Rome, 14 Feb. These days we are witnessing the burning of Northern European embassies in Gaza, Tehran, Damascus, Beirut and Kabul. Both Eastern and Western media are trying to make us believe that these unrests are spontaneous reactions of the Muslim people who are offended by the western insults to their prophet. As a result, Muslims are swarming the streets and burning anything that remotely smells of the West. This conclusion drawn by the majority of the Western Media is unacceptable and flawed for more reasons than one.
The 12 satiric caricatures that have caused such an inferno around the world, and notwithstanding their lack of taste in both artistic and satiric value, were printed in a local Danish publication on September 30 of last year. It is therefore quite logical to ask why the conscience of the good men and women of Islam is awakened after four months and why it took 4 months for their blood to boil?. How is it that the same Muslim brothers who, in the name of God, shot and killed an innocent Christian priest in turkey while he was praying in church, suddenly realized that those caricatures are an offence to the Prophet of Islam?
It is therefore quite logical to ask why the conscience of the good men and women of Islam is awakened after four months and why it took 4 months for their blood to boil?
Perhaps this sudden awakening of the ever so vigilant Islamic Masses is not unrelated to the recent elections in the Palestinian Authority and the problems that the victorious Hamas is facing in forming a government and establishing a relationship with the west.
The first protest took place in Gaza contemporaneous to the U.S. and European ultimatums to Hamas that Western aid will be halted unless they officially stop their agenda of removing Israel from the face of the map and their terrorist activities. Perhaps it is mere coincidence that the violent protests in many Islamic capitals also coincided with the International Atomic Energy Agency meeting in which the Agency’s Board of Directors decided to refer Iran’s nuclear case to the United Nations Security Council.
Perhaps the violent Islamic protests and the attacks on Swedish and Norwegian embassies in the secular Syria were also a matter of mere coincidence. We might be asking how come that the Baathist Syrian government whose hands are smothered by the blood of so many Muslims, have suddenly turned to Islam for help? Perhaps Bashar Assad and other senior Baathist leaders in Syria are turning to Islam as a result of recent United Nations reports implicating them in the assassinations of Rafiq Hariri, the Ex-Prime Minister of Lebanon.
Syria, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Hamas and the Lebanese Hezballah are all under international pressure and have been isolated for various reasons. The Danish caricatures have opened a window of opportunity for this circle of violence and unrest in the region to expand their fight to even more remote Islamic countries. A simple review of official media reports in Syria, Iran and others affiliated with Hamas and Hezbollah removes any doubt over their intentions. The fact that these unrests have been instigated by the Iranian and Syrian regimes and their allies in no way diminishes the offensiveness of those caricatures for Muslims and their right to object.
In democratic societies, citizens define the boundaries of free speech in most instances and in case of any infringement on either side; there are established avenues of action to mitigate in either direction with a view to protecting all citizens’
Burning down embassies, flags and the violent assault of those who don’t subscribe to certain ideas and any other barbaric act of the kind are not democratic devices.
Burning down embassies, flags and the violent assault of those who don’t subscribe to certain ideas and any other barbaric act of the kind are not democratic devices. Jihad Momeny, editor in Chief of a Jordanian weekly asks in a recent article; “…Those who are so offended by the Danish caricatures must face their own conscience and ask themselves if beheading hostages and bombing weddings and killing innocent people is an offence to their prophet or a few tasteless satires produced by ignorant people towards the sensitivities of another culture and Islamic beliefs?...”
In agreement with Jihad Momeni’s arguments I permit myself to add that the future of Islam, especially the modernization process of Islam hangs on the answer to these fundamental questions. ENDS CARTOONS 14206
Editor's note: Mr. Ahmad Rafat is Iran and Middle East Correspondent based in Rome.
He contributed this article to Iran Press Service
highlights and some editing are by IPS