Cartoons of Mohammad


Updated: 21 May 2008, 23:22

Originally written: 04 February 2006


Under the actually existing morality of capitalism, it is moral to approve of killing people you do not know, and whom you do not believe will harm you. This is the basic morality under which people justify, and acquiesce to, war. Wars, we are assured, are not against average folk like us. No. Wars are against “bad” people. The average folk who die are what the military now calls “collateral damage.” They are not blown up babies. They are “collateral damage.” It is all justified because maybe the “bad” people will also be stopped.

Some of those “bad people” are brutal murderers, who slaughter average folk. They represent the worst of capitalism’s morality. So, nations, religions, and those with a “cause,” train their own citizens and supporters to be proud that they slaughter average folk, and send their trained murderers around the world to save the world, or religion, or cause, by killing many people. This “logic” has killed and maimed tens of millions of people in the past hundred years.

We live in a world in which a perceived insult is considered just cause to kill and maim. These insults range from looking at someone’s girl friend the “wrong way,” to loving the wrong person, to wearing the wrong running shoes or colour in some gang’s vicinity, to suggesting that a dead human being has left a legacy of hatred.

This is the world into which Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published cartoons portraying the dead spiritual leader of the Muslims.

Many Muslims perceive that they have been insulted. Many Muslims believe that an appropriate response is to kill people. These people believe that disagreement with them (their faith) is an offence punishable by death.

Any human being who believes that disagreement justifies murder is a seriously deformed individual.

Some comments from Muslims:

Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, in Iraq:
Deems the cartoons of a dead person — a symbol of their faith — “horrific.”
Mahmoud Mustafa Ayoub, a professor of Islamic studies at Temple University in Philadelphia:
“I believe that my freedom ends where the dignity and respect for all the prophets begins.”
Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, a “revolutionary” cleric in Tehran:
“We need to put forward our calm and compassionate side, our gentleness. It is enough to look at the Koran.”
Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai:
“We are people who by the instructions of religion are bound to take the course of forgiveness.”
“Influential Muslim intellectual” Tariq Ramadan:
Said that the Islamic reaction was “excessive.”

“Muslims must absolutely learn to keep a critical distance. They have to get used to living in a global world. Their consciousness must be sufficiently robust to master their hurt feelings.”
Protestors in Ramallah, Palestine:
“Bin Laden, our beloved, Denmark must be blown up.”
Demonstrators in Gaza City:
“Let the hands that drew [the cartoons] be severed.”
In London, England, protestors carried signs which read:
“Behead those who insult Islam”

“Kill those who insult Islam”
Jihad al-Momani, fired as editor of the Jordanian newspaper al-Shihan after publishing three of the caricatures:
Said he was aiming to show his readers “the extent of the Danish offence.”

“What brings more prejudice against Islam, these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the camera?”
Syed Soharwardy, President of the Islamic Supreme Council of Canada:
“I think freedom of expression, freedom of speech ends where the other person’s faith or beliefs start.”
Tarek Fatah, a spokesman for the Canadian Muslim Congress:
“To ask for the closing of newspapers and issuing death threats is not the answer.”
The press has, in most of the articles they have published, commented that Muslims disapprove of likenesses of Mohammad because it might generate idolatry. Unfortunately their intention has failed. The fact that such representation generates such antipathy is proof of idolatry. If the cartoons were just cartoons, they would be just cartoons. It is only because Muslims attach huge significance to such images — idolatry — that there is any significant concern by Muslims.

Perhaps it was foolish for Jyllands Posten to publish the cartoons. Perhaps the editors had an anti-Islam agenda. Perhaps the other newspapers which recently re-published the cartoons have a similar anti-Islam agenda. Or perhaps they considered the cartoons fair comment. If freedom is to mean anything, it must include the freedom to do things to which others might object. Without that, “freedom” is an empty shell. It is the “freedom” offered by dictators such as Stalin (and the other Soviet dictators, starting in 1917), Hitler, Saddam Hussein, Marcos, and many others, before and since.

In a society which necessarily divides people and sets them against each other — any society based upon capitalism — there will always be murder-inducing disagreements. These disagreements are not due to any inherent human nature. They are the results of the environment in which we live and die. When human beings decide to change the environment from its current divisiveness and hatred, into a global community in which our needs are met, disagreements will no longer fuel the artificial hatred we face today.

There is no doubt that Muslims are offended. There is no doubt that negative caricatures of the Christian prophet, Jesus, would offend Christians. If people choose to turn offence into murder, or incitement to murder, we will live in a world of hatred, forever.

Let us exclude defending against a direct physical attack on oneself or someone incapable of self defence, from the comments which follow. The cartoons in Jyllands Posten and subsequently re-published, do not come under that exclusion. They are, at worst, an insult. Such insults, and any offence caused, must not be given even a hint of justification for physical violence.

No matter how strongly one feels about the insult, physical violence is extremely wrong, and completely unjustified. No matter how disgusting the insult, no matter how false, no matter what, it cannot justify physical violence.

If people do consider physical violence justifiable, we condemn ourselves to a world of physical violence, and curse our children, until the end of human time, with that legacy. Today that is acceptable to the vast majority of humanity. It is also sickening and unnecessary.

Capitalism’s Gravediggers offers no loopholes, except as noted above (immediate self defence), to its condemnation of physical violence. No matter how hateful the insult may be, it does not justify physical violence. If Nazis, or Libertarians, or the government, encouraged people to torture and kill socialists, it would not justify physical violence by socialists, except in immediate self defence or defence of others in immediate danger.

Socialists oppose religion because, among other things, it dulls the mind and has repeatedly, continuously, and successfully, been used to trick workers into killing each other. Socialists have consistently opposed the idiocy of workers killing each other. Socialists do not want people’s minds dull. Those who cannot think rationally are not only dangerous, but are unable to rationally assess society and how it should be changed.

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