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South African Muslims + Cartoon Protest = What the... ?

By mt in News
Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:48:03 PM EST
Tags: News (all tags)

South African police estimate that almost 30 000 Muslims joined forces together to present a memorandum to Danish ambassador Torben Brylle at Cape Town's City Hall. As a (self-confessed) non-religious observer, let me offer the following thoughts.

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CAPE TOWN, SOUTH AFRICA--The Muslim Judicial Council (MJC) organised the march on 9 February 2006, and drew supporters from major cities like Johannesburg, Pretoria, Durban, and even... Boland, a small farming community in the Western Cape. It was the first mass South African response to worldwide Islamic condemnation of a series of 12 Danish cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammad.

For some people who are not Muslim, this protest march seems nonsensical. People ask: Why do religious people get so upset about something as trivial as a cartoon?

Like other interested observers, I made my way to Cape Town's City Hall carefully on the day of the announced march.  I kept moving from the official Cape Town City Hall to Thibault Square, the site of other international embassies and high commissions. When I spoke to a police officer at City Hall at about 10:30am, he said, "We believe the march might end at Thibault Square, but we have to keep our eyes focused on both this site and Thibault Square." Understandably, in the building just next door, the Cape Town City Library was shut tight for the day.

I dutifully made my way over to Thibault Square, expecting to see Muslims and South African Police (SAP) members gathered for possible confrontation. I was intrigued to discover no visible Muslims or police officers. I walked around the square for a while and finally discovered at least seven police vehicles, securely locked and empty. There had to be police somewhere close. As I looked around Thibault Square, and after questioning two officers on foot patrol, my eyes found a very cool-looking police officer, wearing a pair of wrap-around sunglasses and a tactical holster and pistol strapped to his thigh.

If the South African Police have a SWAT or Special Forces Unit, then this guy is an honorary life member. He listened to my questions then said simply: "This is a keypoint area. We are keeping it secure". Knowing there are a number of high commissions in that area, I didn't ask any more questions but tried to get back to City Hall as fast as possible. On my way back I discovered another plainclothes man looking up anxiously at the rooftops facing towards Thibault Square. He may have been looking for highrise window cleaners, but I have to admit, it makes me wonder if there weren't snipers or police lookouts up there.

Back at the City Hall, the crowds were gathering. Some intrigued onlookers, two SAP Nyala personnel carriers, and hundreds of Muslims, of all ages, shapes and sizes. I struck up a conversation with one man, in his forties. Mr MZ Booley, from Cape Town spoke from his heart: "What are you writing about? This is war. For any Muslim the world over, when someone scratches with our religion, we will kill them straight. And if that cartoonist Grogan, or Zapiro, makes fun of this situation, then I personally will kill them. I'm not afraid, they're nothing."

Pointing to a nearby group of harmless-looking Muslim ladies, he said vehemently: "Any one of these mummies, these ladies, they will kill anyone who insults our beloved prophet. Just let someone try to cause trouble today. Together we will kill them."

For most people however, the anger (over 12 cartoons originally published in a Danish newspaper the Jyllands-Posten), was tangible but restrained. I spoke with groups of elderly Muslims waiting while the younger, louder men were gathering forces at Cape Town's Good Hope Centre. The marchers were supposed to be presenting a memorandum to the Danish ambassador, Mr Tolben Brylle, at City Hall.

According to its official memorandum, the MJC demands an immediate and unwavering apology from the Danish prime minister and the Danish government to the global Muslim community, as well as "immediate reproach of the editor of the Jyllands Posten newspaper", which first published the offensive cartoons.

Furthermore, as a third demand, the MJC also insists that: "immediate measures be put in place that restore and defend the religious dignity and sensitivities of all faith-based communities in Denmark" and demands "that the above stipulations be implemented before the embargo against Danish products is lifted".

Before the memorandum was presented by Sheikh Ebrahim Gabriels, the president of the MJC, I joined a small group of Muslim women who were trying to follow the direction of the marchers. The march was supposed to begin at 11:30am but only started moving a about 12:30pm. I walked with the women across the Grand Parade and over the train station roof, through the Civic Centre.

Most of the group of six women work at a major bank on Cape Town's foreshore and used their lunchbreak to show their support. They believe strongly in the march's stated purpose. Our quick conversations went as follows.

Me: What is this march about? Lady One: "They have insulted our beloved prophet Muhammad with these disgusting cartoons. We are speaking out against these terrible things."

Me: I don't think people realised how outraged Muslims would feel about these Danish cartoons. Lady Two: "That's the thing! These cartoons and our anger have actually united Muslims the world over. We are joined together with millions who feel exactly the same way."

Me: What's that loud noise? Lady Three: "They are praising the beloved prophet Muhammad. Those are the Arabic words of praise and honour for our prophet."

When we emerged onto Adderly Street and hurried through the shaded taxi ranks, we could see them. A huge approaching mass of white robes and angry placards. A flatbed truck packed with men and bristling with loudspeakers was alternately praising the prophet Muhammad (reminding us constantly that peace and blessings are upon him) and urging the marchers to be restrained.

The man with the microphone shouted: "Brothers, listen to me! Do not give the media what they want! Do not destroy property! All these shops here, they belong to our Muslim brothers, please do not destroy them." I kept my distance, walking with the SABC cameramen, the freelance photographers, and the police Nyala anti-riot trucks leading the way.

