The Case of the Demented Minister,
or How the West Became a
Hostage of “Radical Islam”
By Marcos Guterman
Translated By Perola Vieira
11 September 2010
Edited by Gillian Palmer
Brazil - Estadao - Original Article (Portuguese)
What kind of Muslim truly takes seriously the imbecile diatribe of Terry Jones, an obscure American Baptist minister who promised to burn dozens of copies of the Quran on Sept. 11 to remember the attack on the World Trade Center?
This question seems relevant, judging by the frantic eagerness of the Western authorities to criticize Jones and treat the incident as "isolated." When U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is loath to speak about the case, when the chancellor of Germany, Angela Merkel, is quick to lend her diplomatic weight against an insignificant pastor from Florida, it seems that the offense caused by Jones’ act is truly transcendental.
The Lebanese newspaper Daily Star set the tone. In an editorial, it said that the burning of the Quran copies would be an event able to "set off a wave of hate that can consume parts of the planet" and "to threaten the achievements of American civilization," putting the world "closer to the precipice of a war of civilizations than we ever were." It is an overstatement typical of the anti-American rhetoric — which regained strength after a short and cynical respite created by Barack Obama's election — of most Arab and Muslim countries.
It is obvious that the crazy minister deserves to be criticized, even by the most hardened Islamophobes in U.S., such as Sarah Palin, for whom the burning of the Quran is inconsistent with American values and an "unnecessary provocation." In fact, it is not by burning the Quran that the message against Islamic radicalism will be widespread. On the contrary, it just gives it strength, while providing "justification" for the hysteria of Muslims who see the world only as a place of confrontation between believers and infidels. The problem, however, is the double standard in dealing with the case.
When radical Muslims pledge to destroy the U.S. and blow themselves up to prove their determination, they are portrayed in the West as an irrelevant minority in the so-called "Muslim world." Why, then, does an insane minister not receive the same treatment by the so-called "Islamic world"? Why would crowds around the "Islamic world" burn American flags, scream "Death to America" and swear revenge, as if this pastor represents the essence of Western thought?
The uncomfortable truth is that the so-called "Islamic world" uses such episodes to reinforce the general feeling of insecurity about how to deal with Islam, creating a vacuum in which the Western embarrassment becomes a political weapon. Any criticism that is related to violence by Muslims, even the ones that come from moderate voices, is immediately described as "Islamophobia" or "blasphemy," to the point that the Islamic lobby in the U.N. was able to approve a resolution that, in practice, establishes censorship of religious criticism.
If the American minister’s ridiculous episode has some purpose, it is to show that the West seems ever more ashamed to defend their most expensive conquests, such as freedom of opinion, before the insidious campaign of their ideological enemies becomes more active.
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