Friday, April 8, 2011

Burning Korans and Cartoons

Gary Fouse

There is an interesting debate going on among some as to whether Florida pastor Terry Jones should be condemned or praised for his recent Koran burning, an act that has, predictably, led to deadly riots in Afghanistan. This, of course, is reminiscent of the European firestorm over the Mohammed cartoons. When it comes to these kinds of expressions, European law gets pretty murky since many countries have laws against "hateful speech". Just ask Geert Wilders in Holland or Elisabeth Sabaditsch-Wolff in Austria, both of whom are being or have been prosecuted for speaking out against Islam. Till now, the cartoonists in Holland and Scandinavia have been protected by their respective nations against Middle Eastern and other Muslim calls for prosecution (and death). My own reaction is rather two-fold. On the one hand, I defend Wilders and Sabaditsch-Wolff for speaking out on the problems associated with the strict application of Islam in a free Western society and the lack of assimilation among their Muslim immigrants. I do not think they have been guilty of hate speech. On the matter of drawing cartoons depicting prophets and Muslim images in a negative light, as well as burning cartoons, I think they are ill-advised. Same with burning a Koran. However, any attempt to prosecute or kill those who engage in these acts is also something I absolutely condemn.

In the wake of the Koran-burning incident, President Obama, General Petraeus, Secretary Gates, and other officials have spoken out publicly in an effort to cool down the Muslim world-especially in Afghanistan, where we have troops fighting and who are now exposed to added anger and opposition. That's one thing. More troubling are the comments of people like Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a lawyer, no less, who has mused about his wish that (Jones) could be prosecuted.

Personally, I think that Terry Jones is a publicity-seeking, irresponsible jerk and that his actions are unwise. I am hardly a follower of the Koran; I have read it, and don't like much of what is in it. That is not the point. I am not ready to join those who think all Muslims are bad people just waiting to kill the rest of us. There are plenty of peaceful Muslims of good will who still consider the Koran to be their holy book-whether or not they strive to lead their lives in accordance with every word. Burning the Koran hurts them too.

Then there are the brave Muslims like Zuhdi Jasser and Steven Schwartz, who openly and courageously speak out against the jihadists and their apologists-including the wolves in sheep's clothing like CAIR. The Koran is still their holy book as well. We need to stand with them and support them. Does anyone actually think that burning a Koran is supporting people like Jasser and Schwartz?

That said, drawing cartoons and burning Korans is no justification for rioting and murdering. We Christians in America have had to suffer seeing a Jesus crucifix immersed in a jar of urine and hailed as a work of art in a New York art museum-subsidized by government funding no less. Yet, no one rioted. No art museum was burned or attacked. No one was killed. No death contracts were put out. That is the price of living in a free and civilized society.

Today, Christians can be mocked all day long in the West-especially Catholics. Jews are once again being subjected to rising anti-Semitism. Why is it only Islam that must not at all costs be offended? It is because Islam is militant, and the reaction is sure to be violent in certain quarters. Accordingly, many genuflect when Muslims are offended.

So the point I am coming to here is that while I disapprove of the cartoons and burning Korans, any attempt to prosecute (or kill) cartoonists and Koran burners must be opposed if we are to remain a free society. If our justice system, especially the politically-correct Justice Department finds an inventive way to charge Jones with a crime, then I must hold my nose and rise to his defense.

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