The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Who Fears to Speak


Richard O'Rawe • 24 March 2006

To understand the furore behind the printing of the Danish cartoons, which depicted the prophet, Muhammad in a less than favourable light, one has to understand that to Muslims, any criticism of the prophet is a direct criticism of Allah, because Allah choose the Messenger to deliver his holy book. The Holy Qu’ran says, ‘I [Allah] will instil terror into the hearts of Unbelievers: smite ye above the necks and smite all their fingertips off them. This is because they contended against Allah and His Messenger, Allah is strict in punishment.’ (8: 12, 13). Therefore, as the Danish cartoons contested (slighted) against Muhammad, they also contended against Allah. Roughly translated, that means that those who printed, or who intend to print the cartoons face a real threat of being murdered in the name of Allah.

To more fully comprehend the attitude of the fundamentalists who would see it as their sacred duty to carry out such murders, we need to look at the basis of their beliefs, the Holy Qu’ran, which Muslims believe to have been dictated to the prophet by the Angel Gabriel, on the instructions of God.

The central tenet of the Holy Qu’ran is that there is only one God, one faith, and that those who practise other religions are in error and are Unbelievers. Therefore they are doomed to ‘The Scorching Fire’ (We can hardly blame the prophet for The Scorching Fire. I was baptised a Catholic and during my childhood, a Christian Brother school-teacher told me that Protestants were destined to be stokers).

Such beliefs are hardly novel, nor should they cause any anxiety to those of a different religion, or no religion at all. But while the Holy Qu’ran is a truly beautifully-written book (it should be, look who wrote it!), I found it breathtakingly violent in parts. In the “Sword Verses”, for example (so called because of their belligerent nature), the prophet tells Believers, ‘…slay them [transgressors] wherever ye catch them, and turn them out from wherever they turned you out; for tumult and oppression are worse than slaughter.’ After telling the believers not to fight in the Mosque, unless attacked, the prophet says, ‘…but if ye fight them, slay them. Such is the reward for those who suppress faith.’

To further supplement our understanding of the more extreme nuances of Muslim culture, based on faith, we have to examine Shariah Law, also known as The Law of Allah. This set of edicts is drawn from the Holy Qu’ran and is practised to varying degrees in Muslim countries. Shariah Law deals with all aspects of life, including crime, economics, business, legal matters, religious, and socials issues. Some manifestations of Shariah Law include: severing the hand or hands of thieves, stoning adulterers, prohibiting freedom of speech (criticism of Muhammad is punishable by beheading), and the total suppression of women. Apostasy, converting from Islam to another religion, is a beheading offence also (Condi Rice, the U.S. Secretary of State, yesterday appealed to an Afghan court for the life of a man who had abandoned Islam for another religion. The judge today said that he will not tolerate outside interference in Afghanistan’s judicial process).

Given the above background, the publishing of the Muhammad cartoons should not be entered into lightly, and I’m certain that The Blanket gave the matter much thought.

The hysterical and vicious reaction which followed in the wake of the Danish publication of the cartoons was predictable, if nevertheless reprehensible. And without doubt, those Muslims who burned Danish-owned properties and caused mayhem did so because they had been gravely offended.

But, be that as it may, that same violence is intimidatory, and by it’s very nature, it forces us to take stock. If editors and publishers bury their heads in the sand on this issue, then those who perpetuated the violence will have succeeded in re-sculpting our concept of freedom of the press - to a point where they, not us, will determine what our response will be to future matters relating to them. Under no circumstances can that be allowed to happen.

Every editor in every country which cherishes freedom of the press should print these cartoons on the same day. McIntyre and the isolated few who have taken a principled stand on this issue, should not be exposed to the possibility of being murdered at the hands of religious fanatics, by the silent acquiescence of those who fear to speak.

Robert Kennedy, said in Capetown in 1966, two years before he was assassinated, ‘For every ten men who are willing to face the guns of the enemy there is only one willing to brave the disapproval of his fellow, the censure of his colleagues, the wrath of his society. Moral courage is a rarer commodity than bravery in battle or great intelligence.’ The Blanket has shown that moral courage.
































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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



There is no such thing as a dirty word. Nor is there a word so powerful, that it's going to send the listener to the lake of fire upon hearing it.
- Frank Zappa

Index: Current Articles

26 March 2006

Other Articles From This Issue:

Profile: Taslima Nasrin
Anthony McIntyre

For Freedom of Expression
Taslima Nasrin

Muslim News Interviews The Blanket

Who Fears to Speak
Richard O'Rawe

Dr John Coulter

Cartoons and Caricatures: An anarchist take on the cartoon row
Jack White

Taslima Nasreen (2000)
Anthony McIntyre

Who Said
John Kennedy

The Key
John Kennedy

Getting Away With Murder
Mick Hall

Will the Real Army Council Please Stand Up
Geoffrey Cooling

Upcoming New York Events
Cathleen O'Brien

The Letters page has been updated:

Controversy over the publication of cartoons

Stereotypes Must Be Challenged Openly


Message for Dr. Coulter


Excellent Work


Swift Satire Poetry Competition

Freedom of Speech index

19 March 2006

Profile: Irshad Manji
Anthony McIntyre

How Muslims are Caricaturing Ourselves
Irshad Manji

The Clash of the Uncivilized
Imam Zaid Shakir

Misunderstandings Abound
Mick Hall

A Vital Question Not Easily Washed Away
Malachi O'Doherty

Zen and the Heart of Blasphemy
Liam Clarke

Gerry Peacemaker
John Kennedy

John Kennedy

Closer to Home
Anthony McIntyre

Drawing a Line Under the Past
David Adams

It's Our Easter, Too, You Know
Dr John Coulter

'The Way Ireland Ought to Be'
Michael Gilliespie

Former Hunger Striker leads 1981 Commemoration March in St. Pat's Day Parade
Deirdre Fennessy

Corn Beef & Lunatics
Fred A. Wilcox

The Letters page has been updated:

New Convert


About the Possible Posting of the Muslim Cartoons

Well Done

A Muslim's Response

Straight Talk vs Orthodoxy

Freedom of Speech index



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