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Friday, February 03, 2006

The freedom of expression and speech in turmoil

There're always two sides to a story and the reader should always be critical and judge with skeptism. And only after a profound understanding of the truth behind the two sides should the reader choose or spread what he has read. However, in the world we live in, we simply don't have the time to understand both sides and the result of which always leads to confrontation. History has re-written itself so many times, from G.W. Bush going to the Iraq War to the very recent dispute over the twelve caricatures of Muhammad, published by the Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten.

So what exactly is a caricature? It is a form of self expression that is usually drawn to depict the contemporary world we live in. It is the everyday editorial cartoons you would find in almost every modernized newspaper around the world. The caricatures are drawn in such a manner to promote the quick understanding of what is happening around us. Furthermore, what is depicted is usually from the author's perspective and doesn't, in any way or form, resembles the view of the general public and/or the newspaper agency. Depending on the culture and region you live in, the drawings usually range from political outcries to religious protests and human rights.

The cartoons of the Muhammad is no different. They're originally intended to depict the life and teachings of Muhammad, the prophet of islam. Some of the cartoons might be offensive, but they're just a form of everyday entertainment and should not be taken heavily. However, from a Muslim perspective, the cartoons are horrific, nasueating, simple-minded, rude and unresentful; worthy of extreme repulsion and resentment.

Immediately after the publication the league of muslim nations unaminously agreed to boycott and punishment the perpetrator behind this distastful act. Some have even gone as far as raiding the Danish embassy in Indonesia to issuing death threats to those responsible for publication (BBC's Reaction around the world to cartoon row).

For the society to improve as a whole, the people living in it must be open, judgemental, and tolerant to their surroundings. They should also strive for improvements, open for suggestions, build on the criticisms and reform for a better understanding and acceptance. To deny is the ultimate cause of the failure of a society. Denial usually leads to isolation and the segregation between cultures and eventually to the decimation and diminishment of a society. This ideology applies to everyone, everywhere and every religion.

We live in a modern world now where improvement decides the outcome. Muslims should wake up and be more tolerate to what other people do. They should not issue threats just because people are critical over their religion. Instead, they should listen to what other people has to say, respect freedom of expression and speech, build on the criticisms and strive toward a better understanding and acceptance. This way, not only will they grow, they'll also benefit from fewer criticisms as a result of integration into a larger population and the world around them.

Islam, like all other religions, should be respected, worshipped and cherished, as long as they do not issue threats and kill infidels.

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