Atilla Iftikhar (Islamabad, Pakistan) 2 January 2006

on "Bomb in Turban", by Peter Philipp

I have rarely seen similar offensive caricature of e.g. Jewish people in German, Danish or even the British mainstream media-outlets and when such offensive illustrations occur, politicians and governments are eager to position themselves against such illustrations.

Since, I have some knowledge of Germany I can confidently claim that neither Jews, Gypsies, ethnic Russians are portrayed in the way as Turks and Muslims. Offensive generalisations are mostly against Turks/Muslims: e.g. "Muslims support forced marriages, honour killings". Turkey's EU membership process also highlighted some of the highly unbalanced and prejudiced approach of the EU press.

I think that the root cause why many Muslims reacted against Jyllands Posten is the combined tone of the Danish society and the fact that Muslim collectivity is associated with terrorism. After years of the abuse, Muslims think and feel (myself included) that these drawings are the last drop and intolerable.

The harsh reactions reflect this pressurised position of Muslims and the repeated connections of Islam with terror. It is important to understand the Muslim reactions against the JP and Danish government by ambassadors and Islam organisations from this background.

Anyway, I hope the circumstances will cool down and I am against flag-burnings, or any treats against Scandinavians in Muslim-dominated countries. I also hope the European media carefully avoid portraying the Muslim holy symbols in any degrading manner. Harmony of faiths and people require our ability to respect eachothers symbols such as flags, faith symbols etc.

Atilla Iftikhar

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