Monday, February 13, 2006

Cartoon Controversy

Cartoons Provoke Riots
By Morgan Adelizzi

Riots have broken out around the world, but especially in the Middle East, concerning the Islamic Prophet Muhammad. The riots were ignited by Danish cartoonists printing racist cartoons of the sacred prophet.

Muslims are outraged and offended by the cartoons, justifiably, and have taken violent measures to retaliate.The Prophet Muhammad is the founder of the Islamic faith. According to Islam, having been told the words in the Koran from the angel, Gabriel, the prophet is sacred to Muslims.

That being said, it is against the faith to even attempt to create an image of the prophet. The cartoons have therefore, in a sense, defiled the Islamic faith twice: once, by printing an image of the prophet in the first place, and again by doing so in a racist manner.

The responses to these cartoons have been drastic, leaving 11 dead already. Danish embassies have been attacked all over the globe, rioters have been killed, bystanders have been killed, and it does not look like the protesting is going to stop any time soon. The cartoonists responsible for the drawings are said to be in hiding, and rightfully so, as there have been many a threat on their lives.

But which party is right in this situation? Is either side completely blameless? The freedom of the press is a right that many of us enjoy. Newspapers are allowed to print whatever they want, no matter whom it offends. It is important, however, that publishers everywhere understand the consequences of what they print.

Making fun of the Prophet Muhammad was not going to be taken lightly by any Muslim, and the newspapers responsible for the cartoons should have known that. It is unfortunate, too, that the cartoons made the prophet out to be a terrorist. There is one cartoon in which the prophet has a bomb strapped on top of his head like a turban.

The message being sent to the world from that drawing is one of a very racist nature; the drawing is blatantly suggesting that the Prophet Muhammad was a terrorist, suggesting that all of his followers are also terrorists.

Some companies have chosen to take action against the cartoons. Some bookstores have decided not to carry the latest issue of Western Standard Magazine because the issue has the cartoons of the prophet in them. This is an example of using judgment while exercising the freedom of press.

On the flip side, the protests have gone far beyond peaceably assembling. The reactions to the cartoons are obviously angry ones, but the actions taking to remedy the situation has been entirely too violent.

Anger towards the papers that printed the cartoons, anger towards the artists, and anger towards those endorsing the drawings is understandable, but the drawings should not have resulted in the bombing of Danish embassies and the killing of innocent people uninvolved in this act altogether.

Another response to the drawings was one of outdoing racism with racism. There are currently contests to put out an anti-Western cartoon. These cartoons are said to mock the Holocaust in hopes to strike the same nerve in people of Jewish and Christian faiths as the prophet cartoons struck in Muslims. One cartoon shows Anne Frank in bed with Hitler.

This seems to be a battle of immaturity. The “two rights don’t make a wrong” rule needs to be reviewed.

This is not just an issue of the Middle East, too, as some may believe. There have been protests in Spain, the United Kingdom, and many other European countries around the world. And while the United States, once again, has avoided major conflict with this issue, its involvement is eventually inevitable.

Muslims make up between an estimated 1.3 and 2.8 million people. These cartoons are not just attacking the Middle East, they are attacking a world wide religion, and one of the biggest religions at that. These protests will not slow until some social justice is given.

How is this justice going to be attained? How long before the Muslims achieve it? Only time will tell; but hopefully we will see it sooner rather than later.

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