“Looking for comedy in the Muslim world” is a movie in which Albert Brooks tries to find out what makes Muslims laugh. It’s another thing that the movie’s protagonist travels to India and Pakistan in order to find out the answer to his question—-reflecting the general cluelessness of Americans in figuring out even the definition of what the “Muslim world” is.
I don’t know if Mr Brooks found the answer to his question mainly because he was in the wrong place, but for the last few days we have been privy to what does not make Muslims laugh.
Caricatures/cartoons of the Prophet to be precise. Of course, we have countless examples of evil long-nosed Jews being used in text books as a focal point of communal hatred across the “real” Muslim world—-but that of course is kosher. Or halal.
What’s important to note is that people have ultimately come around to accepting the fact that the Danes are evil. If you thought that the Danish were peace-loving people famous for pastries and cheese and a dogged football defense—then you are obviously deluded. But it’s never too late to identify your enemy—and it is with some amusement that I see the Islamic world go hammer and tongs at Denmark: ransacking their embassies, burning their flags and stomping on them for good measure. They have even cancelled their air tickets to Denmark—which means more of them will migrate to France. Something is truly rotten in the state of Denmark—and methinks it is not just their calorie-laden Danishes.
Which brings me to another observation: Where the heck did the people in the Gaza strip suddenly get all those Danish flags from? Do they have a massive stash of Norwegian flags also? And the dudes in Somalia, do they even know where Denmark is?
Why I am blogging about this is because it is one of those issues where both sides are right. Let us first look at the Danish newspaper. I mean obviously they are well within their rights to publish essentially racist stereotypes and pass them off as “comic freedom of expression”—it’s “all a joke” and we humble Asian servants should wag our tails and laugh.
Of course their funny bone goes for a walk sometimes: it seems a few days ago before publishing these cartoons they rejected some rather unflattering caricatures of Jesus Christ because they were afraid they might offend someone. Namely themselves.
What these Laudrup-lovers did not factor in was that someone who had bought shares of the company which makes Danish flags and supplies equipment to Danish/European embassies all over the world had made sure that the right people read the cartoons. In other words, radical Muslim clerics who are not blind.
All of a sudden the “real” Muslim world, a happy place with suicide bombers, AK47s and a democratically-elected terrorist organization (Hamas), got inflamed. Which was a big surprise to people who were taken aback by the ransacking of embassies, the violence and the scale of hatred unleashed all over—-after all they were not like this when Salman Rushdie wrote the “Satanic Verses”. Then they had been lively but essentially peaceful. It was only later that they read Ms Rushdie aka Padma Lakshmi’s cookbook and demanded that she give them head. Salman Rushdie’s head that is.
Coming back to the present mess, the American government came out with a statement condemning the insult to Islam. CNN and most news organizations in the US refused to carry the offending pictures because of respect to Islam and not because they were afraid of maraudering Islamic protesters attacking their reporters and infrastructure. I mean if this was pictures of Hindu gods on footwear or panties—then of course they would have carried them. After all that’s art. This is death.
Incidentally, it’s not as if Hindus aren’t learning the art of democratic civilized dissent—they did attack M Hussain when he portrayed Saraswati in the nude but right now there aren’t just enough madass Hindu zealots to worry the CNNs and the NBCs of the world. Needless to say that might change in the near future.
In conclusion, I wonder why the Danish government did this. Of course it was not just the newspaper—it’s a national conspiracy, else why would they be burning the Danish flag? Or why would normally-liberal Islamic countries remove their embassies from the said country? Or the Indonesian government declare Danish badminton players as personae-non-grata? Was one moment of racism-induced glee worth the trouble? Did they not know that there are some religions in the world who are not that laid-back? Or is the colonial hubris sometimes difficult to cast away?
Of course ,the Iranians known for their accepting culture and their stand-up president (the same guy who sent a get-well-message to Ariel Sharon wishing that he dies soon and believes that the holocaust was a myth) have struck back—-with a newspaper publishing caricatures of Hitler in bed with Anne Frank. Well at least it’s not violent and in this context of global over-reaction and death, that’s kinda okay.
I must say that this cross-civilizational death match of comedy is extremely funny. Except for one small problem.
Nobody is laughing.