quinta-feira, fevereiro 02, 2006

much ado about nothing..


At 2/03/2006 3:18 da tarde, Blogger Milan said...

I partly agree, Chiara. Most of the cartoons seem harmless and with some humour.

The one that people found particularly offensive has Muhammed with a turbant shaped bomb, and here lies something rarely mentioned in the press: in the turban, you can see an old inscription in classical Arabic, that says something like "There is just One God, and Muhammed is his prophet". You may remember the tiles you've seen in the Alhambra, and its inspiration in flowers, nature and elaborate calligraphy. Muslims abolished the representation of human figures in their art - particularly the prophet - to discourage idol worshiping or paganism. Part of this reverence for the sacred was transferred in the Arab nomadic society to the intricate and magical design of its calligraphy, which always found inspiration in the verses of the Kuran instead. This would be repeated throughout the Islamic world, from Moorish Spain to India - the Taj Mahal's marble is covered by similar inscriptions. Having myself distant roots in a much more liberal and cosmopolitan Muslim microcosmos in the old Portuguese India, I remember, as a kid, this solemn reverence towards those classical Arabic inscriptions ("the word of God"), born out of respect, when my grandparents prayed in our flat in Lisbon. They were completely Portuguese in a way, but also typical Muslim Indians from East Africa - tolerant and respectful towards every culture, religion or race. This cartoon of the turban, in particular, would have probably offended them. Somehow, I also feel they would not be able to imagine or conceive today's fundamentalists or "Muslim terrorists", that, as Tarik Ramadan mentions (you’ve quoted him before) have hijacked the Islamic faith. Theirs was an idealistic Muslim culture, the culture of the Alhambra - which they never saw, although we never lived very far from it - and of the Indian Mughals and its imperial cities - which they never saw as well, as they were born in East Africa and spent most of their lives in Lisbon: a cosmopolitan society, multicultural, multiracial and even able to accept and absorb Hindu paganism, art and philosophy. A culture born from the harshness of the Arabic desert in the Middle Ages, savage and brutal, but able to civilize itself along the way with Persia, India and the knowledge of Greece and Rome (its philosophy and laws), and the rest of the world it conquered. By the way, a culture that was also capable of satire and self-criticism and even self-mockery (I remember now some of the stories of the Arabian Tales).

In today’s “Público”, Jorge Almeida Fernandes writes an interesting article about this matter (“O turbante de Maomé”). “O direito à sátira “termina no ponto em que se torna provocação ou desprezo do outro”, he says. Although you and me might see such cartoons as harmless – and a lot of people in the Muslim world and communities despair for more secularism and freedom of thought, which we take so much for granted in the West – a lot of Muslims, even liberal-minded people, probably think this was not necessary.

At 2/03/2006 5:21 da tarde, Blogger chiara said...

Dear Milan,

thank you for your comment!

I think these comments in publico are examples of ill-intended political correcteness that is driving all of us in a very bad and dangerous path. I am not surprised by Publico, anyway.

U.S., Italy, and UK have been quick to condemn the Danish newspaper..it reminds you somethign? They are the ones that made war to Iraq. So..cartoons that offends muslims are bad, but killing them is no problem..with their hypocrisy they are legitimating Theo Van Gogh killers.

The real point is..why is this happening now? I would invite you to read both the "have your say" debate, and the readers panel comments on the BBC website, in particular there is a danish guy that explaines how this started: 4 months ago!
I suspect this has something to do with the unconfessed interest of some fanatic clerics, and with the Hamas victory at Palestine elections. As a consequence, U.S. and EU are not giving them money anymore.

Anyway, reading the comments you can notice the level of arguments on the muslims side. Their comment seem written by children. The only things they can say is that they are "offended" - a vocabulary that fits a child in fact. And we offend them , but they would not offend us (who cares?)..and so on on. and that religion is over us all..and so on..

Their attitude and their threats are both unacceptable.

again, on the boundary to freedom of speech: then, who decides what is offensive? read the case of Russia, in which a journalist has been found guilty of "stirring ethnic hatred" because he was reporting on human rights in Chechnya..


At 2/03/2006 5:27 da tarde, Blogger chiara said...

One more thing:

the guy wrtiting on Publico is a complete ignorant I am afraid. In fact he does not know what satyre means. He should go and study, abit of ancient history maybe, because satyre is exactly about provocation. There is an interesting movie-documentary in Italy about satyre:" Viva Zapatero!" by Sabina Guzzanti, a comedian that has been kicked out -like many others- from the italian public TV by some zealot Belusconi-supporters, because..she was doing political satyre. Their reason was exactly that satyre stops where..bla bla bla

At 2/03/2006 7:10 da tarde, Blogger Milan said...

:) Ok Chiara, I rest my case. I agree with most of your reasoning anyway. Regarding those comments you mention, I wouldn't be surprised by the childish nature of the debate. About why it is happening now? Simple: most fanatics had not heard of the case yet (it was confined to Denmark and a bit of Scandinavia, although embassies from Muslim countries did complain). I remember the Rushdie affair in 1988/89 now. People were complaining about his book (the author seemed quite shocked by such reaction from the very people he dedicated his books to) througout the year, but we had to wait for a group of fanatics in India to pick up on the matter and start demonstranting. Then came the Khomeini fatwa and so on. I believe the same happened now. Nothing could please fanatics, and their agenda, more...

At 2/03/2006 11:30 da tarde, Blogger Nuno said...

I believe that the cartoons that were published in September 2005 were not meant to offend. I liked the reaction from the newspaper and the danish government. They appologised, because it was not meant to offend, but said they do not compromise their approach to freedom of speach. It should have stopped there. The British government has also reacted. This is ridiculous. They are just legitimising intimidation.

I also would like to say that I didn't like the editorial of Público. The decision of not publishing the cartoons is obviously defendable: why inflating the subject. But the argument of common sense, give me a break.

There is a much better editorial defending the position of not publishing the cartoons on today's independent. Of course the argument is not this stupid common sense. The newspapers have a responsibility on the society, and they also have to address the issues of realpolitik.

The thing is: if Publico publishes those cartoons, then Sonae, the group that owns Publico, doesn't sell in the Muslim world anymore. This might be a good justification for not publishing. But the "limits of common sense". Give me a break.

At 2/05/2006 4:15 da tarde, Blogger Milan said...

:) Well, it's good to see my favourite left-wing couple from the Net in such a resolute and combative mood :) Nuno, "Público" and "Expresso" both published the "satanic" cartoons this weekend. The situation, as many feared, was completely blown out of proportion and extremists all over the place have now taken control, torching embassies in the Middle East and going to the streets in London with menaces and death chants. I hope it will end here and not escalate much further.

At 2/05/2006 4:35 da tarde, Blogger chiara said...

Hi Milan,

I read a nice comment today on BBC "have your say": for the sake of freedom, those cartoons should have been published", in the name of tolerance, we should now move on". This is now really a pathetic and childish theatre. Let's just hope that nobody will be hurt. For the time being, the ones that are suffering most are the palestinian civilians who were very much helped by the northern europeans.

At 2/05/2006 10:42 da tarde, Blogger Nuno said...

Hi Milan,

Well... If Publico decided to publish the cartoons then why that editorial on the Friday issue? JMF talks abot the responsability that is associated with freedom of speach. This is, of course, absolutely true. But if he says this, he is criticising the cartoons and those that have republished them, like the newspaper France Soir. So, if he criticises them why does he republish the cartoons? He says:

" (...) o PÚBLICO reproduz alguns deles, para que os leitores possam tomar conhecimento do que se está a discutir, mas não entende que tenha qualquer obrigação de repetir a "provocação" por "solidariedade"."

This is pure relativism and is so portuguese. In the end of the day he doesn't take any position whatsoever. Because to take a position means either: (a) seing the publishing of the cartoons as a provocation, and, as a matter of respect for those that feel offended, the position is not to republish them (like the Independent did); (b) consider that freedom of speech is something essential to our democracies, which cannot be silenced with acts of intimidation, and so the position is to publish the cartoons (like so many european newspapers did).


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