The New York Times Rubbing Salt into Muslim Wounds

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Islamophobia of the New York Times stands exposed. The ideas of its editors, expressed in its February 25, 2006 editorial are so overtly Islamophobic that a Muslim writer, who was not moved by the cartoon issue to write even a single paragraph, could hardly wait a minute to respond to the Times editors.

The editorial is titled: “Silenced by Islamist rage.” The New York Times has hardly taken any time in the past many years to, at least, define the Islamophobes invented term “Islamist.” However, embracing this terminology shows the anti-Islam of the paper and its editors.

The editorial begins with total rejection of the blasphemy, sorrow, pain, insult and all associated aspects of the cartoons publication. Instead it declares its verdict: “the protests are no longer about the caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad, but about the demagoguery of Islamic extremists.”

Interestingly, the very next sentence contradicts this verdict: “The demonstrators are undeniably outraged by what they perceive as blasphemy.” After initially rejecting and then accepting the fact that the protests are about the blasphemous caricatures, the editorial sets out its agenda and turns its guns towards “radical Islamists.”

It says: “radical Islamists are trying to harness that indignation to their political goals and their theocratic ends by fomenting hatred for the West and for moderate regimes in the Muslim world. These are dangerous games, and they require the most resolute response.”

Alright! Before giving a resolute response to “radical Muslims,” we need to have a look at the New York Times analysis. The question is: Who gave “radical Islamists” this opportunity to foment hatred?

Did “Islamists” go and convince Flemming Rose to publish the blasphemous drawing so that they could take advantage of it. Or, is it Flemming Rose who went to the US and got inspired with the philosophy and anti-Islam hatred of the warlords? Didn’t it turn out that Fleming Rose was a disciple of Daniel Pipes and the "clash of civilizations" theory put out by Project for a New American Century?

Before holding “radical Muslims” responsible for the ongoing mess, did the New York Times editors try to find out what others have to say about Flemming Rose’s inspiration. Crhistopher Bollyn has the following in American Free Press (February 4, 2006) to share with us.

‘Agents of certain persuasion’ are behind the egregious affront to Islam in order to provoke Muslims, Professor Mikael Rothstein of the University of Copenhagen told the BBC. The key "agent" is Flemming Rose, the cultural editor of JP, who commissioned cartoonists to produce the blasphemous images and then published them in Denmark’s leading morning paper last September. The International Herald Tribune, which reported on the offensive cartoons on January 1, noted that even the liberalism of Rose had its limits when it came to criticism of Zionist leaders and their crimes. Rose also has clear ties to the Zionist Neo-Cons behind the "war on terror."Rose told the international paper owned by The New York Times that "he would not publish a cartoon of Israel’s Ariel Sharon strangling a Palestinian baby, since that could be construed as ‘racist.’" […]Rose traveled to Philadelphia in October 2004 to visit Daniel Pipes, the Neo-Con ideologue who says the only path to Middle East peace will come through a total Israeli military victory. Rose then penned a positive article about Pipes, who compares "militant Islam" with fascism and communism.[1]

It is now fully established that the New York Times has put itself in the camp with Pipes and the rest of the neo-cons. It can see the “dangerous games” of “Islamic radicals” in the street protests, but it can hardly see the theocratic ends of its presidents and the warlords surrounding him in their wars of aggression.

Speaking in the warlords’ language, the Times editors argue: “It is not the West that is most threatened in this crisis. The voices of moderation in the Muslim world are the ones that are being intimidated and silenced. Those few journalists and leaders who have spoken out against the rioting have been vilified and assailed, and even jailed.” At this point, readers expect the editors to give example of the journalists who were jailed only for opposing the rioting. Instead, like tabloid journalists, the Times editors come up with examples which do not have anything to do with “moderation” or what it states about jailing of some journalists.

After making the horrible statement that the voices of moderation are being threatened and silenced because of the “Islamic radicals,” the Times gives this irrelevant example: “According to a report by Michael Slackman and Hassan M. Fattah in The New York Times, 11 journalists in five Islamic countries face prosecution for printing some of the Danish cartoons, even when their purpose was to condemn them.” Are we to assume that the Times editors are stupid enough not to see the difference between criticizing street protests and actually re-publishing these insulting cartoons.

