Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Holocaust Cartoons

The Associated Press reports:
A prominent Iranian newspaper says it is going to hold a competition for cartoons on the Holocaust to test whether the West will apply the principle of freedom of expression to the Nazi genocide against Jews as it did to the caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
I think someone's missing the point. The Iranian press can't test the limits of freedom of expression because Iran does not have a free press. Yet more evidence that a large segment of the Muslim population isn't simply opposed to freedom of expression -- they actually don't understand the concept.

Fortunately, this isn't true of all Muslims. What a tragedy, though. Eleven dead over a few cartoons.


elf's DH said...

Silly elf... they're not testing the limits of their freedom of expression, they're "testing" the limits of ours! When Westerners express outrage verbally (I will be very surprised if any Iranian embassies or even Iranian flags are burned), they'll equate it in their state-run media with the violent response of their own populations and opine that we're hypocrites.

The sad part about this is that if they had run letter-writing campaigns to the European newspapers (which would have flooded their mailboxes) instead of burning and killing, the result probably would have been a note in the paper apologizing for being culturally insensitive.

Mar Gavriel said...

Check your e-mail.

dbs said...

There’s a long list of things about this which “miss the point”. Or, perhaps more accurately, point out how out great a gulf (hmm…) there is between us (the west, I mean) and the Moslem world.

I’m not sure what the ‘real’ point of this contest is, (Ahmadinejad playing to the mob, anti-semitism, an attempt to boost circulation…whatever), but one of my reactions was that perhaps there is a silver lining. In Iran, to the common man, it is taken for granted that the holocaust was a huge hoax. By doing this, perhaps some few people will be stimulated to think about it – maybe.

fleurdelis28 said...

Very good point. Though I think their ultimate goal - not given much attention in the articles I've seen - is to dare Western newspapers to reprint the Holocaust cartoons, just like they did with the Mohammed cartoons, as proof that they are really devoted to exercising their freedom of speech no matter what subject matter. Then when they don't, the Iranian paper can claim to have exposed the true hypocrisy of the matter, and say, "see, 'free speech' is really just a code for insulting Muslims!"

I suspect they do have one valid point, in that a lot of Europeans are probably more comfortable making fun of Islam than of some other things. It's also a nonviolent form of protest. But it ignores or seeks to obscure the fact that free speech, while imperfect in its execution, is a genuine and deeply-held Western value. It also totally ignores the philosophical problems with holding nations responsible for the actions of their independent newspapers, and the practical reality that Iran probably insults more of everybody else in the world than anybody else insults Islam. If the Muslim world really objected to anyone insulting anything sacred to anybody else, we'd still have a lack of understanding, but it would be a much more interesting discussion.

Elf's Little Sis said...

Maybe some Muslims who have never lived under a democratic government don't know what freedom of the press is, but a lot of their leaders have gotten their educations in the West. This isn't just just ignorance, it's insanity.