No human trait deserves less tolerance in everyday life than intolerance

13 02 2008

FeaturesTwo Tunisians and a Dane have been arrested in a plot to kill Kurt Westergaard, one of several creators of the widely controversial cartoons featuring depictions of the Prophet Muhammad. This is the second time Danish investigators have foiled a “terrorist” plot since the initial release of the cartoons in 2005. Kurt Westergaard is 73 years old.

There are clearly differing opinions on the depiction of Muhammad. The controversy is based on several writings in Muslim texts, which warn against idolatry. This obviously isn’t a case of religious depiction for worship, however. No devout Muslim would worship a cartoon depicting Muhammad with a bomb strapped to his head. The majority of Muslims tolerate depictions of Muhammad as long as they are meant specifically to honor Muhammad and do not claim to recreate his actual appearance.

This is the cause of the controversy – the cartoonists doing the exact opposite of honoring: dishonoring. (Because I’m just on a roll with the opposites)

Certain Christian sects have similar traditions of not depicting religious figures to avoid idolatry. However, we have not heard outcries from them due to either the widespread disrespect of the image of Christ or the worship of his image rather than his self. Either they have simply given up hope that religious idolatry could be stopped worldwide, or they have learned of something called cultural and religious tolerance. It is fair for Muslims to call the rest of the world out on an issue of disrespect. However, there is a point at which it becomes extreme. The fervor surrounding the release of the cartoons would have suggested a prophet had been assassinated, not simply drawn.

Muslims around the world dislike the fact that the words “terrorism” and “Muslim extremists” are used interchangeably and rightfully so. Only a fraction of terrorists are Muslim, just as a fraction of terrorists are Christians, cultists, atheists, and so on. However, in order for the rest of the world to lose the connotation, many Muslims need to make an effort at tolerance. Islam has not taken control of the entire world yet. One cannot control the path that a man’s pencil takes on paper halfway around the world. The man was 73 years old. If the Muslim texts are literally correct, he will rot in Hell. But why take the time to try and put him there yourself, when all you’ll be doing is adding another blemish to Islam’s image as a religion of extremists?


Protests in Britain after the initial release of the controversial pictures