confusion over the Cartoon Controversy.
By Shaacir Mataan
Around the world, Muslims? anger is boiling over. Protests against the
caricature drawings of our beloved prophet Mohammed (May peace and blessings
of Almighty Allah be upon him) in Europe? so-called ?free press? is spreading
up like a wildfire in the Islamic world. How could there be one uniform
reaction of people in places as far flung as Nigeria, Somalia, Russia,
and Indonesia, Lebanon etc, where there are geographical and racial differences?
One wonders. Well, what non-Muslims are oblivious is the deeply held universal
concept of Ummah, or the community of Believers. In Islam, Muslims belong
to the Muslim nation. Race or ethnicity takes the back seat to the prerogative
of this notion.
Sadly, the tragedy of the global Muslim outcry came close to home. In
Boosaaso, a port city in the Northeastern part of Somalia, a teenage boy
was crushed to death in a stampede caused by rioting mobs running from
Muslims have every reason to be angry. The average Muslim is fed up with
the demeaning portrayal of our beautiful faith in western media. Fanaticism,
terrorism, fundamentalism and all these negatively coined alien terms
are easily associated now with Islam and is engraved in the western psyche
thanks to the conceited campaign of vilification of everything Islamic
by western media.
Every Muslim, whether you label him/her moderate or militant, has vowed
not to sit down idle this time though. Muslims can?t take anymore the
bigoted Islam-phobic invectives that have become so fashionable in the
West these days.
Nevertheless the reactionary ways Muslims try to counter these provocations
is absolutely wrong and problematic.
The loss of life, the mob reaction, the burning of flags, the ruining
of properties, is appalling and offensive to say the least. The Muslim
response everywhere is by and large bereft of rationale. The folly and
foolishness of the protesters is really giving credence to the European
foregone inference that Islam is violent and backward religion.
These violent actions are contrary to the sayings of the prophet Muhammad
(PBUH) ? As reported by Tirmidhi:
?Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat
you well, you will treat them well, and that if they do wrong, you will
do wrong. Rather accustom yourselves to do good, if people do good, and
not to do wrong if they do evil?
Wouldn?t it have been noble to see Muslims taking heed of the last decree
of this wise tradition?
Wouldn?t it have been notable to see Muslims protesting against the suicide
bombings and spilling of the Muslim blood in Muslim lands?
As for the Somali religious groups, it is kind mind boggling to fathom
why they don?t rally against the cold-blooded warlords and their marauding
militias, the road blacks and the arbitrary confiscation of properties?
Wait a second here, wasn?t it the numerous clan based Islamic courts that
where taking away other people?s belongings?
Every so often the Ulemma?s priorities and focus look as if they are misguided
The pain and hurt caused by these wicked cartoons is beyond measure. Some
may ask if you have a strong conviction in your faith, why a hypothetically
?satirical? cartoon could become so offending and so upsetting. The gist
of this is the sacred can be ridiculed and made fun of while the secular
is sheltered of any derision.
Forget about the fact that one of cartoons was depicting Prophet Muhammad
(Pbuh) as the ultimate terrorist.
Well, The Muslim hue and cry is not about the cartoons anymore, it is
about the historical attitude and the perpetual arrogance of the West.
It is the hypocrisy and the double talk. You know what I am talking about.
It is the lack of development, it is the economic stagnation, and it is
the suffering of the Muslim masses at the hands of authoritarian regimes,
supported by the West. It is the occupation and invasion of Muslim lands
by the West. It is about recounting of Muslim deaths as ?collateral damage?.
It is about the carnages in Fallujah, Chechnya, Palestine, Bosnia etc.
Everywhere you look at; it is the Muslims who are at the receiving ends
of indiscriminate bombings from suicidal fanatics and from laser-guided
In Europe, It is about the Colonial past. It is the ban of Hijab in France
and Holland. It is the alienation of Muslims and their reduction to second
class citizens. It is the xenophobia and prevailing fear of Islam in the
heart of Europe.
