Well, by now, everyone is well aware of the controversy that resulted from the publication of caricatures of Prophet Mohammad, and the resulting protests that have occurred around the world.
Being a Muslim, I naturally found the cartoons offensive, so no big surprise there. But I also understand and support the right of ‘freedom of expression’, and realize that it is unrealistic to expect everyone to conform to the unwritten rule of human decorum and not ridicule someone's faith or belief system. I also think that it does not reflect very positively on one's intellect, when one decides to satirize a whole religion because of one's aversion to its selected extremist followers. But hey, that's just me.
I also feel very strongly that protesting such a derision of one's faith, should be restricted to verbal or written discourse and not breaking windows, burning flags, effigies or buildings. But hey, that's just me.
I protested the only way I thought logical, by writing about and exercising my own ‘freedom of expression’, and so did many Pakistani bloggers, some of whom are listed below:
Suspect Paki comments on the reaction in England; Teeth Maestro highlights the incident and cartoons in question; Journey presents his own perspective; Fahd Mirza details his hurtful and angered response; and I comment on the Prime Minister's speech.
I want to end my sermon with a true parable of the author, Salman Rushdie. He wrote a book a called Satanic Verses which caused controversy upon publication, as many Muslims considered it blasphemous. Rushdie was surprised by the extreme reaction (death threat – extremists issuing fatwa against Rushdie) to the book and believed he had the right to do so because it was his ‘free speech and freedom of expression’, and people just need to basically chill out.
Many years later a journalist commented on Rushdie's wife which caused controversy upon publication, as Rushdie considered it undignified. The journalist was surprised by the extreme reaction (death threat – Rushdie promising to beat the journalist with a baseball bat) to the article and believed he had the right to do so because it was his ‘free speech and his freedom of expression’ and Rushdie just needs to basically chill out.
So what have we learned from this story. That no matter how intellectual or artistic you considered your work to be, if you ridicule something or someone people love, respect or consider sacred (the Prophet for Muslims, the wife for Rushdie), you are bound to get a furious reaction in return, so don't be surprised.