If Moslems Want More Respect, They Might Try Respecting Others
David Warren, writing for the Ottawa Citizen, in a column posted at Real Clear Politics, suggests that the West has been far too tolerant of bullying by Islamic militants clamoring for respect for Islam and its Prophet. He points to the case of Gillian Gibbons, jailed for 15 days in the Sudan for allowing the students in her Khartoum classroom to name a teddy bear "Mohammad," at the request of one of her students, whose name was "Mohammad," incidentally the most common male first name in the Islamic world.
He also points to the example of Bangladesh author Taslima Nasreem. The government of West Bengal has banned her memoir, because it contained several remarks deemed offensive to Moslems, in deference to that Indian province's Moslem minority. The government of the national capital territory of Delhi has demanded, and she has agreed, to delete several pages from her book for the same reason.
Lastly he points out the example of the treatment of Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni (photo above left) by the Saudi Arabian delegation at the recent Annapolis summit:
The royal Saudi delegates not only did not politely applaud, as is the genteel custom, after the Israeli delegate spoke. They had declined to put in their earphones, to hear the translation while that delegate spoke. From a party to actual peace negotiations, comes this rude gesture to announce that nothing a representative of Israel could say would be worth hearing.
After the conference, the Israeli foreign minister, Tzipi Livni, whose national affiliation is compounded by the fact she is a woman, made an unprecedented public complaint. She said that none of the Arab foreign ministers would shake her hand; that she was treated as a pariah. Or as Frans Timmermans put it -- a Dutch government minister who was in attendance -- they "shun her like she is Count Dracula's younger sister."
Actually the rudeness of the Saudis was not limited to Ms. Livni, and the United States State Department joined them as an enabler. As Caroline Glick reports in the Jerusalem Post, "Evident everywhere, the discrimination against Israel received its starkest expression at the main assembly of the Annapolis conference on Tuesday. There, in accordance with Saudi demands, the Americans prohibited Israeli representatives from entering the hall through the same door as the Arabs."
Can you imagine the U.S. treating a Soviet delegation in this manner, even at the height of the Cold War?
The editor of the Jerusalem Post, David Horovitz, reports that when Israeli journalists tried to join other members of the international press pool in covering the arrival of the Saudi delegation at the Saudi Embassy in Washington, D.C., before the conference, they were escorted off the premises. "Israeli camera crews then filmed the Arab leaders driving in from outside the embassy security barrier, in the rain, while other media crews filmed the notables from the covered comfort of the embassy's entrance."
David Warren asks, "Why do we treat Arab foreign ministers diplomatically, who are themselves incapable of diplomacy? Why do we confer dignities upon Saudi royalty who will confer no dignity upon our friends?"
I frankly have come to expect such rudeness from the Saudis. I commend Ms. Livni for publicly protesting her treatment. However, I criticize both her and Prime Minister Olmert for acquiescing to the Saudi's insulting behavior. I do not know who angers me more, the U.S. State Department for accommodating the outrageous demand by the Saudis that the Israeli delegation enter by a separate doorway to the conference hall, or the Israeli delegation, for agreeing to go along with the insult, instead of refusing to participate in the conference until the Saudis retracted their insolent demand.
We also have the wonderful hypocrisy exhibited--almost without comment by the Western press--by the Palestinian's lead negotiator, Saeed Erekat, who remarked in an interview with Palestinian Radio that the Palestinians will never recognize Israel as a Jewish state, saying, "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined," Erekat told Radio Palestine.
That is quite interesting, considering that the as yet non-existent "State of Palestine" has since 1969 been a member of the 57-nation Organisastion of the Islamic Conference. Article VIII of the charter of that organization forthrightly sets forth the criteria for membership: "Every Muslim State is eligible to join the Islamic Conference on submitting an application expressing its desire and preparedness to adopt this Charter." (Emphasis added.) Mr. Erekat would apparently have us believe that no nation on earth qualifies under these criteria, since "There is no country in the world where religious and national identities are intertwined." Somehow 57 nations made the grade, in many of which sharia, Islamic religious law, is the governing code of law. Mr. Erekat also apparently is strangely unfamiliar with the laws and culture of Saudi Arabia, which does not allow the open practice within its borders of any religion other than Islam.
Let me provide a positive example of an Islamic organization promoting tolerance and respect for others. CAIR, a group that I do not normally praise, on its website has posted a column by Ibrahim Hooper, entitled "What Would Muhammad Do?" Mr. Hooper concludes with this observation concerning the Gillian Gibbons case, discussed at the top of this post:
The complaint brought against Gillian Gibbons was an inappropriate use of Sudan’s legal system to deal with what was in essence a disagreement between parents and a teacher. Ms. Gibbons should never have been charged. She should be released immediately.
I respect and commend CAIR for posting Mr. Hooper's column. You see, when one extends respect, one gets respect.