Before I go much further with this post – an apology. I apologise for publishing a non ‘Syrian’ post. But I feel that this issue has affected Syria – and Damascus in particular – that it deserves mention.
Jyllands-Posten, the Danish paper has decided to publish a series of cartoons satirising the holocaust. When they published the Mohammed cartoons, they said they were doing it because they didn’t believe they should respect any red lines, any self-censorship. And I agree. But I felt that they chose an easy, dangerous and racist stereotype to make their point.
Europe has its own red lines, Iranian newspaper Hamshari said, and so it would test their ‘freedom of speech’ argument by publishing a series of cartoons making light of the holocaust.
And now the Danish paper wants to publish them on the same day. And I support their decision to do so. It is easy to use your right to free speech when it only hurts a distant ‘other’. But much more difficult, and uncomfortable when you challenge your own views.
It is vital for the paper to publish these new cartoons to show that they are not racist hypocrits, only willing to exert selective freedom of speech.
I know many people – moderate, liberal, tolerant Syrians, Europeans and Americans – are going to disagree with me, and disagree passionately. But I stand by this view, and I encourage you to disagree with me in the comments section.
This blog has always stood for freedom of expression (“I’m talking rubbish? Leave a comment. Welcome to the information democracy”) and I defended the Danish paper’s right to publish the Mohammed cartoons. I disagreed with their choice because I felt it was gratuitous and religiously stereotyped muslims as terrorists. I felt that their defence of freedom of speech was a thin veil for racism: especially because they chose not to publish a series of Jesus cartoons ‘because of the widespread offence it would cause’.
Maybe their decision to publish the holocaust cartoons has been prompted by the revelation about the Jesus cartoons yesterday. But even so – well done to Jyllands-Posten for showing that freedom of expression does not only extend in one direction.
They have made their point. Let’s hope that the holocaust cartoons are not replicated across Europe. Let’s hope that this REALLY is the end of the argument.
As someone once said about themself: I’m not racist, I hate everyone.