The Times argues one thing and gives example of another. No, they are not stupid. We are actually witnessing the height of deception and hypocrisy. Since when condemnation of an act needs the person who is condemning to actually commit the same act? If these journalists were condemning the publication of the blasphemous cartoons, as per the Times editors, it is highly unlikely that they would have chosen to re-publish them.

The Times editors move on to argue that it is the “cowed authorities” in the Muslims world and the Islamists’ “turning up the heat” that consolidate “the perception of a ‘clash of civilizations’ between Islam and the West.” One may ask the editors: Who have coined the phrase “a clash of civilizations” in the first place? The much demonized “Islamic radicals” or the most reverend intellectuals in the United States?

Is it the “Islamic radicals” who are imposing their “way of life” through wars of aggression and occupations? According to the standards of Islamophobes, there is no Muslim, who could be described more radical than Osama bin Laden. Even he has not said the West has to live by the way of life he believes is right. It is actually the other way round. All the statements glorifying the Western way of life and the actions to impose Western values on the Muslim world through genocidal sanctions and wars of aggression are coming from the West.

The most “radical” statements, coming out of the Muslim world, are not saying the West has to live the way of Islam whether it likes it or not. The “extremists” merely say, leave Muslims alone. Give them their right to self-determination and self-rule. The extremists say, don’t impose your values and way of life and puppets on Muslims. They say, don’t support the repressive regimes of Musharraf, Mubarak and Karimov, which the Times calls “moderate regimes.” This must be sufficient to show who is promoting the clash and who is on the defensive.

The most obnoxious observation of the Times comes towards the conclusion of the editorial: It says: “It is time for moderate Muslims to abandon the illusion that they can placate the Islamists by straddling the fence. It is they who must explain to their people that the cartoons were an isolated incident, and not the face of hostile crusaders. It is they who must make it clear to their people that blowing up mosques, beheading hostages and strapping on belts of explosives are far, far greater evils than a few drawings in a distant paper. They must do so because their future is at stake –” not Denmark’s.”

What the self-proclaimed “moderate” Muslims need to understand is that they can never please Islamophobes until they say good bye to their faith and start living by the religious values and way of life of the Islamophobes. It is becoming abundantly clear from the latest developments in the West. The message to Muslims is clear: assimilate (read: apostacize) or leave.[2]

It is the hypocrisy and cunningness of the New York Timesat its peak to call the cartoons “an isolated incident.” This is not an isolated incident when looked in the context of what is really happening all around us and to which the Times turns a blind eye. Following are just a few examples of what actually turned the cartoon issue into a burning fuse for the simmering discontent. If publishing the blasphemous cartoons an isolated issue:

  • What about the US military officials flushing the Qur’an down the toilets? That too was an isolated incident.
  • How about the bans on Islamic religious symbols, such as veil in France and elsewhere?
  • How about the Italian minister putting on cartoons of Mohammad’s (pbuh) on his T-shirts. [3] This, too, is an isolated incident.
  • How about the Vatican’s warning against marrying Muslims? [4] That is another isolated incident.
  • How about the Congress, threatening to cut off funding to collegiate Mideast Studies departments that refuse to toe the neoconservatives’ line? [5]
  • How about the Proposed ID System For Muslims In Manila? [6]
  • How about the negative image of Muslims and Islam in the media which results in the news-reports such as “Bias Against Muslims Up by 70%,[7] “U.S. Muslims’ Harassment Complaints Up,” [8] “Anti-Muslim Incidents Rise, Study Finds” [9] and 75% of Muslims fear terrorist label: survey (June 21, 2004)? [10]
  • How about reports elsewhere such as “Muslims report increased abuse in Australia after September 11,” [11] “Italian Muslims Lament Marginalization, Oppression” [12] and “Muslim names harm job chances”? [13]
  • How about isolating Muslims on the basis of their beliefs rather than actions. Don’t we see Germany, for example, where the state of Baden-Wurttemberg has added its own list of guidelines for use by officials when interviewing Muslims seeking German citizenship. All applicants face the usual tests of language proficiency, general knowledge and their ability to fend for themselves and their families. They also must accept the democratic principles laid out in Germany’s constitution. But Muslims face up to an additional 30 questions probing their religious beliefs, as well as their views on such topics as Western values, women’s clothing, homosexuality, wife-beating and polygamy. Among other things, they could be asked whether they accept criticism of their religion, how they feel about the terrorist attacks of 9/11, what their attitudes are toward Jews and whether they would allow their daughters to participate in school activities. The state’s Interior Minister says the test is designed to weed out unsuitable applicants or to be used as a basis for later deportation of those found to have lied.