We finally arrived at City Hall at about 1:15pm and waited till half-past before the memorandum was presented. A line of riot police with helmets, shields, shotguns, and full protective gear waited patiently in the sun. Loudspeakers and placards all around me shouted: "Boycott Denmark Boycott!"; "We support our brothers in Iran and the initiatives they have taken"; "Down Denmark down!" and "We will sacrifice our lives for you - Peace be upon him".

In delivering the memorandum, the MJC insisted: "The fact that the Jyllands-Posten allowed the cartoons to be published and the lack of appropriate restorative action by the Danish government shows their blatant disregard for the religious beliefs and sensitivities of the global Muslim community. The paper has taken 'freedom of speech' to a very dangerous, irresponsible and unacceptable level by showing complete disregard for the sensitivities and fundamental tenets of Islam, whilst ironically claiming to uphold the highest ethical standards based upon freedom and respect. As stated... by Justice Jajbhay and supported by the South African Cabinet: 'The right to human dignity outweighs the right to freedom of expression'."

Close to the police barricades, I spoke briefly with a an elderly couple who had tellingly fair skin, blue eyes, and blond hair. I whispered beneath the shouting crowd: Why are you here and where are you from? The old man looked at the Muslims and said: "Why are they doing this? Why are they so angry at Denmark? And I will give you three guesses where I am from..." In my head, he might as well have said: Take care! The barbarians are coming.

You may well wonder: All this noise and brouhaha about 12 cartoons? You better believe it. If you have never understood the term "righteous indignation" before, then the MJC's march in Cape Town against a Danish newspaper's belief in press freedom is a pretty accurate working definition.

Note: Press gag update. On Friday 3 February 2006, South African newspapers were banned from publishing any of the controversial cartoons depicting prophet Muhammad after a Muslim pressure group was granted an urgent court interdict at 10.30pm, just in time to halt Sunday papers running the images. The SA National Editors Forum (Sanef) chairman Joe Thloloe described the interdict as alarming. He said Sanef believed the interdict amounted to pre-publication censorship. The interdict, he says: "limits freedom of expression in that the decision on whether to publish or not to publish has been taken away from the editors and placed on the shoulders of the court".



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South African Muslims + Cartoon Protest = What the... ? | 111 comments (59 topical, 52 editorial, 1 hidden)
This stuff just boggles my mind... (2.60 / 10) (#4)
by Entendre Entendre on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 02:43:57 AM EST

"The paper has taken 'freedom of speech' to a very dangerous, irresponsible and unacceptable level..."

No, it is the reactions of violent and stupid people (I repeat myself) that are dangerous. It still amazes me how many people fail to understand this.

Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.

My point exactly: Ceci n'est pas un op/ed? (none / 1) (#26)
by mt on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 03:34:35 PM EST

Ceci n'est pas un op/ed?

Dear Entendre Entendre (btw cool nick)

You say:
"...the reactions of violent and stupid people"
I say:
"...a fundamental clash between blindly hysterical Islamic religion and blindly hysterical press freedom"

Wow, what a shake-up
Keep well /mt

=== Mmm - hold that thought
[ Parent ]

Yes, we are of the same mind here. (none / 1) (#50)
by Entendre Entendre on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 10:27:24 PM EST

I'm not arguing, just venting.

Reduce firearm violence: aim carefully.
[ Parent ]

On venting (none / 1) (#59)
by mt on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 12:19:55 AM EST

Dear Entendre Entendre Noted with a wry smile and quiet salute of affirmation. Thanks! Besides: venting is good (especially with a wickedly sharp blade)

=== Mmm - hold that thought
[ Parent ]

I originally passed on this... (1.00 / 3) (#32)
by akostic on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 04:20:17 PM EST

...because I've grown sick of the whole deal. Everywhere I go, I see "My take on the cartoons" and it's grown very tiresome. Boredom at work gave me reason to read your article and I'm happy I did. Great Work! Execellent take on the matter. +1FP
"After an indeterminate amount of time trading insane laughter with the retards, I grew curious and tapped on the window." - osm
Agreed (1.00 / 2) (#34)
by tty on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 04:44:32 PM EST

Almost didn't read as the title suggested yet another try at cartoon discussion. But it is a different take and I found it interesting. Maybe change the title?

[ Parent ]
Yup, (2.50 / 2) (#40)
by akostic on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 05:59:28 PM EST

A less descriptive title like "March in Cape Town" would probably be even more effective.
"After an indeterminate amount of time trading insane laughter with the retards, I grew curious and tapped on the window." - osm
[ Parent ]
Much appreciated -> (none / 1) (#58)
by mt on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 12:15:25 AM EST

Dear akostic Much appreciated feedback. Peace be upon you ;) I assume that some people write because they believe they have something of value to offer (but hell they need to eat too). I feel honoured to have jumped over the compost heap containing all the other "My take on the cartoons" stories. Stay well and thanks again

=== Mmm - hold that thought
[ Parent ]

I'm jumping the gun a bit, but... (2.00 / 5) (#41)
by AngelKnight on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 07:16:22 PM EST

...Arguably, would Muslims be considered marginally less equipped to deal with the world as-is than atheists in terms of the following?

