Sunday, February 19, 2006

Cartoon Protest Against the USA

In light of the attack on the US Embassy in Indonesia, I do not understand why such anger is directed at the United States when only newspapers within Europe published the inflammatory cartoons.

Of course, the obvious conclusion is that such protests are actually stemming from anger over American foreign policy in the Middle East. Despite what resentment some Muslim factions have for the United States, I think it is absurd to attack American targets because of cartoons that are totally unrelated to the United States. The cartoons have given fuel to an "anti-Western" protest when only a minority of Western countries are to blame. How these cartoons can be used for motivation to attack America and Israel is ridiculous.

While it was both ignorant and irresponsible for the conservative Danish paper (with a readership of 500) to print such cartoons, it is equally irresponsible of Muslim militant leaders to use these cartoons to inflame their followers and then place the blame where it is not deserved. Moreover, it was not only the few Muslim leaders who are to blame, but the European press should have exercised more discretion when deciding to take a stand on freedom of the press and freedom of speech. The European press should have been more aware of the possible ramifications of their actions. There was no need to make such a stand with such a controversial topic; and I believe that the decision to reprint the cartoons, for at least some of the European newspapers, was not motivated by free speech, but more so by anti-Muslim and xenophobic sentiment. Thus, those who reprinted the cartoons are just as guilty for the ongoing violence as are the Muslim leaders who used the cartoons for ulterior motives.

Lastly, the media should take responsibility and broadcast coverage of the larger Muslim community who denounce the violent backlash against the cartoons. There has been far too much coverage of the violence and not enough on the efforts by Muslim community in its efforts to quell the fighting. In doing so, the media only further solidifies the idea that the majority of Muslims are violent fundamentalists. While that view may seem laughable to most, sadly, there are many more who will fall victim to this ignorant bias.

This blog represents the main points of my thoughts on the issue. If I had more time, I would further elaborate, as this is an extremely complex topic.

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