Monday, February 06, 2006

Re-defining the word "Offensive"

Which of the above images is more offensive?

The publication of drawings of Mohammed in Jyllands-Posten of Denmark will turn out to be a watershed event. Muslims around the world are denouncing the imagery as "offensive" to Muslim sensibilities, and in response, have turned out in wave after wave of protests, and torched embassies in Syria and Lebanon.

The drawing above on the left was one of the pictures published--the picture on the right is a morgue photo of an Indonesian Christian schoolgirl beheaded by an Islamic paramilitary death squad. When this horrific act occurred last year, there were a handful of reports in the media about it, accompanied by some severe clucking of tongues. Completely absent was any real outrage, both from the western media and mainstream Islam.

Forget for a moment the fact that it took a handful of traveling Imams from Denmark five months and the addition of fabricated, inflammatory drawings that were never published to whip up the current frenzy. Forget also that images of the prophet have appeared here and there throughout history. What matters is that Muslims the world over are offended and must be appeased.

It's apparent that militant Islam has chosen this event and this moment to force a clash of wills with the west. I say this will be a watershed event because I see only two possible outcomes: One in which Muslims residing in the west choose to adopt western values and one in which the west caves and allows freedom of expression to become stifled by a fascistic minority.

The signs, so far, are not assuring.

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