Religious Double Standard: Big Surprise

islam chrisianity in Damascus

By Mehdi Rifai,

Part of me wants to leave this particular can of worms alone, but I’m not going to. It’s been a few years since the Danish cartoons, since the Dutch Submission, and since the Pope’s somewhat insensitive comments about Muslims. Personally – and I do mean personally: These are not Forward Magazines views, not Syrians’ views, not anybody’s views but my own – I thought the reaction was overblown, and a case of things that could have disappeared into obscurity had it not been to all the Muslim anger bringing attention to it.

That said, it has been a constant let down by the West the way they do not practice what they preach at all. They always tell us that we should respect others right to voice their opinions even if we do not agree with them ourselves, poo-poohing Muslim indignation at the above as a sign of our obvious lack of appreciation for such treasured concepts such as the freedom of speech. Its a different story when the Catholic church protests an Israeli program mocking Jesus or the Virgin Mary ( http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/7905884.stm ), or when a Canadian MP is chastised for laughing at a joke about Native Canadians.  ( http://www.thestar.com/News/article/175169 ) Even Scientology gets the time of day when they complain about the South Park episode that mocks their religion ( http://www.usatoday.com/life/television/news/2006-03-17-south-park-scientology_x.htm ). When it comes to these groups, mocking them is an act of intolerance: When it comes to Muslims, it is free speech.

Again, do not get me wrong: I believe there should be room for humor and even voicing opinions. You should be able to make jokes about religion (in my opinion, and only my opinion), especially if the goal is furthering understanding. Many believe that humor is the way some people process and familiarize the new and unfamiliar, and if this is truly the aim, then more power to them. I also don’t want this to be a “Woe is me, Muslims get the short end of the stick all the time.” Self-pity is for the weak. But why is it that not only is there this obvious double standard, but no one is standing up to these groups and saying, “you’re allowed to react in anger, but we reserve the right to have these opinions”? Why is it that everyone is bending over backwards to apologize when all they’ve done wrong is tell or listen to a joke?

Where is the line drawn? What is blasphemy, and what is good taste? When do you say, “hehe, oh, that’s just silly,” and when is it alright to exclaim, “Dear GOD!!! HOW DARE THEY?”

What do you think?

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Young Syrian manager speaks about personal success story to Melody FM’s (Shabab Soorya) – tonight 10pm

forward magazine, SyriaForward Magazine’s and Haykal Media’s advertising manager, Belar Saeb (24-years-old) will be guest interviewee at Radio Melody FM (97.9 fm) tonight. She will speak about her personal success story as a young manager and professional and the challanges young professionals face in the feild of media and advertising –  at 10pm during the popular Shabab Soorya radio program. Belar, an active and dynamic young lady, is also a TV director with Syria’s official television channel. She will be interviewed by young actor (Shabab Soorya’s presenter) Wassim Abdul Majeed.

Carter v.s Forward Magazine: 1st Syrian media outlet to conduct an interview with a U.S President

Forward Magazine is the first Syrian media outlet to ever carry out an interview with an American president. Former U.S. President Jimmy Carter is the first American leader to speak to Syrian media – he spoke to Forward last month and broke many important news, including:

  • The appointment of a US ambassador to Syria is expected soon.

Jimmy Carter speaks to Syrian media outlet, Forwrad Magazine (1)

The 1st American president to give an interview to a Syrian media outlet…

Carter to Syria’s Forward Magazine: I’m carrying Assad’s good greetings to Obama

DAMASCUS (January, 2009) – Former American President Jimmy Carter said that Syria and the United States can expect there are “better times ahead” for their bilateral relations. In the first-ever interview for an American president with a Syrian media outlet, Carter told Forward Magazine, Syria’s first independent English monthly, Carter implied that the near future will see the return of the US ambassador to Damascus, filling a post that has been vacant since relations plummeted in 2005. Such a move will coincide with re-opening of the American school in Damascus, Carter said, in addition to reopening the American Language Center – both of which were closed by the Syrian government after US warplanes raided the Syrian town of Abu Kamal last October killing 8 civilians.

Speaking to Sami Moubayed, Forward’s editor in chief and Syria’s top political commentator, Carter confirmed that he “will be carrying some good greetings to the leaders of the new administration, through my meeting with President Assad.” During his visit to Syria, the fifth since 1983, Carter met with President Bashar al-Assad, whom he described as “popular among his people.” They discussed Syrian-American relations, in addition to regional developments in the Middle East, including the peace talks between Syria and Israel. Speaking of the involvement of the upcoming administration in Washington, Carter asserted that Obama cannot “put enough pressure on either Syria or Israel to yield on their basic principles.” He added, “My hope and my belief are that there are enough compatibilities between the two parties to reach a final agreement.”

The full text of this exclusive interview appears in the January 2009 issue of Forward Magazine (Syria).