Day By Day

Friday, May 20, 2005

The Newsweek Imbroglio

In all the to and fro accusations over allegations made in Newsweek regarding the supposed flushing of a copy of the Koran down a toilet at Gitmo there has been little focus on the real culprits. Yes, maybe Newsweek was guilty of sloppy and biased reporting. Yes, maybe some interrogators at Gitmo behaved badly. But none of that is important. Jeff Jacoby, writing in the Boston Globe, identifies the real offenders. He writes:

Christians, Jews, and Buddhists don't lash out in homicidal rage when their religion is insulted. They don't call for holy war and riot in the streets. It would be unthinkable for a mainstream priest, rabbi, or lama to demand that a blasphemer be slain. But when Reuters reported what Mohammad Hanif, the imam of a Muslim seminary in Pakistan, said about the alleged Koran-flushers -- ''They should be hung. They should be killed in public so that no one can dare to insult Islam and its sacred symbols" -- was any reader surprised?

The Muslim riots should have been met by outrage and condemnation. From every part of the civilized world should have come denunciations of those who would react to the supposed destruction of a book with brutal threats and the slaughter of 17 innocent people. But the chorus of condemnation was directed not at the killers and the fanatics who incited them, but at Newsweek.

Let us get our priorities straight people. This riotous and deadly behavior is wrong. It is evil. And no religious figure who instigates or attempts to justify such behavior is worthy of our consideration.

Jacoby rightly identifies one of the most disappointing aspects of this whole affair -- Condi Rice's message for "Muslims in America and throughout the world."

And what was that message? That decent people do not resort to murder just because someone has offended their religious sensibilities? That the primitive bloodlust raging in Afghanistan and Pakistan was evidence of the Muslim world's dysfunctional political culture?

No: Her message was that ''disrespect for the Holy Koran is not now, nor has it ever been, nor will it ever be, tolerated by the United States."

Granted, Rice spoke while the rioting was still taking place and her goal was to reduce the anti-American fever. But what ''Muslims in America and throughout the world" most need to hear is not pandering sweet-talk. What they need is a blunt reminder that the real desecration of Islam is not what some interrogator in Guantanamo might have done to the Koran. It is what totalitarian Muslim zealots have been doing to innocent human beings in the name of Islam. It is 9/11 and Beslan and Bali and Daniel Pearl and the USS Cole. It is trains in Madrid and schoolbuses in Israel and an ''insurgency" in Iraq that slaughters Muslims as they pray and vote and line up for work. It is Hamas and Al Qaeda and sermons filled with infidel-hatred and exhortations to ''martyrdom."

Well said, Jeff. A little moral clarity is very much in order here.

Read the whole article here.

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