Tuesday, February 07, 2006

What face for Islam?

When a cartoonist wants to depict a certain well-known personality, it will pick up on its most salient features - a roman nose, a balding head, a peculiar moustache - and enlarge them to ridiculous proportions, therefore creating an image that, more than a photograph, will make you say "ah, it's that fellow!".

The current Muslim rage against a few third-rate drawings depicting the prophet Muhammad goes beyond all reason. Human lives are being lost, death threats have been issued, over a few lines on paper. And what did those lines represent? The cartoonists view of the physical features of the Prophet Muhammad? Hardly. More like their view of present-day Islam.

And in all this madness, the despicable violence from the Muslim radicals, and the moderates apparent inability to stem the tide, shows just one thing: that some of those cartoons hit pretty well upon what seem to be the most salient features of Islam today: mindless, primitive values and raging violent behavior. Muslim radicals are turning themselves into a caricature of those same cartoons they deem insulting.

It is time the moderates show us that they are right about what Islam is. Or let us take our own conclusions. In the end, it is Muslims who decide what face Islam will wear, and whether that face is an acceptable one for a religion that intends to have a place in the West.

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