This interview can stand on its own.

May I also explain something first? When I put up the poster that Dan Savage and Andrew Sullivan, I didn’t see the image very well. I have TWO problems:

1) I have a very old, very small, off-color, orange-tinted monitor. It makes it very hard for me to see fine images. For example, I can’t see half the print or drawings in the Powell’s book covers I put up. I just hope that YOU can see them!

2) I have bad eyesight and bad glasses. I desperately need to go to the eye doctor but have no money. I cannot read much, if anything, on the Internet. I like to print stories out because I read them printed so much better, but my printer is out of ink. I do 1/100th of the reading I would LOVE to do on the ‘net because I can’t read things on my monitor!

I did not see that the image was from the cartoon. I thought it was an image of an imam with a big turban on his head…. and the image was very blurry and inky. That is all I saw.

Update [2006-2-8 18:24:51 by susanhu]: Explanation: The image I originally saw was on another site, and that site owner had scrunched the pixel height/width to make it really small. That’s why I couldn’t see it well. I right-clicked, saved it, uploaded it, and posted it. And didn’t look at it again. I didn’t realize that — HERE! — the image is so big. I just now looked at it. So, please, my apologies. I am definitely considering removing it. But I would like you to reply to my example of putting Pat Robertson’s image on the poster, as I did in a reply to Ducky below.

That’s one reason I make so many typos and don’t see them….until much later. Because everything I am looking at right now is BLURRY.

It was only later, when I squinted my eyes and put my eyes up to my monitor that I could see the tiny image of what looked like a wick, like from a candle.

Okay? And, if I thought you’d all condemn me for putting up a poster about free speech, I’d have never bothered. Trust me, I watch what I say here about too many things…. I feel half the time like I have to tiptoe around everyone’s feelings, and it’s especially difficult because you all have such diverse feelings, and I can’t possibly please everyone.

Do I feel stupid about it? Yeah, I do. Just like I feel stupid when I forget to log out as Larry Johnson, and post a comment under his name. Besides getting old and having not much to look forward to, I’m ditzy. I try to laugh, and call myself the “absent-minded professor.” (And I didn’t want to admit I hadn’t noticed … I have my pride too. Or did.)

BooMan is very upset about all of this, and — as always — he kindly supports me. But this is too much. And I know he’d rather I NOT POST THIS. But, I thought this young Muslim author was so good, and she made so much sense. You’ll probably all find something very wrong with it. So be it. You’ll probably think I’m making excuses, but it is true. I don’t know why you’re all over me, and not all over Jon Stewart who made HUGE FUN of the whole brouhaha last night. I’m convenient.

But, I am also really hurt — VERY HURT — that you can forget everything I’ve done to fight for the human and legal rights of Muslims all over the world. I won’t list those acts. I have personal letters from the State Department and from the United Nations — on my desk — to prove to myself all of that. And my own memories. Which will have to do for now. And I don’t need this. I’d rather leave this site (which by the way is something I detest seeing others threaten), for my own physical and mental health, than endure attacks, particularly from people who aren’t kindly towards … never mind ….

And Muslims have so many HORRIFIC situations they’re facing. Much, much larger issues than this cartoon stuff. Anyway, please read this woman’s interview. She’s sharp. And, if you must be angry, find another target.

Of note, she is a practicing Muslim, and she points out that there is nothing in the Koran that does not allow an image of the prophet to appear.. That is a “myth.” That is important to learn. I didn’t know that. I haven’t read the Koran. Have you? Did you know that factually, or not?

She was Amy Goodman’s guest on Demcoracy Now! yesterday (the link goes to that transcript). She debated As’ad AbuKhalil, professor of political science at California State University, Stanislaus. He is the host of a blog I often visit because he has news that is often not reported about Muslim persecution elsewhere: “The Angry Arab News Service.” I don’t always agree with him, but damn he is good, and his anger is righteous! He and she argued yesterday on Amy’s show. That’s cool. Amy LET THEM talk intelligently about the problems. (There’s nothing like respectful, rational debate.) Here is the bio that Amy Goodman posted about her:

Irshad Manji, author of the book, “The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith.” She is currently based at Yale University as a Visiting Fellow with the International Security Studies program. Web site.

This is her bio at the page for her book at Powell’s:

Irshad Manji is an acclaimed journalist, lecturer, and human rights advocate based in Toronto. Recognizing Irshad’s leadership, Oprah Winfrey honored her with a Chutzpah Award for “audacity, nerve, boldness, and conviction.” Ms. magazine has named Irshad a “Feminist for the 21st Century.” She is also a recipient of the Simon Wiesenthal Award for Valor.

The beginning of the CNN interview, the second part of which is below the fold:

PHILLIPS: Well, amid all the rage and violence, you may not know how the protest came to be. Did you know, for instance, the cartoons were first published months ago. So why the anger now?

My next guest is a Muslim who says the situation has gotten uglier than it ever needed to be.

Irshad Mangi is the author of “The Trouble With Islam Today.”

Nice to have you, Irshad.

IRSHAD MANJI, AUTHOR: Thanks for having me, Kyra.

