I don't know if anybody has been watching the news lately, but the Muslim community in Europe is up in arms about a series of caricatures that have been published in newspapers. They have been protesting--violently--across much of Europe, burning Danish embassies in Damascus and Beirut. Now it turns out some protestors have been killeds. More information here:http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/south_asia/4684652.stm
It's shocking because we take our freedom of speech for granted. The cartoons, which I have not seen because the British haven't published them, show the Prophet Muhammed, who is forbidden to be represented by Islamic law. One of the cartoons apparently shows him wearing a bomb in his turban, so you can imagine...These were published a few months ago, and now are being re-run. The BBC came under some fire for showing one on a television report, saying they had to show what was causing all the fuss. And other papers are defending the right to free speech, while saying that they are not publishing them out of sensitivity. Someone made a good point a few days ago: We are fighting for free speech here, and this community is censoring itself, which spirals into the larger argument that the Islamic community (by which I mean the more extreme forms of it) are still clinging to old ideals that include all the worst signs of extremism. By closing ranks and chanting "Death to the newspapers" they are merely confirming Westerner's worst fears. Well, I'd be pissed off too if someone showed my good buddy JC with a bomb coming out of his robe, but I can see where they're coming from. If you give an inch, where does it end? Demand respect for your community, but...don't burn down embassies.
"They want to know whether Muslims are extremists or not. Death to them and their newspapers." --Mawli Abdul Qahar Abu Israra, a protester talking to the BBC.