A penguin and a polar bear are sitting on an iceberg. The penguin yells, "No Soap Radio!" They both jump in the water.

Monday, March 20, 2006

Failure to Communicate: 5 questions non-Muslims would like answered

Recently on the campus of UNC-Chapel Hill a UNC alumni and Iran native mowed down nine students with an SUV he rented for that specific purpose. Mohammed Reza Taheri-azar declared during his arraignment that it was his intention to kill, and that he was disappointed more people weren't around at the time. Media and police withheld the label "terrorist," at least until Taheri-azar began saying the attack was to "avenge the deaths of Muslims worldwide."

This act of terrorism hits a little too close to home to go unaddressed. The current controversy at UNC shows that there are issues on this and similar topics just bubbling under the surface. A conversation needs to be had, questions need to be answered, and things need to be cleared up.

In November of 2005 the LA Times ran a column entitled "Five questions non-Muslims would like answered," after the massive youth riots in France and bombings in Jordan. It asked things like, "Why is only one of the 47 Muslim-majority countries a free country?" and "Why do countries governed by religious Muslims persecute other religions?" Important questions no doubt, but given the events of recent months, and the UNC attack, there are more pressing issues to students at UNCG.

I want to invite anyone in the Muslim community (from UNCG or otherwise), or simply anyone with answers, to respond to a few questions. I feel these are questions that both Muslims and non-Muslims need answered, for everyone's sake.

(1) Why do Muslims oppose freedom of speech?

I don't need to list what happened when a Danish paper ran cartoons depicting Muhammad. What I and many others found most disturbing about those Muslims opposing the cartoons is that they weren't upset that some of the cartoons portrayed Muhammad as a terrorist, just that the cartoons existed.

Recently when the Daily Tar Heel (UNC's student paper) ran an editorial cartoon depicting Muhammad in a manner similar to those of the Danish paper controversy, the UNC Muslim Student Association responded with a letter to the editor saying:

"Muslims believe illustrating [the Prophet Muhammad] degrades the divine essence of Islam and any personified depictions of the Prophet are strongly prohibited. The argument is not about the fundamental right to freedom of speech. Had the same message been relayed in a text editorial, the Muslim Students Association would have respected the DTH's right to publish it."

The UNC MSA opposed the DTH's cartoon not because it was offensive, but because they say the DTH doesn't have the right to show it. They called the cartoon "hate speech" not for its message, just for existing. This opposes the very essence of free speech. Doesn't freedom of speech protect offensive material as well? Isn't everything offensive to someone?

Full column


Post a Comment

<< Home