the Cartoon Muhammed Outrage. How's a blogger gonna get a laugh when reality is using up his punch lines?

Update: Mo, a Muslim blogger, posts a comment, and I reply.
Update 2: More coverage and deeper analysis of the situation at Following the Cartoon Wars.
Update 3 (Feb. 19): Moderate Muslims?

Roundup of Roundups Updated Below:


  • All Things Beautiful posts "The Cartoon War," which has a lot of great information and a link roundup three times as big as this one, with little overlap.

  • Protein Wisdom addresses the philosophy of it all in "Identity Politics".*

  • FrontPage has an excellent article covering the reactions to the cartoons.

  • Belmont Club has a brief but excellent post.

  • The Moderate Voice has an alternative view and interesting series of comments below.

Did I miss any good ones?

(Mug tip to Inaka Yabanjin for the link to Face of Muhammed. All the new links are from The Gates of Vienna, All Things Beautiful, and Protein Wisdom roundups.)

*Does anyone else find the term 'will to power' tremendously grating?

Friday, February 03, 2006

Advice Needed


The deadline passed, the decision was made, & I thought the post a bit too personal to leave up. Anne & Jean, thank you very much for your thoughts.

I'll post something in the comments on the results.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Was I the Only One ...

... who expected Hamas to win the Palestinian elections?

Well? Was I?

After the SOTU Address last night, I heard one commentator talk about how surprised the administration was that Hamas won. If that's true, then the State Department has been shoveling bovine solid waste at them hard and heavy on this.

Really, the Palestinian education system indoctrinates them that the area called Israel is stolen Palestinian territory, that the Israelis are evil, genocidal terrorists, and that they must destroy Israel and retake this land. We've seen the photos of small, Palestinian children dressed up like suicide bombers. The Arab world reinforces this, the UN (along with additional money from the Arabs, Europe, and the US) pays for it, and the only party promising to make good on all this was Hamas. What else could have happened?

Or am I just cynical?