Monday, February 06, 2006

The Vicious Cycle of Violence

The Danish extreme rightwing movement, the Danish Front, has marched in protest against Muslim anger over the distasteful caricatures of the prophet Muhammad (pbuh). Its spokesman said: "We are here to protect our freedom of expression and express our criticism of a lenient government towards Muslim aggression against our freedom of expression."

Well, one may be sure that if those sturmtroopers come to power, there won't be any freedom of any sort. At the same time on the other side of the political fence, Danish leftwing movements marched in support of Muslims and their belief, and to protest against the Danish Front.

KTemoc sees it as (1) Provocation, (2) Anger, (3) Violence, unfortunately, usually against innocents, (4) Retaliation, (5) irreparable animosity, and the cycle continues. The following had/have been typical examples of provocation and violence, sometimes with 3 events - provocation, anger and violence - started by one side:

(1) On the rise of Pauline Hanson and her racist speeches against aborigines and Asians, an old Chinese man in Canberra was bashed by two young thugs.

(2) Post 9/11, the rightwing thugs in the USA murdered Sikhs - well, to those Americans those unfortunate Sikhs looked foreign, were bearded and wore turbans. Besides they didn't really care to ascertain the identity as they wanted to kill someone, anyone.

(3) Israel vs Palestinian killings.

(4) Post Bali bombing, rednecks in Oz and Kiwiland vandalised mosques and bashed Muslims.

(5) Iraq, particularly Baghdad, continues its Sunni-Shiite-Kurds internecine warfare.

(6) Post London tube bombings on 7/7, a Pakistani was killed in the UK. Other Pakis/Muslims bashed in the Antipodes.

(7) Then Oz had its Sydney racial strife following provocations at Cronulla Beach where Lebanese youths bashed a couple of lifeguards.

(8) Now we see some Western embassies in the Middle East and Jakarta being attacked by Muslims.

What next?


  1. Hmmnn, I wonder what are the limits to minority concessions and freedom of speech? I'm guessing that the Danish papers, being an almost wholly homogeneous Christian nation, have no idea that the it's prohibited in Islam to depict the Prophet. Realistically, Muslims can't expect everybody in the world to be knowledgable about their religion.

    However, saying that, we must be careful not to result to extreme political correctness. If minority groups can claim numerous concessions on the basis of their religion and on the platform of religious tolerance, then when is it going to end? Are Australia/UK suppose to now ban foodstuff made of pork in respect for the Muslims there? Or allow Muslim students to wear non-standardise uniforms on the same basis?

    I believe that a balance must be struck between these two camps, in order not to antagonise each other and to coexist in relative peace.

  2. I don't see any evidence that European Muslims are demanding what you have pondered over, such demanding Europe stop serving pork.

    Neither do I but that the Danish papers or the PM didn't know the offensive nature of depicting the Prophet (pbuh) as a clownish terrorist.

    While your musing might have been relevant under more general circumstances, they don't appear to be relevant to the controversy that exists as a result of specifc and deliberate provocation/insult to the Muslims. We need to review affairs within their context.

  3. typo - "Neither do I but that the Danish papers ..." should have read "Neither do I buy that the Danish papers ..."

  4. I beg to differ on the concession part. Australia, France, and Singapore have have all experienced the issue of Muslim students there wanting to wear non-regulatory uniforms and headscarfs in school that are against school policies, under the platform of religion. Where (if there even is one) should the limits for concessions to minorities be then? This is essentially the main argument used by the freedom of speech camp against the Muslim camp, and this links to your post on those cartoons above.

    It also seems to be that many Muslims seem to assume that most Christian Westerners are very knowledgable about Islamic laws and its taboos. But in reality, most of them don't. And is that really such a huge failing?

    I was in Malaysia for many years, yet I almost have no idea what the customs of the Orang Aslis are. The same also goes for the Aboriginal customs in Australia where I am at now. Likewise, many Christians/Muslims also have very little (and mostly wrong ones at that) idea on what my religion, Buddhism, is really about. Many still thinks that Buddha is a God (he is not), that Buddhists pray to the God of Wealth (that's a Chinese mythology, and has nothing to do with true Buddhism), and that we are idolators (also wrong).

    So one shouldn't just assume that those cartoonists did those depictions merely to antagonise the Muslim world. And furthermore, most Christians, unlike most Muslims, these days have a more relaxed attitude towards satirising their faith and its symbols. Ever seen the controversial cartoon of the Christian 'Cross In Piss' before? So like many idiotic Westerners, they automatically assume that this lax standard towards religion can also be applied to any other religion in the world, including Islam.

    So we shouldn't really overreact to this. It will only continue to cause the two camp's (freedom of speech camp vs Muslim communities) conflict with each other to escalate, and that is a very dangerous thing.