Sunday, February 05, 2006

There is no God but God...

Another day, another embassy.

This time, it's the Danish embassy in Beirut, Lebanon.

BEIRUT, Lebanon - Thousands of Muslims rampaged Sunday in Beirut, setting
fire to the Danish Embassy, burning Danish flags and lobbing stones at a
Maronite Catholic church as violent protests spread over caricatures of the
Prophet Muhammad.

Wait, what?

"...lobbing stones at a Maronite Catholic church..."

I wasn't aware the Catholics had a dog in this fight. So much for not offending other religions.

According to an editorial in the state-run Syrian newspaper Al-Thawra:

“It is unjustifiable under any kind of personal freedoms
to allow a person or a group to insult the beliefs of millions
of Muslims,”
After reading this quote, I started thinking - what belief is being insulted here? The answer I'm given is it's some Islamic prohibition against portrayals of the prophet. My question is, who exactly is prohibited. If the prohibitions apply to those of the Islamic faith, then I guess we're in the clear since, as far as I know, none of the Danish cartoonists were believers. If, however, the prohibition applies to everyone (believers and non-believers alike), then we have a problem. To me, it's like Catholics not eating meat on Fridays, and then being insulted when everyone doesn't follow suit.

So they blow up a Burger King to espress their outrage.

For a meaningful level of co-existence to be predicated on not offending others' beliefs is a very high bar to meet, especially when one group's beliefs are so intricately tied to their polictics. Herein lies the rub. Western society is built on the concept that we as free citizens have the right to expressions which may indeed cause insult to any number of beliefs. In exchange, the aggrieved parties have the right to protest or counter those expressions. Ultimately, the debate which arises from the conflict exemplifies the very nature of a free-thinking society. My questions is, how in hell do you reconcile that with "unjustifiable to...insult the beliefs or millions of Muslims"? The short answer is you can't, at least not with the mindsets present in this conflict. Either the West must impose a level of self-censorship that is contradictory to everything we believe is right, or Muslims will have to accept that not everything under the sun is going to be done their way.

God help us all.

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