Source: The Toronto Star
Writer: Haroon Siddiqui
The wave of protests against an anti-Muhammad movie made in America is said to prove, yet again, the unbridgeable gap between the West and the world of Islam.
Don’t we laugh off insults to Jesus? Haven’t even the Mormons taken the satirical Broadway musical The Book of Mormon in their stride? But Muslims, they are different. They get all worked up — into paroxysms of violence, as seen after the Danish cartoons, the inadvertent burning of the Qur’an in Afghanistan, the deliberate burning of the book in the U.S., and now over the Muhammad movie and 30 Muhammad cartoons in the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.
But the divide over free speech is far less clear-cut than it is made out to be, as recent events show.
The BBC apologized to the Queen after one of its reporters revealed that she once told him how “pretty upset” she was about a radical Muslim cleric in London, whom the government wanted to deport. The secrecy demanded by palace protocol trumped the public’s right to know their subsidized monarch’s thinking on an important issue.
A French court ruled against a magazine for publishing pictures of a bare-breasted Kate Middleton, and imposed a fine of $12,700 a day if it didn’t remove them from its website.
The British tabloid Sun was criticized for printing a photo of a nude Prince Harry in New York.
The royal private bits are off limits, even if they give much enjoyment to many. But it’s fine to show the Prophet Muhammad as a sex fiend, as the film does, or portray him in crude, lewd and nude poses, as does Charlie Hebdo, even if that upset tens of millions.
These different approaches reflect the differences in jurisdictions, sure. Still, in Europe and North America, both legal strictures and social pressures work disproportionately against Muslims and Islam.