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Rex Murphy pleads, "In the name of God, stop the madness"

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  • Tarek Fatah
    Friends, Rex Murphy is one of Canada s leading media figures, widely respected and admired for his wit and biting commentary. He hosts the weekly Canada-wide
    Message 1 of 1 , Feb 4, 2006
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      Friends,

      Rex Murphy is one of Canada's leading media figures, widely respected and
      admired for his wit and biting commentary. He hosts the weekly Canada-wide
      radio talk show, "Cross Country Check-up" on CBC Radio, writes a column for
      the Globe and Mail, and is a regular face on TV.

      In today's Globe, Rex Murphy puts to paper what countless ordinary Canadians
      are saying privately. Why does the "Muslim world believe that if their
      religious sensibilities are offended, they have both the right and the duty
      to threaten violence and death to the offenders." What Rex Murphy has
      penned, most non-Muslims, in a state of bewilderment, are asking in polite
      conversations.

      How unfortunate that those who purport to defend Islam, do most damage to
      the Muslim cause. Now these zealots have started a campaign to boycott
      Danish food products in Canada.

      How can we punish a Danish cheese maker because a Danish newspaper has
      offended us? Are we not the people who clamoured that all Muslims must not
      be blamed because of the actions of one man--Osama Bin Laden? What happened
      to our logic?

      We are making a laughing stock of ourselves and don't even know that.

      If my Muslim community wishes to boycott Danish products as an act of
      protest, why stop at Denmark. Why not start with American products? After
      all, it is the United States that occupies two Muslim countries, not
      Denmark. Where will this stop? Will we stop buying French, German, Italian,
      Spanish and Norwegian products as well? After all, newspapers in these
      countries too have printed the cartoons.

      We need to understand that just because governments like Iran can shut down
      newspapers by decree, does not mean the Danish government or any government
      in a democratic society can do that.

      This selected sense of outrage against Danish food products reeks of
      hypocrisy and false bravado. After all it is easy to give up on Danish
      cheese, but who will hand over their Microsoft, Mac or their Mercedes. Not
      Hosni Mubarik, and definitely not King Abdullah or President Assad of Syria.

      Muslim Canadians must express their outrage not only at the cartoonist, but
      also the extremists in the Middle East who say, "The solution is the
      slaughter of those who harmed Islam and the Prophet."

      Read and reflect.

      Tarek Fatah
      -----------------
      February 4, 2006

      In the name of God, stop the madness

      By REX MURPHY
      The Globe and Mail
      http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/ArticleNews/TPStory/LAC/20060204/CORE
      X04/TPColumnists/

      The case of Salman Rushdie is fresh again. Everyone will recall that when
      Mr. Rushdie published The Satanic Verses, which contained what has been
      described as an irreverent depiction of the Prophet Mohammed, he became the
      object of a death sentence.

      No less a figure than the spiritual leader of Iran, Ayatollah Ruhollah
      Khomaini, issued a fatwa requiring Mr. Rushdie's execution, and the
      execution of all who had been involved in publishing the book, and called
      upon all "zealous Muslims" to pursue this grim end. This was not just a
      piece of token bluster on the ayatollah's part. It might be useful to recall
      the language of the edict: "In the name of God Almighty. There is only one
      God, to whom we shall all return. I would like to inform all intrepid
      Muslims in the world that the author of the book entitled The Satanic
      Verses, which has been compiled, printed, and published in opposition to
      Islam, the Prophet, and the Koran, as well as those publishers who were
      aware of its contents, have been sentenced to death. I call on all zealous
      Muslims to execute them quickly, wherever they find them, so that no one
      will dare insult the Islamic sanctities. Whoever is killed on this path will
      be regarded as a martyr, God willing. In addition, anyone who has access to
      the author of the book, but does not possess the power to execute him,
      should refer him to the people so that he may be punished for his actions."

      It may also be useful to remember that, although Mr. Rushdie went into
      hiding and was under armed guard for years and has (so far) survived, that
      he was not the only victim. There were riotous protests in India, Pakistan
      and Egypt that caused several deaths, and Mr. Rushdie's Norwegian publisher,
      William Nygaard, was the victim of an assassination attempt he only barely
      survived.

      Nothing in the modern culture of the West can begin to comprehend the notion
      that a person can and should be sentenced to death for what that person
      writes, and certainly nothing that treats the publication of a novel,
      however poorly written, as, in itself, a capital crime.

      Everything written, if it has anything in it, will offend someone, and if
      the mere taking of offence was to amount to a licence to kill the offender,
      well the world would be sadly underpopulated of novelists, columnists,
      bloggers and the writers of editorials.

      Now the publication of 12 cartoons in a Danish newspaper four months ago,
      depicting Prophet Mohammed satirically, and with particular reference to the
      unspeakable practice of suicide bombing, has triggered an even greater
      firestorm in portions of the Muslim world. One caricature shows Mohammed
      with a bomb in his turban, another sarcastically reads that "paradise has
      run out of virgins" for suicide martyrs.

      There have been bomb threats against the newspaper; on Thursday, in Gaza,
      masked gunmen threatened to kidnap European citizens and to target European
      offices; protesters in Pakistan took to chanting "death to France" and
      "death to Denmark," and, on an official level, there have been calls from
      several governments in the Arab world to shut down the "offending" newspaper
      and fire its editor.

      The connection with the Rushdie case is clear. Whole swathes -- not all, be
      it noted -- of the Muslim world believe that if their religious
      sensibilities are offended, they have both the right and the duty to
      threaten violence and death to the offenders. They are demanding retraction
      and apology and trail their demands with threats of kidnapping and death.

      Furthermore, they are insisting that their values and their codes apply
      outside their own religion and their own countries. It is astonishingly
      insolent. Considering the treatment that some of the press in some of these
      countries accord Christians and Jews -- a recent mini-series on the
      Protocols of The Elders of Zion in Lebanon and Egypt, the frequent
      anti-Semitic editorial cartoons -- it is levitatingly hypocritical, as well.

      It is worth noting that however offensive the cartoons of the Prophet may
      have been, they cannot be as offensive as the many real suicide bombings
      that have been executed in the Prophet's name.

      If portions of the Muslim world want to protest about a real offence against
      their religion they might radically take to the streets in great masses to
      condemn what fanatics do in the name of that religion.

      All this is occurring in the wake of yet another searing illustration of the
      clash between fundamentalist Islam and Europe -- the murder of Dutch
      filmmaker Theo van Gogh, who was killed in 2004 by a Dutch Muslim extremist
      angered by the filmmaker's depictions of Islam.

      Artists, writers and the press in the Western democracies have the right to
      create and write what they please. And so they must. It is why we are
      democratic. And no fundamentalism, of religion or any other variety, should
      be given the slightest leverage over that right.
      ----------------------
      Rex Murphy is a commentator with CBC-TV's The National and host of CBC Radio
      One's Cross-Country Checkup.
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