Okay, for the most part I do agree with all you have said with the regards to the “Danish Problem”. In that there is little rationale behind boycotting a government that didn’t insult us in the first place, and that we, as Muslims, should make serious attempts at improving our image.
But I am going to be a bit of a devil’s advocate here, if only to make things interesting. Oh and I am sorry if I ramble on a bit, but I have a hard time making arguments without going into long and boring backgrounds. Oh I’ll also be writing in the first person a lot but it is not necessarily how I feel (I just find it easier to write that way sometimes).
First of all, I think that getting angry and outraged is a natural reaction to seeing your religion being mocked (I do understand that this has nothing to do with your argument, but bear with me). Furthermore, Muslims (particularly Muslim Arabs) have a… unique (not the word I wanted to use) predicament in that Islam as a religion crosses over into being a culture, a way of life even, simply due to the nature and precepts of the religion. So when someone mocks me, as a Muslim, I, by instinct, will understand that my very way of life is being mocked. Being mocked by someone who, with all due respect, does not know or understand the first thing about my way of life, and why and how I live it.
In short, what I am trying to say is that anger and outrage as reactions are not out place or context in this case.
Secondly, whilst I will be the first to agree that image is very important, it is an ignorant man who builds arguments and opinions based on them. “Muslims are bloodthirsty terrorists” may be the image being projected, but I will definitely look upon the person believing it with the utmost contempt. And while I may well excuse the misconceptions of an individual, a newspaper is more than a mere individual and I will not, personally, excuse the ignorance of what is supposed to be a collection of “scholars” (i.e. the newspaper).
So that takes care of the anger-related portion. As for the fact that no Muslims see to be bothered with the fact that Shiites are killing Sunnis and Sunnies are killing Shiites, but are immediately riled up at a cartoon… well I think that is more a facet of human nature than anything else. It is all good for an African-American to call another African-American “Nigger”, even though it is throwback from days of opression and slavery, but a caucasian calling a black man “nigger” and there will be hell to pay. A black man shooting another black man and it might be dismissed as “representin” but a white guy shoots a black guy and it’s racsim.
Insult and pain, it would seem (as with almost everything in life), are relativistic variables that are interpreted by different people and cultures depending on the conditions and perpetrators involved, and in some cases, as and when it they are inclined to interpret them.
The one thing in Faisal’s argument that I cannot fault is the futility in blaming a people and a government that are not at fault. Having said that, can you really blame the people? We are raised and live in countries where the media is an extension of the government’s will and opinion on any given issue. Can people be blamed for thinking that the same applies elsewhere, albeit under the conveniently encompassing blanket of “Freedom of Expression and Speech”? (And there are people that truly believe that freedom of expression is only a blanket that does nothing more than cover the very same governmental will that they more clearly experience in their own countries…. come to think of it…I am bit of an agnostic myself).
And now that I think about it, if the media can depict the Muslim Prophet Mohammed in a negative context and get away with it by flying the “Freedom of Expression” banner, then the media sure as hell can depict Jews eating their offspring (or whatever) under the very same maxim. The point being that they cannot and will not because it will be hailed as racism, anti-semetism and bigotry by the very government that now decrees “I cannot do anything about it, we are an emancipated nation” (and I am not a conspiracy theorist, and Faisal I think will back that).
Simply put, politically we do not matter enough for the government to bother to do anything about it (but that’s another story for another time).