Monday, February 20, 2006

Lurpak Again

I can't believe the Danish cartoons controversy is not only still going on, it is being used as an excuse for a lot of wanton violence, rioting and needless deaths. 11 in Pakistan, 16 in Libya, etc. For what? To make a point - 'we are upset'. Possibly more accurately, 'our Imam told us to be upset'.

Abu Ardvaark did an interesting post on the topic a few days ago. He described a report he had seen on Al Arabiya TV about "a new petition issued by 41 leading Islamist personalities on February 13 calling for a resolution of the cartoons controversy through the passage of an international law criminalizing insults against Prophets (Mohammed, Jesus, and Moses are the ones named)".

I posted this comment in reply to that:

"No, no, no!

You cannot bind secular countries into observance of the sensibilities of the gazillion religions and sects that exist on earth. So why would you single out one for special treatment?

I appreciate that many people were whipped up into a frenzy of 'I am offended'. But the solution now demanded is just utterly unworkable. It seems to me, and I say this with the greatest of respect to all true Muslims, that many extremists in the Islamic world are trying to use this issue to inflame conflict. And if the ridiculous notion of criminalising blasphemy against all religions were to come to pass, I would be looking for another planet to live on.

The 'offended' are now demanding apologies from the Danish government AND people. Come on! Regret has been been expressed, but you will absolutely not get a full apology from a Government whose laws unequivocally state that it cannot be held responsible for any offence committed by its subjects.

How hard is that to understand? I believe that both the cartoonists and the newspaper have apologised: these are the people responsible, so why not just accept that and get back to normality?

Islamists may mock 'freedom of speech', but it is a right that has been fought for over centuries in the West and it will not be compromised by a bunch of religious fanatics."

Also, I note with regret that our supermarket chains here in the Emirates are still boycotting Danish products. It would be interesting to see what would happen if one of these chains was brave enough to put these products back out on display. I for one would be filling my freezer with Lurpak. I already have a lifetime's supply of Lego (the greatest thing ever invented for kids of all ages).

What gets me about this is that foreign media are saying 'people of the Emirates are fully supporting the boycott of Danish goods' when what they actually should be saying is that 'people of the Emirates are being denied the chance to buy Danish goods'. Bit of a difference. Boycotts don't work the way you want them to. Arla Foods, the innocent victim in all this, are losing $1.5 million every day in the Gulf. Quite soon they will have to decide whether to tough it out, or close down their Middle East operations, resulting in the loss of 800 jobs in Saudi Arabia and 200 in the UAE. Did Arla Foods draw or publish the cartoons? Did they have anything to do with them at all? No they did not.

Does any right-thinking Muslim think this company should be penalised in this way for something they had nothing to do with? Or, for that matter, the government and people of Denmark? Somebody tell me...

(Oh, and I just found this - please read it).

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