27 September 2010

The articles are captured from the original writer, MsMarina (with her permission). SambalBelacan is just compiling articles to make easier to find. Any comments received will remain un-respond because it's not mine.Reach her at her very own blog at http://rantingsbymm.blogspot.com/ Please.

Wednesday September 15, 2010
From small issues to firestorms
By Marina Mahathir

Please do note the irony that the same people protesting the burning of the Quran are the ones who would be quick to call for the death of some author they consider apostate.

HOW many ironies can you layer on this story? A belligerent ignoramus with a congregation of a measly 50 people in Florida threatens to burn Qurans and thousands of miles away, Afghans who may have never previously heard of Florida get killed protesting against him.

So, without burning a single Quran, the guy’s managed to get at least two people killed. How much power is that?

The thing is not only is he not worth dying for but nothing of the sort would have happened had not someone decided that the masses, already suffering from occupation, should occupy their time protesting this.

Was the Quran-burning directed at Afghanistan? Not particularly. Yet nobody else in the Muslim world, least of all in the more prosperous countries including ours, felt inclined to interrupt their Hari Raya celebrations to protest against this insult.

Which of course it was meant to be. And nothing gets you frontpage headlines like insulting an entire global community, never mind that the faith you so proudly declare yourself a proud defender of does not support any such behaviour. Already your own brethren are denouncing you, but how else would you have gotten the Secretary of Defence himself to call you personally to beg you to cease and desist?

When it comes to attention seeking, there is nothing quite like these little demagogues. Take some stupid idea and simply shout it out and it is bound to get you noticed. And the media obliges. Wouldn’t a bonfire of burning Qurans make a great photo? Might even win an award!

Conventional politicians have nothing on these guys. Issue a statement or a protest note to the nearest diplomat? How tame and lame! You need big statements, delivered with much fanfare and drama. Or better still, you should issue a counter-threat! If Rev Jones burns the Quran, Afghans will lock up more women at home. Or Malaysians will … let’s see, stop watching American Idol?

The biggest irony of all is that nobody stops to think about book-burning itself. It’s a medieval tradition, used against books deemed evil because they gave people the wrong ideas. It effectively stopped people from reading them because, in the days when books were a relatively rare commodity, burning a few would obliterate those particular books from the earth.

But these days, there are only so many Qurans one can burn. The approximately two billion Muslims in the world all have at least one, if not more. Then there are the non-Muslims who also own Qurans. All in all, the number of Qurans Terry Jones wants to burn is miniscule compared to what is available out there. That’s not even counting the Qurans you can read online.

A better way of protesting would be what some Christians have proposed, which is to have a Read the Quran Day on Sept 11. In London, British Muslims plan to distribute booklets with selected verses from the Quran all over the West End. Like all books, holy or not, they should be read before they are condemned so that one criticises from an informed stand. And like many have also pointed out, the Quran also talks about the same prophets who are in the Torah and Bible, including Jesus. Imagine burning them up!

But while we think of burning books as the extreme form of censorship (and insult to a religion), we forget about other forms much beloved by our own people. We love banning books for instance, making the possession of such a book illegal and liable to punishment. How much different is that really from burning books? And who is to stop some other attention-seeking demagogue from issuing fatwas calling for the death of some author just because they don’t like his or her book?

Please do note the irony that the same people in Afghanistan protesting the burning of the Quran are also the same who would be quick to call for the death of some author they consider apostate.

Terry Jones’ burning a few Qurans does not mean that Islam dies in flames. Indeed, it has lived through far worse. What is the need to get so worked up about it to the point of getting killed? Are people hoping to be considered martyrs and therefore get a free passage to heaven? I’m hoping that God keeps a special corner for foolish people although it’s likely to get very cramped soon.

Meanwhile, let’s look at our own attitudes towards differing opinions. What is the current trend for making police reports but yet another form of censorship? Aren’t we in fact asking for people to be burnt at the stake?