So, the top cleric in Saudi Arabia has called for the Danish cartoonists to be tried and punished for portraying Mohammed.
RIYADH, Saudi Arabia (AP) – Saudi Arabia’s top cleric called on the world’s Muslims to reject apologies for the “slanderous” caricatures of Islam’s Prophet Mohammed and demanded the authors and publishers of the cartoons be tried and punished, Saudi newspapers reported Saturday.
[..] Speaking to hundreds of faithful at his Friday sermon, Sheik Abdul Rahman al-Seedes, the imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, called on the international community to enact laws that condemn insults against the prophet and holy sites.
“Where is the world with all its agencies and organizations? Is there only freedom of expression when it involves insults to Muslims? With one voice…we will reject the apology and demand a trial,” Al Riyad, a Saudi daily newspaper, quoted al-Seedes as saying.
Al-Seedes said the cartoons “made a mockery” of the Islam and the Prophet and called them “slanderous.”
Once again, I must note the lack of context in this AP piece. Because once again, Muslims are playing the victim and pretending that only Islam has ever been insulted or mocked in a newspaper — a patent, and studied lie.
Look at the spin the AP is giving the London protests, and remember that only last weeks, protesters dressed up as suicide bombers and threatened beheadings and explosions in retaliation for the cartoons.
A diverse crowd ranging from teenagers in jeans and T-shirts to women in head scarves gathered in Trafalgar Square in central London. Many carried placards reading “United Against Islamophobia.”
“It was absolutely wrong to publish the cartoons,” said Ihtisham Hibatullah, media director for the Muslim Association of Britain, one of the protest organizers.
This is the spin the AP has been using for days now. They stick in the word “peaceful” to make it seem like there’s nothing wrong with protesting the freedom of expression — which, if you think about it, is using freedom of expression to protest freedom of expression. Notice, however, that the AP always puts the “offense” of the cartoons into context:
Islam is interpreted to forbid any illustrations of Muhammad for fear they could lead to idolatry. No major British newspaper has reproduced the caricatures, and the country had seen only small demonstrations before Saturday.
Noisy but peaceful rallies also were held in Turkey, Indonesia, the Netherlands, Germany, France and elsewhere, although the Middle East was largely calm, a day after demonstrations by thousands of Muslim worshippers emerging from Friday prayers.
Protesters in the Turkish capital of Ankara stomped on Danish flags and shouted, “We will not forgive the ones who humiliated our prophet!”
That’s what “noisy but peaceful” means? That doesn’t sound very peaceful to me. But wait, the AP spins even more.
Arab governments, Muslim clerics and newspaper columnists have been urging calm in past days, fearing that recent weeks of violence have only increased anti-Islamic sentiment in the West.
Gee. Ya think?
So far, eleven people have been killed in the protests – all during three days of riots this week in Afghanistan. A 12th person died in Nairobi Friday when he was hit by an ambulance rushing away a wounded person.
Denmark’s embassy buildings in Syria, Iran and Indonesia had been targeted by angry mobs and the Foreign Ministry said it was withdrawing Danish ambassadors from all three countries.
What information does the AP leave out of the last paragraph? Here’s a hint: The Syrian embassy was burned down.
Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono reiterated that many Muslims consider the cartoons an insult to their faith, but he called on Muslims to forgive those who have sincerely apologized.
You know, it’s the “sincerely apologized” part that really bothers me. It leaves an out for the mob to come back if they decide you are not sincere. And I’m thinking that these people are not going to be particularly amenable to apologies. Because these are the words of the president of Indonesia:
“Reprinting the cartoons in order to make a point about free speech is an act of senseless brinkmanship,” he said in a commentary in the International Herald Tribune.
“It is also a disservice to democracy. It sends a conflicting message to the Muslim community: that in a democracy it is permissible to offend Islam. This message damages efforts to prove that democracy and Islam go together.”
It is not a conflicting message. The message of democracy is that it is permissible to offend Islam. It is permissible to offend anyone and anything in a democracy. Whether you approve of it or not is not the issue. The issue is that it is acceptable to create something that makes you hated.
What is not permissible is for someone to harm you based on the fact that you offended them. But this is obviously not something the Muslim culture has managed to wrap its head around. Let me repeat: These are the words of the president of Indonesia, the supposedly moderate, democratic, and largest Muslim state in the world. And he is insisting that offending a religion is not, or should not be, permissible.
Time to revisit the First Amendment, I think:
Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
That’s what it’s all about, people. Freedom to exercise your religion, and freedom for me to tell you that your religion drools and my religion rules.