‘Drawing Muhammed’ acknowledges acceptance of Islam into Western culture

This post is dedicated to all those who say:

“I believe in freedom of speech, but drawing Muhammed is a provocation, Islamophobia and hate speech!”

Or something along those lines.

And I answer you that nothing could be further from the truth!!!

When the original Danish Cartoon controversy erupted into worldwide violence, my son had a classmate, Abdulahee, whom he was very good friends with.  Abdi’s dad used to be a Math teacher before immigrating to Canada from Africa and their mutual love of Math led them into a great friendship.

As parents dropping off and picking up kids in the lower grades of school often get to know each other and chat together, I got to know Abdi’s parents:  his mom was shy, and would only return greetings and a smile, but his dad was more open and the two of us would often chat about the weather and such.

As an immigrant myself a few decades earlier, I was curious how the ‘new immigrant’ experience had changed since my days and so I would ask him and our conversation taught me some interesting things.  At times, we even discussed politics…

It was at the time that the violent reaction against the cartoons was at its highest that, while offering Abdi’s dad a ride home after we had dropped off our little ones at school, I asked him what he thought…

Yes, my dear readers, many have pointed out to me that asking a newly arrived Muslim immigrant his opinion on the cartoons and the violent reaction to them in the Muslim world was not politically correct and that I might have been ‘putting him on the spot’, so to speak.  Rest assured, I asked as politely as my little Aspie self was capable of and assured him he did not have to comment if he were uncomfortable.

Which he was not.

He thought the cartoons were totally horrible and should not have been published and that death was an appropriate punishment for the cartoonists and the publishers.

OK, I asked – and was told.

By this point, we had arrived near his house, but he seemed very reluctant to leave the conversation at this.  So, we sat in a parked car in front of his house and, for the next half-hour to an hour, we talked.  And talked.  And talked…about the cartoons, the reaction, and all that…

Because I knew this was an intelligent and educated man and I was truly interested in learning why he thought political cartoons were sufficient justification for killing someone, and he was open to explaining his reasoning to me, I sat, and listened, learned and, at times, asked questions.

This issue was front and centre in the Muslim community he was a part of and they discussed it a lot among themselves.  And the anger and bitterness were not faked:  they were truly felt.

Why?

Because their religious leaders explained to them that this action was a direct attack on the Muslim family, an act of intolerance and racism.  Islamophobia!

“You guys would not do this with an image of Jesus, so why do you think that you can do it to our prophet and get away with it?  If they did this about the Christian God, they’d be in jail or dead!”  he explained animatedly to me…

Well, you can see where this is heading, my dear readers.  With a smile of surprise on my face I asked why ever would he think this?

It seems that he was assured by his religious and community leaders that this is absolutely so!

At this point, I took the opportunity to tell Abdi’s dad about ‘Piss Christ’ and ‘Elephant Dung Madonna’.

He was incredulous.

So, I walked him through (in my limited manner) some of the reasons behind the reformation and enlightenment and how criticizing -nay, ridiculing, parodizing and blaspheming – political and religious figures in our society is the cornerstone of our culture and the root of our tolerance.

Yes, tolerance.

Because if nothing is so sacred that it cannot be lampooned and parodied, then nothing can be so powerful enough in our society as to force everyone to officially respect it, even if it is contrary to their own belief system.

If everyone can make fun of Christ, then nobody can force a non-Christian to bow to him as a God.

If everyone can make fun of a Guru, then nobody but his followers need to act as if he’s more than any other man and bow to him in respect.

If everyone can make fun of our politicians and famous people, then nobody gets pun in jail for telling political jokes – but, more importantly, nobody gets put in jail for pointing out when said politician brakes the laws.  It keeps them ‘human’ and not above the rest of us.

It is not a perfect mechanism, but it is the best one we have!

After his first incredulity, Abdi’s father started thinking.

And then he asked:  “So, when they make fun of Muhammed, it means he has become an important figure in your culture?”

EXACTLY!!!

It is precisely because Islam has become a part of our cultural tapestry that Muhammed has become an influential political figure in our culture, along side of Jesus and others.

And yes – apart from being a religious figure, Jesus Christ is also a political figure.  And now, since Islam has become a part of our cultural tapestry, so is Muhammed!

