s-i on Mon, 13 Feb 2006 22:07:47 +0100 (CET)

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Re: <nettime> publication of "Jyllands-Posten" cartoons is not...

I write this from Poona, in India; last Friday there were huge protests on the
streets here about the Jyllands-Posten cartoons in faraway Denmark and
unfortunately innocent Europeans filming were subjected to anger and taken into
shelter though the protests were otherwise non-violent.

Its unfortunate that the persona of the Western Artist should seek to defend the
publication of such cartoons in the name of Freedom of Expression but fail to see
through the political agendas behind such cultural production. The attempt to
blatantly provoke and naturalise the representation of Others in our media to
secure an electoral backlash for the calculated ends has become a formula for
success; sadly in Europe today ? in Denmark, the Netherlands - this is precisely
what sanctioned European political parties and politicised Islamist agents are
intent on delivering to their electorates. In a postcolonial networked world, the
cultural Kristallnachts can be anywhere. But this is not the mid 20th century. So
why defend this matter in the name of freedom of speech? For those of us who
BELIEVE we have the (or the luxury of) freedom of expression, enjoy the belief!
but bear in mind that there will be those who are paying the price for this.  Just
like all the other inexhaustible pillars of Modernity - like infinite availability
of energy, and so forth - everything has material and political limits and nothing
is inexhaustible or universal.

> sorry, but i fail to see how the muslims in denmark are deprived
> of their rights as minorities, as i don't see any reason for any
> religion or other belief systems to be protected from *any* kind of
> criticism.

Having been to Denmark several times over the past year, I see how few symbols
there are in the public places for representing the very social groups who are the
subjects (read targets) of this Jyllands-Posten caricature. We are not living on
an even cultural terrain; not unless you consider the visibility of Others to be
bearers of service sector work to be self-sufficient. Political equality doesn?t
equal social equality or opportunity; in particular in Denmark which reserves the
right to enact laws that contravene UN charters on Human rights. Thats the climate
we are in which sustains a broader social climate we take for granted. We may
expect our supermarkets to have beautifully clean packaged food and all the other
First World benefits but there are those who do the invisible work; they may be
invisible to those who so strongly uphold the freedom of expression. But the
cold-blooded appliance of the ?freedom of expression? credo will not go
unchallenged. Thus the reason for the rank and file protests around the world
against world including the one I witnessed in Poona a Hindu majority town. The
protests are against the NATURALISATION of such forms of repetitive 'freedom of
expression' in a brutally uneven world - that is their cultural purpose. 

Siraj Izhar s-i@publiclife.org

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