Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Children protest Danish toons

The AP gives us two issues for the price of one today in this article on a children’s protest in Pakistan and EU discussions on the Muhammad cartoons. First, the protest:

About 5,000 children chanting "Hang those who insulted the prophet" rallied in Pakistan's largest city on Tuesday in the latest protest in the Islamic nation against the publication of cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad.

The children, ages 8 to 12, burned a coffin draped in U.S., Israeli and Danish flags at a traffic intersection in the port city of Karachi as police in riot gear looked on.

The political is not a natural voice for children of that age frame, even in a hard bitten nation like Pakistan. The protest was organized by a large Islamic group in Pakistan, and it shows that the West’s conflicts with the Islamic world are going to last a while, perhaps a generation or more. The next generation is still having its little minds poisoned against the West, and that is tough to overcome without big strides in the economies of Islamic nations, increased freedoms, and reforms of their education systems.

The second item of interest is this by Pakistani opposition politician Liakat Baluch:

Baluch also said a "line should be drawn" between freedom of expression — the justification newspapers gave for reproducing the drawings, which Muslims consider blasphemous — and actions that offend cultural sensitivities.

"A freedom of expression that destroys world peace is against basic human rights," he said.

Baluch is trying to make the Danish cartoons akin to yelling fire in a crowded theater, as though they (the cartoons) were so inflammatory that the Muslim world could not help but explode in violence. While that analogy makes sense to some, it is both disingenuous and inaccurate. The Danish cartoons were much more like loudly dropping an F-bomb in said crowded theater. It is going to offend some, and it is probably not a good idea. But it doesn’t give everyone else in the theater the right to lose their minds and started breaking seats, punching people, and setting things on fire.

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