Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | News Flashes | Scoop Features | Scoop Video | Strange & Bizarre | Search

 


Punishing Denmark: Taking on the Wrong Enemy

Punishing Denmark: Taking on the Wrong Enemy


By Ramzy Baroud

Only an irresponsible and intellectually inept individual would sketch such insulting images as those depicting Prophet Mohamed by a cartoonist in the Danish Jyllands-Posten newspaper. And no self-respecting newspaper would allow itself to run such filth. However, the backlash in the Muslim world highlights a much more serious issue.

Jyllands-Posten - and another newspaper in Norway that re-ran the offensive cartoons - is obviously neither self-respecting nor serious. What good will it do to depict a prophet revered by hundreds of millions all around the globe as a terrorist, carrying a bomb under his turban? Nothing at all. What it will do though, is intensify and cement the feelings of bitterness and humiliation experienced by millions of Muslims as they endure the wrath of US-led Western wars, with all of their tragedies and endless bloodshed.

Not even the handy excuse of freedom of the press is so reasonable a defense to the mockery. Such freedom should not be the kind of versatile pretext unleashed only to widen the divide between the West and the Muslim world. Moreover, why not admit that in most Western societies, there are many unquestionable values, ancient and recent, that are taboo, which few dare to approach, the Holocaust being one of them.

But it's not the Western media's inconsistencies that I wish to focus on here. What I wish to examine are the inconsistencies of the Arab and Muslim collective response to aggression, tangible or otherwise.

The anti-Danish movement managed to build up across Muslim countries at such an impressive speed: grassroots collective action and decisive political moves led by various governments -- with Libya and Saudi Arabia on the helm -- quickly turned into determined diplomatic efforts. Arab League missions in Denmark and across Europe united in one of the most coordinated campaigns organized by Arabs since the 1973 War, heaping even more pressure on both Denmark and Norway. Meanwhile, a serious economic boycott campaign is rapidly translating into empty shelves in grocery stores that once offered Danish products across Saudi Arabia and other countries.

The Danish prime minister, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, although he didn't apologize personally, commended Jyllands-Posten for offering a clear apology for offending Muslims and Muslim nations for its editorial decision to publish the cartoons. But that would not suffice in the face of the gathering storm, as Arab League representatives are surely taking the matter to the United Nations, with the hope of passing a UN resolution, backed by sanctions that would protect religion from insults, according to the BBC.

While one must commend such a unified Arab and Muslim stance -- hoping that it would remain confined to legitimate forms of protest -- one cannot help but wonder where was such collectiveness when it was needed the most?

This is not to suggest that transgression on a people's beliefs -- any people and any belief -- should be taken lightly. However, if Arabs can be so efficient in organizing such popular (and effective) campaigns that utilize economic, political and diplomatic leverage to extract concessions, then why the utter failure to carry out such campaigns protesting against the US war on Iraq, its unconditional support of Israel and its condescending foreign policy and grand democracy charades it wishes to impose on everyone?

Isn't it rather strange that cheap Israeli products are penetrating Arab markets from Morocco to Qatar in the most blatant of ways, despite the fact that Israel occupies land belonging to three Arab nations?

Isn't it peculiar that Muslim countries are shrewdly paving their way towards normalization with Israel -- some overtly like Pakistan, others sneakily like Malaysia -- despite the fact that Israel unabashedly moves forward with its policy of targeted assassination, killing hundreds of Palestinians?

And how belligerent could the Danish media be if compared to its counterparts in the United States and Britain? Nonetheless, is there one Arab household that lacks access to CNN, HBO and Fox?

It's rather ironic that many in the Arabic media discovered by total chance that 530 Danish soldiers are taking part in the illegitimate US war on Iraq, by way of the Danish newspaper controversy. Thus, it cannot even be claimed that popular response to the insulting comics was the culmination of years of resentment harbored towards Danish foreign policy, whether in Iraq or towards any other Arab or Muslim related issue.

