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Submitted by losttango on Sat, 18/02/2006 - 22:38

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

I almost hesitate to step in here....

First of all, hats off to "Workers Liberty" for reproducing these cartoons. Even should they be racist, we need to have a look at them so we can have a sensible debate. I hope no-one is seriously suggesting that Soggy Oggy should not reproduce an image of Mohammed because Islam forbids it?


"How are these cartoons different from a representation of a rabbi engaged in a ritual murder (which is, of course, a staple of traditional anti-semitism)? It would be perfectly possibly for a Nazi to say that such a cartoon was just a criticism of religion -- but they would be lying, wouldn't they!"

Actually, the equivalent to the bomb-in-turban cartoon would be (at worst) a cartoon of Moses shooting a Palestinian schoolchild. I think such a cartoon would make a valid point. (I've also seen a number of cartoons depicting Jesus brandishing an M16 and I doubt if anyone would consider these to be anti-Christian racism even if drawn by a Muslim).

The equivalent to the Nazi-Rabbi cartoon might be an Imam drinking a child's blood, although since there is no equivalent 'blood libel' attached to Islam it would have a somewhat different resonance.

Thirdly, yes, the war is a factor in some muslims' anger and violence, but let's not forget that Salman Rushdie's bad experience with political Islam considerably predated even the first Iraq war. (And anyone who thinks the religion of Iraqis was a factor in the US decision to invade has definitely bought the Islamist mindset lock stock & barrel).

Having said all that, I think it is a little disingenuous for AWL to entirely ignore the extent to which demonisation of Muslims generally is part of the neo-conservative agenda. Or to acknowledge that the cartoons may, possibly, have been designed to feed into that to some extent. The idea of creating a national myth and the construction of an external enemy as a means of internal control (since the Soviet Union is no longer available) are both important to the political heirs of Leo Strauss and we need to at least be aware of that even while we focus on the free-speech side of the issue. The domestic situation in Denmark where the Queen recently made some highly offensive remarks about Muslims does also need consideration.

The points about Christians demanding equal censorship rights are well made by Arthur and I wonder if the SWP will now be calling for "Jerry Springer the Opera" to be banned or whether it will conclude that Christianity is an imperialist religion and should not be protected...

Regarding the wider debate, I would say that political Islam represents rather more of a threat to socialists in Muslim countries around the world than imperialism at the present time, and that we should oppose both, certainly not be trying to form alliances with one against the other. I would say AWL gets this right and the SWP has got it disastrously, obscenely, wrong.

(As usual Sean bends the stick too far with some of his comments, as Yves Coleman from Ni patrie ni frontières very wisely points out).

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