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One Year On - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive
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One year ago, the Danish cartoons that were deemed offensive to Islam, incited tremendous anger amongst Muslims the world over, which in some cases took the form of violent clashes, a number of which led to deaths.

The public anger about the cartoons has subsided, and the discussions have almost been limited to cultural and political circles.

This transformation from stirring up feelings of the public to an earnest, composed dialogue is without a doubt the opportunity that we need to calmly reexamine the case is not yet closed.

Many in Europe see that the cartoons crisis has launched a debate that will last for many years regarding self-observation in media and arts, especially in cases when the issue is related to Islam; the proof of this is the fact that a number of art exhibitions have obscured some paintings so that they are not considered insulting to Islam, which is what many caricaturists have resorted to for the same reason. However, the argument within the media and press institutions, regarding how to handle issues that affect Muslims is a priority.

Undoubtedly the surge of anger that erupted last year has been epitomized by the raising of religious slogans; some of that anger was directed towards raising the issue of discrimination that the West subjects immigrants to including Muslims. Muslims could have tackled the issue of the caricatures objecting to its discriminatory context, since a drawing that suggests a link between the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH) and terrorism could lead to the tarnishing of an entire group of people with the brush of terrorism. The problem is that waves of objections and condemnation against the drawings concentrated on targeting Islam, disgracing the West and cursed its unreligious values, and had the audacity to attack Islam, without realizing that the Western conscious is a secular one and not religious. Consequently, the anger that was shown over a religious matter would not be understood by the Europeans who are known to question the authority of prophets.

Objecting to the secular ideals of the modern West, Muslims have been portrayed as the censors and this is being echoed by many voices in Europe that call for confronting this.

Such an outlook is a difficulty facing millions of Muslim immigrants in the West, who are faced by racist voices claiming that Muslims are enemies of freedom and individual expression, and that the immigrants are not in agreement with criticizing, diverse Western societies.

It is not in the interest of Arabs and Muslims to handle this clash in the same way that it was handled last year. The Muslim migrants who care about the way they are perceived abroad are not going to benefit from plunging into discussions with the European communities that they ventured into from a religious stand point in the way that was previously done. Threats of beheading in the same way that we witnessed will only cause more damage to the image of Arabs and Muslims. The call for the importance of taking the discussion to a wider cultural and humane level lightens the intensity of discrimination and racism, and curbs the feelings of religious hatred.

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled

Diana Moukalled is a prominent and well-respected TV journalist in the Arab world thanks to her phenomenal show Bil Ayn Al-Mojarada (By The Naked Eye), a series of documentaries on controversial areas and topics which airs on Lebanon's leading local and satelite channel, Future Television. Diana also is a veteran war correspondent, having covered both the wars in Iraq and in Afghanistan, as well as the Israeli "Grapes of Wrath" massacre in southern Lebanon. Ms. Moukalled has gained worldwide recognition and was named one of the most influential women in a special feature that ran in Time Magazine in 2004.

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