Jaihoon’s critique on the blasphemous cartoons published in Denmark.

It was during a Friday prayer in the middle of a camping trip that I took notice of the pamphlets kept for the worshippers to read. Earlier, while purchasing the eatables for the trip, the country of origin of the cheese was my primary concern. But as per the Arabic pamphlet that I just started to read, (and pretended to my own self to understand) the list of goods to be boycotted was more than just dairy products. There were cosmetics and other accessories which should be abandoned as well.

I had no hesitation to express solidarity with the Community on this, literally, burning issue. There were unprecedented protests and marches, countless columns and relentless camera clicks, diplomatic recalls and popular boycott of shopping shelves- or say, even the respectable ‘U.N. Uncle’ was concerned, like about other major events around the world.

“I share the distress of the Muslim friends who feel that the cartoon offends their religion,” he said. “I also respect the right of freedom of speech. But of course freedom of speech is never absolute. It entails responsibility and judgment.” (BBC.co.uk)

Professing but Non-practicing boycott

The most fascinating aspect in this whole episode that attracted me was that even professing but non-practicing Muslims were showing their enthusiasm for the boycott. Muslim friends and colleagues, who had no business with fasting in the month of Ramadan or attending the congregational Friday prayers, were persuading and promoting practicing pious brothers and sisters to boycott Danish makes. Boycott emails were forwarded religiously and leaflets distributed devotedly.

States silent, but residents assert: Why no official boycott?

Many countries around the world, governed by both elected and non-elected leadership, witnessed riots and demonstrations. Pakistan, Indonesia, Palestine, France, UK, Denmark, Germany, Iran- were no strangers to protests against the blasphemous cartoons.

Saudi Arabia recalled its ambassador to Denmark in protest at the Danish government’s position on the publication of the offensive cartoons. Iraqis, although battered by civil unrest and the occupying invaders roaming on its land- took to the streets.

In UAE, almost 3000 residents marched in Abu Dhabi, the capital city (not to forget that the members were mainly from the Indian subcontinent). The last time such a march was seen was years ago when Hindu zealots destroyed the Babri Masjid in India.

The popular discontent was understandable. But no Muslim state has so far issued any official circulars to its public to boycott the Danish products. That did pose a question for me.

But after reading the lines from a local daily it made proper sense.

EU Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson warned Saudi Arabia that it would seek action from the World Trade Organization if Riyadh supported a boycott of Danish goods; AFP quoted the European Commission spokesman as saying. Mandelson told a Saudi official that any boycott of Danish products would be a boycott of the European Union. The Saudi official said his government had not encouraged the boycott. [Khaleejtimes.com]

It is now perfectly clear why the developed nations were eager to enroll the remaining developing nations to their super-team of trade and commerce. The whole planet was to become one big marketplace. Any grocer or butcher can easily make out that the market is not the place for ‘petty religious sentiments’. And rule number one is that no member of the WTO can boycott the goods of another member. It is the globalization, honey!

Anti-Cartoon protests at the African Cup of Nations

Economics: the best and realistic weapon in international politics

Trade and commerce alone makes sense in the complex globalized world. The rest is waste of time with the talk of ideologies. It doesn’t’ take a political pundit to understand why is the world not messing with India, a recent nuclear power, or China, an autocratic state with severe surveillance of its people? Why no one makes hue and cry when US-based IT heavyweights like Microsoft and Google are ready to restrict their web services as per the regulations of the Communist regime? Economic might alone deserves respect in the present global ‘power-sharing and respect-commanding’ equation.

Arla Foods, one of Europe’s biggest dairy companies, normally sells products worth $480m (£272m) a year to the Middle East. [BBc.co.uk)

Thus the pinch was felt when the Middle East began to boycott the Danish dairy products.

Woes of Globalization

The editor of Jyllands-Posten, which published the cartoons, was fired. The dairy company with billions worth annual sales in Middle East distanced itself from the newspaper. Information in the globalized world travels faster than the speed of light. So every writer better think twice before making use of his or her freedom of speech.

Why not Holocaust?

The Western intelligentsia, which prides itself for their unlimited Freedom of Speech, should consider this question that was displayed on a placard in the march on the streets of Abu Dhabi cornice, ‘Does your freedom allow you to talk about holocaust?’ This question answers a lot of questions. Why is the Christian West ready to tolerate the satire of Jesus Christ, but not a word of criticism on the Second World War tragedy?

The eternity of His Beloved’s greatness

Even in this irreligious age, the Muslims are awakened for their leader’s sake. This incident has transformed from a local case to a global issue. It is no more an isolated religious sentimental outbreak by few private individuals. Psychologists take note; religious feeling is much more than a superstitious belief of the mind.

Salman Rushdie is still living like a wandering ghost in fear of his life after publishing his blasphemous Satanic Verses. Freedom means responsibility first, and rights second (as the UN Secretary underlined). The freedom of speech enthusiasts better mind it. Lord has fondly addressed His Beloved Prophet with names such Warner, Giver of Glad Tidings, Unlettered, Mercy to Worlds- but never used the term terrorist! The Cosmos will not tolerate a word of insult on His Beloved. It is against the nature of this world, or say worlds.

As a poet recited ecstatically,

Woh jahan jahan khuda hai
Yeh wahan wahan Mustafa Hai

(Wherever in the worlds is God’s Lordship
He is a Prophet in all such worlds.)
Sallallahu alaihi wa sallam!