- For a Muslim, blasphemy against the Prophet (pbuh) requires a response at the blasphemer, infidel or no
- For an atheist/agnostic, blasphemy against a (possibly hypothetical) God does not require a response

In a mixed community of Muslims and atheists/agnostics, who might potentially express more outrage per unit time?

Depends... (2.75 / 4) (#70)
by danro on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 05:34:46 AM EST

I'm an atheist and forcing religion on people offends me. So if you suggest compulsory school prayers or something like that I'll work up a decent amount of outrage-per-time-unit. Now, overtly religious people in general seem to be very easily offended and humourless. If they take it as a personal affront that not everyone believe what they believe, I can't really compete with that amount of constant righteous indignation. But this might just be my prejudice talking.

[ Parent ]
Ah, but beating up blasphemers... (none / 0) (#98)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:48:41 PM EST

...is a bonding experience. So the religious types will be more social than the atheists, as well as more likely not to be the ones being beaten up.

Moral: In a dog-eat-dog world, the fundies do the eating.

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan
[ Parent ]

Like most good articles... (1.50 / 4) (#56)
by jd on Thu Feb 23, 2006 at 11:59:53 PM EST

...this will undoubtably fail in the queue. (Mind you, a lot of bad articles also fail in the queue.) K5's system impresses me only in that it does - very occasionally - work, and that it actually works no worse than any other system out there.

Anyways, it is a good article. It could do with being a little longer - you heard from only one Scandanavian and from no independents at all?

Restrictions on the press are not even remotely unusual in South Africa. Probably the best-known was the attempts to kill the family of the South African reporter Donald Woods. England follows a different policy, with those leaking to the press often suffering from an attack of suicide (sometimes in very bizare ways) prior to further details being exposed.

SA press gags in recent years are big news (2.66 / 3) (#65)
by mt on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 02:55:37 AM EST

Have taken a look at your posts and stories. Great reads. Two come to mind immediately: 1.The Great Ape debate and 2.Pitcairn shenanigans. Thank you for taking so much effort to create stories and not just mindless comments.

The recent press gag in South Africa is huge news. The new constitution guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of indivdual rights. A question of pitting The right to dignity against Freedom of expression.

Since the bad old days of apartheid, (Woods, Lubowski, the deniability of SA troops in Angola) there have been no press gags whatsoever (I stand to be corrected).

An extremely popular SA cartoonist called Zapiro has depicted the current debacle well. He's the Jewish guy (who supports Palestine and angers Christians) and the man one Muslim guy I interviewed threatened to remove from society, with extreme prejudice (and a gun).

See Zapiro's cartoon (and others) at:


=== Mmm - hold that thought
[ Parent ]

Zapiro is good... /nt (none / 1) (#69)
by danro on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 05:27:59 AM EST

[ Parent ]
I liked this article..... (1.75 / 4) (#64)
by terryfunk on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 02:15:31 AM EST

and yes, the edit queue and voting queue is a gauntlet. It gets wild. There is a quote attributed to rusty: "K5 where the smart get mean" or something like that.

If you adjust to it and not take it too seriously [hard to do at times] then keep trying and submitting articles. I think eventually good articles always seem to make it.

If you read through comments of past FP articles/stories you'll see what I mean. Especially if there is any raging controversies about the subject of the article.

You're from South Africa? Cool...I have had about a dozen friends from there. Interesting and nice folks.

I like you, I'll kill you last. - Killer Clown
The ScuttledMonkey: A Story Collection

"as trivial as a cartoon" (3.00 / 8) (#74)
by LodeRunner on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 12:27:53 PM EST

One thing I think people fail to get (or don't want to get) when they say things such as "Why do religious people get so upset about something as trivial as a cartoon?" and "All this noise and brouhaha about 12 cartoons?" is that the fact that they're cartoons is not the point.

Religious people are not "upset" and "making all this noise and brouhaha" over cartoons. It's over the message they convey, and over the fact that this message is being spread by organized media. If it was on the paper's headline, on the paper's website or painted in the paper's headquarters' walls, it would be the same.

There is nothing "trivial" about the message some of the cartoons presented; they were explicitly designed to offend gravely a group of people and succeeded mightily at that. The conduit of the offense is obviously less relevant than the offense itself. Making use of the underlying mental association "trivial"-"cartoon" people have (because "cartoon" makes them think of Bugs Bunny and the like) is naive at best and ill-intentioned at worst [but I'm not the one to judge this or any of the other instances where this association was made].

Quick recap for those with short attention spans who want to jump in and reply: I'm not arguing whether people should be offended or not, who is "in the right" or anything like that. I'm making a specific point on the focus made on the medium rather than the message as a way to downplay the situation.

"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner

I agree. (3.00 / 2) (#77)
by warrax on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 05:31:40 PM EST

People should instead focus on the triviality of the statements to the effect of "Oh, my feelings are hurt! We cannot allow that!"

-- "Guns don't kill people. I kill people."
[ Parent ]
"as trivial as a cartoon" (none / 1) (#81)
by mt on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 11:14:20 PM EST

You guys are never happy! LOL.
I tried to say there was Op/Ed content, but nope, so many insisted this was straight news. Sigh. Go figure!

For the record, LodeRunner, the people I saw at the march were extremely "upset" and were indeed "making [a huge] noise and brouhaha" over the cartoons, and specifically Denmark's national identity (as the host country of the offending newspaper).

