Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Muhammad and the Movies
I am expected to condemn violence and incitement to violence. But I have a problem with chicken and egg scenarios because they represent an insoluble conundrum. What came first?
I have read the Koran on more than one occasion and each time it made me itch. It is a blue print for conquest, it invites the faithful to commit violence and murder against Christians and Jews, and it is the personification of intolerance.
It scares me like no other book I have ever read.
Page one is an act of supplication and affirmation; page two an affirmation of intolerance and exclusion; by page three we, the disbelievers, are warned and then threatened and by page four the faithful are averred the right to kill those that disbelieve. Murder as an act of faith is justified in four pages and there are many hundreds more pages through which we must wade to the bitter end. Much of the account is poetic and none of it is time specific. And here is the problem.
The Bible was written over many centuries but it ends, depending upon your faith, at the latest, by the end of the second century of the Common Era. Few people believe in either the literal meaning of the first or second Testament (The Torah or the Christian Bible). But the Koran is not time specific so then, as now, in the sixth century of the Common Era and in the 21st Century of the Common Era the narrative and its instructions are neither changed because of circumstances nor alterable for the passage of time. The enemy is the same enemy, destined for turning, or designed for death.
Does this mean that we in the civilised West should keep to our principles and condemn that which offends them as we would expect them to condemn that which offends us? It was after all Hillel who in the first century before the Common Era proclaimed as the article of Jewish faith, "do not do unto others that which you would not have them do unto you".
When the followers of the Prophet Muhammad will stone the fundamentalist who rapes the child (because it is not his right to take a bride for the sole reason that she is able to menstruate); and will bludgeon to death the cartoonist drawing caricatures of Jewish apes and Christians pigs (because anthropomorphic representations are the way the Koran depicts us in order to ridicule us); and when the burners of Churches and the bombers of Buddha’s are hanged from the tallest of Cranes (and the Episcopal Church demands a boycott of the makers of the cranes), then perhaps we may share our experience of existential pain and discover a collective humanity that demands a mutuality of respect.
But while in Pakistan a developmentally disabled child can be falsely accused of blasphemy as a pretext to the ethnic cleansing of all Christians in the neighbourhood; and while in Dubai (and throughout the rest of the Arab world) human slavery is alive and well because we are all of us inferior and unworthy of anything but penance for the crime of our birth, then please, do not demand of me a respect that you are incapable of reciprocating.
And when the Imams that spew hate from their pulpits with every breath proclaim that we have no right to protest their evil words because they are the words of their god Allah and the writings of the Koran, his writings as delivered by his most holy servant, the Prophet Muhammad, then please do not ask me to condemn a movie that portrays the Prophet in a less than friendly way.
Duplicity demands conditional tolerance, but peace will accompany a narrative that is sincere because from it will emerge mutual respect.