Thursday, February 23, 2006

Mohammed's Turban

This may be a little bit old, but I like Michael Radu's take on the whole Mohammed cartoon crap.
By now, the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Muslim World League, and the Arab League have all charged Denmark with blasphemy, desecration, and sacrilege. A protester in Kuwait said he wanted Danes “to feel the harm as a people the same way they harmed our prophet.” And the World Assembly of Muslim Youth has decried Denmark’s “culture of Islamophobia."

It has taken a long time for Samuel Huntington ’s concept of a “clash of civilizations” to be taken seriously in European and American elite circles, but how else could one describe mass demonstrations in the street and such strong government reactions throughout the Muslim world against the concept of a free press, which is clearly a Western invention? And we should be clear that that is what is at stake. The Danish, French, and Norwegian governments have all tried, futilely, to explain that what newspapers publish has nothing to do with government policies, and it should be obvious that neither Arla Foods nor Novo Nordisk control the editorial decisions of Jyllands-Posten. Unfortunately, in most Muslim and all Arab countries, there are no such separations. Hence, the demand for government action against the newspaper — a call going directly against the very essence of Danish and European democratic systems.

The latest assault against Western values in the name of Islam is not the first. There have been similar, albeit smaller and briefer ones, attacks on free expression for almost two decades, in the cases of novelists Salman Rushdie and Michel Houllebecq, journalist Oriana Fallaci, and Dutch film director Theo van Gogh, who was assassinated, all in the name of punishing insults to Islam. The Jyllands-Posten conflict, however, seems to have accomplished two things in the West. First, it has made it clear that most Muslims simply do not comprehend but nevertheless oppose Western democratic values and diversity. Second and most important, it has forced the Europeans to begin to understand and react to that fact.
While Radu goes too far lumping most Muslims into his analysis, he does bring out a salient point: the trajectory of Muslim politics is quite disconcerting and dangerously departs from our liberal democratic norms.