Saturday, March 04, 2006

The C-Word

With all the banter, hyperbole & rhetoric we've been assaulted with for the past few months (yes, I'm about to make reference to the dreaded C-Word), I am ready to admit that I am sick to the teeth of the c-toons. To the teeth. And what I have found the most distressing and compelling in this maelstrom of mohamedism is the dearth (mark: dearth not absence) of a concerted Muslim response against the violence, reactionism and obtuseness so vividly illustrated on the streets of Beirut, Islamabad & Damascus.

For some time now, I've been wondering why I haven't heard from Salman Rushdie. Surely he could have offered a scathing indictment of these religious pinheads as well as a few Fatwa Survival Tips to the cartoonists now living under a death sentence. To be fair, there has been some condemnation of the hysteria brought on by the c-toons, but mostly from the intelligensia in the West, the most recent of which can be found in this manifesto - penned by intellectuals, journalists and writers (including Rushdie).

But frankly, I don't want to hear only from the intellectuals, I want to hear from imams, shopkeepers, students and housewives. Then two days ago, a kidnapping attempt was made on a daughter of one of the c-toonists. Not the reaction I was looking for.

With these thoughts coursing through my febrile mind, I look at the calendar and realize that in one week the Muslim world will (or may or should) mark the 4-year anniversary of the deaths of the 15 girls in Mecca who died in a school blaze, because religious police would not allow them to leave the building or be saved by firefighters. Their crime? - they were not wearing "correct" Islamic dress: no headscarves, no abbayas (black robes).

"The Saudi Gazette quoted witnesses as saying that the police - known as the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice - had stopped men who tried to help the girls and warned "it is a sinful to approach them". The father of one of the dead girls said that the school watchman even refused to open the gates to let the girls out."

So as I've been pondering this, I receive a forwarded e-mail from my mother which, not unfamiliar to me, has been 'making the rounds' on various blogs and websites. With the timeliness of the anniversary of the schoolgirls' death and the dead horse of a cartoon that continues to be beaten (but not to death - it now as a permanent Wikipedia entry), I've decided, after much debate (not least because it was forwarded to Mom by an ultraconservative & racist member of the family) to post it here. I don't deny that it's simplistic, but there is much truth in it. If anything, it is food for thought.

- Muslims fly commercial airliners into buildings in New York City. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslim officials block the exit where school girls are trying to escape a burning building because their faces were exposed. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims cut off the heads of three teenaged girls on their way to school in Indonesia. A Christian school. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims murder teachers trying to teach Muslim children in Iraq. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims murder over 80 tourists with car bombs outside cafes and hotels in Egypt. No Muslim outrage.
- A Muslim attacks a missionary children's school in India. Kills six. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims slaughter hundreds of children and teachers in Beslan, Russia. Muslims shoot children in the back. No Muslim outrage.
- Let's go way back. Muslims kidnap and kill athletes at the Munich Summer Olympics. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims fire rocket-propelled grenades into schools full of children in Israel. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims murder more than 50 commuters in attacks on London subways and busses. Over 700 are injured. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims massacre dozens of innocents at a Passover Seder. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims murder innocent vacationers in Bali. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslim newspapers publish anti-Semitic cartoons. No Muslim outrage
- Muslims are involved, on one side or the other, in almost every one of the 125+ shooting wars around the world. No Muslim outrage.
- Muslims beat the charred bodies of Western civilians with their shoes, then hang them from a bridge. No Muslim outrage.
- Newspapers in Denmark and Norway publish cartoons depicting Mohammed. Muslims are outraged.
Dead children. Dead tourists. Dead teachers. Dead doctors and nurses. Death, destruction and mayhem around the world at the hands of Muslims ... no Muslim outrage ... but publish a cartoon depicting Mohammed with a bomb in his turban and all hell breaks loose.

There are so many ugly & politically-charged c-words: cartoon, conservatism, complacency, chauvetism. In their ugliness, they have the power to rally a people to effect positive change. That is their strength.

Postscript: apologies to those of you whose name begins with "C". I include myself and my husband in this at group - and of course, Cathy.


Anonymous Cath said...

"This just in .... 1,000 rioting atheists storm newspaper office after 12 blank sheets of paper were found on a cartoonist's desk."
(Don't apologize to me - apologize to chocolate!)

4:39 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...


8:57 p.m.  
Anonymous RobertFrost said...

I ve read what you have written about the cartoon affair and the first thing to attract me was your mentioning of Salman Rushdie as an authority in this field.Salman Rushdie might have gone unknown had it not been that stupid Iranian Fatwa.The writer of Midnight Children,Shame and Satanic Verses hasn't got the depth or inspiration of ,say Joyce or Hemingway.His fame eclipsed the day his bully kicked the bucket.Elsewhere,you are damned right.

6:20 p.m.  
Blogger Cat in Rabat ( كات في الرباط) said...

Thanks for your comments. I mentioned Rushdie in light of his own experiences with the religious right of Islam. Having said that, I would add that he did receive the coveted Booker prize for Midnight's Children in '81, several years before the controversy with The Satanic Verses. I personally love much of his writing although I do think that The Moor's Last Sigh was his last great novel. To each his own. Thanks for your insights.

7:36 p.m.  
Blogger knarf said...

It's rather unfortunate that atrocities are attributed to various racial or religious groups, as if those perpetrators were representatives of those groups. The whole group gets tarred by those actions.

Israelis have been committing crimes against the Palestinians (who are mostly Muslim) for many decades. Russia has committed crimes against Muslims in Afghanistan and then Chechnia for decades. In Indonesia, the (now fallen)Suharto regime persecuted Muslims.

I guess my point is that anyone who, in the name of their god or their country, kills or represses another is wrong. As much as some of us can point fingers at Islam, so they can point fingers at Christians and others.

Maybe if finger-pointing would stop, and we simply called for an end to all sectarian, political and military violence, we could get to the bottom of the problem.

2:35 p.m.  

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