Who is responsible for the June 2 suicide attack against the Danish Embassy in Pakistan that killed six people? An increasing number would say that the Danes themselves are responsible, or at least the Danish government, for its obstinate attachment to that irritating little principle of free speech. On Wednesday, June 4, a web posting claiming to be from Al-Qaeda said that the bombing was fulfillment of Osama bin Laden’s vow to exact revenge for the cartoons of the Muslim prophet Muhammad that ran in a Danish newspaper in 2005. Fauzia Mufti Abbas, Pakistan’s ambassador to Denmark addressed a rhetorical question to the people of Denmark: “I’d like to know if your newspaper is satisfied with what it has done and what it has unleashed?”
You read that right. Fauzia Mufti Abbas, after jihadist thugs and murderers in her country killed six innocent people because of some cartoons published in a newspaper half a world away, had the volcanic chutzpah to say to Denmark that “the people of Pakistan that feel they have been harassed by what your newspaper has begun.”
Speaking strictly for myself, I feel more harassed by the murders of six people (who, by the way, had nothing to do with the cartoons, although even if they had been the cartoonists themselves this would be no better) than I do by any affront to my religion. If Fauzia Mufti Abbas or you or anyone else drew cartoons of people I revere and respect, people I think brought the best things to humanity, if you made fun of them, ridiculed and mocked them in the most outrageous terms, I might think you were a boor. I might think you were an idiot. But I would not kill you. I would not kill anyone else. I would not think anyone else was justified in killing you or anyone else. I would chalk it up to the fact that people differ in good faith about what is true and good, and we all have to live in the same world.
Muslims the world over, Fauzia Mufti Abbas and Osama bin Laden included, need to understand, but probably never will, that to suggest that the offense they have suffered, or want us to think they have suffered, or want us to think that their coreligionists have suffered, is sufficient to warrant the killing of anyone, is a monstrous exercise in moral myopia. Muslims who are agitating for restrictions on freedom of speech in the West (Pakistan has just asked the EU to impose such restrictions) have lost all perspective, if they ever had any to begin with. And now they are demanding that we lose all perspective as well.
Many already have. The respected analyst of Al-Qaeda Rohan Gunaratna has sided with Fauzia Mufti Abbas: “There is still a lot of dissatisfaction here about the cartoons,” he tells us, “as well as the fact that the Danish government still has not condemned them or the people that were responsible for them. As long as that hasn’t happened, Denmark will be under the constant threat of militant Muslims.” So evidently it’s all up to the Danish government. Muslim leaders in Pakistan have no responsibility to tell their “militant Muslims” that the cartoons did not harm them or Muhammad, and that rioting and killing for this is wrong, and, indeed, insane. They need not tell them that. Apparently Gunaratna believes that their irrational outrage is always our responsibility to rein in.
Of course, Muslim leaders, in Pakistan and elsewhere, want to foster exactly that perception, because it coalesces neatly with the Islamic supremacist agenda. Muslims may do whatever they wish. It is up to Western non-Muslims to adjust and adapt however they must, in order to placate them. And that includes everything up to and including abandoning the freedom of speech in favor of the chastened silence prescribed for dhimmis in Islamic law.
Fauzia Mufti Abbas question was actually quite apposite: “I’d like to know if your newspaper is satisfied with what it has done and what it has unleashed?” That is the question that should be asked of all Muslims who have killed or exhorted others to violence over these cartoons -- not of the cartoonists or any Western government.