Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Egypt's Grand Mufti Gets It Right 

For once I'm apparently in agreement with the Grand Mufti of Egypt.  In a Politiken interview I don't see translated anywhere, he tries to explain exactly what Denmark has done wrong and what it needs to do to restore its relations with the part of the world that's currently praying for its destruction.  (Aside to Grand Mufti: Danes don't generally pray for anyone's destruction, and don't consider that kind of behavior a reasonable response to a personal affront, so we've got a communication gap there, as well.)
The Grand Mufti says (toward the end of the interview):
»Jeg tror, at fire ting er nødvendige i Europa. For det første skal undervisningsmateriale, der chikanerer islam, fjernes. For det andet skal de love, der diskriminerer islam, væk. Der er enkelte love, der er meget diskriminerende. Tørklædeforbuddet for eksempel. For det tredje skal islam kunne anerkendes som religion i de lande, hvor der bor muslimer. Og for det fjerde skal muslimer have lige rettigheder og muligheder. Når det er sagt, har de også et ansvar for at integrere sig i deres samfund. Men det skal ske uden krav om, at de skal opgive deres identitet«
To paraphrase quickly, rather than translate (quick lunches, remember): he thinks four things are necessary in Europe: educational materials that harass Islam have to be removed.  Laws that discriminate against Islam need to be got rid of.  Islam must be recognized as a religion in every country Muslims inhabit.  And Muslims must have equal rights and opportunities.
I completely agree with all four points.  I guess my problem is that I think all four of these conditions have already been met--the odious French headscarf law the only exception that jumps immediately to mind.  (Yes, it's odious.  There are girls all over Brooklyn and Queens doing very well at school in their headscarves.) 
Also, there's a lot of translation being done better and faster than I can do it over here....  oops, that was supposed to be a link.  I can't make it work for the moment.  I'll edit it later today.

Sunday, February 19, 2006

Lost Time 

I haven't blogged in about a week. It isn't that I've lost interest in what's going on. It's not even just that I've been too busy. (I have been, but I can find time when I need to.) It's that every time I see something in the news that I feel compelled to blog about it, I start a post, am unable to finish it in the time I've got, and then when I finally do have time to finish it there's something else in the news that I'm even more anxious to write about.

Off the top of my head, I can remember wanting to write about the Swedisih government's shutting down of a private party's website because it hosted pictures of the cartoon; the Finnish prime minister's apology to the Muslim world for the cartoons having been hosted on a private site in Finland; the reaction of various Danish Muslims to the Prime Minister's meeting with only one particular group of Muslims; the momentary political shift in Denmark away from the Social Democrats and toward neither Venstre or the Conservatives but the Danish Folk Party; the ongoing lack of concern about Silvio Berlusconi's self-description as "the Jesus Christ of politics," especially when compared to the furor over another government minister's having been forced to resign for having worn a tee-shirt with one of the cartoons upon it; and, lastly, the dismally unfolding reality that while most western individuals on the left and right really do seem to "get it," our media and governments have put up their white flags.

Maybe that's because they're the media and governments and are so used to triangulating their statements, or trying to maintain the illusion that they're doing so, they've lost all common sense.

Because the common sense I'm hearing from pretty much everyone I talk to or correspond with, of every political persuasion, is this: whatever you think of the cartoons or the paper, the paper had the right to publish them. And the government has no authority to take any action against the newspapers for having done so. And Danish businesses and the Danish people certainly don't bear any collective responsibility for the behavior of a single newspaper. And Muslims around the world have every right to be offended, to express their offense, even to conduct peaceful though wrong-headed boycotts.

It's also common sense that when you start burning effigies, issuing death threats, inciting riots, attacking innocents, and burning down or attacking diplomatic installations, you've left the realm of the "peaceful protest."

Anyway, instead of trying to get caught up and make up for lost time, I'm just going to post this great link to Flemming Rose's own account of "Why I Published Those Cartoons." It's in English.

I'll try now to resume posting on my regular erratic schedule.

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