In a very real sense, criticism of Islam in general and Muhammed in particular, and drawing cartoons/caricatures of him, is far from ‘rejection of Islam’ or ‘Islamophobia’:  rather, it is the tacit acknowledgement that Islam is now part of our culture and that its leading figures – religious, political or cultural – are being treated equally to leading religious, political and cultural figures in the rest of our society.

Even at the height of the violent times, a reasonable Muslim grasped that drawing Muhammed was a symbol of acceptance, not rejection, of Muslims into our midst.  I just hope others can be as open minded!

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Abraham Lincoln tried to patent ‘Facebook’

Oh, this one is for the ‘neat’ files!!!

Abraham Lincoln tried to patent – unsuccessfully – a hardcopy version of what we now know as ‘Facebook’:  from the profile picture, to likes, updates and ‘sharing’ all the way to who can see how much of the profile.

Really neat!

Which, of course, begs a gaggle of questions:  starting with ‘If Abe Lincoln was denied a patent – why is the Zuckerbaby’s one valid?’

 

 

‘Buy a soldier a coffee’ campaign by Kaffir Kanuck

Kaffir Kanuck is currently serving in Afghanistan as a member of Canadian Forces.

Kaffir Kanuck has a ‘Timmies’ coffee card.

Kaffir Kanuck has been using his ‘Timmies’ card to buy fellow soldiers coffee:  a little taste of home away from home.

Natasha, over at Moose and Squirrel, has set up and posted a Pay-Pal button through which all of us can help Kaffir Kanuck in his quest.  All the funds donated by August 15th, 2010, will be put into one anonymous ‘pot’ and transferred to Mrs. Kaffir Kanuck, who will then load them onto the’ Timmies’ card that Kaffir Kanuck has right there, in Afghanistan!

So, if you appreciate the good men and women of the Canadian Military, and if you can (and would like to) show your appreciation by buying a cup of coffee for a few of them, here is your chance!

Thank you!

H/T:  BCF

A delicious way to help others

If you will be in Ottawa on Saturday, June 19th, 2010…

If you like to help others…

If you love delicious food…

Then you just might be interested in the MSMF India Food Fest 2010!

It starts at 11 am, and takes place at the Andrew Haydon Park – and, from past experience, I have to say the food is fantastic.

On the menu:

An enjoyable way to spend a Saturday!



Autism Registry: a pilot project by Ottawa Police

If you read my blog, you are probably aware that I have a strong interest in Asperger’s Sydrome:  I am an Aspie, I am married to an Aspie, both my children are Aspies, most of my friends are, if not full-Aspies, at least ‘almost-Aspies.

Hence the interest.

Or, perhaps, obsession…

While I like to explain that Asperger’s is to Autism like ‘wearing glasses’ is to ‘being blind’, it is an Autism spectrum disorder, there is some overlap (OK – I’d have to  go on a tangent to explain this ‘right’:  let it suffice (for here) that both Autism and Asperger’s have the same ‘thing’ which affects how the brain is wired ‘differently’, but the difference is that each affects a different bit of the brain….some people have a bit of ‘re-wiring’ in both areas – thus, the overlap).  So, I am always paying attention when I hear about both…

So, I was quite interested when I heard that the Ottawa Police were doing some sort of a pilot project to do with interacting with members of our community who are Autistic or have Asperger’s Syndrome.  Thanks go to my favourite Ottawa City Councillor, Eli El-Chantiry, for getting me in touch with the people running the pilot project.

It looks excellent!

This – in a nutshell – is what it is about…

When a call comes in to the ‘911’ emergency service, the operator pulls up the info on the address where the call is coming from:

  • the address
  • map
  • other relevant info (like the much reviled gun registry, and so on)

A person who looks after an Autie or an Aspie (or the Autie/Aspie themselves) can register in this program.  When they do this, the ‘relevant information’ will include some information about the Autie/Aspie that lives there.

This can save lives!

The information can be, say, there is a small Autistic boy who fears loud noises.  If there is a fire alarm, he is likely to hide under the bed or in the closet.  Only answers to ‘Xxx’ nickname….  Touching him makes him panic.

