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?
Filed under: Media in Syria | Tagged: Catholic, Catholic Church, Catholicism, Damascus, Danish Cartoons, Dutch Movies, Forward Magazine, Intolerance, Islam, Israel, Israeli, Jesus, MP, Muslims, Native Americans, Native Canadians, Religion, Religious Intolerance, Scientology, South Park, Submission, Syria, the Pope, the Vatican, Virgin Mary |