Guilty by Association
Madeleine Bunting has managed to sum up this last month for Muslims quite perfectly:
February 2006 has proved a mensis horribilis for British Muslims. Cast your mind back over the past few weeks and virtually all the major news stories were guaranteed to provoke Muslim outrage: from the publication of the Danish cartoons across Europe to the leaked full report of Abu Ghraib abuse, the video of British troops abusing Iraqi teenagers, the glorification-of-terrorism legislation, and the UN report on Guantï¿½namo Bay. The uncanny coincidence of three trials involving free speech - Nick Griffin, David Irving and Abu Hamza - has only thrust into sharper contrast for British Muslims the double standards of which they believe they are so often victims.
When it comes to the David Irving decision in Austria, it is an obvious knee jerk for most Muslims to convince themselves that they are being forced to suffer the use the of ‘Freedom of Speech’, a cornerstone of Liberal Democracy, as a pretext for media-savvy demagougues to victimise them whilst at the very same time, the same cornerstone is used to protect Jews from idiots like Irving. I know its hard to accept for many Muslims, but the two are not comparable offences. Muslims should re-evaluate what it means to deal with provocationary acts directed at their beliefs from a legal point of view rather than from a purely sentimental and reactionary one.
Publishing the cartoons was a breach of religious taboo, and was racist in intent - that we know. However, Muslims know and accept that organised religion has lost its value in the West because it doesn’t chime with Liberal Democracy. And all things remaining equal, thats the system we all live in and should respect.
The publication of the cartoons were anathema to Muslims. However, in order to safeguard themselves from such attacks, there exist laws which govern the protection of those who will use “Freedom of Speech” to incite hatred. Therefore Muslims would be wise to use the apparatus of the legal and judicial systems to fight such attacks on grounds of incitement of hatred or on by any such law that protects rights rather than by destroying property, rioting and ultimately losing the meaning of the offence caused in the first place.
The Holocaust is an event which is loaded with connotations of guilt and culpability for Europeans. It took place in the living memory of people who we are still contemporaries of. The Holocaust was also a culmination of a European pattern of endemic antisemtism that goes back many hundreds of years to when the Jews first came to Europe. See here.
Comparison of another crime, however heinous, to the Holocaust is to deny it. And to deny the Holocaust is to attempt to revise Europe’s dirty history of racism and prejudice and attempt to legitimise, even justify, its crimes on others. This is another anathema. Comparing one anathema to another gets you nowhere and to encourage it is to buy the Muslim bashers pretext to assuage the collective guilt of the the Holocaust and transfer it to Muslims. Muslims seem all too ready to bear this guilt - God only knows why (hello Mr Ahmadinejad). But that is what Muslims cannot afford to do if they want to have their rights respected in return.
There is a trap here which says “Muslims Do Not Press This Button”. Please lets not fall for the obvious by pressing it.