For crying out loud!!
Muslims all over the world are as mad a cut snakes, rioting in the streets in
Europe, burning down embassies and nobody’s short of a
comment. Today’s SMH provides a nice summary of the situation, in which Islamic
spokespeople all over have pretty much universally condemned the cartoons as
evidence that the West has an underlying attitude of persecution towards Islam
which, we are reminded, is a peace-loving religion that wants to be respected
and left alone…(and if you don’t, we’ll riot and smash the place up and
threaten retaliations invoking the “spirit” of September
11).

The West, meanwhile,
smirks to itself wondering what all the hubbub is about? Can’t these people
take a joke? It was just a cartoon and would have been forgotten about by
tomorrow’s edition anyway! Aren’t they being a bit selective in their
vitriol? As The Oz points out, this is hardly the first time Muhammad has been
rendered in two dimensions.

It’s okay for Iranian
President Ahmadinejad to publicly proclaim that Israel
should be wiped off the map and to set up a state-sponsored conference to prove
that the Holocaust was a myth, but show me a caricature of Muhammad, and I’ll blow
up your embassies and issue Fatwahs on your newspaper editors. Could someone
show me the way to the parallel universe where this is considered reasonable
behaviour?

What seems to be – from
a Western point of view – a cut and dry issue of “get over it” is clearly more
complex and fraught with traps for young adventurers, and it’s obvious that both
“sides” just flat out don’t understand each other. We would do well to recall
the lessons from Tuchman’s “The Guns of August” which shows with unsettling
clarity what happens when one side of a conflict operates from a position of
misunderstanding and misplaced assumptions about the other’s motivations.

There is less common
ground than most of us would hope and Henry thinks the West would do well to
remember this fundamental truth in the coming months as it tries to deal with
Iran’s nuclear
ambitions.

Read the full article
here.

Peter Fray

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