Cartoon Issue: Is it a freedom of Expression?
21 February, 2006
By Tanveer Jafri
These days, more than twenty countries, where Muslim population is in Majority, are facing demonstrations organized by the Muslim community. There are some countries where violent demonstrations have become a part of daily routine. It is well known that a daily paper of Denmark published an objectionable cartoon of the founder of Islam religion Prophet Hazrat Mohammad. In this undesirable cartoon, Prophet Mohammad was shown as a suicide terrorist, having tied a bomb on his head. The Muslim of Denmark immediately showed their disapproval against that newspaper & its editor but in the beginning government of Denmark didn`t take it seriously. After that there started a series of demonstration opposing it. To tell the said cause of these demonstrations, some newspapers of the western countries, again published this objectionable cartoon of Prophet Mohammad. This added fuel to the fire. As a result of it, most of the Muslims were forced to think that it is not a matter of only one newspaper of Denmark but a well planned plot of western countries to link Islam religion & terrorism
Although the editors of the newspapers of many countries publishing the undesirable cartoons including Denmark accepted their mistake and apologized, yet these demonstrations are showing no end. Instead these are spreading, and at many places they are taking violent turn.
It is not so that the Muslim community is divided and apart on the issue of publication of objectionable cartoon of prophet Hazrat Mohammad (SAS).This publication is being condemned not only by the Muslims but other people of the world also. The Secretary General of United Nations Kofi Annan has strongly condemned these publications of cartoons. He has requested the Muslims of the world to remain peaceful and patient. Some of the western countries are considering this deformed freedom of expression as perilous for the world. American former President Bill Clinton is in favor of giving severe punishment to the editors of all the newspapers, who have published these cartoons. The chief of Arab league, Umar Moosa has condemned this incident and has appealed the Muslims to avoid these violent demonstrations. But the anger of the Muslim world is showing no end of it in spite of all these requests and entreaties.
There has been a strong debate on this issue in European parliament. Representative of Denmark in European parliament Yen Peter Bond told the reason of the anger of the Muslim as such, `this demonstration is the result of step behavior & double standard behavior being given to the Muslims in the all world. This anger has busted because the rights of the Muslims in the world are being ignored`. Bond said, `The western countries had made the Muslim countries their colonies and did not let them develop. France and Britain are mainly responsible for it. During a debate on the issue of objectionable cartoon of Prophet Mohammad (sas) parliamentarian Bond said -"The main causes of tension in the Middle East are the favor being done to Israel by America. Palestine is not being given their own country. And the Muslim countries are not being allowed to sell their agriculture produce in the western countries etc. These are the main problems and now their reaction is coming in the fore-front".
Undoubtedly the freedom of expression is an important mean of exposing the reality of a society, but it should not mean that in the guise of expression any religious leader is belittled or tried to be insulted or jested. But unfortunately, this publication of objectionable cartoons is not the first incident in the papers of Denmark or the western countries. Before this, these cartoons were published in last September. By chance, there didn`t arise any particular controversy on the basis of the publication of these pictures. The present controversy got oxygen when these pictures were published in the newspaper in Italy, Australia, hungry, South Africa & many other countries. Sometimes, on the bottles of liquors, on undergarments, on napkins or on tissue papers or sometimes on foot wears.
Blasphemy is really condemnable. Usually it is seen that a person who has faith in one religion respects & is fully denoted to his own prophets, gods & goddesses or religious leaders but he has no attachment to the gods or goddesses or guides of other religions. It is understandable that a man may not agree with the others & may not give his regards to the gods & goddesses of the others religions. But any person believing in one religion has no right to criticize jest or belittle the gods or the goddesses of other religions. If a person has a devil-dare to criticize or raise a finger on his own religion, the people of his own religion can`t put up with this insult. There are hard proofs showing that there in some countries hard punishments are given for blasphemy as in the case of "a death fatwa" by Iran against Salman Rushdi.
Undoubtedly, the Muslim world is passing through a period of great sorrow & anger. But the Muslim community needs to work intelligently under the present atmosphere of a difficulty test. A common Muslim can`t deny the fact that it may be due to any reason but a class of the Muslims is responsible for the linking of the Islam & the terrorism. It shouldn`t be that in the guise of the insult of Prophet Mohammad, this unity of simple & the true Muslims may be exploited by unsocial & terrorist groups which may lead to such wrong actions that may bring discredit to the entire Muslim world. As blasphemy may be of any religious leader, is objectionable, condemnable & punishable & it shouldn`t be. Similarly violence has no place in any religion. The crowd gathered for religion or religious feelings shouldn`t become an uncontrollable mob. This is the time when the Muslims of the world should keep their eyes open & should remain watchful.