Friday, February 03, 2006

The ironic, subtle Muslim sense of humor

Can't say this one is a surprise -- a great many immoderate Muslims across the Fertile Crescent and Europe are angry as all shit over the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten running a political cartoon (by Kurt Westergaard -- everyone should at least get to credit the author) showing Muhammed's turban as a bomb. Big deal, right? Caricature and shit. Old hat.

Apparently, thou shalt not render God. So, you have this firestorm, where a few more Euro papers ran the cartoon in solidarity, and folks in Turkey, Gaza, and other similarly open-minded places are fulminating. Tayyip Erdogan, the Turk P.M., starts shooting his mouth off about the press having limits to its freedom (maybe there's an appointment post for him in the U.S. cabinet).

This looks like as great a litmus test as any over whether large parts of the Muslim world -- the ones that are reactionary and regressive -- will have any success joining up with the Anglo-Saxon-Sino-Russo-Nippon-Whatever world. There is a certain standard of business in the "Modern World" (including caricaturing God and a nigh-unlimited freedom of expression), and if anti-progressive Islam can't handle it the Modern World can do nothing for it.

My biggest problem with all this is my basic grievance with all religious belief systems -- the absolute refusal to consider that there are OTHER WAYS to live.