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Arab Bloggers Take on Danish Cartoons

As the debate rages on over the publication of controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammad in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, Arab bloggers are reacting with their own take on the events that have unfolded over the past few days.

Early on Jyllands-Posten stated that the cartoons were a test of whether Muslim fundamentalists had begun affecting freedom of speech. Haitham Sabbah was one of the first to question this argument, saying: “It’s ‘freedom of expression’, and they express that the way they see fit. But if you do the same, you will be called all names. So, don’t dare call them racist!!”

In an enquiry on the rise of Islamophobia, Tololy asks “How far can one go with one's right of Free Speech? Are there no red lines that one ought to respect such as, say, the Holocaust, or Prophet Mohammad wearing a bomb-turban?”

While Eman articulates the Arab point of view in a heated exchange with a company client at work, Khalidah attempted to investigate the other side of the argument by taking a journey around the blogosphere. Concluding: “Isn't the way we deliver the message is as important as the message itself? Sometimes delivering the right message using the wrong method defeats the purpose and kills the initiative.”

While international media has focused primarily on the violent voices of a few Arab and Muslim mobs around the world, many Arab bloggers are indeed angry with the reactions of their countrymen and particularly the economic boycotts. Some are questioning their purpose while others support them. Farah from Saudi Arabia isn’t “crazy about how Saudi Arabia jumped at the chance to play the Muslim hero”, while the Egyptian blogger Sandmonkey isn’t too happy about the boycotts either. Silly Bahraini Girl wonders: “Why the Fuss?”

The Big Pharoh swims against the current and is even promoting Arla Foods, the Danish company most affected by the boycotts. “Some people might ask me why I am doing this? I consider this boycott one of the most childish things I've ever seen.”

Naseem Tarawnah of The Black Iris notes “What does some food company in Denmark have to do with cartoons published by a newspaper in its country?”

However Tunasian blogger, Subzero Blue claims “I'm against any violent reactions or death threats, but I'm totally for peaceful protest and political or economic boycott if necessary.” He goes on to say: “Isn't it normal for us too to express ourselves and say that we're unhappy about these cartoons and act upon it in peaceful ways like demonstration or boycott?”

Highlander says: “I have always been under the impression that boycott is a civilized way to express disagreement.”

As bloggers receieved numerous cellphone messages and leaflets urging them to spread the word about boycotts, a few Arab bloggers have banded together to start a campaign urging readers to instead: “Buy Denmark”. In a similar campaign, a website has been launched as a “small attempt to show the world that the images shown of Arab and Muslim anger around the world are not representative of the opinions of all Arabs”.

Some bloggers have focused on the political moves made by their governments.
Mahmood calls the parliamentary decision in Bahrain to boycott “childish and ridiculous”, while Natasha shows some concern with the parliament in Jordan calling for the punishment of the Danish cartoonists involved. “Moving from a body that gives voice to the people's concerns to a congress bent on holy revenge is a dangerous step in the wrong direction.”

More reactions have emerged lately since Jordanian authorities arrested two editors of local newspapers, Al-Mehwar and Al-Shihan, who were the only ones in the Arab world to publish the cartoons. Naseem Tarawnah wonders if the intentions of the editors must be taken into account. While Batir Wardam sympathises with the Shihan’s editor, feeling it has given way to a degree of sudden self-righteousness amongst some people and organizations.

In Syria, while the only reports and images seen on the news revolves around the burning of the Danish and Norwegian embassies, many Syrian bloggers are condemning the violence. “Not in Our Name” says Ayman Haykal, who lists several Syrian bloggers that share his outrage. “They had no right. Islamically this is seriously NOT acceptable”, says Sara.

Omar offers a perspective as a Syrian living in Canada, while Ihsan Attar, who is also furious at the chaos says he is “100% convinced that the “Syrian Regime” had a hand in what happened”. Omar Faleh shares similar sentiments about the government.

Violent protests and the burning of embassies also took place in Lebanon and Lebanese bloggers have spoken out in anger against the mob mentality as well as their government. Kais for example thinks the entire Lebanese cabnit should resign, especially those that sanctioned these protests. Rampurple says: “I could care less where the demonstrators are from. It is the Lebanese government who is supposed to ensure the security of all civilians”

Ahmad Humeid wonder’s how the Prophet Mohammad would have responded to these cartoons; recalling stories from his religious classes as a child he offers 5 ways the Muslim world can respond. In the same spirit Naseem Tarawnah sees this as an opportunity for engaging in dialogue between the eastern and western worlds. While Haitham Sabbah is hoping that the sanity of the bloggers can help and is soliciting suggestions on what would bring this situation to a peaceful conclusion from his readers.

Last, but not least, Samir from Morocco asks: It is truly sad, though not unpredictable, the way this entire sorry mess has spiraled out of control. Some of the language being used in the world press and in the blogosphere is almost as damaging as the original publication of the cartoons. “A clash of civilisations.” Not very civilised, in my mind to publish cartoons that will inflame already tense Islamic sensibilities. “A war of ideologies” – possibly true, but a “war”?


  • they called it is freedom of expression, and they do not care about hurting other people… or maybe they only want to hurt other people by making this kind of cartoon…

  • Allan

    Darin – Did you try NOT to feel hurt? Did you ever consider the fatc that these cartoons wasn’t made in order to hurt you?

