Tom Carew / Feb 17, 2006

I am surprised at the stand of some people in Europe on the "cartoon crisis".


Some seek to introduce "religious sensibility" into this cartoon-war. The brutal reality is that, unlike other faiths even at their very worst, a "Fanatical Jihadi Fringe" from among Muslims, [a] be headed a Dublin woman like Margaret Fitzpatrick-Hassan in Iraq, [b] passed a death-sentence on Rushdie on Feb 14, 1989, [c] allowed disco and cafe suicide-bombs against Israelis, as did Qatar-based Egyptian, and one-time Muslim Brotherhood member, Sheik Yusuf al-Qaradawi, [d] celebrated aircraft-hijackers, as in Nablus after 9-11, or [e] blew up Shia Mosques as in both Pakistan and Southern Iraq. 


We freedom-lovers need to stiffen the backbone of the "Old Europe", not add some plaintive lament for religious piety to further weaken Western or decent Muslim resolve. We face what US Democratic Senator Joe Lieberman called a "war of values", not a clash of religions or civilizations. As Dr Wafa Sultan well put it, it is about barbarity versus modernity.


The Bin Laden strain can be traced back via [a] Qutb 1906 - 1966, and Moslem Brotherhood fro m 1928, and [b]  Wahhab, 1703-1792, also the model for Saudi Islam, to [c] medieval  Ibn Taymiyya [1262-1328]. But what of one period of "The Prophet" himself - his later totalitarian Medina model, not his initial Mecca "inclusive" model? When Medina Jews refused to convert, toleration ended - and Islam held that the later doctrine and practice "abrogates" or over-rules the earlier. Moderate Muslims and Western liberal-democrats together, like Dr. Shaheed Satardien in Dublin,  or Irshad Manji in Canada, we need to find the real  roots and routes of the problem, and regain confidence in our universal human rights, and in our liberal, democratic heritage. And remember that, as in Ireland, the atrocity can flow from the absurdity.


The view that "An expression of contempt for a religious belief is an expression of contempt for believers of that faith" is not only pure baloney, but also sinister - it would outlaw the [public ?] expression of  frank rejection of a religious absurdity, such as the notorious and repeated declaration from Saudi's top Muslim cleric, Grand Mufti Abdul Aziz Ibn Baz, 1909 - 1999, and former Chancellor of Islamic University, Medina, that the earth did not rotate.


Equally my utter contempt for policies of any Party, like former UK PM Thatcher's policy on Trade Unions, in no way, subjectively or objectively, involves any contempt for any member, representative, funder or voter of that Party. None of us is reducible to, or simply defined by, any of our beliefs, much less the "official" or "traditional" beliefs of groups to which we choose to affiliate. And basic human rights belong to persons, not "truths" or  "fait hs" or "movements".


Further, neither [a] my objective Human Rights, nor [b] my subjective "self-worth" and "self-esteem" need, or should, derive from my holding any, or any particular, religious, or any other, belief [s], but from the nature and dignity of the human person as such. That is what the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and European Convention of Human Rights, were all about.


Finally, how anyone in the West could mention as background to Muslim disproportionality "what is perceived as an assault on the Moslem world", but ignore the reason for increasing Western concern, namely the deliberate slaughter of civilians - including many fellow Muslims - by the "Fanatical Jihadi Fringe", from Bali to Madrid, or Lower Manhattan to Jerusalem, or London to Istanbul, or Casablanca to Basra, is simply incredible.  


Tom Carew - Dublin, Ireland.

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