MARGARET WARNER: All right. Let me get Professor Ajami to respond. And if you would, there were a lot of things put on the table there, but let's look at two issues he raised having to do with the Europeans here: One is he was essentially saying it's hypocritical. I mean, Europeans talk about free expression yet they ban expressions of Muslim faith in the public square essentially in many European countries; and secondly that there was something deliberately provocative about these cartoons and that perhaps is at the very least unwise.
I mean, do you think Europeans deserve any responsibility for this, especially the ones who republished them?
FOUAD AJAMI: Well none whatsoever because part of the challenge, if you will, of living and the advantage of living in a liberal society is the willingness to be offended.
And I think what these Muslim populations in Europe, what these Muslim populations are telling us today is that they're in the West geographically but not of West.They don't accept the challenge; they don't accept the difficulty of living in a pluralist liberal society; that they have brought with them the fire from Morocco, from Tunisia, from Algeria, from Egypt and Syria.
And I think these European societies have a problem because they tended to think that there is a battle between America and the Islamic world, and that they are innocent bystanders. They're not innocent bystanders and now they know this. They know this in Denmark. They know this in Holland. They know this in Sweden. And that's what we're really seeing.
We're really seeing millions of Muslims who have come to Europe; they've been granted the chance for a new life. And I think they need to make their peace with this modern society in which they find themselves. And they haven't done it yet.
MARGARET WARNER: So, Professor Ajami, staying with you for a minute, are you saying that you think the burden is really on the Muslims living in Europe and not at all on the European societies into which these Muslims have moved?
FOUAD AJAMI: Well, I think -- I think that's probably about it. I mean, I think you have to look at the dilemma of these Muslim populations in Europe.
You have 15 million, maybe you even have millions more undeclared who have come to Europe, and they need to respect the rules of European liberalism, and that they haven't really shown.
Like I took you to the beginning of this story, the time line -- this began in Denmark. And I think the Muslims in Denmark have to respect the rules of Denmark. And they have to acknowledge -- when in Rome, you live as the Romans do. And you are willing to be offended; you are willing to look the other way; and you are willing to accept that even though these cartoons are hideous and they're tasteless, that you don't go on a rampage. And you don't challenge the basic rules of European liberalism.
MARGARET WARNER: Mr. Abunimah, I'm sorry but very briefly if you could respond on whether Muslims living in European really need to accept those cultural norms of free expression?
ALI ABUNIMAH: Well, I reject Mr. Ajami's broad generalizations. Fifteen million Muslims haven't gone on rampages in Europe. The protests, though high profile, have not involved more than a tiny, tiny percentage of the Muslim population in Europe. I grew up in Europe.
I remember 20 years ago long before Sept. 11 in the streets of Brussels being picked on by the police just because I'm an Arab -- not because I don't accept European liberalism or democracy.
I'm an American. I love democracy. I love freedom. But I also think there needs to be mutual respect. And there needs to be a more sophisticated dialogue between Arabs, Muslims and people in the West, not just the kind of really simplistic name calling that Mr. Ajami is engaged in--
MARGARET WARNER: OK.
ALI ABUNIMAH: --and unfortunately has been his stock and trade.
MARGARET WARNER: OK. Mr. Ajami, brief response from you and then we're really out of time.
FOUAD AJAMI: Well, I think I don't want to engage him on this personal level. It's just idle.
I think fundamentally what this is really about, it's about the ability to accept the challenge of liberal society and to accept the challenge of dissent.
And I should add that many religious jurists in the Arab world, many prominent columnists, have condemned these hooligan attacks in Syria and Lebanon and have condemned the use of this episode for cynical political reasons. That's really what this story is all about.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
From The Newshour with Jim Lehrer: