Regarding the Feb. 6 article, "Cartoon furor deepens divisions": As if there are not enough problems around the world, we now see more tension from the publication of cartoons. With already strained relations between the West and the Muslim world, there is the need for restraint from all sides. The best way to do this is to stay away from issues that are so sensitive to people. All forms of publication in the media must be subject to close scrutiny and come out in a responsible manner.
Not everyone understands the meaning of freedom of speech. There are many people in the Arab Muslim world who are still struggling to understand what democracy is all about - at least the Western version of it. There is a lot of ignorance. Let sanity prevail, and let us all work toward peace around the world.
Mohamed Z. Cassim
In the Western world, almost everything is ridiculed, including religion. Before seeing the 12 cartoons on the Internet, I assumed they must be terrible, since there was such a fuss about them. However, I found most of the cartoons rather tame for Western humor. The cartoon that showed Muhammad with a bomb as his turban apparently irritated Muslims the most. But after 9/11 and the bombings in Madrid and London, I don't think it's surprising that the words or concepts of "Muslim" and "bomb" are linked.
If moderate Muslims would be as angry at radical Muslims as they are about Danish cartoonists, maybe more Westerners would realize most Muslims are not radicals.
If Muslims drew cartoons of Moses, Buddha, or Jesus Christ, few people would threaten them with violence. If Muslims are angry that a few cartoons portrayed Muhammad as a violent terrorist, then perhaps they need to stop the uncivilized behavior that reinforces that idea.
A recent French cartoon shows Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, and Christian prophets or holy figures floating on a cloud. The caption reads: "Don't complain, Muhammad, we're all being caricatured here." If Muslims want to live in the West, they need learn to live with Western humor.
San Jose, Calif.
The Monitor's coverage of widespread rioting over the "Muhammad cartoons" prompts me to observe that much Muslim leadership worldwide traces its lineage directly back to the prophet Muhammad, as King Abdullah II indicated when he adroitly tempered Jordanian response. The king referred to the fact that Muhammad is his ancestor as well as his prophet, and that he therefore feels most keenly the personal affront of the cartoons.
Most Muslims revere and hold in awe the prophet Muhammad, who brought the blessings of religion and civilization to them. Those who orchestrate demonstrations and violence, however we view them, give expression to genuine revulsion. Muslims who are Westernized, who understand and appreciate Western dedication to free speech, have relatively little compelling influence in the larger Muslim world.
Many Muslims share deeply their distaste for the appearance of the cartoons. King Abdullah, whose Jordan is a staunch ally of the United States, has not outright disavowed the outrage.
The king admirably correlates the Jewish, Christian, and Muslim faiths in support of moderation and tolerance, affirming a continuing hope for accommodation. Perhaps King Abdullah's leadership will be appropriately persuasive.
J. Richard Irvine
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