This is neither an attempt to defend Denmark (or Norway) or its apparently selective "freedom of the press", but to highlight the misconstrued priorities inundating the Arab world today. During a decade of US-led UN sanctions in Iraq, neighboring Muslim and Arab countries were commended by the US, saying that their cooperation was vital to the success of the sanctions imposed on the stricken nation. According to the most modest and outdated UN reports, over 500,000 Iraqi children died as a result of the lack of medicine. Where was the popular uproar then, the diplomatic fury and the boycott campaign?

I am afraid that the Muslim and Arab-led anti- Danish campaign will widen a chasm separating both worlds, bolstering the Arabs' reputation of being intolerant while providing an unimportant cartoonist with the opportunity of a lifetime: a chance for martyrdom on behalf of freedom of the press and perhaps a book deal, and if lucky, a spot on the Oprah Winfrey show. But that's all that one should expect.

Prophet Mohamed is revered because of his daily-felt contribution to Muslim life everywhere. He needs not a Danish cartoonist to validate or nullify his relevance in the lives of millions. Of that Muslims are to be sure. However, it is discouraging that the collective energy of the Muslim world is consumed punishing a small European country over a drawing, while US military bases infest the heart of the Arab world, and American fast food restaurants crowd every street corner, from the Atlantic Ocean to the Arabian Gulf, while few seem to notice or even care.

*************

-Ramzy Baroud is a veteran Arab-American journalist and the editor in chief of the Palestine Chronicle. He currently teaches mass communication at Australia’s Curtin University of Technology, Malaysia Campus. He is the author of the forthcoming book Writings on the Second Palestinian Uprising: A Chronicle of a People’s Struggle (Pluto Press, London).

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops Headlines

 

Werewolf: Living With Rio’s Olympic Ruins

Mariana Cavalcanti Critics of the Olympic project can point a discernible pattern in the delivery of Olympics-related urban interventions: the belated but rushed inaugurations of faulty and/or unfinished infrastructures... More>>

Live Blog On Now: Open Source//Open Society Conference

The second annual Open Source Open Society Conference is a 2 day event taking place on 22-23 August 2016 at Michael Fowler Centre in Wellington… Scoop is hosting a live blog summarising the key points of this exciting conference. More>>

ALSO:

Buildup:

Gordon Campbell: On The Politicising Of The War On Drugs In Sport

It hasn’t been much fun at all to see how “war on drugs in sport” has become a proxy version of the Cold War, fixated on Russia. This weekend’s banning of the Russian long jumper Darya Klishina took that fixation to fresh extremes. More>>

ALSO:

Binoy Kampmark: Kevin Rudd’s Failed UN Secretary General Bid

Few sights are sadder in international diplomacy than seeing an aging figure desperate for honours. In a desperate effort to net them, he scurries around, cultivating, prodding, wishing to be noted. Finally, such an honour is netted, in all likelihood just to shut that overly keen individual up. More>>

Open Source / Open Society: The Scoop Foundation - An Open Model For NZ Media

Access to accurate, relevant and timely information is a crucial aspect of an open and transparent society. However, in our digital society information is in a state of flux with every aspect of its creation, delivery and consumption undergoing profound redefinition... More>>

Keeping Out The Vote: Gordon Campbell On The US Elections

I’ll focus here on just two ways that dis-enfranchisement is currently occurring in the US: (a) by the rigging of the boundary lines for voter districts and (b) by demanding elaborate photo IDs before people are allowed to cast their vote. More>>

Ramzy Baroud: Being Black Palestinian - Solidarity As A Welcome Pathology

It should come as no surprise that the loudest international solidarity that accompanied the continued spate of the killing of Black Americans comes from Palestine; that books have already been written and published by Palestinians about the plight of their Black brethren. In fact, that solidarity is mutual. More>>

ALSO:


Get More From Scoop

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Top Scoops
Search Scoop  
 
 
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news