Also: a quick lookup of the word brouhaha turned up:
n 1: loud confused noise from many sources [syn: hubbub, uproar, katzenjammer]
2: a confused disturbance far greater than its cause merits

Looking at the bigger picture, of not just Muslim righteous indignation but also international media indignation, I stand by my choice of the phrases you take issue with ;)

Your "specific point on the focus made on the medium rather than the message as a way to downplay the situation" is noted, considered and filed away for future reference...
I believe the message conveyed and received is exceedingly interesting

[ Parent ]

En garde (2.66 / 3) (#83)
by LodeRunner on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:49:06 AM EST

You guys are never happy! LOL.

Oh yeah, differing opinions abound here. I always agreed with you that this piece is Op-Ed. People might have been mistaken by the journalistic tone of the prose, perhaps, because "Op-Ed" around here most of the time is flat-out ranting.

For the record, LodeRunner, the people I saw at the march were extremely "upset" and were indeed "making [a huge] noise and brouhaha" over the cartoons

I'm sure they were upset and made a huge noise, no question about this. But again, I think it's more precise to say the noise was over the desecration of Muhammad's image, equally offensive to a Muslim whether on cartoons or in drawings in the sand. It may or may not be nitpicking, but we all know the power of word choice.

Looking at the bigger picture, of not just Muslim righteous indignation but also international media indignation, I stand by my choice of the phrases you take issue with ;)

We agree to disagree. Your piece, your call.

Your "specific point on the focus made on the medium rather than the message as a way to downplay the situation" is noted, considered and filed away for future reference...
 I believe the message conveyed and received is exceedingly interesting

Would you care to expand on this?

"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

"expliclitly designed to offend" (none / 0) (#86)
by cbraga on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:31:00 AM EST

They weren't. I'm not disputing that they were offensive. However, I don't think they were explicitly designed to offend that group of people.

Late last year there was a South Park cartoon where a statue of the Virgin Mary squirted blood out of her rear end and onto the Pope's face. I think that's a lot worse than the childish humour of the danish cartoons and yet you don't see catholics vowing to kill the protestant infidels who made that episode. Sure some catholics were offended but not nearly as much. I'm catholic and while I thought it was pretty low for a cartoon I couldn't care less.

So there's the difference. Not in the cartoons, but in the audience.

ESC[78;89;13p ESC[110;121;13p
[ Parent ]

Some of the (3.00 / 2) (#89)
by McArabian on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 07:54:13 PM EST

cartoons do show childish humor and reflexivity on part of the artists. However, there are at least a couple that were "explicitly designed to offend".

For instance, consider this one where the verse on the turban (which is also a bomb) reads "There is only one God, Allah is his name and Mohammad is his Prophet." Besides the fact that it's historically inaccurate (Mohammed was a Gulf Arab, and they don't usually wear those kind of turbans), it's obvious that the cartoon is meant to be a political remark on how that artist views Islam. I really can't see any attempt at humor in this case, childish or otherwise.

Or this one , a conscious effort from the artist to show that, while the trappings of Islam are easy to spot by a Westerner (as is shown by the two niqab clad women), the real threat comes from the central figure in the picture. It portrays all the misconceptions the West have towards Arabs: the turban, the scraggly beard (Mohammed was known to keep his beard trimmed), the scimitar (these are fictional swords, the closest thing to them in the Arab world are the Persian shamshiir, which is a lot thinner than a scimitar, or the Turkish kilij) in order to paint a horrific figure. The censor bar on the face is especially interesting. On the one hand, you can argue that it's poking fun at the Sunni's attitude towards portraying the Prophet (look, we drew him but we put a censor bar there so no one can really TELL what he looks like, but we all know who he is, ha ha), but on the other hand, you can argue that it is a symbol of the central figure's ignorance or "blindness" as compared to the two women who only show their eyes and nothing else (they can "see" but they can't do anything about it). At the same time, the censor bar makes the figure as anonymous as possible to show that "this is the Muslim people"; it could be anyone running out and attacking with a sword in the name of the Prophet.

One other thing to consider is the Guardian's article (which you can find here ) which claims that, three years ago, a set of Christ cartoons were turned down on the basis that they might "offend" Christians. The article also shows that the editor "asked" for the Mohammed cartoons to be drawn, which clearly marks an agenda on part of the editorial team.

Don't get me wrong, some of the cartoons are pretty funny to me. I liked the one about the lack of virgins in heaven for the suicide bombers ( here ). It rightly shows the warped logic behind a fundie terrorists line of thinking. It is targeting a political group within the Islamic world without generalization on what Islam is. I also like the reflexive cartoons (where the artist puts himself in the picture) that portray the artists confusion and fear in trying to deal with Muslims and the Islamic world.

I do understand those who condemn the burning of embassies etc, but I don't understand those who feel that Muslims should take it and not protest at all. The Toronto star published an article which gave a quote from South African Black Nationalist, Steve Biko that, while originally meant to comment on race and protestation in South Africa, rings very true to me in terms of how the West is veiwing PEACEFUL protests of the Danish cartoons: "Not only are whites kicking us, they are telling us how to react to being kicked." You can find the article here

"Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving."
[ Parent ]

I almost agree with you (none / 1) (#108)
by chrobry on Thu Mar 09, 2006 at 06:56:49 PM EST

You see my biggest problem with all this is two fold.  First of all, the believe that just because you believe in something therefor I have to as well.  Personally I could care less about islam (or christianity/Judeasm(sp?)).  I do not care one bit about their doctrines or what they preach.  Therefore to me, a picture of the "prophet" is no more offensive then if you drew a person from the street.  Why should I care at all, that it is against your religious belief?

