Little condemnation is voiced in the Islamic world over the slandering of Christians, Jews and perceived infidels in Middle Eastern news organizations.
Muslim Reaction to Danish Cartoons Hypocritical, Some Say
By Julie Stahl
CNSNews.com (02/ 03/ 2006)
Jerusalem (CNSNews.com) – Muslim reaction to the cartoon depictions of the Prophet Mohammed indicates that Muslims think they are “holier” than the rest of the world, an expert on racial hatred said.
Anti-European sentiment spread throughout the Middle East on Thursday after a number of European newspapers reprinted 12 cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed.
Islamic scholars say that any portrayal of Mohammed must be avoided since it could lead to idolatry.
Following threats from Palestinian militant groups, European nationals, including diplomats, aid workers and journalists, packed up and left the West Bank and Gaza Strip.
Someone threw a pipe bomb at a French cultural center in Gaza on Friday. On Thursday, Palestinian gunmen surrounded the office of the European Union in Gaza demanding its closure; and in the West Bank city of Nablus , a young German teacher was kidnapped and released a short while later.
The violent reaction is not acceptable, but it may be understandable, said Dr. Efraim Zuroff, director of the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Jerusalem .
“The situation is very clear. There’s a total lack of comprehension in the Moslem world of freedom of speech and freedom of expression and the ability of people to express dissent,” he said.
“Why they found the cartoons so offensive is because it reinforces the stereotype of the Western world,” said Zuroff.
The incident “played into the hands of the radicals,” but wasn’t surprising, said Zuroff.
“It reflects the gap between civilizations and lack of dialogue. Dialogue is basically impossible because they don’t understand the concept of freedom and the concept of public behavior,” he said. “The notion of freedom of expression doesn’t exist in the Muslim world. It’s incomprehensible.”
The Muslim reaction shows that they are taking a “holier than thou” attitude, Zuroff said.
The Muslim world regularly publishes anti-Semitic and anti-Israel cartoons. They don’t see such caricatures as “bold and courageous,” but rather as part of the “mainstream opinion,” Zuroff said. “There is a lack of civility,” and minorities are rejected and oppressed, he added.
Muslims found some sympathy from the Anti-Defamation League, an organization dedicated to fighting anti-Semitism around the world.
“ADL is opposed to religious, racial and ethnic stereotyping in the media,” the ADL said in a statement. “We found some of the cartoons in [the Danish newspaper] Jyllands-Posten troubling, particularly the direct linkage of Mohammad and violence.” (One of the cartoons depicted Mohammed as a terrorist.)
Nevertheless, the ADL said it was “gravely concerned” by the “extreme violent reaction” of Muslim communities in Europe and the Middle East .
While it is the right of individuals and governments to disagree with the depictions of the use of violence, threats and boycotts are “highly inappropriate and bode ill for future debates involving Islam, democracy and free speech.”
The ADL also noted that “despicable anti-Jewish caricatures” appear daily in the Arab and Muslim press.
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