Muhammad al-Hamadi, writing in the United Arab Emirates' Al-Ittihad, argued that the perception of a link between Islam and terrorism is not merely a figment of European cartoonists' imaginations: "The world has come to believe that Islam is what is practiced by Bin Laden, Zawahiri, Zarqawi, the Muslim Brotherhood, the Salafis, and others who have presented a distorted image of Islam. We must be honest with ourselves and admit that we are the reason for these drawings. Any harm to the Prophet or Islam is a result of Muslims who have come to reflect the worst image of Islam and certain Arabs who have not conveyed faithfully the life and biography of the Prophet."I disagree with his second point -- that Denmark should not defend its constitutional principles in every case -- but applaud his willingness to recognize that in the hands of radicals, Islam is being perverted.
Al-Hamadi criticized Denmark as well for picking the wrong issue for a stand on principle: "If Denmark has tried to teach Arabs and Muslims a lesson in respect for the country's constitution and its laws, I believe it did not succeed in choosing the right issue. The justification that one must respect the constitution that guarantees freedom of opinion and expression, including the freedom to denigrate others, was not appropriate—this is the trap that Denmark fell into."
Ahmad Abd-al-Husayn noted in Iraq's Al-Sabah that a collision of two basic rights lies at the heart of the controversy: "In the name of freedom, which is one human right, dignity, another sacred right, is trampled. What has gone wrong? Which should win out? Freedom of expression and action, the highest of the arts and most precious endowment of humankind on this earth, or the free will to sanctify the symbols and beliefs that order the existence of nations and cultures?" The author continued, "The shameful drawing by this Dane is nothing but an extreme example, one of numerous examples in which freedom stands in opposition to itself. For the free press has allowed al-Qaida to reach every home via television and the Internet. But we know what al-Qaida thinks of the free press. It is sufficient to recall the obliteration of television in Kabul when it was ruled by the 'commander of the faithful.' " In closing, Abd-al-Husayn warned, "The denigrators of the prophets are not free. They are using freedom as a weapon in a war that no one will win."Read the whole thing here.
[S]ince when did stupid, tasteless cartoons start stirring such passions among the Muslims? Arabic language newspapers and magazines regularly run cartoons that offend all sorts of communities. It would be easier to respect all this rage if these angry people applied the same standards all around.Read it here.
You know, in 2002, 15 Saudi schoolgirls burned to death when Saudi religious police wouldn't let them escape their building because they were not in hijab.
Waiting for my fellow Muslims to react to that kind of criminality with the same impassioned outrage they save for offensive newspaper cartoons has been rather like waiting for a desert-blown Godot. Our community leaders, as always, fail us.
And this from Alaa the Mesopotamian:
I would like to draw attention to the statement issued by the venerable Al-Sistani, who while deprecating the blasphemous sacrilege, nevertheless clearly lays the blame on the extremists and Takfiris for the harm done to the image of Islam in the World, and need I remind you of the religious status of Al-Sistani. The rage of the Islamic world would be far more appropriate if it is directed against those who blow up mosques during prayer time, kidnap murder and torture innocent travelers, and all the other repertoire of atrocities committed in the name of Islam, It is this that is the real blasphemy and real affront to the name and reputation of our religion and its great founder the Prohpet (PBU), and not some silly cartoons in an obscure Danish paper that nobody would have noticed were it not for this artificial uproar of which the real agenda and purpose is all too apparent.Read it here.
These are the voices of Arab moderates. We need not agree with every point they make, but we should realize that theirs are authentic Islamic voices, ones that stand in sharp contrast to the repellant posturing of the Islamist radicals. These people are worthy of our respect and with them a reasonable dialogue can be conducted.
As for the radicals on all sides -- we must stand strongly against them.