While the current situation over the Mohammed cartoons is distrubing, (the pictures themselves, one person dead in Afghanistan, three embassies torched and one Danish factory closed and twelve Danish cartoonists in hiding) I am equally disturbed over the fact that the media is overlooking something else. The refusal of the local Danish Muslim leadership to accept the limits on what they could achieve in a liberal and democratic Danish society.
The fact that any Danish individual or group offended by a Danish newspaper, would be limited to addressing their outrage to the editor-in-chief of the paper, and through its newspaper’s op-ed section, has been totally rejected by the Danish Muslim community. Why does the Danish Islamic leadership believe that their religious beliefs warrant special status and protection, not offered to other religious or non-religious groups?
Why wasn’t the Jyllands-Posten editor-in-chief’s explanation and op-ed space not enough for the Muslim leadership? What did they hope to achieve, (that the law in Denmark doesn’t allow for) by touring the ME with not only the twelve cartoons, but three extra cartoons of their own choosing, if not for the purpose of outside intimidation? Why didn’t the Muslim leadership act in accordance with local Danish norms, and address the situation the only way it could, with the paper in question?
I believe that the answer lies in their assumption, that Islam automatically requires special treatment, endowed with exclusive rights not offered to anyone else. If that’s the case, then the Danish Muslim community has indeed been successful.
I view this issue with great importance, for it not only affects Danish society, but all countries as well. When one group believes its above any type of criticism, (good or bad) it spells doom for the right of free speech and expression. There is no such thing as ‘the right’ not to be offended…….yet.