February 02, 2006

More on the cartoons

[can you tell I'm bored at work?]

I've been discussing the issue of the Danish cartoons, the outrage that this has caused in the muslim world and, more in general, integration and multiculturalism with my colleague a lot today. It got quite intense at times, I should really not get into anything political at work...

I can not believe it's causing so much controversy.

Classical Values links to an article by a muslim commentator Safiyyah Ally which finally shows that apparently (fortunately!) this extreme reaction is not how all muslims feel.

He gives some good arguments why he doesn't agree with the over-the-top reaction.
Those up in arms don't seem to understand that the newspaper is not government owned or produced. It is an independent newspaper, and as such the guarantee of freedom of expression allows it to do what it did. It may be in bad taste and it may be insensitive, but the newspaper has a point: freedom of expression allows individuals to express themselves in ways that may upset or offend others. Yes, that freedom is to be balanced with freedom of religion, but even so, adherents of any faith cannot expect that they will never be offended. That is the price we pay for the freedoms we enjoy. Some may claim this is a good time to bring out those old blasphemy laws, but I disagree. In fact, I would argue there are no justifiable grounds for blasphemy laws in liberal democracies.

In any case, why these Arab countries would see fit to demand that Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen apologize is beyond me. If one wanted to protest the publication of those cartoons, one could always cancel one's subscription to the newspaper. But to boycott products from the country? Burn Danish flags? Remove ambassadors to express one's displeasure? Those sorts of responses are just nonsensical. The government is not to be blamed for the idiocy of a private newspaper.

I couldn't agree more.

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