Recently Katy Perry’s Dark Horse music video has had many a Muslims in uproar. Around minute 1 of the music video, there is a man wearing many decorations and in particular, a necklace with “Allah”, the Arabic word for God, inscribed on it. Katy Perry electrocutes the man and he, along with the necklace turn to red sand.
I won’t comment on that. Nor will I comment on the much discussed “film” made about the Prophet of Islam, Muhammad (pbuh). This is not a discussion of whether the actions of these particular individuals were right or wrong. In the case of Katy Perry, I’m quite inclined to believe that she is ignorant of the controversy. The set designers were actually responsible for decorating that man with that particular necklace. But that is besides the point. These two cases and many other like them opens up a serious question: are Muslims too damn sensitive? South Park and Family Guy has a field with Jesus jokes. Comedians routinely commit “blasphemy” on stage for a few laughs. Much our society accept this, and even at some level, encouraged it.
So why should Islam be an exception to the rule: freedom of speech, i.e. making fun of anything and everything?
But the rule I had just stated is simply not true. The argument that Muslims are ‘intolerant’ and sensitive hinges on the evidence that Christians are tolerant of others mocking their beliefs. But this argument fails spectacularly. What is acceptable to one group should never be a measuring stick to understand what is acceptable to another group.
A basic process in promoting understanding between two sides is recognizing the concept of sensitivities. If I start screaming racial slurs at an African American, I would except someone to bash my face in. If I start going on talk-shows and quip about the holocaust being a joke, every Sunday magazine will have their cross-hairs pointed at my chest.
Where am I going with this? Ah, the concept of sensitivities. But these are ACTUAL and LEGITIMATE things to be sensitive about, you would respond. I agree. And even then, in the United States, I could provoke the utmost sensitivities of people and still be allowed to say what I say. But that doesn’t mean what I am saying should be said.
Now back to Islam and Sensitive Muslims. The West and the East differ greatly in what each value and it is only an ignorant, backward and closed individual who cannot begin to comprehend this. The East’s lifeblood is religion. It flourished in religion. It loved religion. It was liberated by religion. The story of the West, of Europe and America, are quite the opposite. To the East, Islam is a way of life. It is the very identity a person carries. This is why Muslims are “sensitive” to mockery of their faith.
Notice the choice of words. Mockery, because history is testament that Islam has been one of the most tolerant scholarly traditions and the most well behaved to criticism. Criticism of Islam is welcomed. Come, write a 10 page dissertation on why the Prophet showed signs of hallucinations and why the core ideology of Islam is false. But deliberately mocking a Muslim’s faith?
There is a difference between mockery, and criticism. One makes you a dick. The other might make you a college professor, a Christian or Atheist apologist. Muslims are disgusted at the mockery of Jesus and for that matter, of all religions because religion is a fabric of the Muslim’s being. It is the life blood. It is a presistant, living history – of the good times and the bad times – that makes a Muslim who he/she is. Analogise can be drawn. The holocaust is ingrained in the memory of any Jewish American or Israeli. Slavery and the civil rights movement are memories ingrained in the minds of African Americans. And surely enough, these two topics are highly sensitive in the west.
Free speech is free speech. Yet I believe society should shun the individuals that engage in mocking other’s beliefs. A society that accepts such practices is not civilized in any sense of the word.
PS: If the countries that were occupying you also start making fun of your way of life… would you not be pissed as well?