PHILLIPS: So you feel there’s a story behind the story of the cartoons.

MANJI: Indeed there is, Kyra.

You know, a lot of people, as you pointed out, assume that these cartoons appeared overnight, or at least last week. The case is quite different. They appeared way back in September of 2005, and — in Denmark. And Muslims in Denmark at the time did complain, and some of them resorted to peaceful protests in the streets. And a couple of these illustrators of these cartoons at the time reported, you know, vague threats on their lives.

So serious stuff. But nothing like the wildfire that we are seeing today….

The rest of the CNN interview today:

So the question becomes, what happened between then and now to, you know, spark off this wildfire? Well, what happened is not just the cartoons; what happened is that a group of Danish imams, or Muslim political leaders , took these cartoons, went to the Middle East, and very strategically and deliberately disseminated them.

In fact, there’s informed speculation that they may have even fabricated a couple of their own depictions of the prophet. One, for example, showing the prophet with a pig snout, which is insulting enough. And that much more so when you realize that in Islam pigs are considered dirty and forbidden to eat.

The point is, these imams try to do through political manipulation what they couldn’t achieve through the democratic exercise of their freedoms in Denmark, namely, sow the seeds of unrest. And needless to say, they got what they wanted.

PHILLIPS: So why would these imams want to do this? Why would they want to — if this is true, obviously, I wish I could sit down and interview these Danish imams.

MANJI: Of course.

PHILLIPS: I mean, from interviews that you’ve done and conversations you’ve had, why would they want to do it this way? Because, I mean, I know plenty of imams that would never want to incite violence or create something like this. And obviously, you know, there is more, like you say, to just the cartoons. There still is a lot of anger and resentment that is fueling all of this. There’s more to just the cartoons. But why, why would they want to do this? MANJI: Right. Well, there’s a benign answer and more malignant answer, Kyra. The benign answer is that because they couldn’t get the newspaper to be punished or to be shut down or the journalist to apologize at the time, by protesting these cartoons, they figured that they could bring worldwide Muslim pressure to bear to achieve these results.

But what’s interesting is that the journalists are standing by what they did. And the prime minister of Denmark has pointed out that in a free and democratic society, you know, the press operates independent of government. So the government doesn’t have the power to punish the newspaper.

The more malignant answer is related directly to the story that you just ran, that there is deep-seeded resentment and anger against the West. And what these imams possibly wanted to do was lift the lid on that anger — anger, of course, over the Iraq war, over the invasion of Afghanistan, the stories of torture at Abu Ghraib and Gitmo. And so in many ways, we should imagine the Muslim world right now as a large grassy field where the grass is dry. And all it takes is for a match, one match…

PHILLIPS: One little controversy to go. It’s like a domino effect.


PHILLIPS: Now, Irshad, let me ask you, because when this first came out, I had interviewed a number of different people on this. And a number of people said, well, it’s against Islam. You don’t ever depict the Prophet Muhammed in any blasphemous way. You aren’t even supposed to be able to see a picture.

MANJI: Right.

PHILLIPS: However, I asked you this, I called another imam that I call a number of times about questions with regard to the Koran. Both of you have said that’s a myth. Nothing in the — there’s nothing in the Koran that says you cannot have a picture of Prophet Muhammed.

MANJI: That’s exactly right, Kyra. It’s become a norm. It’s become a tradition. But there is no teaching in the Koran that says this is prohibited. And as a matter of fact, in one of Dublin’s most prestigious libraries, as you and I speak right now, there is a large collection of depictions of the Prophet Muhammed from the 15th century in what was then Persia, what is now Iran.

As a matter of fact, I can argue in defense of these cartoons from an Islamic perspective by pointing out that the Koran itself tells us there will always be non-believers and that it’s up to Gods, not Muslims, to deal with them. And moreover, the Koran tells us that there is — and I quote now — no compulsion in religion. Well, that means that nobody should be forced to treat Islamic norms as sacred. And these are only norms, these are not sacred teachings. PHILLIPS: Irshad, final thought. You wrote in a column that appeared in “The Wall Street Journal”: “Muslims have little integrity demanding respect for our faith if we don’t show it for others, when we have demonstrated against Saudi Arabia’s policy to prevent Christians and Jews from stepping on the soil of mecca. They may come for business trips, but nothing more. As long as Rome welcomes non- Christians and Jerusalem embraces non-Jews, we Muslims have more to protest than cartoons.”

MANJI: Right, that’s exactly right. And let’s also remember that, you know, viciously anti-semitic programming comes out of the Arab world routinely. When have we Muslims poured into the streets to protest that kind of mockery of Judaism? So we really need to kind of confront our own double standards here, and not just blame the West for its double standards.

PHILLIPS: Also interesting. I was reading that Muslims did protest Mel Gibson’s movie because they didn’t like the way Christ was depicted. We didn’t make much of that, obviously, in the news, but that did happen. I thought that was interesting. Irshad…

MANJI: You know, Kyra, I look forward to the day when we also protest the mockery of Jews.

PHILLIPS: Irshad Manji, thanks for your time.

MANJI: Take good care.

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