Danish Cartoons: There ARE Solutions to the problem
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Danish Cartoons: There ARE Solutions to the problem Religious beliefs conflicting with secular principles is not a new concept: it happened many times in the past and it still continues to happen through out the world. The Danish cartoon controversy is one of the good examples showing this conflict. It was triggered by a Danish author, Kare Bluitgen, wanting artists to illustrate Muslim prophet Muhammad for a book that he was set to publish. He approached three illustrators, who turned down his offer, because the depiction of Prophet Muhammad in human form is forbidden in Islam, and artists were afraid that they would pay with their lives for doing so. The president of Danish Writers Union, Frants Iver Gundelach, claimed this to be a threat to free speech. Taking Gundalach's words into consideration, Jyllands-Posten, the largest newspaper in Denmark approached forty cartoonists to portray Prophet Muhammad and in response received twelve cartoons showing him in various acts of violence. It suggests that Islam is intrinsically violent and irredeemable. It posits all Muslims as potential terrorists. In other words, it fuels that hatred against Muslims and constructs them as 'evil Others' (Sardar, 2006).
Angry Muslims should make their demands clear and purse the right way to achieve these demands. They should know alternative ways to react to an insult other than violence. They should seek help from the law: "If the law can be used to defend the sacred notion of the Holocaust, then it can be used to protect the sacred territory of one of the great religions of the world" (Sardar, 2006). I believe this can only be done through educating Muslims about the law and other non-violent alternatives to deal with such insults. In my opinion the media would be the best educating source as it is the most influential and the best brain washer yet available, if wanted it can change the way one thinks in the shortest time possible. This would ensure that extremists know how to react when a situation like this arises again. The Western society is no exception; they need to understand that freedom of speech comes with restrictions; they just can not go around insulting people without facing any consequences. People have to learn that respecting ones belief is the best way to achieve common ground; therefore they have to restrain themselves from projecting hatred or offensive style of speaking.
The only thing the Muslims were seeking from the beginning was an apology, and because Jyllnads-Posten started this controversy, it was only fair for them to apologize. Had it apologized the conflict wouldn't have even started. Spencer in his article makes it clear that free speech has to be preserved at any cost: "freedom is imperiled internationally more today than it has been in recent memory." (Spencer 2005). He seems to think that hard-won freedoms would be wiped out if multiculturalism is supported, ones freedom in such situation must be protected so that it's not given up voluntarily. Furthermore, he implies that if people decided not to say something out of respect for a religion that is not their own, then they will be giving up the first amendment without realizing it. However, he fails to realize that if unconditional free speech is allowed then the world would be in chaos. If everyone were to act like Muslims in similar controversy like Danish cartoons then there would be constant protests and violence every where. This is where education, dialogue and an apology come in to solve the problem; these three actions will make people aware of the situations where free speech is to be used and where it is to be restrained.
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