Thursday, September 24, 2009

Provoking Muslims

"But foreshortening the historical context of the cartoons to merely the Enlightenment conceals the degree to which, far from being a bold and innovative defence of Western values, they are instead the latest manifestation of a long medieval European tradition of seeking out martyrdom by deliberately insulting Islam in general and the Prophet Muhammad in particular. Among possible precedents, I would point to the Christians in 9th-century Córdoba who cursed Muhammad and insulted Islam before the qadi, knowing that by doing this they would achieve martyrdom. There were also similar activities by 13th century Franciscans and Ramon Llull, who agonized about whether his destiny was to convert Muslims or to die a martyr. The title of the Jyllands-Posten piece, “Muhammeds ansigt [Muhammad’s Face]” shows that the publication of the cartoons had no point other than to provoke a reaction by breaking known taboos — indeed without the title, it would be hard to know that the cartoons were supposed to be representing Muhammad specifically." (thanks Amer)