You see people have right to express their opinion, and if Muslims did it properly, their views would be knowns, and life goes on.  I for one would listen and shrug, trying to avoid such cartoons for I do not wish to actually offend you.

The way it stands right now, a lot of muslims are acting like a 10 year olds, spewing profanities over nothing. What's worse they expect (and demand) for other people to understand/respect their believes.

If someone wants to make cartoon over my nationality (Polish) or make polish jokes or draw my mother its your right.  I could care less, for I know my own worth, my own culture, and I love my mother.  I may tell you its offensive but I CERTAINLY wouldn't threaten to kill you for it.  

Two things to consider.
  a. if you don't want people to view you like Barbarians, don't act like them.
  b.  If you want people to respect you and your believes, you MUST respect them first.

[ Parent ]

I understand how you can (none / 0) (#109)
by McArabian on Sat Mar 11, 2006 at 06:21:58 PM EST

have a problem with violent threats because of a few political cartoons. I have a problem with it too. I don't believe threats work, they only aggravate the problem. So I agree with you on that issue.

I was disagreeing with the concept that the cartoons weren't meant to offend, that they were all done "in good fun". At least two of the cartoons were meant to offend, they weren't funny, just political in nature.
I've already outlined that in my previous comment.

To me, things like political cartoons either reflect the state of affairs, or fuel it. In this case, they've done both: they reflected the ignorance and hate these artists had towards Muslims, and probably encouraged the public opinion that ALL Muslims are nothing but backward barbarians, ready to kill at the first sight of any infidel.

You said so yourself, if someone drew a racist cartoon about Polish people (or your mother), you would feel compelled to speak up and say something. And I agree with that, there were many protests that were peaceful in nature which didn't get any media coverage because of the violent ones.

A lot of the violent protests happened in countries that already have strained relationships with the West. The cartoon protests are just the tip of the iceberg in something way too complex to be reduced to the glibness of "Those Muslims must be crazy." I don't agree with the violence, I condemn it as well, but I'm also ready to look further into why these protests were so violent.

Your points a) and b) make perfect sense to me, and I agree with them. However, you have to keep in mind that the West is just as responsible for barbarian and disrespectful behaviour towards the Muslim world as the Muslims themselves towards the Western world. Just because you don't see it in the media, doesn't mean it's not happening.

"Any fool can criticize, condemn, and complain but it takes character and self control to be understanding and forgiving."
[ Parent ]

Comparison (2.66 / 3) (#76)
by cdguru on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 03:36:05 PM EST

Do folks remember the riots and killings when the photograph "Piss Christ" was exhibited in Philidelphia? This was a photograph by a controversial artist that showed a crucifix in a bucket of urine.

Naturally, quite a number of religious folks were perturbed at this exhibition which included other such items as well.

However, in the more tolerant West we did not see any riots, burnings or killings. Interesting, no?

Yeah (2.25 / 4) (#79)
by LodeRunner on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 06:03:39 PM EST

We riot, burn and kill for different reasons here.

"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

Yeah, it takes a flood for that. n (2.33 / 3) (#80)
by livus on Fri Feb 24, 2006 at 06:53:58 PM EST

HIREZ substitute.
be concrete asshole, or shut up. - CTS
I guess I skipped school or something to drink on the internet? - lonelyhobo
I'd like to hope that any impression you got about us from internet forums was incorrect. - debillitatus
I consider myself trolled more or less just by visiting the site. HollyHopDrive

[ Parent ]
What killings? (1.33 / 3) (#87)
by nixman on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 03:48:23 PM EST

I don't remember anyone getting killed over "Piss Christ."

[ Parent ]
Seriously (none / 0) (#99)
by PhilHibbs on Thu Mar 02, 2006 at 07:59:29 AM EST

However, in the more tolerant West we did not see any riots, burnings or killings. Interesting, no?
Just because we in the west don't take "our" religion seriously, doesn't mean that no-one else is allowed to. Your comments can be interpreted as "We are irreligious, and you should be too, the world is better that way". I happen to hold that sentiment myself, but I don't expect it to go down very well.

[ Parent ]
You can't take religion seriously (none / 0) (#100)
by nilquark on Sat Mar 04, 2006 at 02:44:46 PM EST

without killing a lot of random people!

[ Parent ]
Absolute Nonsense (none / 0) (#103)
by DarKNighT on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 02:24:43 AM EST

You are confusing religious fundamentalism with taking religion seriously.

[ Parent ]
it's the same thing (none / 0) (#105)
by nilquark on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 03:08:30 AM EST

although I was being sarcastic because the guy I was replying to said the reason christians don't go around killing people is because they don't take their religion seriously.

[ Parent ]
Now I'm confused (none / 0) (#106)
by DarKNighT on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 03:20:12 AM EST

Maybe I'm not understanding you correctly. How can they be the same thing?

I take my religion seriously, yet I'm not a fundamentalist (subjective, I know).

[ Parent ]

seems that (none / 0) (#107)
by nilquark on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 11:28:27 AM EST

as soon as you reinterpret religious dogma to fit your own needs and cheery-pick which parts you believe, you stop being "serious" about it.

fundamentalists may not be pleasant, but at least they aren't being inconsistent about their religious beliefs. religion is static; if you don't accept everything literally then you might as well not accept anything.

[ Parent ]

I see your point, however (none / 0) (#111)
by DarKNighT on Tue Apr 11, 2006 at 05:27:25 AM EST

saying religion is static is a big generalisation. There may be certain religions in the world that are static (the dogmatic ones), yet there is a great tradition of free thinking and interpretation in many others, e.g. Hinduism, where taking things seriously requires questioning of what one is taught. Fundamentalism in this case is an abomination.

All the above IMO, but consistent with my 28 years of experience.

[ Parent ]
i'm sorry (2.50 / 2) (#82)
by wampswillion on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 12:07:58 AM EST

i goofed up.  and voted a 0.  i didn't mean to vote a zero. but i haven't had a whole lot of sleep lately and i goofed up.  

i liked that you reported objectively on what you saw and heard  with no editorializing and no attempt to steer the reader one way or another.     the news media really ought to try to do that more often.  

i just picked up a book called "the crusades through arab eyes."  interesting to me in light of what i've read so far is the suggestion of the one woman in your article who says that the cartoon have united the muslim people.  the book jacket explains "the arab version of the crusades is a heroic story of how the muslims overcame their rivalries and united long enough to win a holy war.

and well, it seems that about all you ever have to do to band a group of people who don't get along together is give them a common enemy.  

the cartoons?  did they make the more moderate muslim people feel that the fundementalist muslims were right all along about the west being evil?  have the cartoons become a rallying cry?    

thanks for the pointer (2.66 / 3) (#84)
by LodeRunner on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 01:09:16 AM EST

Your post prompted by to browse for the book on Amazon and from there I reached another book by the same author (Amin Maalouf): In the Name of Identity - Violence and the Need to Belong.

I recommend anyone to read the short intro (5 scanned pages, the first 2 look weird but it's still readable), he hit the nail right in the head.

Especially interesting that he wrote it 2 years before the riots in France. I guess no one listened to him.

"dude, you can't even spell your own name" -- Lode Runner
[ Parent ]

thanks i think that (none / 1) (#88)
by wampswillion on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 05:01:55 PM EST

i will read this book next maybe, i was interested in the introduction you pasted in. (thanks for doing that)

  it made me think of a conversation i had with a co-worker the other day.  for some reason we were talking about intelligent design.

and i was telling of my distate for the people who would try to force that into a public school science curriculum and also how close minded they are about hearing any opinion other than their own and how they almost defend their belief in their christian god to the point of hostility and almost violence.  

and he said "well, yeah, i understadn what you are saying but i deal with them in a bit different way. i try to learn more about why they think this but at the same time, try to tell them why i do not.   i tell them i am really wanting to hear more about their point of view and i say "how about you suggest a book for me to read that tells your point of view and in exchange i'll ask you to read a book that tells my point of view."

he says "i never have anyone re-approach me about their views and i also never have anyone take me up on my offer."  

anyway i think it is interesting that this man has tried to build bridges as suggested in the intro to that book as being what people of complex heritages, cultures etc. could do.   should do.  

but it does not seem to me that this is an easy task at all. and often dependent on whoever you are trying to build a bridge with.  

[ Parent ]

S'okay! (none / 1) (#91)
by mt on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:07:42 PM EST

No prob at all. Thanks for your feedback and the insights into the situation mediated through Muslim eyes

=== Mmm - hold that thought
[ Parent ]

A question for someone who was there: (1.75 / 4) (#85)
by Josh Ferien on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 09:15:54 AM EST

As you are no doubt aware, mt, Islamic customs frighten and confuse many of us in the West. I believe much of this stems from basic ignorance: We just don't know what to expect. Please bear this in mind as I continue.

Recent trends in Western societies have put a strain on those who once enjoyed a privileged position in the same. Men like myself, for example, encounter more and more willful women every year and there seems to be no end in sight.

In view of this, it seems reasonable to look to other cultures to provide more palatable ladies. As your story notes, Muslim women tend to be calmer and more docile than their Western counterparts. As an occasional visitor to Africa, on the face of it, such women present an attractive alternative.

This is where my question of frightening and confusing customs comes in: In Africa, I understand there is a wide spread custom known as "female circumcision." I won't go into the details of the practice. Anyone familiar with the it will readily discern that victims of this disgusting procedure would be of little use to me. My question to you is: How widespread is this practice in your native South Africa? If I were to attend a march such as you did, would the majority of the female attendees, such as those you mention, have been victimized this way?


Josh Ferien

The J is for Justice!

FC in SA (none / 0) (#90)
by mt on Sat Feb 25, 2006 at 10:03:51 PM EST

Female Circumcision (FC) is such a hectic issue.
Within communities who practise this custom, you can understand the severe limitations on this type of "news" leaking out. I have no doubt that any one of the foreign non-South African Muslim women might be a victim of this particular gender crime. However as a generally acknowledged rule, the practice of FC is not known to be commonly occuring within South Africa. That it might be happening, somewhere, at some time, in some neighbourhood, within some Muslim community or family system is simply not verifiable at this time. However, I will refer you to the following online sources of further information.