All these isolated incidents and pieces come together to make the bigger picture of a Western world rife with Islamophobia. The street protest in the Muslim world are mere a reaction to this Islamophobia. There is absolutely no cause for anti-Westernism in Islam or mis-interpretation of its sources other than the words and deeds of the few Islamphobes and warlords in power in the West.

Most importantly, almost all the above references are from the “mainstream” media and are undeniable facts. These facts show that insulting cartoons are not just an isolated incident. Islamophobia is getting mainstream in the West. A 350-words editorial from the New York Times cannot conceal the reality on the ground. A film from BBC effectively exposes Islamophobia in UK (July 15, 2004).[14]

The BBC documentary showed members of the British National Party saying: "That’s the way that this wicked, vicious faith has expanded through a handful of cranky lunatics about 1,300 years ago until it’s now sweeping country after country." One BNP member expressing a wish to blow up mosques with a rocket launcher and to machine-gun worshippers with "about a million bullets." It is not only the state of mind of the politicians in UK. In Netherlands, Dutch politicians bask in Islamophobia[15] and analysts in the United States are proposing internment of Muslims.[16]

It is as sad as it is shocking to see the New York Times telling Muslims that cartoons are an isolated incident. This exposes the rotten Islamophobic core of the New York Times. It ignores what has been piling up since centuries of colonial adventures and which is intensifying in the last 10-15 years. If we start counting these isolated incidents, the list may never come to an end. Each incident is serious in itself. For example, the July 19, 2004 report that “Islam to be banned in Norway.”[17]

Similarly, the recent Guardian report that Christian groups are seeking ban on the Qur’an?[18] The list will go on and on. Starting from paving the way to ban Muslim in flights[19] to books which promote discrimination against Muslims[20] and the signs reading “We must remember Islam is the enemy,”[21] there is no aspect of life in which Muslims are not deliberately targeted for humiliation and subjugation.

Nothing can be more misleading and hypocritical on the part of the New York Times than stating that the cartoons are an isolated incident.

To respond to the final argument of the editorial which says: “It is they [moderate Muslims] who must make it clear to their people that blowing up mosques, beheading hostages and strapping on belts of explosives are far, far greater evils than a few drawings in a distant paper. They must do so because their future is at stake –” not Denmark’s,” one can only ask a simple question from the editors: Why were there no blowing up of mosques, beheadings and suicide bombings in Iraq before the US invasion and occupation? Were not Iraqi reeling under Saddam’s tyranny as we are told by the US? Was not Islam there to make Iraqis radical? Why didn’t they mis-interpret Islam then? Whey did these radical not radicalized others then? Was life more dear to Iraqis then and not now? The answer to these questions shows that the forces of radicalization lie in Washington–”in the double standards and unjust foreign policies of the Western countries–”and not in Mecca, the Qur’an or Islam.

Blaming something non-existent–”Islamism and Islamists–”cannot save the warlords in the West from the flames of hatred and war that they have ignited in the Muslim world. There are no Islamists and moderate Muslims. There are only opportunists and collaborators of different shades among Muslims, who have to come up with justification for their supporting the warlords in the West. Their justifications do not become a new form of “moderate” Islam.

Similarly, there are others, who directly suffer due to oppression and repression perpetrated or sponsored by the West. They don’t have any option but to stand up against their enslavement. They do not become “radical” or “Islamists,” nor their resistance to injustice becomes another form of “radical” Islam. Masking the reality with these Islamophobic terms and phrases will only expedite the clash which the New York Times is blaming on Muslims.

