A discussion of religion can branch into any number of topics, over any number of denominations and sects, about its effects on law and politics, and its role within society. However, mention religion today, and one subject arises universally: Danish cartoons. Out of context, this sounds ridiculous, but within a sound framework, the subject broaches religion at every possible entry. Perhaps no event in recent history, excluding 9/11, has provoked such a universal and rapid backlash. Retaliation against the publication of these comics stunned and shocked the world and led to the mass proposition of one question: Why? This line of thought sprung many queries. Why are Muslims so offended? Why did the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten publish the comics in the first place? Why is Islam seemingly out of control? Simple minds propose that Islam just can't handle a few jibes, and that the religion produces lunatics. However, sift through the misconceptions and the prejudices, and a more complex answer lies within, one that includes surprisingly little Islam and a far greater amount of oppression and subjugation. The heart of these protests lies not within Islam, but in the molding of the ignorant by power and the makings of history. The explosion of protest began on September 30, 2005, when the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published twelve cartoons depicting the Islamic prophet Mohammad in a variety of settings, many deemed offensive by Muslims and others. The most controversial cartoon depicts Mohammad wearing a bomb in his turban, which is a blatant reference to Islamic suicide bombers. The cartoons have since been reprinted in fifty countries, ("Jyllands-Posten Muhammad Cartoons Controversy") ensuring that the majority of the world read the news and took sides. Denmark claims the printing was an exercise in free speech; Muslims claim the cartoons defile and misrepresent Mohammad (Associated Press). Technically, both are right, as the paper, through free speech, defiled Mohammad. This makes a resolution hard to determine, for what should the authorities support in this scenario: free speech or Islamic code? Denmark refused to apologize, and the offending newspaper received death threats and protests. However, the riots the world witness did not occur immediately. Danish Imams lobbied the Middle East, stirring the flames of discontent over the cartoons. Finally, waves of violence spread across the Islamic states, and to a lesser extent, secular Europe. Hundreds of demonstrators stormed the Danish embassy in Syria and set it ablaze, "calling for the execution of those involved" in the cartoon making (Associated Press). Twenty-four died in protests over the cartoons in Nigeria, five died in Pakistan, and protestors torched the Italian embassy in Libya. Young Muslims clashed with Copenhagen authorities in Denmark, and protestors in London gathered at the Danish embassy. Literally, the world took up arms. If one is to understand the role Islam plays in these recent global events, one must first understand Islam and fundamentalism, which is prevalent and the ruling class in countries where the most violent protests took place, e.g. Syria, Nigeria, Pakistan, Iran. Islam rests on the Koran, the "divine word literally revealed to the Prophet Mohammad . . . both assuming and subsuming earlier religions" (Rahman 2). The Koran didn't come about all at once, however. The citizens of Mecca, Mohammad's initial preaching ground, rejected him and he fled, only to return as a victorious conqueror. The rebel and defender of Islam stood defiant against pagan ways, a notion that still lends itself to modern Islamic movements (Davidson, 6). By 1200, the Islamic influence spanned from Spain to India, and Muslim leaders to this day have not forgotten the once-great power of Islam. Over this time, religious experts formalized Mohammad's teachings into holy law. One law, Sahih Muslim, Book 24 Verse 5268, written by...
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