CAN A CARTOON
BECOME A REASON FOR WAR?
Last week I saw "The
Tiger and the Snow," the second movie (the first being "Fahrenheit
9/11") that has been made about the Iraq-U.S. war. It's an example of
the Italian neorealist school of cinema, whose filmmakers always seem
to find suitable settings for their movies. "The Tiger and the Snow"
is mostly about love, with the concept of the war being used as
Well, it looks as if the
Italian neorealists will be able to find similar settings in the future.
Since some people have no idea what "freedom of the press" is, a new
postwar setting is being prepared for use in future Italian films. Some
in Denmark, for example, think that press freedom has to do with
companies and countries; for them, it means that
they can say everything they want. My understanding of freedom of the
press is that its purpose is to ensure the right of the community and of
individuals to know. But, it seems that some people use this freedom for
their own purposes, to satirize.
The events that started
with the publication of cartoons of the prophet Muhammad are now out of
control, with people burning Danish embassies, and endless
demonstrations continuing to take place. Events to come may not be like
that. Muslims are really angry, and I'm sure that Bin Laden is sitting
on his couch and planning to bomb the building that houses the offices
of the newspaper that published the cartoons. The newspaper's owner has
made an apology, but it has come too late.
Moreover, this is not
the only thing that has been happening in Europe and the Christian world
that shows a negative attitude towards Muslims and people of other
nationalities. For example, people who are from Muslim countries (which
can be determined by the IP being used) are being turned away from using
some websites originating in Christian countries. When they try to visit
such a site, they see a message like "You are not welcome on this
website, find yourself another one." (One of these sites is www.getfile.biz,
a Russian website.)
This is far from the
only example of discrimination against Muslims. According to a story
published in Sabah on February 3, a political party that will be forming
the next government in Denmark stated that primary school students will
be required to read the Bible in class, saying that the stories in Bible
should be read by everyone. Where is the freedom for members of the
community that they claim for the press? People from religions other
than Christianity, including Turkish people living in Denmark, are not
happy with this. There are many other instances of discrimination taking
place, of course, some of which have as much or more to do with
nationality as religion.
For me, the main issue
in this entire debate is the idea behind the cartoon, which is
discrimination against and assimilation of different religions and
societies. Is the prospect of joining the EU still a dream for Turkey? I
am beginning to think that we will not be welcomed in Europe. There will
either be "assimilated" membership in the EU, or there will be no
membership. Europe should not forget that the Ottoman Empire always
respected minorities' rights, and even gave them privileges.
In the end, what I can
see is that a group of cartoons making fun of other people's religion
and showing their prophet as a terrorist may become a reason for war. A
late "apology" may not be helpful after this. I hope that there will be
no war and that no Italian neorealist films will be made in the postwar
setting. I hope that no innocent people will die, and I hope people will
come to understand the true meaning of "freedom of the press." Peace!
Gülay Acar (COMD/III)