[Foundation-l] Wikimania and the Muhammad pix

Robert Stojnic rainmansr at gmail.com
Thu Feb 21 14:13:35 UTC 2008

Not long ago when I was randomly browsing through a mosque's library
in middle east, I found a children's book about Islam, and I remember
seeing people in it.. E.g. when Muhammad was leaving Mecca there
was a picture of *some guy* on a donkey followed by people.. There
wasn't exactly an arrow point to him saying Muhammad, but it was pretty
clear from context..
So, my impression is that the pictures are not huge taboo unless they are
misused. Now, how can a single pictures stir some much controversy?
Well, for that to understand you need to try to put yourself in a
position. So, imagine, that western culture is not dominant in the world,
imagine it's chinese. And, all your kids read chinese literature, dress
chinese way, write in chinese script (since roman is no longer cool),
watch chinese movies, learn chinese in school, look at chinese websites,
etc... And imagine that only thing that keeps you as community is your
religion considered by china as barbaric, and you as possible
terrorist and second-class citizen... and that somewhere in
well-off china, someone posts cartoons of baby jesus being pissed
on by buddha and confucius... Would you be offended? Would it be
by the picture itself, or by it representing a symbol of humiliation and
power of the first-world to desecrate even the things you find most
sacred and all in the name of free-speech?
I'm not trying to advocate anything, just to draw a picture of how I've
seen people feel - which not might be fully representative, but might
give some insight ..


On Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 1:16 AM, Dan Rosenthal <swatjester at gmail.com> wrote:

> Nada,
> I'm not sure you're representing the position accurately of Shiite
> muslims. Far from all muslims take offense. Many, but not all Sunnis
> do, and some, but not nearly as many Shiite's do. Furthermore, I'm not
> sure I believe you are in a position to state that there will be no
> demonstrations. There have already been demonstrations, as reported in
> the news. You cannot predict the future, and is both folly and
> dangerous to give assurances that you have no ability to uphold.
> Finally, I would appreciate that the conference organizers not dismiss
> something that potentially could affect the safety of conference
> goers, and not assume that skepticism and criticism equates to poor
> knowledge of Islamic belief, or uncivilized behavior. That was
> dangerously prevelant within the Alexandria bid team during the
> Wikimania bids, it's dangerously prevalent in Egypt's demonstrations
> (and official state action, no less) today, and it seems borderline
> prevalent in the tone of your post.
> When the government of the country that we are hosting a major
> conference in, completely bans the sale of foreign newspapers for
> displaying pictures of Muhammed, and chastises the ambassadors from
> other countries for doing so, we have every right to be concerned
> about the status and safety of Wikimania. And we have every right to
> express our dismay in the heavy-handed censorship displayed by the
> Egyptian government, censorship which is fundamentally opposed to
> Wikimedia principles.
> -Dan

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