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God punished caricaturist that depicted Prophet Mohammed !

Wednesday 23 January 2008, by Orhan Kemal Cengiz

A few days ago an email about the death of the caricaturists that depicted Prophet Mohammed reached my mail box. It made me think a lot and I would like to share my reflections on the subject with you.

First let me inform you about the content of this mail message. It reads as follows:
The Danish caricaturist creature which draws caricatures of our master Prophet Mohammed has reportedly lost its life by burning as a result of the outbreak of a fire in his home. The Danes wish nobody hears this news. Everyone should send this mail to everyone they know and let us announce this news as widely as possible…

The subject line of this mail reads, “My Got how great you are.” I did not have time to check if the caricaturist has actually died but the level of the hate and the cruelty reaching out from this mail has scared me.
According to this person, if anyone draws Prophet Mohammed’s caricature, than he/she deserves a death by burning alive. This is a comment and it may be exaggerating the feelings of a Muslim against a person who is deemed to insult Islam. However, it is a well-known fact that in Islamic countries religious clerics do not hesitate to issue a fatwa ordering the killing of these people, who are believed to have insulted Islam or its Prophet. Everyone knows that Salman Rushdie has long suffered from a fatwa ordering his killing wherever he is found. A Dutch film maker was killed in the Netherlands, just because some people believed that his film insulted Islam.
In 1993 in Sivas, Turkey 35 intellectuals and artists lost their lives in the Madimak Hotel which was set on fire by some “Islamist fanatics.” A few days before the incident, a leaflet was intensively distributed to the local people. In the leaflet, Aziz Nesin was accused of insulting prophet Mohammed and he was compared with Salman Rushdie.
I am not a religious person and I do not have deep knowledge about Islam. One thing I know though there are many incidents, and extremely brutal acts are justified in the name of Islam. Islamic countries are at the top of the human rights violators list. Flogging, stoning, amputations, head severing and death penalty are still used as “punishment.” If I were a Muslim I would devote most of my time and energy to struggle against this mentality.

Duties of democratic Muslims

I have a fear that my article can be read in the context of well-known stereotype of Islam equal to brutality. I believe every religion and ideology can be interpreted in a million ways. Christianity was the basis of unimaginable brutality during the Middle Ages. Marx was one of the most humanist people in history, but in practice, his ideas were used to create the totalitarian regimes under the title of proletariat dictatorship.
All I am saying is that Muslim democrats in Turkey have a moral duty to openly struggle against intolerance stemming from the interpretation of religious scripts. Maybe they should come up with new interpretations of religious material. They should pave the way to a kind of reformation process for Islam. I think this not only requires courage but an effort to get rid of some stereotypes on their part. Muslim democrats should get rid of the role of being the victim of the regime. Like everyone else, Muslims have also suffered and are still suffering from the anti democratic aspects of the regime in Turkey. But this feeling of being a victim (or being the only victim) may be preventing them from seeing the sins of their fellow Muslims.

I would like to finish this article with a little anecdote. Some time ago I wrote an article analyzing the violent attitudes in Turkish society. I was trying to explain in that article that all political and religious groups in Turkey have somehow resorted to violence. To support this thesis I cited specific examples from the violent past of each movement. This “Muslim democrat newspaper” that I sent my article to be published censured one single sentence in the article and it was the example of Sivas which I mentioned above. If they want to transform Muslims in Turkey, they cannot achieve this by constantly telling the same story that Muslims have been victimized by the regime, but they must be the fighters in the forefront against every kind of intolerance in the name of religion. They must be the fiercest criticizers of the “sins” of Muslims. Then they may be able not only to influence Turkey’s Muslims but also help to democratization of Islamic regimes in the world.

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Source : Thursday, January 17, 2008 TDN

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