Saturday, February 11, 2006

Moderate Islam Speaks

Today there is going to be a very large protest march in London by Muslims outraged by the now infamous Danish cartoons. Now it should be understood that this march is being organised by the Muslim Council of Britain (who are generally considered a mainstream organisation) so it is expected to be a very peaceful protest and will be void of placards calling for people like me to be beheaded.

This said I do find this whole protest thing bizarre. After all, this is not a Muslim country, this is a western and largely secular nation (even more so for Denmark) and the idea that there should be limits to freedom of speech that go further than outlawing incitement to violence and/or racial hatred seems to me to wrong in principle. If we were a Muslim country with an Islamic history I may think differently, but we are not. Satire, however offensive, is a necessary part of political discourse in a western civilisation.

The original cartoon in question in Denmark was pretty poor in my opinion and not particularly funny. However it was making a specific legitimate point about the warped view of Islam that drives extreme acts of terrorism. Of course, there is the view that the cartoon is essentially saying “all Muslims are terrorists”. However I disagree with that view, I think there is a more important message underneath the cartoon that the vast majority of moderate Muslims ought to acknowledge. That is an exclusive minority that shout a lot louder than they do has hijacked their faith.

The protest today - whilst officially being against the cartoons – can be seen as the mainstream shouting back (albeit unintentionally I think). Today they will send a signal to Britain (and hopefully the wider world) that they are far greater in number than the crazy fuckers who bear the real responsibility for the presence of the cartoon. At the end of the day the cartoon may have actually done moderate Islam a favour.

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