Cartoon Response

I believe in freedom of speech, but like all freedoms the practice of which entails a certain amount of responsibility. Having said that, I do not believe the Danish cartoons have crossed the line.

I also believe in freedom of speech in response to provocation, but in this regard not just responsibility is required but also that the response is measured for the offense. I do not believe the violent protests in response to the cartoons have demonstrated responsible behavior. I also do not believe the level of violence demonstrated is commensurate with the acts of creating and publishing the cartoons.

I do not believe that Muslims are intrinsically violent. However, Islam is at risk of being hijacked by the fundamentalists who through these demonstrations, have proven themselves worse than their portrayal in the cartoons. The silence of the moderate/mainstream Muslim is truly deafening and disappointing. It does make me wonder whether who exactly represent Islam.

I do believe that all religions should en face be accorded a certain level of respect. But continued respect needs to be earned through words and deeds, not just mere existence. Those that have appropriated Islam in the name of spreading violence have only served to lessen the respect of many for Islam.

Finally, while respecting all religion, no religion has the right to enforce its belief onto others. While it is perfectly acceptable to forbid the depiction of Mohammed by Muslims (not specified by the Koran, and many examples have been commissioned and displayed by various Muslim rulers) it is absolutely unacceptable to forbid non-Muslim from depicting Mohammed.

I am ashamed of those who in seeking forgiveness in the name of harmony would so quickly drop to their knees in offering appeasements. Those who so willingly curtail their responsible act of freedom do not deserve it.


WoT: Iraq

I consider the Iraq war largely won this week. After the destruction of the 9th-century al-Askariya mosque, ‘The Golden Mosque’, in Samarra, there was as expected some violence. But note that the death rate was less than a hundred, less than some previous weekends in Iraq, and less than the bridge incident a few months back even. But this is not why I believe the war largely won. I believe it for the following reasons.

Firstly from Power Line
W]hat is not being reported is the calling for calm and cooperation by all Sunni & Shiite religious leaders (except the young Alsadar who remains a thorn). The demonstrations of national unity. The mullahs in Sunni & Shiite mosques calling for support for injured brothers and sisters, national calm. They do not report on the Shiites standing guard outside of Sunni mosques in the south. Etc...There are two sides to this incident. The side of revenge, anger and the much larger side of unity and support. This bombing in Samarah has brought more unity amongst Iraqis than any other incident since the stampede on the Kahdumiah bridge (when Felujans [mostly Sunni] donated blood for the wounded in Kahdumiah [mostly Shiite] in Baghdad). Iraqi political parties, community leaders, religious leaders, political leaders all are strongly condemning this bombing and asking for national support and help for the people of Samarah. This outpouring of compassion, support and help is what is not being reported.

Secondly, the only one who had anything to gain from this attack is al Qaeda. That they did not even claim this attack speaks volume, having learned that there is such thing as bad PR (as was after their wedding bombing in Jordan earlier). They are now operating in silence even in Jihad central.

It really is as simple as that. Not to say that Iraq will soon be a tourist paradise, but it will be more like what Afghanistan is now. The emphasis will now be on the nation building rather than national existence. The battle ground has already slowly shifted, partly eastward to Iran, and far westward to Europe.


Islam: Subverted and Hijacked 2

I found this article today that suggest this is not the first time that Islam has been appropriated for a political agenda.
USING Islam as a vehicle for political ambitions is not new. The Umayyads used it after the Prophet's death to set up a dynastic rule. Three of the four caliphs who succeeded Muhammad were assassinated in the context of political power games presented as religious disputes.

Fast forward to the 19th century, and the Persian adventurer Jamaleddin Assadabadi, who disguised himself as an Afghan to hide his Shiite origin and set out to build a career in the mostly Sunni land of Egypt. Although a Freemason, Jamal (who dubbed himself Sayyed Gamal) concluded that the only way to win power among Muslims was by appealing to their religious sentiments. So he transformed himself into an Islamic scholar, grew an impressive beard and donned a huge black turban to underline his claim of being a descendant of the Prophet.

