Danish Cartoons Are Inherently Anti-Islamic and Racist

The cartoons portraying Prophet Muhammad have spurred intense international debate and have clearly shown that there is indeed a widening gap between the West and Islam. As a Muslim, I don’t necessarily find the cartoons to be blasphemous, but rather, deliberately offensive. For most Muslims, any depiction of the Prophet is considered blasphemous. But the cartoons do not just insult the convention in Islam that the Prophet should not be depicted, they go further in offending Muslims by associating Islam with terrorism. The cartoons, one of which displays Prophet Muhammad as a terrorist by displaying a bomb on his head, reinforces the stereotype of radical Muslims and the false connection between Islam and terror. The racist cartoons also reflect the mentality of many Europeans towards Muslim immigrants. Many people who don’t see a problem with the cartoons are most likely unaware of the situation for Muslim immigrants in Europe. The Muslim communities throughout Western Europe are highly alienated and subject to blatant discrimination. Samia al-Duaji, a Kuwait oil executive who spent two years in Denmark stated that “I was extremely offended by cartoons because I know what kind of society created them…I am well educated and had a high-paying corporate job in Denmark, but I was still subject to derogatory comments all the time because I look Middle Eastern.” I myself have traveled throughout Western Europe and can attest to the accusations of discrimination; Muslims have the most menial jobs and are looked down upon as second class citizens by many. The freedom of expression argument used by the newspapers fails on many levels. Firstly, even in Europe, several governments restrict freedom of expression. Just ask British historian David Irving who has been sentenced to three years in prison by an Austrian court for denying the Holocaust (many analysts say he is lucky since the maximum penalty is ten years). What European governments are saying here is that if you are anti-Semitic, we will sentence you to prison, however, if you are Islamophobic, we will defend your right to be so. Also, for French newspapers to re-publish the cartoons under freedom of expression was interesting. Not long ago, France banned religious symbols in public schools-a law widely seen as targeting Muslim girls who wore veils. For France to now allow these girls to express their religious beliefs yet allow cartoonists to offend their religion is by no means a coincidence. I am very surprised why so many Westerners refuse to recognize that there limits to our freedoms. Would many people who support publishing these cartoons also have supported the portrayal of black Americans in American newspapers during the civil rights movement? Blacks were illustrated as primitive, uncivilized sub-human beings. Many Americans supported these newspapers under freedom of expression. Ask yourselves, why would it be inappropriate to publish such cartoons in American newspapers today?In defense of his drawing, the cartoonist responsible for the most offensive caricature of Muhammad stated that “The cartoon is not about Islam as a whole, but the part that apparently can inspire violence, terrorism, death and destruction.” My question to the cartoonist is would he portray Jesus as supporting a part of Christianity that “apparently” inspires negative actions. For example, many priests have been known to be pedophiles. Would this fact justify a cartoon of Jesus encouraging priests to molest children? I didn’t think so.Another thing that supporters cite is the negative portrayal of non-Muslims by Arab media. Alan Dershowtiz, a Harvard law professor, supported the publishing of the cartoons on the grounds that “they are not nearly as bad as cartoons that routinely run in the Muslim media against Jews, Christians, the U.S. and Israel.” First off, there is a difference between making a cartoon about a country and making a cartoon about a religion, especially in regards to a secular nation like the United States. That being said, there are plenty of anti-American cartoons targeting the government as opposed to targeting Christians or the population in general. Secondly, Mr. Dershowitz did not take into account the portrayal of Arabs in Hollywood comedies and action flicks. Arabs and Muslims are highly ridiculed and portrayed as unclean, backwards, ugly, uncivilized people, and of course, as terrorists. In addition, Muslims see Jesus and Moses as Prophets of Islam (in the Qur’an Jesus is the most quoted Prophet, not Muhammad) and could not insult Christianity or Judaism any more than they could insult Islam. I hope this article has helped many curious readers understand the problem with publishing these cartoons on the grounds that they are indeed racist and deliberately offensive.