BgArt News Blog
Monday, March 06, 2006
  Freedom of Expression
I know that the Muslim cartoon controversy seems to have settled down and everyone is probably tired of hearing about it in the news, but I came across an interesting article in a Turkish newspaper by the Professor of Islamic Studies at John Carroll University, Zeki Saritoprak.
Muslims, Cartoons and Freedom of Expression
"Islam has a great respect for freedom of expression and free society, although it always regarded freedom as limited by the freedom of others. An absolute freedom is only found in the jungles among animals. We don't live in a jungle.. we live in a multi-cultural, multi-religious society and freedom of others includes a respect for the faith, tradition, property, and personal dignity of people."

"The content of the caricature is perjury. It is based on false assumptions and unreliable references about Islam and its Prophet. It is not a matter of making a joke, but is a matter of giving misinformation in a pejorative way."

And a word or two about coming together..
"Today, more than any time, we need a dialogue between religions and civilizations. Unfortunately, not all Muslims are informed of the details of Western societies and cultures. Because of this Muslims around the world do not see a Danish newspaper as merely a newspaper published in Denmark. They see it as a newspaper published in Europe, a predominantly Christian continent.. as a Christian blow to Islam. Muslims should be calm, and Westerners should be more sensitive to the faith of Muslims." Read the rest at the Zaman newspaper
>> Cartoon News, Art Controversies
BgArt News Blog Comments:
I formerly owned a Daumier print which ridiculed the British for racial hypocrisy with regard to Africans.
Illustrated in a Newday review of the Whitney biennial was a picture by Serra which used a very effective image and words in esssence to accuse President Bush of torturing Iragi prisoners.
The Washington Post for some time after his death ran samples from the work over more than 40 years of Herblock. Doubtful that there was one which did anything but ridicule Republicans and non-liberals.
Ben Shahns classic tryptiche riduling the Judge, Massachusetts governor and head of the review commission on the case (Lowell, President of Harvard). In a long life he ridiculed many subjects opposed to his political social views or those of the Unions and other organizations he chose to serve.
Philip Guston's Nixon, a book ridiculing the then American President is still in print and available at MoMA and many other cathedrals of art or books.
If any nation, people, or united peoples of the world is to live as a democracy, each individual, each subgroup, of those identities must be prepared to tolerate, though disliking, ridicule regardless of the pain. The second President of the United States slipped up on that point and, happily, seemed to have been punished politically for it..though certainly a great figure in the revolutionary effort which freed the new nation from its colonial status; the third President of the United States and his supporters were only among the first of the many who have reminded the nation of its need to suffer even fools, liars, and enemies, for the good of the nation. Each of the very few demcracies in the world today can look back on similar individuals and groups which helped its citizenry reluctantly to bear opprobium so that they themselves might have the right to attach their opponents in the same way in the hope that the outcome would be more truthful than otherwise would be the case. That the outcome often is obfuscation rather than enlightenment is one of the outcomes which is inevitable if everyone has the right to be free. In other words, reason requires debate and disagreement, authoritarianism, whether by elite or by the mob, is always the enemy of freedoom
In my comment, the piece by Ben Shahn, which I cited, is entitled "Sacco and Vamzetti".
Sorry for my careless editing.
Sometimes it takes an artist to be brave enough, or stupid enough to poke sticks at the hornet's nest.
I'm sure politicians would love to make it illegal for cartoonists to poke fun of them. Just like every other group of people would like to do the same. It's a part of life. I don't believe anything should be above being made fun of.. especially anything that has power over people in some way (religion, business, politics).
There should be no holds barred. If you're a christian priest, muslim cleric, or political leader, you're a target. Same with any belief or dogma.
Those that blush at the mocking or lash out because of it, usually have the most to hide.
Dont hold any position of power or cling to any belief if you cant handle a little comical jab or two.
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