Responses to Insulting Cartoon and Violent Reactions

February 6, 2006

The threats of violence – the rage permeating elements of many Arab/Muslim societies – today reached new heights, with several deaths in Afghanistan and Lebanon and hate-filled attacks elsewhere. In my editorial for February, I wrote that I did not understand the shear depths of this rage. Several friends have correctly reminded me that many societies are still dealing with hundreds of years of Western-domination, colonialism, and economic imperialism. To this, add the repression and manipulation by dictatorial regimes – and you have a milieu that, without even having to resort to a specific belief system, results in the riots we have seen today.

But that is not the full story. There are also millions who decry the violence, who stand up for their faith and say "This is not what the Prophet would have wanted." There are those in the international community who have, while defending freedom of speech, condemned in the strongest terms those who abuse it to the great detriment of the rest of society. In the interest of further promoting a "dialogue of civilizations," as I heard one commentator on the CBS Evening News call for, please read on for a few of the less-well known reactions and stories.

  • a report this morning from the New York Times, Beirut Mob Burns Danish Mission, covered not only the riot itself but also the original peaceful intent of the demonstration as well as the Grand Mufti's swift denouncement of violence.
  • the Lebanon Daily Star covered the remarks of the Grand Mufti and others in Leading religious figures condemn riots
  • The Council on American-Islamic Relations has led the way in the U.S. in calling for thoughtful, peaceful reaction, restraint, and conciliation
  • Canadian TV host Tarek Fatah asks, What would Prophet Mohammed have done?, concluding "He would, I suggest, have said a prayer for the cartoonist and "turned away from the ignorant," as Allah commanded him to do in the Koran."
  • Charles Gibbs, Executive Director of the United Religions, speaks about how the original newspaper, and the world at large, could better react to this controversey– and the need to recognize the cross roads we are at – in Cartoons of Mohammed: bad news and a better way