The Muhammad cartoons:How Jews and Muslims in Canada have responded

First, the statement of the Canadian Jewish Congress:

TORONTO – Canadian Jewish Congress National President Ed Morgan made the following statement regarding the controversial publication of cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed in newspapers in a number of countries including Canada:“We are saddened by a situation that has gotten entirely out of hand. The decision by all those who chose to publish the cartoons is inexcusably provocative, insensitive and disrespectful of Muslim believers. At the same time, we strongly denounce the verbally and physically violent reaction to their publication by so many of those same believers.

“We commend Canada’s Muslim community for the civility with which it has protested and those media who have decided not to republish the cartoons. We regret that there are some in the media and elsewhere who have taken the misguided step of using these cartoons as a means to defend freedom of expression.

“We join those Muslims and non-Muslims who have been appalled by the response to the publication of the cartoons and condemn those groups and regimes that have fanned the flames for their own political ends. We stand in solidarity with the Danish people whose institutions are being attacked and whose products are being boycotted, and with whom we have a special historic connection. We remember with gratitude the exceptional role Denmark played in rescuing its Jewish citizens from the Holocaust.

“Freedom of expression and the protection of vulnerable minorities from group vilification are fundamental values of a secular, pluralistic democracy. These two values must be delicately balanced against one another. We hope that that calm re-establishes itself so that this issue can be discussed in an atmosphere of mutual respect, without intimidation.”

Meanwhile, according to the Globe and Mail, a magazine which publishes out of Calgary, Alberta, will publish the cartoons today. For emphasis, allow me to repeat the relevant part of the CJC’s statement: “We regret that there are some in the media and elsewhere who have taken the misguided step of using these cartoons as a means to defend freedom of expression.”

Second, let’s have a look at the response of the Canadian Islamic Congress. The quote comes from another Globe and Mail article, entitled “Why the global rage hasn’t engulfed Canada”:

Mohamed Elmasry, president of the Canadian Islamic Congress, said violent demonstrations simply aren’t a fit with the Canadian Muslim community — which, because of Canada’s immigration requirements, he said, is the most highly educated Muslim community in the world.”They would find legal and peaceful means of protest far more productive,” said the imam and professor at the University of Waterloo. “With demonstrations, you cannot have full control over who does what.”

His organization, the largest Muslim umbrella group in Canada, has actively discouraged demonstrations over the cartoons and has spoken publicly against the violent protests.

The Globe and Mail also quotes Tarek Fatah, a leader of the Muslim Canadian Congress. Mr. Fatah makes a point that, in my view, penetrates to the heart of the matter: that moderate Muslims must take “ownership of the word Muslim.”

Mr. Fatah believes that has happened in Canada: that moderate Muslims have mobilized to ensure that their voice gets heard, not the voice of the extremist minority.

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8 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. michael
    Feb 13, 2006 @ 20:07:00

    interesting that two Canadian publications are now publishing the cartoons. Backlash has already started with lawsuits against one newspaper and Ezra Levant, the Publisher of the newspaper.

    Reply

  2. 49erDweet
    Feb 13, 2006 @ 21:24:00

    As much as I defend freedom of speech, IMHO the further publishing by general media of the instant cartoons, at this stage, in anything other than an academic dissertation covering appropriate intersocial issues is foolish and egocentric.

    But then those adjectives seem to cover too many in today’s MSM, don’t they?

    Reply

  3. Bill
    Feb 14, 2006 @ 09:34:00

    With Freedom of speech comes great responsibility to use it wisely, which some of the media seems to forget.

    The two examples Q provides here are excellent examples of the use of freedom of speech.

    Very Very good post Q !

    Reply

  4. Q
    Feb 14, 2006 @ 10:56:00

    • Michael:
    It will be interesting if the case actually goes to court — whether the cartoons are seen as a protected form of expression, or whether they are interpreted as promoting hate against an identifiable group.

    Of course, my objection isn’t ultimately a legal one. Even if it is legal to publish the cartoons, to do so might still constitute really bad judgement.

    • 49er:
    At the very least, Levant and Co. are a little late jumping on the bandwagon. You get the impression they feel like they’re missing out on the fun.

    • Bill:
    Agreed. It’s good to see Canadian groups setting an example of how to promote peace and mutual acceptance. Too bad Ezra Levant isn’t taking the hint.