His partner was Mirza Malkam Khan, an Armenian who claimed to have converted to Islam. Together, they launched the idea of an "Islamic Renaissance" (An-Nahda) and promoted the concept of a "perfect Islamic government" under an "enlightened despot."

Malkam had a slogan of unrivaled cynicism: "Tell the Muslims something is in the Koran, and they will die for you."

It does not matter whether the West view this as a clash of civilization. All it takes is one side to make it a clash. In someways I am reminded of the boxer rebellion (faith is not enough) as the Muslim world is in no position to war against the West, not since 1529 (the Battle of Vienna in 1683 only confirmed the peak of Ottoman power was 150 years before) and is unlikely to challenge the West in the forseable future militarily or economically. Sure they have oil but the world knows that it is only a matter of time before an alternative energy source is found.



Architecture and Art has remained a particular interest of mine for a long time now. Thus as a respite from politics and war I want to divert your attention to BLDBLOG where i found these pictures:

More can be seen here.

This post is also particularly interesting and be sure to follow the links given in the comment section.


Islam: Subverted and Hijacked

There is an Islamist agenda driving the current demonstrations over the cartoons. If the moderate and more enlightened Muslims do not rise up and speak out, they will lose the religion of Islam to fundamentalists' perversion. In a way, this is similar to how the Nazi took power while the moderate Germans dismiss them as amateurs and inconsequential. Before too long, they were either forced into fearful silence or had to leave their homeland altogether. Remember that the Islamists is waging a two front war, one to usurp power at home and the other is to gain dominion over the west. Their most effective vehicle is Islam, even more so than terrorism.

An excellent article by Amir Taheri
The Muslim Brotherhood's position, put by one of its younger militants, Tariq Ramadan--who is, strangely enough, also an adviser to the British home secretary--can be summed up as follows: It is against Islamic principles to represent by imagery not only Muhammad but all the prophets of Islam; and the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. Both claims, however, are false.
There is no Quranic injunction against images, whether of Muhammad or anyone else. When it spread into the Levant, Islam came into contact with a version of Christianity that was militantly iconoclastic. As a result some Muslim theologians, at a time when Islam still had an organic theology, issued "fatwas" against any depiction of the Godhead. That position was further buttressed by the fact that Islam acknowledges the Jewish Ten Commandments--which include a ban on depicting God--as part of its heritage. The issue has never been decided one way or another, and the claim that a ban on images is "an absolute principle of Islam" is purely political. Islam has only one absolute principle: the Oneness of God. Trying to invent other absolutes is, from the point of view of Islamic theology, nothing but sherk, i.e., the bestowal on the Many of the attributes of the One.

The claim that the ban on depicting Muhammad and other prophets is an absolute principle of Islam is also refuted by history. Many portraits of Muhammad have been drawn by Muslim artists, often commissioned by Muslim rulers. There is no space here to provide an exhaustive list, but these are some of the most famous:

A miniature by Sultan Muhammad-Nur Bokharai, showing Muhammad riding Buraq, a horse with the face of a beautiful woman, on his way to Jerusalem for his M'eraj or nocturnal journey to Heavens (16th century); a painting showing Archangel Gabriel guiding Muhammad into Medina, the prophet's capital after he fled from Mecca (16th century); a portrait of Muhammad, his face covered with a mask, on a pulpit in Medina (16th century); an Isfahan miniature depicting the prophet with his favorite kitten, Hurairah (17th century); Kamaleddin Behzad's miniature showing Muhammad contemplating a rose produced by a drop of sweat that fell from his face (19th century); a painting, "Massacre of the Family of the Prophet," showing Muhammad watching as his grandson Hussain is put to death by the Umayyads in Karbala (19th century); a painting showing Muhammad and seven of his first followers (18th century); and Kamal ul-Mulk's portrait of Muhammad showing the prophet holding the Quran in one hand while with the index finger of the other hand he points to the Oneness of God (19th century).

Some of these can be seen in museums within the Muslim world, including the Topkapi in Istanbul, and in Bokhara and Samarkand, Uzbekistan, and Haroun-Walat, Iran (a suburb of Isfahan). Visitors to other museums, including some in Europe, would find miniatures and book illuminations depicting Muhammad, at times wearing his Meccan burqa (cover) or his Medinan niqab (mask). There have been few statues of Muhammad, although several Iranian and Arab contemporary sculptors have produced busts of the prophet. One statue of Muhammad can be seen at the building of the U.S. Supreme Court, where the prophet is honored as one of the great "lawgivers" of mankind.

There has been other imagery: the Janissaries--the elite of the Ottoman army--carried a medallion stamped with the prophet's head (sabz qaba). Their Persian Qizilbash rivals had their own icon, depicting the head of Ali, the prophet's son-in-law and the first Imam of Shiism. As for images of other prophets, they run into millions. Perhaps the most popular is Joseph, who is presented by the Quran as the most beautiful human being created by God.


Now to the second claim, that the Muslim world is not used to laughing at religion. That is true if we restrict the Muslim world to the Brotherhood and its siblings in the Salafist movement, Hamas, Islamic Jihad and al Qaeda. But these are all political organizations masquerading as religious ones. They are not the sole representatives of Islam, just as the Nazi Party was not the sole representative of German culture. Their attempt at portraying Islam as a sullen culture that lacks a sense of humor is part of the same discourse that claims "suicide martyrdom" as the highest goal for all true believers.

The truth is that Islam has always had a sense of humor and has never called for chopping heads as the answer to satirists. Muhammad himself pardoned a famous Meccan poet who had lampooned him for more than a decade. Both Arabic and Persian literature, the two great literatures of Islam, are full of examples of "laughing at religion," at times to the point of irreverence. Again, offering an exhaustive list is not possible. But those familiar with Islam's literature know of Ubaid Zakani's "Mush va Gorbeh" (Mouse and Cat), a match for Rabelais when it comes to mocking religion. Sa'adi's eloquent soliloquy on behalf of Satan mocks the "dry pious ones." And Attar portrays a hypocritical sheikh who, having fallen into the Tigris, is choked by his enormous beard. Islamic satire reaches its heights in Rumi, where a shepherd conspires with God to pull a stunt on Moses; all three end up having a good laugh.

Islamic ethics is based on "limits and proportions," which means that the answer to an offensive cartoon is a cartoon, not the burning of embassies or the kidnapping of people designated as the enemy. Islam rejects guilt by association. Just as Muslims should not blame all Westerners for the poor taste of a cartoonist who wanted to be offensive, those horrified by the spectacle of rent-a-mob sackings of embassies in the name of Islam should not blame all Muslims for what is an outburst of fascist energy.

A Perilous Premise
J'en peux plus: What will it be, moderate Muslims?
The Worst of All Defenders
Why can't Muslims take a joke?


The Clash

With the over reaction to the cartoons, the Islamists have been able to achieve what they have not before. They have now been able to frame this conflict as that between the west and Islam, a clash of civilization. While many have believed this to be happening already, most responsible international leaders have avoided this context. After 911 Bush acknowledged a war against Middle Eastern terrorism, but he took great care not to make it a war against Muslims. In Afghanistan the US fought against fundamentalists. In Iraq the US fought against totalitarianism to bring democracy, rather than against Islamofascism. After the London bombing Blair was equally cautious not to be provoked and drawn into the clash of civilizations.

From the Islamist stand point, 911 has to be seen as a failure because while it did strike at the US heart, it failed to muster a global Muslim Jihad against the West. Worse, it ignited a US response to come into the Middle East. In Spain, while 311 likely cause a change in the electoral outcome and subsequent Spanish withdrawal from Iraq, this was at best a military tactical victory rather than a strategic victory. The Muslim streets remain silent.

