Opinion: "This is Folly, Not a Clash of Civilisations"

February 5, 2006

Source: The Telegraph


On February 5, 2006 The Telegraph ran an opinion piece by John Casey, a fellow of Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, on the controversy surrounding the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad first published in a Danish newspaper. Casey writes, "Have we in the West become so historically ignorant that we forget how closely, within living memory, Christian attitudes to the sacred resembled those of Muslims? The face of Christ was rarely shown by Hollywood until at least the 1960s, because to do that on film seemed disrespectful compared with a stylised representation in painting. There is little doubt that only a generation ago the blasphemy laws would have been used against Jerry Springer, the opera. They would certainly have been used against Gibbon had he not concealed his assault on Christianity in The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire under layers of irony. It is simply good manners to try to understand other people's sense of the sacred. We have very little idea of how Muslims love and revere Mohammed... The trouble with the Danish cartoons that have set the Muslim world ablaze is that they are stupid, historically uninformed and therefore in appalling taste... Among our own pieties, I certainly revere the right to satirise and attack religion and rejoice that the Government's sinister attempts to curb this have been defeated. But we exercise that right more intelligently if we understand the pieties of others."