    Reply

  5. Sadie Lou
    Feb 14, 2006 @ 12:38:00

    I was listening to talk radio this morning so I can’t take credit for this point I’m going to bring up but don’t you find it to be rather curious that in the last decade, people have been assaulted and killed by Muslims and the tragedies have made front page news and yet, there wasn’t any anti-Muslim outrage.
    A couple of cartoons get printed and suddenly, the Muslims EXPLODE with rage over the injustice of it.
    It kinda makes me wonder why everyone is so willing to coddle the radical Muslims.
    They are responsible for killing children in front of schools and crimes of the worst sort against all walks of life and yet–no outrage.
    Curious.

    Reply

  6. Q
    Feb 14, 2006 @ 15:26:00

    Sadie Lou:
    In the last decade, people have been assaulted and killed by Muslims and the tragedies have made front page news and yet, there wasn’t any anti-Muslim outrage.

    Is that true? We haven’t seen violence in the streets. (Actually, I’m sure there have been isolated incidents.)

    But our governments have targeted Muslims. Think of the people who are held on suspicion of being terrorists, without bail, without access to a lawyer, without being formally charged with anything — and held indefinitely.

    That’s pretty outrageous by me. And even in Canada there are a few people held under those conditions.

    It kinda makes me wonder why everyone is so willing to coddle the radical Muslims.

    Are you aware that Abu Hamza al-Masri, an imam in the U.K., has been sentenced to seven years in prison for saying the wrong sorts of things?

    “Hamza was convicted on 11 counts including soliciting murder, stirring up racial hatred and possessing a training manual “of use to terrorists.” The judge ordered him to serve all 11 sentences concurrently, the longest of which was seven years.”

    He didn’t bomb any public buildings or kill any children. He was found guilty of inciting others to do that kind of stuff — which others might defend under the rubric of “free speech”. Seven years in jail is hardly coddling him.

    And I think it looks good on him. I have no problem with the sentence.

    The challenge is to identify the radical Muslims and get tough on them, instead of lashing out at all Muslims indiscriminately. A cartoon of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb concealed in his turban does exactly that: it says that Muhammad was a terrorist, and Islam is a terrorist religion, and all Muslims are terrorists.

    I object to it, and I’m glad to see that the Canadian Jewish Congress objects to it, too.

    Reply

  7. Sadie Lou
    Feb 14, 2006 @ 16:25:00

    Is that true? We haven’t seen violence in the streets. (Actually, I’m sure there have been isolated incidents.)

    Our government doesn’t encourage us to get all anti-Muslim; in fact, it’s quite the opposite. After 9/11, I clearly remember our government warning against discrimination.

    re you aware that Abu Hamza al-Masri, an imam in the U.K., has been sentenced to seven years in prison for saying the wrong sorts of things?

    “Hamza was convicted on 11 counts including soliciting murder, stirring up racial hatred and possessing a training manual “of use to terrorists.” The judge ordered him to serve all 11 sentences concurrently, the longest of which was seven years.”

    He didn’t bomb any public buildings or kill any children. He was found guilty of inciting others to do that kind of stuff — which others might defend under the rubric of “free speech”. Seven years in jail is hardly coddling him.

    And I think it looks good on him. I have no problem with the sentence.

    Niether do I. We know what kind of influence men like that have. It’s not like here, in the states. It’s not like any other “spokesperson” for a cause that gets people riled up.
    People like him speak and then his listeners act.

    The challenge is to identify the radical Muslims and get tough on them, instead of lashing out at all Muslims indiscriminately. A cartoon of the prophet Muhammad with a bomb concealed in his turban does exactly that: it says that Muhammad was a terrorist, and Islam is a terrorist religion, and all Muslims are terrorists.

    I don’t think the cartoons are okay, I thought they were really inflammatory and disrespectful but so are so many things concerning race, sex, religion, age, you name it.
    We can’t all act like the radical Muslims when we have been offended. Their outrage should not be tolerated.

    Reply

  8. Q
    Feb 14, 2006 @ 16:36:00

    We can’t all act like the radical Muslims when we have been offended. Their outrage should not be tolerated.

    I agree. I’ve been critical of both parties, just as the CJC was. And I don’t fault them equally. Obviously physical violence is a greater offence than drawing an offensive cartoon.

    Reply

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