Opinion: "This is Not a Cartoon War"

February 10, 2006

Source: The Guardian


On February 10, 2006 The Guardian ran an opinion piece by Anas Altikriti, a former president of the Muslim Association of Britain, on the controversy over cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad. Altikriti writes, "I don't believe we are witnessing a clash of civilisations, nor do I think such a clash is imminent or necessary. But when people of such varying backgrounds live together, a clash of sorts can be expected. And it is the appreciation of each other's backgrounds and sensitivities that keeps those conflicts civil, peaceful and even productive... Those who claim to uphold freedom of speech by defending the right to reproduce insulting depictions of the prophet are in effect saying to Muslims that what they hold dear and sacred is far more worthy of protecting than what Muslims hold dear and sacred. The cartoons had more to do with incitement of hatred, racism and Islamophobia than with freedom of expression. Tomorrow, Britain's Muslim groups will be joined by non-Muslims in Trafalgar Square to show unity against Islamophobia and incitement of all kinds - without the vile, fanatical and totally un-Islamic chants, placards and flag-burning we saw in last week's tiny and unrepresentative march. The rally will serve as an opportunity to denounce acts of abuse committed under the guise of freedom as well as acts and statements that propagate violence, destruction and hatred. The protest will send a message that Britain is leading the way in the west to creating a modern, multicultural, multiethnic and multifaith society that lives in peace and prosperity. We will be calling for calm and the resumption of a serious, frank and constructive dialogue: one based on mutual respect and the exchange of ideas rather than the trading of insults. That way, Mr Littlejohn and his friends will realise that we are not fighting a war - and that we are all winning."