Or, it can say something like ‘this is a group home for adult Auties.  These are their names, this is how they react to being agitated,’ and so on.

Information is power.

When emergency responders are walking into a situation where they know they will encounter a person who is not fully functional – and, the stress of emergency situations does often push ‘partially functional’ people (especially kids) into a non-functional state – they will be able to do their job better.

This Autism Registry pilot program harnesses the power of information into better helping vulnerable people in emergency situations.  Into saving live.

I liked what I learned about the program so much, I offered to help out as best I can.  And, perhaps, there may be a tiny role I can play.

One way I – and you – can help is to ‘spread the word’!

If you know someone in the City of Ottawa who would benefit from registering – tell them.

If you live outside of Ottawa, tell your police department to check out this pilot project in Ottawa.  The model is highly portable – perhaps your community would benefit from something similar!

Support ‘One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain’

If you’ll be in London, UK, on the 28th of January, 2010, you might be interested in this (this is an email I received):

Hello,

As you know, working against Sharia and religious laws, or coming out publicly as an ex-Muslim to break the taboo that comes with renouncing religion (an act punishable by death under Sharia) is not easy in this day and age. We’ve managed to do quite a good job nonetheless, thanks in large part to the support of people like you. But there is much more to be done and we can’t do it without your financial support, however small.

If you haven’t already done so, one way you can support the work of the Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain and One Law for All is to join the January 28 fundraiser dinner, which is only two weeks away. Tickets are still available so if you’re in London or can get here, please do try and come to the event. It is a good opportunity to support our important work whilst also enjoying a three-course dinner in an intimate environment.

The event’s keynote speaker will be AC Grayling, the renowned philosopher, author, writer, reviewer, and broadcaster. Comedian Nick Doody, Singer/Songwriter David Fisher and Magician Neil Edwards will also be there to entertain our guests.

To purchase a ticket(s) at £45.00 per person, you can either post a cheque made payable to One Law for All or CEMB to BM Box 2387, London WC1N 3XX or pay via Paypal: http://www.onelawforall.org.uk/donate.html or Worldpay: http://ex-muslim.org.uk/indexDonate.html. If you’re paying by cheque, please make sure you email us so we know to reserve a place for you.

If you can’t come to the event but would like to support us nonetheless, please send in a donation so we can cover the cost of the activities we have planned for 2010. These include a March 8 seminar on legal and legislative ways to get rid of Sharia and religious laws in Britain; an art gallery show in spring; a June 20 rally against Sharia and political Islam and in support of people resisting it everywhere; a December conference on apostasy and Sharia law and much more…

We hope to see you at the fundraiser event or hear from you about how you can help us with the important work that lies ahead.

Thank you for your continued support.

Best wishes,

Maryam

Maryam Namazie
Spokesperson
One Law for All and Council of Ex-Muslims of Britain
BM Box 2387
London WC1N 3XX, UK
Tel: +44 (0) 7719166731
onelawforall@gmail.com
http://www.onelawforall.org.uk
http://www.ex-muslim.org.uk

Why do people do this?

This is one of those tear-jerker stories I usually avoid:  it shows people at both our worst and our best.

About 150 km North-East of Ottawa, there once was a musher who bred Huskies as sled dogs.  Then the economy went bad….

This is the ‘worst’ bit….I will never understand how anyone, anyone can just leave animals tied up, without food or water….over a hundred of them!

I don’t know the full story, but my ‘educated guess’ is that the owner permitted rescuers to look after the dogs and eventually surrendered ownership to them in exchange for not facing charges.  Personally, I would find it difficult to be so generous with such a person.  The animal rescue folk are better people than I!

OK – here is the ‘best’ bit:  people are helping.  Complete strangers are opening their hearts and homes, and many others are opening their wallets. Looking after and protecting those who are not able to do it themselves (and, let’s not forget, in our society, we do not permit dogs to ‘look after themselves’!) is one of those best qualities we have.

My son brought this story home from school and asked me to blog about it, to make sure that as many people as possible learned about it. He proudly told me that his teacher was one of those good people who are helping.  And, he himself is dipping into his allowance…

Like I said – a tearjerker of a story!