Violent Protests are fuelling Muhammad cartoons’ controversy. By Sheraz Khurram Khan


The situation ensuing publishing and republishing of the Prophet Muhammad's cartoons is spiraling out of control. Muslims across the globe have every right to voice their protest in a peaceful manner but the protest rallies that started peacefully turned violent and that is where Muslims started losing the sympathy that had generated in the hearts of all liberal and peace-loving people for them across the globe following printing and reprinting of the prophet Muhammad's cartoons deemed defamatory by them (Muslims). Their easy playing into the hands of extremists among them saw a full-blooded anti-west campaign. The drive ranged from recalling of some of Muslim countries' ambassadors from Denmark to torching of Danish embassy in Beirut to hurling of death threats to cartoonists and editors of the European newspapers that printed or reprinted the images. The Muslims across the world could have won support of liberal people all over the world over the caricatures' controversy if they had exercised caution in dealing with the issue. If history is any guide a large number westerners staged protest rallies and demonstrations against the US invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, offering them as human shields. Nobody had found fault with protesting Muslims if they would have restricted their protests peaceful but resorting to violence during agitations and creating law and order situation by mobs angered by the publication of the drawings could hardly be justified. The rioters only reinforced the image of radical Islam in the west. Effusive protesters acted as if a war had triggered between Christians and Muslims. The prophet Muhammad called for tolerance and forgiveness. Ironically, the very followers of Islam are acting in utter disregard of the teachings of their prophet and are not ready to budge an inch from their confrontationist posture. The apology by the Danish paper should have helped cool tempers of enraged Muslims. The extreme reaction of Muslims in the wake of publishing of the sketches would only make the matters worse. It would give a room to the hardliners in Christian and Muslim world to promote religious hatred. In this thriving culture of hate the prospects of peace and religious harmony would take a back burner. Neither the Muslims nor the Christians can live in isolation as a matter of fact their interests are best served in ambience of harmony and peaceful co-existence. The peaceful protest against the controversial cartoons would have been more effective and meaningful as this would not have generated anti-Muslim and anti-Islam feelings as it did in the case of string of violent protests in the Muslim countries. Angry Muslims on the streets of the developed countries while flaying the west's freedom of expression perhaps forget that the very freedom of expression enables them to assemble and voice their opinion on western lands. The right of freedom of expression is not altogether against people, however, respect for religious sentiments of the people should be taken into consideration while exercising this right since global peace and religious harmony are in the larger interest of humanity. One more thing that transpired during the course of anti-cartoon demonstrations in the Muslim world is this that the hurt crowds portrayed all westerners in negative shade just because some European newspapers have published cartoons of the prophet Muhammad, which are regarded sacrilegious by them. Boycotting of Danish products by some Muslims countries was again an unwise move. What if tomorrow the European Union also snaps trade ties with the Muslim countries that have announced to boycott the Danish products? The Muslim world while ensuring that the protest over the cartoons' controversy is registered should also not try to compound the issue. Given the international pressure Iran is facing regarding its nuclear programme the incumbent Iranian regime would do its best to make maximum capital of the current controversy but at the same time other Muslim countries should see which side of their bread is buttered. How long could Denmark, Syria and Iran afford diplomatic standoff and what good does this stalemate serve to the countries in question? One hopes that the issue is not hyped further and things turn to normalcy.

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