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Commentary on Cartoons of Mohammed

Victor R. Claveau, M.J.

The following was sent to newspapers in Southern California on February 3, 2006

 

The Islamic world is up in arms (no pun intended) about the publication of a dozen caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed in various newspapers across Europe.

 

The first drawing, which showed the prophet wearing a turban shaped as a bomb, appeared in the Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten in September and was re-printed in a Norwegian Christian publication called Magazinet. Islamic law forbids any illustrations of the prophet Mohammed, so the caricatures have spurred protests from Islamic countries and from Muslims living across Europe.

 

It is often remarked that stereotypes do not arise out of nothing. No matter how slanderous the stereotype, at least some small part of it must have its origin in reality or the stereotype would not be adopted as true by the culture.

 

Consider, for instance, that slaves who are regularly whipped tend to be less than enthusiastic workers. This is a fact. It is also the origin of an American stereotype concerning African American men being lazy. Similarly, Jews were, for centuries, lawfully forbidden from working in most trades. About the only profession they were permitted to work in was banking. Hence, the stereotype of Jews as being money grubbing. Another ridiculous stereotype is that Catholics are stupid; that papists have a robot-like obedience to a pontiff that thinks for them because they are too ignorant to think for themselves. While the vast majority of members of Islam do not blow themselves up in crowded cafes, the stereotypical Muslim is the suicide bomber.

 

I suppose that being a Roman Catholic has a bit to do with my view on this matter. It is readily apparent to those with eyes to see, and ears to hear, that up until now Catholicism was considered by the liberal media elite as the last acceptable prejudice. Now, apparently, peaceful Muslims will take their undeserved place alongside faithful Catholics.

 

While I am all for freedom of the press, I also believe in common sense and not deliberately trying to provoke. Running these cartoons was an insensitive and stupid thing to do. Why enflame the hearts and minds of people who already consider the Anglo world to be anti-Arab?

 

The fact that newspapers across Europe published these cartoons in support of the Danish newspaper, which by the way has apologized for printing the cartoons, only further exacerbates the situation. We must all learn to respect the beliefs of others and treat all people as brothers and sisters, for that is what we are.

 

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Copyright 2004 Victor Claveau. All Rights Reserved