Friday, February 03, 2006

COMMENT: All that time and effort wasted on 12 cartoons ...

In Indonesia, hundreds of thousands of Muslims continue to be traumatised, homeless and in desperate need in the aftermath of the tsunami. In Darfur, Muslims continue to starve. In Pakistan, tens of thousands of Muslims are without shelter after the earthquake disaster. In Gaza, Palestinians face a complete economic breakdown as Israel turns off the fiscal tap.

Thousands of Muslim women are assaulted or killed by family members to protect “honour”. And during a recent visit to the world’s largest Muslim country, a delegation of 5 young Australian Muslims was given a taste of life for many Indonesians.

Our tour was sponsored by the Australia Indonesia Institute. Each year, delegations of young Indonesian Muslim leaders visit Australia and vice versa. This year, the Australian delegation visited the headquarters of the Muslim women’s group Rifka Annisa (literally “Women’s Refuge”) in Yogyakarta, Indonesia.

The good people at RA struggle to support Muslim women who are victims of domestic violence. With minimal resources, the organisation is able to provide support to a few hundred women and children each year. The organisation also works with sex workers and other marginalised women across Indonesia.

With so much work to be done, you’d think Muslims are upto their necks in fighting poverty and other economic and social ills. You’d think that protesting mobs in Karachi and other Pakistani cities are busy raising funds for earthquake victims.

Think again. Muslims across the world appear to be suffering from a form of collective stupidity. Instead of focussing on the enormous challenges facing their nations, Muslims are spending much of their time focussing on 12 cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper.

Muslims are protesting against what they see as an attack on the honour of their Prophet. Seriously, as if the Prophet’s honour is affected by one Danish cartoonist. If these Muslim protesters really loved their Prophet, they would struggle in support of the things he and all the other Prophets (including Moses, Noah, Abraham and Jesus) struggled for – human rights, justice and liberty.

Instead, Muslims waste their precious time and resources on infantile protests that achieve nothing except turn the cartoonist into a martyr for free speech.

I could say a lot more. But I have some serious work to do. I’d rather spend my time working and earning money so that a good portion of it can be spent in assisting groups like Rifka Annisa to supplement moneys they already receive from private and government donors in countries such as … yep, you guessed it … Denmark!

So if you really want to know what I think of the nonsensical and over-the-top responses to the cartoons, read this piece from

Words © 2005 Irfan Yusuf