Norway too, has also felt the consequences of upsetting Muslim sensitivities. Luckily, we were spared riots and gratuitous violence, which seems to be the most common way a not insignificant proportion of Muslims think they are entitled to react with if somehow feeling challenged on culture and identity.
In Oslo, there was one main event, sponsored by the Muslim Council and one minimalistic and perhaps entertaining event where some rather colorful individuals including wannabe-synagogue bomber Arfan Bhatti enjoyed their right to freedom of speech and freedom of association to wave their Islamist banner and chant Obama, Obama we want Osama, whatever they might have meant with that (tongue in cheek).
The main event, the one sponsored by the Muslim Council drew a sizable crowd, around 3.500 persons, and prominent among them, the Mayor of Oslo, Fabian Stang and the Bishop of Oslo, Ole Christian Kvarme, who also addressed the crowd.
I am all for the right of free association and if people want to protest peacefully – what a victory for an open society.
However, I scoff at the double standards presented here. My fellow Muslim Norwegians cannot be oblivious to the many and extremely hurtful ways their community has ridden roughshod over Jewish sensitivities and core values. The calls to murder Jews during the Oslo riots in January 2009 made the Muslim community in Norway look bad. Worse, it – represented by its appointed or selected leaders – came through as shallow, hateful and unwilling to take their own troublemakers to task when it silently accepted the khaybar call roaring on the streets of Oslo. It is impossible to forget how Muslim kids with absolutely no idea how to behave in a multiculti society charged after a man because they thought he was Jewish, craving his blood, got away with their inexcusable behavior essentially scot free.
There was no demand that the Muslim community as such review their attitudes, or grossly insulting attacks on Jewish, or even Western values. But a piece of crap, such as that pathetic film which has caused such hysterical reactions (helpfully whipped up by Islamist preachers who thrive on spreading hate and violence), can get the masses out on the street to demand respect?
How about starting at home and ban all kinds of hate speech against Jews, including deeply hurtful comparisons to monkeys and pigs? It would also be nice if my fellow Muslim countrymen could desist from denying me and my fellow Jews our historical connection to the Land of Israel, and certainly to be a bit more respectful of our religious sensitivities.
But what really gets to me is how quick our common community leaders are to get out there on the street to lambast any real or perceived slight on Muslim sensitivities. This is particularly galling considering that they have mainly sat at home when Jews and and our deeply cherished religious symbols have been made a mockery of.
Mayor Fabian Stang used his time at last weeks anti-Muslim movie protest to say the following:
“It’s a pitiful abuse of freedom of expression. Unfortunately, a few abuse the freedom to hurt others’ feelings. Such abuse must be met with courage and solidarity. It is understandable to react with anger and rage when the dearest we hold are mocked and humiliated. We will never respond to such behavior with violence,”
Yet, such a reaction has never been uttered when Jewish religious symbols have been used in the most grotesque ways to portray us Jews as sub-humans. Not a pip to protest this most cruel and deliberate hurtful way to upset Jewish sensitivities. But rather a robust rejection of complaints, with reference to the same freedom of speech which is being trampled on by people like Stang who one must expect really is trying to be both decent and fair.
In a very similar vein did Bishop Kvarme also fail to significantly challenge the Muslim charge that they are being harassed:
“Today, we gather because we are upset, but also because we want to strike and protect the wider community among us. The filmmakers wanted to provoke and promote hatred, and unfortunately, they have succeeded in that. Today, we stand together in protest against such violations, but also the reactions that draw people into a spiral of violence and destruction.With this peaceful celebration, we want to protect and strengthen our community. As believers, we understand each other,”
Why, oh why does he wash his hands and walk away from tackling these grotesque representations of Israel and Jews in a country plagued by historical anti-Semitism?
Why is it so very easy to bend the knees in fear, to be quiet and hope to avoid the necessary controlled confrontations we must have in our society if we are to continue to live in relative harmony? Why must we tiptoe over Muslim alleged sensitivities, when no sensitivity is demanded in return?