For us Somalis, predominantly Sunni Muslims, It is the propping up of
mouthy fraud charlatans, like Ayaan Hirsi, a Somali avowed apostate, who
is neither a scholar of any sort, let alone on Islam nor a captivating
thinker, and whose whole claim of subjugation and escape from arranged
marriage to an older man is comparable to James Frey?s (author of Million
Little Pieces) fake addiction to drugs,.
Like Frey, Ayaan managed to make up million little lies about her nurture.
She cunningly came up with unabashed charade against Islam to be in the
limelight, thus becoming the token torchbearer of European Islam-phobia.
Then, As usual the European hardliners amazingly rewarded this indecorous
lady to parliament seat. Somalis are fully aware that her phony allegations
hold no water whatsoever. It is a fraudulent feint ala Hollywood.
Some Somalis, thanks to the Italian colonial legacy in Southern Somalia,
are familiar with Cicciolina, the Hungarian born porn star. She proved
that it doesn?t take that much to join into the open chambers of Europe.
But unlike Miss Ayaan, Instead of spewing hatred and inciting discord
among people, Cicciolina wanted to patch up things. Cicciolina in her
naiveté and eccentricity had wildly proposed to sleep with Saddam
to avert war in Iraq. That was the first Gulf war.
Most Somalis I know are quite confounded with the concept of freedom of
speech. Is there any limitation to what one can say? What is hate mongering?
What is heretical?
It has become an open season to intentionally bash and provoke Muslims
all in the name and disguise of free speech. But then free speech, as
we are told, is inherently the conception of the civilized and liberal
west and thus the west have a free rein to interpret it as they fancy.
Anti-Semitic, homophobic and racist remarks in the media are strongly
shunned and opposed and are seen as an incitement. But when it comes to
Muslim bashing, it is a free speech. The Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad deftly
elucidates the whole hypocrisy in another cartoon.
Cartoon from Jordanian newspaper Al Ghad. Counter-clockwise from top right:
"This one is anti-Semitic", "this one is racist",
and ?those fall under free speech
After September 11, Somalis became acquainted with so many encroachments
of their rights. Most of them are petrified since things changed for worse.
None dares to voice their anger publicly lest they became targeted and
accused of terrorist sympathizers. Nevertheless, Somalis in Minnesota
are very grateful to the local major newspapers; Startribune & Pioneer
Press for their wise decision of sparing us of such hurt and pain and
republishing these insensitive cartoons.
As far as our beloved Prophet Muhammad (Pbup) is concerned, no matter
how hard they try to disrespect or insult his name; His defense is from
the divine as Allah praises him in the holy Quran:
?Wa-inaka lacalaa khuliqin cathiim"
?And verily, you (O Muhammad!) Are on an exalted standard of character?
? or as another English transliteration puts it:
?And Verily, You (Muhammad (PBUH) you have been created with awesome character!?
Muslim should take comfort in the fact that Allah has sent the Prophet
Muhammad as a mercy to all the worlds. As the Qur'an states:
"We have not sent you but as a Messenger to all mankind?
He was the best example in humanity and we should all strive to follow
his tradition of wisdom, harmony, forbearance and reason. If he would
have been alive today, the prophet (pbuh) would have disregarded these
bigoted decadent cartoonists. He put up with worse harassments and persecutions
of Qureish tribesmen for more than a decade by just being patient and
Definitely, the violent riots in the Muslim world and extreme sacrilegious
expression in Europe calls for an honest dialogue and understanding between
the Muslim world and the West.
Most Somalis muse on and on about the uncompromising convictions of extremists
in both sides ? the Euro-fascist islamo-phopes and the fanatical militants
in the Muslim world. They deem the chasm between these radical groups,
calls for this urgent need of dialogue for the sake of peace and calm
And for all people in this world, of different races and religions, it
is fitting to refer to Rodney King?s quote after the infamous Los Angeles
riots. ?Can we all get along??