Sunday, February 19, 2006

Danish Disappearance

There is much discussion in the European press about its rights and in particular the right of freedom of expression. Here in the Gulf there is uproar over the "sacriligeous caricaturing of the Prophet", although not the hysterical, violent reaction evident in some other places.

Despite the fact that there is a lot of evidence to suggest that the significance of some of the images being protested against were in fact faked, and not anything at all to do with Islam, and that the Danish Imam's were deliberately stirring up trouble, I must admit to a certain sympathy with the strength of feeling of the peaceful Islamic protest against what they see, with some justification, as yet another episode of the West belittling their beliefs. We of the West are so used to our own faiths being belittled and made mockery of in the popular media that we forget that others are not used to it, and wil be deeply hurt by, what they percieve as an attack on the fundamental principles of their lives, especially given the percieved rise in what is now being called Islamaphobia in the West.

I do not condone the violence of the protests elsewhere and I do believe in the freedom of the press. I also believe in the right to peaceful protest and if the press and media wish to excercise their rights they can hardly complain when others do so too. All freedoms come with responsibilities, and this should not be forgotten.

There are no Danish products to be had anywhere in town, and many shops have large notices announcing the fact. I wonder what will happen if the boycott were to extend to Maersk, the Danish shipping line that carries an enormous amount of the Arabian Gulf's oil exports.

In as much of a show of solidarity as I dared muster, in gentlemanly support of freedom of expression, I did sit outside Starbucks, in full view of the public, with my coffee and Danish pastry. Not much I know, but I do have to live here.