Thursday, February 23, 2006

Graven Images

In events that bear a striking resemblance to the aftermath of the release of the Satanic Verses in 1989 when Iranian spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini called on Muslims to kill British author Salman Rushdie and incited mass rioting in Pakistan and other areas it seems that the world is close to falling apart again. However it also seems that there are certain discrepancies that could make me bear the “Conspiracy Theorist” label.

The fact that certain Danish imams (religious leaders) would spread fake cartoons to inflame the situation is nothing compared to the selectivity of arrests in the area. 11 editors of newspapers in Yemen (perhaps other countries in the area as well, but the article did not specify) were arrested and await trial for printing either the entire images or partial images of the cartoons in their newspapers, this seems reasonable based on the fact that the area is ruled by Islamic law however, so is Egypt and they are apparently not applying the same stringency to the press there.“After all, Ahmed Abdel Maksoud and Youssra Zahran are free. They are journalists with the Egyptian weekly Al Fajr, one of the first Arab newspapers to publish the cartoons. They wrote a story about the caricatures and reprinted them in October — months before the conflict erupted — to condemn the drawings. “The fact that these cartoons were republished “months before the conflict erupted” is a very telling item. When news spreads, especially inflammatory news, it spreads like a grease fire – consuming everything; for example the riots in LA over Rodney King began the night the press got a hold of the tape. The main issue here is that the rioting started when someone actually lit the fuse and seems to want people to have mass chaos."The feelings of the Muslims are being exploited for some purpose," said Adel Hammoude, editor in chief of Al Fajr. "Religion is the easiest thing to use in provoking the people. Egyptians will never go out on the street in protest about what happened in the case of the sinking ferry or against corruption or this or that." (see link above)It also doesn’t help things that the same paper that published the cartoons had refused to publish other cartoons. The original reason that I heard was that the cartoons would be deemed offensive to Christians, however, this Story changed.

""My cartoon, which certainly did not offend any Christians I showed it to, was rejected because the editor felt it would be considered offensive to readers -- readers in general, not necessarily Christians," cartoonist Christoffer Zieler said in an email he sent to Reuters on Wednesday."""Having seen the cartoons, I found that they were not very good. I failed to see the purportedly provocative nature," he said in a statement. "My fault is that I didn't tell him what I really meant: The cartoons were bad." Kaiser said he told Zieler he had not used the cartoons because they were offensive to some readers."According to the editor, his reason for not publishing the Christian cartoons was because they were not funny or interesting. For anyone who has seen the actual published ones, hopefully you will agree with me. They are just not funny. One looks kinda cool, but they are just stupid. So either the Danish sense of humor is completely alien to mine or the editor had some ulterior motive in publishing it.
Most religious heads have been denouncing the cartoons but attempting to calm the rioting, but once that starts, tension just raises again from the inside.

From “Blast Destroys Shrine in Iraq, Setting Off Sectarian Fury”The New York Times By ROBERT F. WORTHPublished: February 22, 2006

The attack in Samarra began at 7 a.m., when a group of a dozen men dressed in paramilitary uniforms entered the shrine and handcuffed four guards who were sleeping in a back room, said a spokesman for the provincial governor's office. The attackers then placed a bomb in the dome and detonated it, collapsing most of the dome and heavily damaging an adjoining wall. "In the southern Shiite city of Basra, Shiite militia members destroyed at least two Sunni mosques, killing an imam, and launched an attack on the headquarters of Iraq's best-known Sunni Arab political party."

This was the version at 12:00 pm, however the version at 9:00 am the following morning said that a representative of the Sunni government said that several mosques were burned and the headquarters attacked "at the same time" but not in reaction to the explosion. Again, this is strange to me, but will cause internal anger. This mixed with the already growing hatred of the US from the Iraqi war and the hatred of the west over the cartoons, this could escalate into a world war. So what next? How can we secure ourselves against such an event?

“You don’t need to worry about security.” Bush tells America with his cute face and child-like reasoning.

According to Bush, the logic is that if Britain can manage ports on our soil, why shouldn’t another ally? Such as Saudi Arabia;

"I also want to remind folks that it's really important we not send mixed messages to friends and allies around the world as we combine, put together, a coalition to fight this War on Terror. So we'll continue to talk to people in Congress and explain clearly why the decision was made."
This reminder is a little funny for reasons to be discussed, however the main reason that we shouldn’t is because they are only a small cry better than Syria, who trains and funds terrorism and terrorist groups such as Hamas;

“The revelation that Hamas operates a command center in Saudi Arabia with close ties to Hamas militants executing attacks and the movement’s political and social-welfare (dawa) operations is remarkable. But neither the fact that individual Hamas operatives are active in Saudi Arabia nor the fact that Hamas receives significant funding from within the Kingdom is news.”

This quote is extracted from an article from September. So, though we have known of the connections between terrorist organizations and our ally for some months, we will apparently continue to give them free access to our eastern seaboard and control over our ports.

Another problem is the relationship between Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
Why is this a problem? Well, to play the card that the current administration loved to play for the past 5 years, 9/11. Two of the Hijackers were from UAE and many migrated here through their system, though they had know terrorist connections and were on a watch list. Marwan Al Shehhi, who piloted one of the hijacked planes into the towers was one of these individuals. AQ Khan, the Pakistani scientist with a name that sounds like he should be a Star Trek villain, smuggled nuclear materials, components and contraband to Iran, North Korea and Lybia through the UAE.

Why is this important? What does it have to do with Saudi Arabia? Location and status of boundary with Saudi Arabia is not final, de facto boundary reflects 1974. And while the UAE has a growing role as a heroin transshipment and money-laundering center, there is a death penalty for traffickers who are responsible for increasing consumption of heroin and cocaine in Saudi Arabia. The political structure of the UAE is an elected oligarcy sitting in a sort of Federal system of a “Supreme Council” who “elects” the President from the Al-Nahyan clan of Abu Dhabi and the Premier from the Al-Maktoom clan of Dubai and uses . Both of which are basically hereditary appointments from these clans. Where Saudi Arabia is a monarcy based on Islamic law. Both have serious human rights problems and corruption problems and have ties to international terrorist organizations, and yet they are both our allies in the “war on terror.” If Saudi Arabi takes over American Ports because it was ok for annother ally, as what seems the logic put forth by this administration so far, then why not UAE. Such an agreement will not strengthen the bonds of the region and could respark certain old problems there and send mixed messages to other allies.

Here is the point: Watch out world, we may all go caboom soon, so just keep an eye out for strangeness.

Here is the disclaimer: I recognize that the issue of images of Mohammed is sacrilegious but it is not you who is publishing them. If a non-Muslim draws, he is not breaking your laws because he is not bound by your laws. By the same respect, if you are going to publish something that you think to yourself, “hey, this might cause world wide riots because they are offensive” just think twice. We have to remember that there are angry and frustrated people out there and others, who seek power, that want to manipulate them. The last bit, be wary of who we call allies or who the yako in office has picked for his own purposes.

Here is a bit of confusion: If having images of people is a shunder in the Muslim religion then can someone please tell me how this is not a sin by the same rights?

"Holding pictures of the Iranian late spiritual leader Ayatollah Khomeini, left, and supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Muslims chant slogans during a rally at the Saint Masoumeh shrine in the holy city of Qom, 80 miles (130 kilometers) south of the capital Tehran, Iran, Thursday. (AP)"

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