Women's Reproductive Rights in South Africa: A Shadow Report 35 p. 1998
PDF document: broad but dated overview of issues in South Africa, not a single mention of FC but excellent overview of pertinent issues affecting women's sexual and gender rights

Stanford Library's online resources re: women in Africa
Topics: African Women on the Internet

Female circumcision law shock
24/05/2004 16:39 - (SA) Johannesburg - Most South African provinces do not have legislation that explicitly outlaws female circumcision, the Congress of Traditional Leaders of SA (Contralesa) said on Monday.
Contralesa national organiser Inkosi Mwelo Nonkonyana said most provinces needed to revisit some of their legislation to ensure that it was in line with the Children's Bill, which deemed female circumcision unconstitutional.
"This state of affairs is unacceptable as the national legislation outlines clearly that all children, boys and girls, should not be subjected to harmful social and cultural practices."
"The bill prohibits the circumcision of female children, while every male child is granted the right to refuse to be initiated or be circumcised under unhygienic conditions."
Nonkonyana was addressing delegates at a traditional initiation conference in Johannesburg. The two-day event, which started on Monday, was organised by the National House of Traditional Leaders of SA.
[read more online]

Various articles: Female Circumcision in Africa http://www.ccsu.edu/afstudy/upd3-2.html
Africa Update Vol. III, Issue 2 (Spring, 1996): Female Circumcision in Africa

Table of contents * Editorial: Female Circumcision in Africa by Gloria Emeagwali, Chief Editor
* Ifeyinwa Iweriebor, Black Women in Publishing, New York, Brief Reflections on Clitorodectomy
* Aisha Samad Matias, Female circumcision in Africa
* Dr. Adeline Apena, Female circumcision in Africa and the problem of cross-cultural perspectives
* Haines Brown, History Dept., C.C.S.U., Africa and the Net

Extract from "Female circumcision in Africa", by Aisha Samad Matias [Director Women's Studies, CUNY]

In Africa Today
This custom is practiced predominantly in the Nile, Sahara, Sahel and Horn regions, where in most areas the overwhelming majority of women have or will experience it. In those areas some groups who traditionally did not have this custom are adopting it when they move into regions or urban zones where it is practiced, for example in Khartoum. In adjacent African regions such as West and East Africa, many cultures traditionally have practiced this custom. Examples of such groups are the Kikuyu and Masai of East Africa and the Fulani, Ibo and Hausa of West Africa. The custom is also found, to a lesser degree, among some groups in central and southern Africa.

Most western seminars or media focus on FC as a Muslim custom or among African Muslim groups. This is interesting because this custom, not only originated in Africa during pharonic (pre-Judaic, Christian or Islamic times), but it is still practiced in the continent among African groups practicing traditional Judaism (in Ethiopia); traditional Coptic Christianity (Ethiopia, Sudan, Egypt); some of those who became Christian during or after the European colonial era; and among some Muslim groups.

In some regions, FC can be seen to be practiced by certain socio-economic groups, for example, among those of a particular culture or lifestyle: nomadic versus settled, or farming herding; Muslim versus Christian or traditionalist. In other regions, one finds the custom practiced by those of varied cultural / socio-economic types, for example, among sedentary urban and farming groups and among migratory herding groups in the Ethiopian-Eritrean highlands and Ethiopian-Somali Ogaden regions. It is mainly found in predominantly patrilineal groups in Africa. Some groups circumcising females also circumcise males.

=== Mmm - hold that thought
[ Parent ]

basic ignorance - you are so right !! (none / 0) (#92)
by eramm on Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 03:41:01 AM EST

"As you are no doubt aware, mt, Islamic customs frighten and confuse many of us in the West. I believe much of this stems from basic ignorance"

you are so right !!

flying planes into buildings -- what's up w/ that ?!?!

burying woman alive -- i could never figure that one out.

jihad - that one really confuses me. isn't supposed to be a religion of piece ??

[ Parent ]

Calmer women.. (none / 0) (#96)
by JohnFlux on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 09:27:44 AM EST

Just because you like docile women doesn't mean we all do. Personally I like outspoken women who aren't shy.  I can't stand when I go to some eastern European and see quiet docile women behind their men. It just makes me cringe.

[ Parent ]
Many sides to this, but a few confusions (none / 1) (#93)
by pyro9 on Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 07:45:15 AM EST

Much of the West is completely unable to understand the level of outrage over 'a few cartoons', many Muslems are unable to understand why the west WOULDN'T comprehend their outrage.

The west mistakes the actions of a few extremists for a characteristic of Muslims in general. Many Muslims don't understand when the Dutch government states that it can't apologize for what it didn't do and that it has no authority to tell the newspaper or cartoonist to stop.

In general, the West seems to confuse local middle eastern traditional culture and it's take on Islam for fundamental characteristics of the religeon (of course, it appears many in the middle east make that same mistake).

Oddly enough, many of the religeous right in the United States seems determined to re-make the U.S. to be much more like a middle eastern country. At one time, when the west was in a dark ages, the middle east was much more like the U.S. is now. The west saw the middle east as a den of godless infidels to be killed.