Notes:

[1]. http://mathaba.net/0_index.shtml?x=508448

[2]. Muslims who want to live by Islamic Law have no place in Australia. Associated Press, February 24, 2006. URL: http://www.dailytimes.com.pk/default.asp?page=2006224story_24-2-2006_pg4_11 Also see: Muslims Must Take Homophobia Test. GayNZ.com, January 04, 2006. http://www.gaynz.com/news/default.asp?dismode=article&artid=3082. Also see this link (http://www.wsws.org/articles/2006/jan2006/germ-j18.shtml). And http://canada.mediamonitors.net/content/view/full/27409

[3]. Reuters, Crispian Balmer Tue Feb 14, 2006. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20060214/wl_nm/religion_cartoons_italy_dc_1

[4]. ROME, Dec. 26, 2005 (UPI) — A number of Catholic cardinals are warning Italian women against marrying Muslims. http://www.sciencedaily.com/upi/?feed=TopNews&article=
UPI-1-20051226-23004600-bc-italy-mixedmarriage.xml

[5]. Associate Press: “Muslims Face Scrutiny Ahead of Olympics,” report by Derek Gatopoulos, March 23, 2004. http://www.phillyburbs.com/pb-dyn/news/48-03232004-269417.html

[6] Rexcel Sorza,”Proposed ID System For Muslims In Manila Spurned,” March 23, 2005. http://www.islamonline.net/English/News/2004-03/23/article04.shtml

[7]. Mary Beth Sheridan, “Bias Against Muslims Up 70%,” The Washington Post, May 3, 2004. http://pewforum.org/news/display.php?NewsID=3316.

[8]. CBC Report: Report: Muslim Harassment Up. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2004/05/03/national/main615196.shtml and http://www.adn.com/24hour/nation/story/1335662p-8518415c.html

[9]. Anti-Muslim Incidents Rise, Study Finds, 2003. http://www.paklinks.com/gs/showthread.php?t=144917 and http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-muslims3may03,1,1762658.story

[10]. 75% of Muslims fear terrorist label: survey, Jun 18 2004 11:35 AM EDT. http://www.cbc.ca/ottawa/story/ot_muslim20040618.html
CBC News

[11]. Muslims report increased abuse in Australia after September 11.
http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/90227/1/.html

[12]. Italian Muslims Lament Marginalization, Oppression http://www.islam-online.net/English/News/2004-06/22/article02.shtml

[13]. Hugh Muir, “Muslim names harm job chances,” Guardian, July 12, 2004. The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/race/story/0,11374,1259075,00.html

[14]. “Film exposes political Islamophobia,” Al-Jazeera, July 16, 2004, 16:00 Makka Time, 13:00 GMT http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/66EB1FAE-E44A-4FC0-82DA-D12AD5085041.htm

[15]. http://english.aljazeera.net/NR/exeres/528BD62C-6EAC-47D9-895D-F15DF8115894.htm

[16]. Neoconservatives push internment for American Muslims: http://www.finalcall.com/artman/publish/article_1818.shtml

[17]. “Dutch politician basks in Islamophobia,” November 21, 2004, 23:41 Makka Time, 20:41 GMT http://pub.tv2.no/nettavisen/english/article254421.ece
Also see, KRISTIANSAND, NORWAY: “Right-wing politicians want to ban Islam July 19, 2004. http://pub.tv2.no/nettavisen/english/article254421.ece

[18]. Stephen Bates and Julian Glover, “Christian group may seek ban on Qur’an,” Guardian, October 12, 2005
The Guardian http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk_news/story/0,,1589960,00.html

[19]. Washington Times, July 23, 2004. http://www.washtimes.com/national/20040721-101403-1508r.htm

[20]. Hussein Ibish “Book seems to urge discrimination in US against Arabs, Muslims, Scholars say that, despite her personal claims, Michelle Malkin’s evidence, logic are flawed.” Daily Star. August 24, 2004. http://www.dailystar.com.lb/article.asp?edition_id=10&categ_id=2&article_id=7654

[21]. Islam Sign Outside Latrobe-Area Church Stirs Controversy ThePittsburghChannel – Sept 17, 2004. http://www.thepittsburghchannel.com/news/3739274/detail.html

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