Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Thoughts on the cartoons...and a few pics

I know you guys are all probably sick and tired of hearing about them, but I feel like I should say something about all this madness surrounding the cartoons. This short post is certainly insufficient to address the issue, but here is my quick take. Everything has gotten out of hand, for sure. Here in Jordan, it's pretty calm. I mean, ALL of my friends, regardless of how liberal or not liberal they are, are angry. However, they are upset with the reactions as well. On the floor of our university tunnel, there are stickers of the Danish flag so that people can step on them. How funny…and immature! In general, the Muslim world feels attacked by Christianity and the West, and while they can deal with invasions and killings, when you slander the holiest thing to them, the line is crossed. Of course, it is forbidden in Islam to depict any of the prophets, especially in such a demeaning manner. Certain people are already boiling with anger, and this merely pushed them over the top. Muslims see that a journalist gets three years in prison in Austria for denying the Holocaust; yet highly offensive and provocative cartoons on their Prophet can be published with ease (in my opinion, perhaps both should be banned). They understand the hypocrisy and the provocation. They lack awareness, however, of the sanctity of freedom of expression in our Western culture, and they fail to grasp the inability of governments to intervene in press issues. I don't blame the common folks as much as I do the imams (not all are doing this, for sure) that are encouraging the reaction. In addition, keep in mind that in many of the places where the strong rioting occurred, it was probably being facilitated by the governments. Syria, no doubt. It can become a beating stick against political Islam...the governments encourage the riots (or at least permit them), then say, "See, we can't reform. The Islamic element is too dangerous and radical." Yes, the reaction is extremely hypocritical and childish. It's really disappointing, yet predictable. Complicated, for sure. In my mind, it's a situation where both sides have to look in the mirror, and I don't see that happening.

Okay, now some random pictures.

One day, before all this madness of visits, Will and I rented a car and took a 'road trip' East. We, of course, stopped before the Iraqi border! I swear, every 5-10 miles there was a streetside mosque, despite the fact that there was often nothing else around. Perhaps they existed in order that passing drivers could pray at appropriate times. Anyways, this was one of my favorites. You can't necessarily tell all that great from the picture, but it's a fairly wierd structure, especially the minaret.

My mom and I are in there somewhere. This is the long 'suq' leading to the Monastery at Petra. Petra is one of those places where you absolutely must go if in the country, but you expect to be disappointed. Well, it doesn't disappoint. Absolutely breathtaking all the way through!

This is the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem, in the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex. Al-Aqsa is the second oldest and third holiest mosque in Islam.

Here's poor Will attempting to stuff the even poorer sheep into the trunk of our friend's car. About one hour later, that little guy was sacrificed for 'Aid il Adha,' the biggest Islamic festival of the year. It commemorates Abraham's near sacrifice of Ishmael (not Isaac), and 1/3 of the meat goes to your neighbors, 1/3 to the poor, and 1/3 was used for a barbeque!


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