The future isn't what it used to be
Correction for the record (none / 0) (#101)
by lordDogma on Sun Mar 05, 2006 at 12:14:48 PM EST

"At one time, when the west was in a dark ages, the middle east was much more like the U.S. is now."

I wouldn't go that far. It would be more accurate to say, "At one time, when the west was in the dark ages, the middle east was much more like the west eventually became in the 16th century."

Ironically, while the west rose up during the enlightmentment, the middle east rapidly declined towards backwardness and ignorance.

I should point out that western achievements in math/science/medicine/economics/politics/ats/etc. have long since dwarfed anything the middle easterners have ever done. Of course, one can claim that western achievements could not have occured without the earlier achievements of the middle easterners. Fair enough, but I could say much the same about the middle easterners as well - they got much of their knowledge by borrowing technologies and written works from other civilizations. For example, the printing press was gotten from China. Likewise, achievements in algebra by the arabic world were built upon apriori discoveries by Greek, Egyptian, Hindu, and Babylonian mathematicians.

"The west saw the middle east as a den of godless infidels to be killed."

Actually, at the time you speak of I'd say it was the exact opposite. From around 600 AD to 1300 AD The Islamic world carried out one of the most bloody and successful imperialistic conquests in the history of mankind. The entire middle east including Persia, along with North Africa was conquered by 700 AD. Spain was conquered shortly after (a full 400 years before the first Crusade by the way). In 827 Arab invaders conquered sicily, and then raided rome around 850, torching Churches and demanding bribes before leaving (again a good 250 years before the first Crusade). I won't bother to continue, as it just gets worse from here on.

This is not to excuse the west of course. One could easily say during the time of the enlightenment, "The west saw Africa and the Americas dens of godless heretics to be converted and enslaved."

[ Parent ]

Blame Denmark! (3.00 / 3) (#94)
by der on Sun Feb 26, 2006 at 11:35:44 AM EST

The 'outrage' this caused isn't the ridiculous (read: moronic) part. Regardless of how stupid religion is in general, people have a right to be offended. The 'boycott the nation of Denmark', and advocating 'war on Denmark' is the stupid part.

What does some cartoonist/newspaper that happens to be in Denmark have to do with the nation/government of Denmark? The Danish government should apologize for the actions of it's free private citizens?

Um, okaay - idiots. If you want to be taken seriously and not treated as a bunch of primitive barbarians, maybe you should make your demands even a little bit rational.

Parade all day for the cartoonist' head on a pike, or the destruction of the newspaper company, fine. As soon as you boycott an entire nation for the actions of one citizen, you deserve no recognition, respect, or appeasement. Grow up.

Erm... (none / 0) (#95)
by m50d on Mon Feb 27, 2006 at 02:12:47 PM EST

They're blaming Denmark for not making it illegal there.

[ Parent ]
Apparently Chuck Norris lives in SA... (none / 0) (#97)
by Russell Dovey on Wed Mar 01, 2006 at 04:38:01 PM EST

Mr MZ Booley, from Cape Town spoke from his heart: "What are you writing about? This is war. For any Muslim the world over, when someone scratches with our religion, we will kill them straight. And if that cartoonist Grogan, or Zapiro, makes fun of this situation, then I personally will kill them. I'm not afraid, they're nothing."

"Blessed are the cracked, for they let in the light." - Spike Milligan

just a note (none / 0) (#102)
by wowboy on Mon Mar 06, 2006 at 04:28:06 PM EST

the words "peace and blessings be upon him" are used whenever the prophet is mentioned. he wasn't reminding you. he was being respectful.

also, this looks fine to me. they're pissed and rightly so. deal with it.

Good Story (none / 0) (#104)
by DarKNighT on Wed Mar 08, 2006 at 02:40:37 AM EST

I like your account of events.

Reminds me of a recent Frank Opperman documentary I saw, "My Hare Krishna Family"; objective and non-judgemental.

As a South African resident, I share your concerns about press freedom. However, I believe that publishing of the cartoons would probably have led to more violent protests.

The right to human dignity outweighs ... NOPE (none / 1) (#110)
by garote on Fri Mar 17, 2006 at 12:24:43 AM EST

"The right to human dignity outweighs the right to freedom of expression."

Um, excuse me Mr. Justice Jajbhay, but NO IT FUCKING DOESN'T. That's the whole POINT of the concept of "freedom of expression". Just a short trip down that slippery slope and we come to, "Don't tell the American people about the Watergate scandal, because it hurts the dignity of the President" and, "Don't arrest those pastors for child molestation because it hurts the dignity of the church".

In the words of revolutionaries through the ages, FUCK THAT. So the muslim world wants to get in an uproar because of a political cartoon associating the most holy of figures with today's vile terrorist events? Fine for them. Looks like maybe those drawings hit a little close to home. Perhaps they will wake up and realize that they, like the Catholic church in the eyes of many westerners, has a CRAP REPUTATION to many concerned outsiders. And the onus is on THEM to correct this supposed misinterpretation.

Well congratulations, fellows, you've been doing a bang-up job so far, staging protests teeming with people who swear they'll murder any detractors with their bare hands, in their typical and very unfortunately misinterpreted arab machismo.

South African Muslims + Cartoon Protest = What the... ? | 111 comments (59 topical, 52 editorial, 1 hidden)
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