Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Respect the Prophet World Tour 

ArabNews has the story of a team from the Middle East's MBC satellite channel producing a program with the noble goal of reducing tensions around the caliphate's cartoon crisis -- I'm tired of calling it the Danish cartoon crisis, by the way, as if the violence is Denmark's problem.

But this is great. We've been waiting for stories of these "moderate Muslim" efforts to counter the damage done by the violence-prone among their co-religionists.

So how does this team of moderates go about calming the Islamic violence raging across the globe? It would obviously be a good idea to adress their rampaging brethren, to give them some sensitivity training about Westerners' most precious principles like Freedom of Expression, central to the West's much-resented success in recent centuries.

Wouldn't it be great if the Islamic street could be taught that Western freedom and prosperity are positives to be emulated, rather than a Zionist plot to be bloodily resisted? If angry Muslims could learn to interact with the West and its freedom-based lifestyle without rampaging in protest at every perceived insult, perhaps peaceful coexistence would indeed be possible, and that's what we all want isn't it?

But that's not how these moderates are going about it. Wrong message. Wrong audience. Wrong problem.

The team of Yallah Shabab, a popular program on the Middle East Broadcasting Center (MBC) satellite channel, is visiting Denmark to present the true character of the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) which was distorted by the recent cartoons.

Twelve cartoons first published by Denmark’s largest newspaper, the Jyllands-Posten, last September and then reprinted in several Western newspapers triggered sometimes violent protests by Muslims worldwide.
Apparently in their view, Islamic violence isn't the problem, the exercise of Western freedom that triggers it is. When the problem is framed that way, obviously the solution is to intensify the West's sensitivity training at once. Educating marauding mobs to appreciate another point of view would only delay the West's acceptance that some of their violence-provoking freedoms just might have to go, at least eventually -- but let's not get hung up on that point yet while there's still tolerance and reverence of the Muslim Prophet to be discussed.

At the same time, the team wants to convince the Muslim population that their protests should be through methods that the Prophet would approve and be proud of.

"There should be no more burning of embassies, stamping on flags and violence. We should use more sophisticated, legal and modern methods such as the European court system, educating the West about the Prophet and his message and launching a dialogue with them," said Khoja.
Here is where I am supposed to congratulate them for having the moral fiber to resist the temptation to join their fellow Islamists in the righteous bloodshed. We're required to laud these mere baby-steps, on the grounds that anything more just isn't realisitc. But as an Israeli who has listened to the moderates among Palestinian leaders condemn one suicide bombing after another on the grounds they weren't timed conveniently, I have lost my tolerance for this form of morality.

So they will address their rioting co-religionists, showing them how better to subvert the West's institutions against itself in the quest to globally enshrine Islamic belief as an objective standard by which to measure non-Muslim behavior. If the rioters are to cease burning embassies, threatening cartoonists and killing others, it is only because this is not the most effective way to go about this task. That is not a moral argument, it's tactics.

So what exactly is it that we in the West are supposed to further sensitize ourselves to this time? We've already got the part about not drawing the Prophet, and we've learned it's essential not to let terrorists flush their own copies of the Koran down the toilet so that violence inducing rumors get started. There's more?

"We want to ensure that they understand that the Prophet remains a role model for an ideal son, husband, father, diplomat, politician, general, imam and leader regardless of time and place," said Hani Khoja, one of the team members.
Wow, that's a big one. It's actually more than the rampaging mobs demand. They are just seething and slaughtering so that we don't draw bearded heads with turbans that can't clearly be identified as non-Prophet. Now we are supposed to actually internalize the Muslim religious belief that their prophet was basically perfect in every way, and not just perfect for a 7th century life of nomadic warfare and polygamy, but for a 21st century high tech world. Perfect across all time and space. Sounds kind of like God, but I'm sure I'm missing something here, since there is no God but Allah -- and they thought I wasn't paying attention!

So, assuming this part sinks in, what exactly is expected of us, short of immediate conversion or acceptance of legal dhimmi status and tax obligations?

Another purpose of the visit is to ensure that the Danes understand that the Prophet is more precious to Muslims than their own lives and that is the reason for the highly emotional protests against the cartoons denigrating him.
It's one thing to ask us to reshape our society around their belief that a centuries-dead human Prophet is more precious than their own lives. But until they stop training their mobs to believe their Prophet is also more important than OUR lives, I frankly don't care.

They are addressing the wrong audience, with the wrong message, about the wrong problem. Insensitive or offensive speech and cartoons will pop up from time to time in all but hermetically sealed totalitarian states. A society brainwashed to go berserk with each incident is going to remain a marginalized basket case. Anyone with aspirations to administer a global caliphate -- with all its complicated tax codes and requirements to account for all those body parts -- must be able to understand this obvious point.

On the bright side, I saved the best news in the whole article for last:

The entire trip will be filmed and translated into special episodes for Yallah Shabab and will be aired on MBC early next month. International satellite channels, such as CNN and BBC, as well as Danish television have expressed interest in the film.

If you really, really liked this -- or even really, really hated it -- there's lots more: