Thursday, March 30, 2006

Today is a good day

I just read that Jill Carroll has been freed. What wonderful news; it brought tears to my eyes. I was so afraid of a repeat of what happened to Margaret Hassan.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Cartoon Closure, part2

A final posting about the Danish cartoons. Hopefully with this one I can put this business behind me.

This is something that I was asked to write for a local Seattle publication, and I wanted to publish it here as well (I know Amanda's put it up on her blog as well):


What made me angry wasn't so much that the cartoons depicted the prophet, or that they portrayed him (and by extension all Muslims) as a terrorist. The point of contention for me was the pretense that the re-publication of these cartoons was somehow a defense of free speech.

You can say and publish many things that would offend or hurt many different groups, but a REAL demonstration of freedom of expression can only make sense in defiance of those who can shut your newspapers down; i.e. your own government. As a Muslim, I felt that the constant republication of these cartoons was just about rubbing it in; the message: "we will insult Muslims not just in fringe journals but in 'respectable' mainstream media as well".

Publishing these cartoons suddenly became every second-rate newspaper's cheap ticket to being relevant, the blue pill that was supposed to place them on the front lines of the battle for free speech. Why not? We live in an age where wars and battles have apparently become fashionable and Muslims the fashionable enemy. In the eyes of many Muslims, however, this was merely cheap posturing at our expense, and very few people in the west were prepared to call these journals and newspapers on it.

This is not about free speech. The real question is why insulting Muslims has become such a cheap proposition

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Cartoon Closure, part1

I am amazed that I still get feedback on my last posting about the Danish cartoons. My use of the f-word with regard to European democracy ruffled some people's feathers, apparently. I guess some things are sacrosanct after all.

It's interesting how "democracy" is the modern world's new religion; as in the ultimate value. One thing that always annoyed me was when the many apologists for Israel would invoke democracy in order to whitewash anything that the Israeli state does; "Israel is the only democracy in the Middle East", they would say, repeated often and heavily laden with implicit meaning. And what would that meaning be? It means that the Israelis, being citizens in a "democracy", are first class citizens, while the non-democratic Arabs are second class citizens. You could therefore afford to turn a blind eye to what happens to the Palestinians, including confiscating their land, collectively destroying their homes, building an illegal barrier that tears apart their communities, and generally subjugating them into prison-like cantons under the longest running military occupation in modern history. No problem. The bastards, after all, don't live in a democratic society.

Which is why I got a kick out of the fact that Hamas was recently democratically elected into power in the Palestinian Authority. There you go; Israel no longer the only democracy in the Middle East, their implicit claim to superiority gone within 24 hours.

Not that I like Hamas, mind you. Religious political movements scare me, and I long for the day that secular and liberal political movements would regain momentum in the Arab world.

Come to think of it, I yearn for the same thing here in America as well.