Contribution #2: Aeneas
This was posted as three separate comments.
The very next thing that we should campaign on is immediate and it is urgent, namely, the dropping of all charges against Reza Moradi. Are the cartoons illegal? If not, then why has this man been summoned to court? Are there other reasons that we have not been told about? If it’s just because someone was offended then I’d go further than Polish Solidarity with Denmark went – the entire population of the world should appear in court. Everyone has caused some degree of offence at some point in his or her life.
The fact that the vast majority of people didn’t show up in cartoon t-shirts, yet I imagine most people felt that people should have been allowed to if they wanted to, showed a great deal of restraint on our part and a good degree of respect towards the sensitivities of the Muslim Community. Arresting someone for making a statement, following our collective restraint is, at least in my mind, a provocation that does nothing to dispel the atmosphere of fear and suspicion that exists in many minds.
After the events of 9/11 I think that many Muslims feared that there would be a backlash, and the continued activities of fanatics around the world is not improving the situation. These events have also increased fears in the West that Islam wants to rule the world. Displaying the cartoons became a symbol of resistance to this perceived threat on one side and on the other of a perceived backlash.
If for no other reason that to get them into the open and reduce the fear that surrounds them, I believe that the cartoons should be published in Britain, but not in a way that provokes fear as to the motives for showing them. We have enough to fear on both sides of this debate from our own Government that seems intent on taking more and more liberty from everybody. The Iraq war provoked fear on one side, and the Racial and Religious Hatred Bill had a similar effect on the other. ID cards probably will be feared by many in both “groups”. Is the fear that is being created a deliberate act in order to rob us of more and more of all our rights and freedoms, which has been suggested elsewhere?
The reaction to the cartoons and the apparent lack of response from the Government and the Police to do anything about it, is what forced me to become active in this cause. I felt fear that my culture was under threat, just like the Muslims did. I felt myself been drawn further and further to the right, and some of the anger might have come across in some of my posts. Provocative posts from the other side and the almost ubiquitous misuse of the word racist intensified this fear and with it my anger. The decision on the cartoons and the treatment of those who took them to the rally didn’t make me less fearful either. If I felt myself been dragged to the right because of these fears, then I would imagine a similar reaction from Muslims. This drift to both of these extremes must stop, and the damage that has already been done reversed. I don’t want to give up liberal principles and only have the choice between two different forms of totalitarianism.
I have given the issues a great deal of thought, and have worried about them. I think Peter’s decision has ultimately, over time, made me pause and think, and move away from the precipice. For this Peter, I thank you. We must succeed to protect freedom of expression for the benefit of all, and to enable both “groups” or “sides” to become one and to live without fear. I believe that starting with the concept of Ijtihad as mentioned in my previous post (before the three-part one) is a good starting point because it seems to represent a liberal Islam that can be distinguished from the extreme variety and such a discussion in my opinion will encourage liberal Muslims to become involved in our campaign. It’s worth a try.