15 March 2006
One could easily quip about Danish bad sense of humour that drove millions of protesters to the streets of the world.
But offending religious beliefs is not a joke. It is a serious offense which should be reviewed by international laws.
Freedom of expression is never in question. Insulting one billion believers in Islam is certainly cause for remedial
action, not just rhetorical expressions of concern. After all, it did create a situation which threatens international
peace and security.
Islam is not at risk of being eroded. Neither is Christianity, Judaism or Buddhism. Those who attempt to tarnish them
are eventually tarnished. God is greater than those instigators. But it was freedom of speech that was put to a risky
test. It is the Danish government that seemed ineffective and the Danish Prime Minister that acted more like a local
politician rather than an enlightened statesman. The result was that Danish interests were severely hit. One million
dollars a day were being lost by its dairy industry alone. It is a great pity that a country that was once perceived
as a symbol of considerate decency suddenly became a symbol of blasphemy in the Moslem world. The sight of those
earnest Danish diplomats striving to explain themselves to an outraged public would break one's heart. But, then,
you claim freedom of expression, you get freedom of expression -- with a vengeance. Extremists feed one another. One
pokes fire with a cartoon, the other expands it with fuel. One provokes, the other destroys. Both should be condemned.
However, appeals and "dialogue" meetings will remain irrelevant unless lessons are drawn and laws enacted. Presumed
dialogues will remain multi-monologues until they lead to concerted preventive accord. All this media posturing will
go nowhere until there is widespread respect for everyone's human dignity.
Let us begin from the basics. Let us accept each other's right to agree or to differ. Our human destiny is one and
our path will be brighter if we shared respect, honesty and affection. We can then claim a right of passage to that
blessed haven of freedom dignity and justice where no one is denied entry because of difference in race, language
colour or creed. Let us draw on our diverse history to enrich our joint future. Let us begin with what matters most.
The only resurrection is that of our spirit. The first dialogue is within ourselves. It is only there that you can
have an effective, fruitful dialogue.
The rest is choreography.