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Book Review, “The Cartoons Cry”

January 18, 2007 by  


By Mirza A. Beg

Jan 2, 2007–Review of “The Cartoons Cry” written by Muhammad Tariq Ghazi, Published by Author House, 161p.

About a year ago in late January-early February the Danish Cartoon controversy boiled up to dominate the news. Gradually it dissipated, yielding to other titillating head-lines vying for our fleeting attention span. It ripped of the scab of apathy, over manipulated festering wound of medievalist religious and cultural attitudes, couched as modernism.

Though the rapacious 20th Century has chronologically ended, politically it has spilled over into the 21st Century. The ideals spawned in the wake of the great wars succumbed to the misery of the cold war, and are being eroded by a resurgent religious intolerance. Politically the 21st Century has yet to find its moorings, as the 19th Century found after Napoleonic wars; and the 20th Century found after the First World War. To reach the promise of a culture of world peace, hope is not enough, a determined global effort to enhance understanding is imperative.

The world has never been this small. For the first time in history each of us is capable of global reach with a stroke of a button. The challenges are also more urgent than ever before, because we wield enormous destructive power through technology, in an a-historic capability to annihilate the world.

The Danish Cartoon controversy exposed the inability of contemplative people to rise above the cacophonous vulgarity. As has often happened in the past, saner voices were drowned by the breast beating crude voices of derision.

Though the events of early 2006, unleashed by the vulgarity of the cartoons published by Danish rightwing newspaper, Jyllands-Posten on Sept. 30th 2005, have receded; they have revealed a simmering cauldron of arrogant antagonism hidden under the modern “hollywoodised” banal culture.

Tariq Ghazi has done a valuable service in writing “The Cartoons Cry” reflecting our inability to perceive the difference between sacred and intolerant on one side and freedom of expression and celebration of profanity on the other. It is important to engage in a serious dialogue at the cross-currents of cultures, religious and ideologies. These cross-currents can be harnessed to foster understanding to build a better world or they can be exploited by purveyors of immorality to spiral into chaos.

Tariq Ghazi critiques the vile attitudes of what is popularly grouped as the “licentious Western culture” as well as what is broad brushed as “Islamicist trend.” He exposes double standards in Western societies, such as curtailed freedoms on certain modern taboo subjects, while decadent insulting of others based on political whims. He has analyzed the strengths and weaknesses of both to suggest possible ways to reach a synthesis.

Ghazi provides an insightful analysis of regional tensions and internal dynamics in the Western and Eastern societies. In many countries petty politicians exploit such events for selfish gains and political ascendancy. They create misunderstandings to malign the other side by hurling sanctimonious stones, cloaked in righteous indignation.

Thoughtful voices are drowned by contentious shouts. Dialogue is abjured in favor of epithets. Instead of talking to each other with honesty, they talk at each other, akin to verbal stone throwing.

Ghazi suggests pathways to rejuvenate or perhaps rescue our present civilizations from destruction to reach a new paradigm of coalescence towards a better upward trajectory. He recognizes that the Muslims in the Western democracies are perhaps best suited, to be the creative engines to bring about such a change.

With time memories fade, contending parties find their own selective narrative of events to justify the unjustifiable. Ghazi has invested valuable effort in meticulously recording the chronology of events- from the idea to produce the vulgar cartoons to the events that dominated the news and their gradual dissipation from the media. It would be valuable to those investigating the nature of the controversy in the light of the unfolding events.

It is important to analyze such events. They do not occur in a political vacuum. With the rise of religious as well as irreligious bigotry, they are bound to increase unless thoughtful people spend time to develop a mechanism of honest dialogue to reach a better tomorrow for a multi-streamed global civilization.

Mirza A. Beg can be reached at mab64@yahoo.com

“The Cartoons Cry” (ISBN: 9781425947644), by Muhammad Tariq Ghazi, can be ordered directly from the publisher at www.AuthorHouse.com for$11.90 ($3.95 for electronic edition). It can be purchased from Barnes and Noble, Amazon and other bookstores at $13.49.

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