What Would Jesus Do?
By Remi Kanazi
Picture this: A cartoon of Jesus, with his pants down, smiling, raping a little boy. The caption above it reads “Got Catholicism?” Or how about a picture of a Rabbi with blood dripping from his mouth after bludgeoning a small Palestinian boy with a knife shaped like the Star of David—the caption reads “The Devil’s Chosen Ones.”
I wonder if people around the world would just consider this free speech? Of course, some would condone or agree with one, two or all three, while others would say “it’s free speech,” although they “find it offensive and in poor taste.” But do you honestly think media outlets such as the BBC, Le Monde, or any media outlet in Copenhagen would pick up these cartoons? The outrage would begin instantly and advertisers would pullout. Yet, those in Denmark and their supporters around Europe call it freedom of speech to have a cartoon of the prophet Mohammed—who is not supposed be depicted to prevent idolatry according to clerical interpretation of the Koran—with a turban shaped like a bomb on his head.
The double standard the West has set for the rest of the world is disgusting. We live in a foolish bubble where we think we are free to say or do whatever we want without consequence. I remember watching Saturday Night Live when Sinead O’Connor ripped up a picture of the Pope. The furor was enormous, which led to NBC receiving a 2.5 million dollar fine by the Federal Communications Commission. Imagine if it was a picture of Jesus—the US Congress would have made the Teri Schiavo intervention look like a joke.
Where are the pictures of the dead soldiers, the dead women and children in the Western media? Some governments won’t allow it and other media outlets just fear the backlash. When I need journalistic honesty, I have to turn to Al Jazeera, why is that? One cannot even deny the Holocaust in Europe, question 9/11 in America (unless you want the Ward Churchill treatment), but the West claims they’re all about free speech.
It is no coincidence the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is grossly pro-Israeli. It is no coincidence that you never heard the full quotes of Iranian president Ahmadinejad’s comments on Israel and the Holocaust—no matter the basis. And it is no coincidence that Arab analysts who are against the war in Iraq, the occupation of Palestine, and America’s “war on terror” are insufficiently represented in the European press.
So what are Muslims to do? Violence is out of the question—that would be “an overreaction.” So why not boycott? That would be a mistake as well, according to the European Justice Commissioner Franco Frattini who stated, “Calls for boycotts or for restraints on the freedom of the press are completely unacceptable.” What Frattini meant to say is that Muslims should choose capitalism over faith. Maybe the European Union will clarify through a cartoon—Mohammed selling the Koran for ten bucks in a Danish pawn shop. But boycotting is a friend of the West. However, they more conveniently title it “sanctions.” I’m sure we all remember the 500,000 Iraqi women and children that died because of the UN boycotts on Iraq after the first Gulf War.
Is Europe is willing to continue this new trend against boycotts? Will the European community call on Israel to show Paradise Now in non-independent theatres? It’s the only way to stop the boycott of Palestinian freedom of speech. Will the European Union resume aide to the Hamas-led Palestinian government tomorrow? Since Hamas’ call for the destruction of Israel is protected under the clause of freedom of speech and the group stopped suicide attacks 18 months ago, it only seems logical.
If Denmark, Norway, France, Germany and the rest of Europe believe in the freedom of speech, it should include all instances and all religions. These nations are carelessly defending their hypocrisy and reinforcing the double standard that alienates Muslims and desecrates the Muslim faith, under the guise of free speech. I guess only one question remains for small Norwegian Christian newspapers like Magazinet that reprinted the cartoons: What would Jesus do?
*** Remi Kanazi is the primary writer for the political website www.PoeticInjustice.net. He lives in New York City as a Palestinian American freelance writer and can reached via email at email@example.com
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