- The now infamous offensive cartoons have
created a snowball effect in the Muslim world. Everywhere, it seems, in
Muslim circles, the Danish flag is being burned and stomped on. And in
some places, mobs are taking to the streets and wreaking havoc within the
vicinity of a Danish Embassy somewhere. The cartoons were offensive, insensitive
and blasphemous for Muslims of that there is no question. And Muslims
have every right to voice their opinions against that sort of unabashed
racist stereotyping - within reason. But while the Muslim world is up in
arms over the cartoons, that same Muslim world, barring the relatively
small number of voices here and there, remains deafeningly silent on other
issues that should be of equal importance, like Iraq as one example. There
are people in Iraq who are killing and maiming in the name of Islam - the
very same Islam we vociferously defend when it is defaced by bigots.
- Sure the Muslim world is upset at the
offensive images. And sure there are riots on the streets. No one should
have expected anything less. The insensitive, xenophobic attempts at humor,
at the expense of Muslims worldwide, struck at the heart of Islam. For
those perplexed, maybe even offended by the reaction of the Muslims, or
who cannot get their mind around why the Muslims are so mad, they might
want to consider a different scenario.
- Had the subject of the cartoon depicted
an exaggeratedly "Semitic" Moses donning a yarmulke and flying
an F-16 with a Star of David glistening around his neck (to make certain
there was no mistaking the race or religion) and bombing innocent humans
below with a smug grin on his face, all hell would have broken loose only
hours after the first copy hit the market. Jewish communities would have
hung the newspaper, and anyone associated with it, out to dry. And long
before the snowball would have gotten to the size that this one has, the
paper, the entire country, and almost all of the citizens of Denmark, and
Europe, would have been out on the streets demanding at a minimum
- an apology. And no one, in the name of "Freedom of Press",
as some have done with the cartoons that have set the Muslim world ablaze,
would have had the chutzpah to run them again in their newspapers to prove
- While the Muslim world's outrage, on
this front, is completely understandable, it is glaring how, on other significant
fronts, like Iraq, the Muslim world remains shamefully voiceless. The Muslim
world may have stood up in an attempt to divert the plan to bomb Iraq back
to the 12^th century by Mr. George Bush and his coalition forces in the
months and weeks leading up to March of 2003, but they did it along with
the rest of the world. Once the Americans got started, however, the entire
world stood silent at the spectacle of international law gone amok at the
expense of Iraq and its people. Maybe there was not much that anyone could
have done by then except watch and hope for the best. But maybe we all
could have done more.
- Today, three years later, and as with
every day in Iraq since the American led occupation, Iraqis are dying.
They are not only dying at the hands of the coalition forces the
so-called enemy - but at the hands of Muslims or people murdering
in the name of Islam. Iraq has gone to hell its seams long undone
and the ripple effect threatening the stability of the entire region. And
the Muslim world at large is sitting back on its haunches watching
no demonstrations, no nothing, only frustrations at the rape of Iraq by
the West. There is hardly any mention of the bludgeoning of humans in the
name of Islam.
- When the subject does come up, however,
many Muslims conveniently pull out the worn-out, overused, throw-the-blame-elsewhere,
conspiracy theories. We blame everyone for our realities Israel,
America, etc. but do not stand up to our own hold ourselves accountable
for what we are, or are not, doing. And while we are busy hurling our accusations
at everyone but ourselves, someone is killing innocent humans - fathers,
brothers, sisters, mothers, sons and daughters unabated in Iraq and
hiding behind the cloak of Islam and behind dark, ominous, cowardly masks.
- No reason is good enough or can justify
the murders of the innocent. So where does the Muslim majority stand on
all this? Why are we not out on the streets en masse, demonstrating peacefully
to show the world that we do not endorse murder we are above the
fray and that Islam strongly condemns murder as one of the most unforgivable
of human crimes? Instead, the Muslim world does not seem to bat an eye
lash maybe the odd tear but not an eyelash. We do little to stop
the madness, to hold Muslims either accountable for their egregious acts
of violence against other innocent humans, or defend Islam and its tenets
to those who do not know.
- Something is very wrong if we have this
much energy, and we have proven that we can stand up for what we believe
to be wrong, but we cannot stand up to murder in the name of Islam by so-called
Muslims. Instead, we find excuses "But it's the occupation"
- The Prophet Mohammad tolerated trash
being thrown on him as he prayed and he refused to respond with violence.
He was opposed to any form of retaliation unless it was in self-defense
and was absolutely necessary. And even then, there were guiding principles
of war that included only targeting those in combat and nothing else
not even the trees surrounding a warring area. Today, however, in the name
of Islam, daily human and other life is snuffed, and we in the Muslim world
choose silence over dissent.
- The Muslim world needs to re-evaluate
its priorities before the face of Islam is permanently hijacked by the
ignorant and hopes for a revival in an Islamic renaissance lost forever.
- Rana El Khatib is an author and poet
living in Lebanon.
- She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org