Cartoon capers from both sides

PUBLISHED: 11:40 09 February 2006 | UPDATED: 09:35 06 May 2010

Omar Khyam

Omar Khyam

IT WOULD be difficult to write a news-based column this week without mentioning the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and the ensuing protests which have been making the headlines. But I m not sure I can throw any clarity onto the situation, because quite

IT WOULD be difficult to write a news-based column this week without mentioning the cartoons of the prophet Muhammad and the ensuing protests which have been making the headlines.

But I'm not sure I can throw any clarity onto the situation, because quite frankly, we've got ourselves into a right old mess.

There can be no doubt that it was thoughtless, insensitive and highly unnecessary to publish the cartoons.

In Europe, under the European Convention on Human Rights, we do indeed have this much-vaunted right to freedom of speech.

However, drawing a cartoon of the Prophet Muhammad, when Islam forbids making images of him, is not to do with free speech but of being downright offensive.

To draw him with a turban shaped like a bomb is just beyond the pale, and could only do what it has done - inflame an already difficult situation.

And so, people undeniably have the right to express their anger at these images.

But to hold up banners inciting violence against the people who published the cartoons, or to dress as a suicide bomber is equally as bad, as one of the protesters, Omar Khayam, from Bedford, this week admitted.

As if the cartoons and the protests were not bad enough, the situation continues to worsen and become increasingly complicated.

Some newspapers are calling for the protesters to be arrested, many Muslims are distancing themselves from the protesters, and now it turns out Omar Khayam has a conviction for drug dealing, so he's public enemy number one and all over the nationals.

Clearly, if there are grounds for it to happen, then the protesters should be prosecuted, but I think far more important for all of us is that we return to some sense of normality.

The cartoons have been published, the protesters have made their feelings known, and so both sides have done wrong.

Not all non-Muslims are disrespectful of the religion and not all Muslims think that dressing as a suicide bomber is acceptable.

In short, it's once again a minority on both sides making a whole lot of trouble for the rest of us.

So let's hope the middle, reasonable ground where people want to find new ways to understand each other's religious and cultural practices will be given a chance to prevail, and we can all just get along.

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