  • sadia masroor

    In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful.
    Prophet Muhammad Salallahu alaihi wa sallam is

    – the man who firmly stood against injustice- the man who liberated women and guaranteed them their rights
    -the man who spoke for respectful rehabilitation of widows and orphans
    – the man who diminished the raging fire of racism and inequality
    – the man who rightfully conveyed the word of Allah, Most High
    – the man who termed the liberation of slaves as a merciful act, an expiation of sins
    – the man who untiringly brokered Peace between warring tribes
    – the man who convinced to the world that humanity is a single race
    – the man who endorsed social justice in the greatest way possible
    – simply by adhering to it- the man who established a moral and just system in society in the form of shariah
    – the man who loved his neighbour more than his life
    – the man who greatly upheld loyalty in friendship.
    – the man who forgave his staunchest enemies
    – the man who shared with the poor and the rich
    – the man who never spoke a word untrue
    – the man who honoured his guest, and treated them the best.
    – the man who visited the sick and the old, comforting them with kindest of words, even to those who opposed him the most.
    – the man whose faith was the greatest, and yet lived life the simplest.
    – the man who loved to pray and to kneel, and shared his every meal.
    – the man so honest even his enemies swore by it.
    – the man most upright even at times of strife.
    – the one Muslims regard as their True leader,
    – the one Muslims love and respect more than their lives or their family,
    – the one Muslims believe is the most beloved among the entire creation of Allah Almighty,
    – the pious one that everybody, Muslims and non Muslims, unmistakably believe as the Greatest Human Being ever to have walked on Earth.
    – the one who is the biggest cause of grief to all evil whisperers and evil doers.
    – and the one that the immoral Danish cartoonist, Danish media, Danish publicists and associates constantly slander against out of prejudice and bigotism.

    The current state of the world is “When you do good, know it when impounded with criticism and abuse, and if you have sinned know it when YOU become the “apple in the eye” of the self styled “LIBERAL WORLD”, (or if you get nominated for a noble prize!)

    Denmark is fairly acquainted with the FACT that Islam forbids picture making and that Muslims will never Forgive Blasphemy, and yet so as to provocate Muslims extremely, Denmark permitted the printing, publishing and distribution of blasphemous material directed towards the noblest of all nobles, the leader of all prophets, the messiah of mercy to mankind – Prophet Muhammad Salallahu Alaihi Wa Sallam……..all in the pretext of “FREEDOM of EXPRESSION”!!Expression of what? Hatred and jealously???…..

    Guess they have chosen to forget what the “Freedom of Expression” really stands for???Well, it’s about time they realize that it stands forLiberty of faithLiberty of honourLiberty of justiceLiberty of modestyand more than anything – it is the Liberty of Rightful WAY of LIFE!Clearly, it doesn’t stand for suppression – suppression of beliefs that differ culturallyand religiously.

    Modesty and Vulgarity have different names in the west as is evident from the following views:To the WEST, it is upright when u have “women walking nude” in the name of FASHIONTo the West, it is upright when u have topless women working in strip clubsTo the West, it is upright when u have proms where “loosing ones’ virginity” is the criterion to become trendyTo the West, it is upright when u commercialize women to market commodities as cheap as a shaving razor!To the West, it is upright when u write untrue and abusive stuff about a faith that has millions of believersTo the West, it is upright to indulge in alcohol, which clearly diminishes the sense that distinguishes good and badBut shockingly, when a Muslim woman chooses “not to dress provocatively and to cover her hair” out of HER FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION OF MODESTY and BELIEF, she FACES UPROAR AND SEVERE CRITICISM FROM THE WEST so much so that legislations have drafted rules banning any such attire …….WHY? Because it does not endorse vulgarity- the west’s “freedom of expression”!

    This is an Act revealing the Highest Degree of Bigotism perpetrated by chauvinists who fiercely envy the “Magnetism of Islam” in the growing world.Yes, it hurts when bigotism extends to this level….but we will now show our “FREEDOM of EXPRESSION”.

    We condemn these acts of prejudice and reject the falsehood

    An apology on paper is not what we want
    An apology from within is what we demand

    Sadia Masroor

  • […] Muhammad with the caption ‘It is hard to be loved by morons‘ and for republishing the notorious Danish satirical cartoons [en] as a token of editorial solidarity. The publication won the case. Yesterday, the current imam […]

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  • […] fanamarihana hoe ‘Sarotra ny maka ny fon'ny adala‘ ary koa noho ny famoahana indray ilay sariitatra Danoà mpandrabiraby [en] ho fanehoana ny firaisankina eo amin'ny samy famoahana gazety. Nandresy ny famoahana […]

  • […] これは、シャルリエブドが経験する風刺画とイスラムの初めてのいざこざではない。2007年には、シャルリエブドがパリ モスクのイマーム (訳注:イスラム教の指導者のこと) によって訴えられた。「痴人に愛されるのは難しい」という表題をつけて預言者ムハンマドを表紙に掲載したこと、編集提携の記念として有名なデンマークの風刺画 [en] を再出版したことが理由である。この出版に関する裁判では勝訴した。昨日、パリモスクの現職のイマームは火炎瓶による攻撃と風刺画の両方を非難した。 […]

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