But when Newsweek publishes reports that the US had flushed the Koran down the toilet, there were voices of protests and denunciation in the Muslim streets. Anyone watching could have seen that more than acts of terrorism; this was a more effective mean to mobilize the Muslim streets. Unfortunately for them, but fortunately for the West, the furor quickly abated; most likely due to that quickly reported error of the report, and that there were no accountable eyewitnesses.

But with the cartoons, especially with the additions of 2-3 fake ones, all could see for themselves. The Koran forbids idolatry; it does not forbid depictions of Muhammed himself. But this hardly matter, that line is fuzzy and can be glossed over by the Islamists. By conflagrating the fire, the Islamists intentionally are fueling the flames of the Muslim streets. Through these cartoons, the Islamists have been able to play up and highlight that the West are infidels and that Muslims are victimized. Time for righteous actions!

However, the West, especially Europe and her appeasing ways, do have limits. Freedom of speech is one of the most cherished values and freedoms, far beyond any particular ideology. I do not believe that even Europe would be so quick to give this up. To do so would mean the end of Europe as we know it. The Islamist will continue to push their agenda until it is too late for Europe. But if Europe holds, then the Islamist will continue onward, and add this as another grievance suffered upon the faithful. There is no satisfactions until war brings them dominion or defeat (which they do not believe possible).

Dominion is their goal. Terrorism was a favored mean that may be falling out of favor, as it alienate too many Muslims. So now they are playing the religious persecution card by ways of a public relation war.


The Hindu Responds in Outrage

"HINDUS CONSIDER it sacrilegious to eat meat from cows, so when a Danish supermarket ran a sale on beef and veal last fall, Hindus everywhere reacted with outrage. India recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen, and Danish flags were burned in Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi. A Hindu mob in Sri Lanka severely beat two employees of a Danish-owned firm, and demonstrators in Nepal chanted: ''War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!"In many places, shops selling Dansk china or Lego toys were attacked by rioters, and two Danish embassies were firebombed."

It didn't happen, of course. Hindus may consider it odious to use cows as food, but they do not resort to boycotts, threats, and violence when non-Hindus eat hamburger or steak. They do not demand that everyone abide by the strictures of Hinduism and avoid words and deeds that Hindus might find upsetting. The same is true of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons: They don't lash out in violence when their religious sensibilities are offended. They certainly don't expect their beliefs to be immune from criticism, mockery, or dissent.

But radical Muslims do.
This is not about poverty. There are plenty of impoverished in the Hindu areas as well as Muslim areas.
This is not about oppression.
This is about an ideology of intolerance.

Moderate Muslims Apologizes

Something Awful
National Lampoon


Buy Danish

The Danish cartoons that started the furor.

Blogburst at Michelle Malkin
Boycott the Boycott at Atlas Shrugs
Cartoon War at All Things Beautiful
I am Spartacus at the Belmont Club
German Journalist Association Says at Davids Medienkritik
Offensive Cartoon at Crossroads Arabia

More Dutch Cartoons!

The state department is wrong to denounce these cartoons.
"These cartoons are indeed offensive to the beliefs of Muslims," State Department spokesman Justin Higgins said when queried about the furore sparked by the cartoons which first appeared in a Danish newspaper.
"We all fully recognize and respect freedom of the press and expression but it must be coupled with press responsibility," Higgins told AFP.

"Inciting religious or ethnic hatreds in this manner is not acceptable. We call for tolerance and respect for all communities and for their religious beliefs and practices."
It is one thing to denounce erroneous reporting, ala the "flush the Koran" by newsweek, by a news organization of your own country when at war with the topic of the false reports. It is another to denounce the publications of opinion-commentary cartoons in another country that can only lead to repressive political-correctness. Stupid.

In their entirety:

Update 2:
From the State Department:
"We find them offensive. And we certainly understand why Muslims would find those images offensive," State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said in his daily press briefing February 3.
"At the same time, we vigorously defend the right of individuals" to express views that the U.S. government may disagree with or condemn, he added.

Seems that the MSM are misrepresenting this as a "condemnation."