2 May 2008

Freedom of Expression

- a very late response to the cartoons

Written 1 May 2008 - (120 lines)


We still remember only too well
When that Danish newspaper decided to sell
Its principles like some prostitute
And drove like a tank down the route
Of blatant disregard for all that we know
To be good and decent, when it put on show
Those dreadful cartoons of the prophet of Islam
Muhammad (peace be upon him), and the harm
And the hurt and the uproar they caused in Muslim lands
While the Danish prime minister was sitting on his hands

Would they still have accepted and printed them
Had they been of Jesus? NO! They would condemn
Not only the artists but the very thought
Of such an irresponsible onslaught
On values so dear to so many in the West
But it was not Jesus - and we all know the rest

In several countries in Europe today
It is quite simply illegal to say
In public that the Holocaust never took place
(The Nazi persecution of the Jewish race)
It may land you in prison for up to three years -
It is hard to believe your eyes and ears
But that is the law as it stands, and of late
An option to use for any EU member state

Would they print a collection of drawings which brought
To your attention the abuse and havoc wrought
The trampling on conventions and basic human rights
The state terrorism with which Israel fights
The defenceless Palestinians? The answer is NO!
I herewith challenge them at once to do so!

And if they do not it would simply show
And confirm what most of us already know:
That the whole affair was not an accident
But carefully planned and obviously meant
As a direct provocation against Islam
And THAT if nothing else should raise the alarm
In all civilised minds, for it has no place
In decent interactions in the public space

But it was only Islam and Muhammad, so who cares?
Should you ask that question - well, the answer stares
You right in the face for of all mankind
Twenty percent are Muslims, and you find
They are understandably hypersensitive
To any expression that might be suggestive
Of contempt or disrespect or ridicule
Of their faith and their prophet, and only a fool
Would allow himself to be used as the tool
Of those dark and evil powers that rule

Keep playing with the fire, keep fanning the flames
Of discord and mistrust, and anyone who blames
Islam and Muslims for the resulting mess
Is a hypocrite and liar, and unless
THEY take urgent steps to end this curse
The bad situation will undoubtedly get worse

Like naughty little children, they want it all
And squeal with indignation when we call
On them to explain their unacceptable acts
Of course they claim innocence but the facts
Speak for themselves, also when each
Individual hides behind freedom of speech

For those truly obnoxious
Here let me state the obvious:

Any right to do anything
Must be balanced by a matching
Obligation to exercise that right
Responsibly and in the light
Of a civilised society, if it wishes to remain
Civilised - we should therefore refrain
From abusing that right, indeed we must
See it as a gift placed in our trust
To be valued highly, treated with care
And used with some civility to spare!

No right to act before you think!
No right to use those words that stink!

Prove yourself unworthy of that precious gift
And the reaction should be clear and swift
If you still cannot moderate what you say
Maybe that right should be taken away!


Eight hundred years later and a new Crusade
Has been fully staged and is now being played
Out in front of your very eyes
But it should come as no surprise
For fascist ideas are on the rise
A right-wing and Zionist enterprise

The fear of foreigners is a pitiful sign
A sad manifestation of the sinister and malign

What happened to compassion and empathy
And international solidarity
With asylum seekers and refugees?
Will everyone answer that question now, please!

More and more applications turned down
Simply because they are Muslim and brown

"Kick them out and keep the jobs for us
Show them the white Christian is the boss"

Such hateful slogans are increasingly heard
Throughout the EU and every word
Reeks of intolerance and xenophobia
And a longing for some childish Utopia
Which never yet existed and never will
But they play on fears with considerable skill -
Fortress Europe proudly proclaimed
Any problem, Muslims are blamed

So much for the quality of that free speech!
And still the West believes it can teach
The wider world how it should live
When in truth it has little or nothing to give
That would make this world a better place -
Most of its attempts have ended in disgrace
And in order to atone for every crime
It should wear sack and ashes for a very long time!

Put differently, let me say it again:
Before you speak, let it pass your brain!

Better for everyone to heed that call
Better for some if they did not speak at all!

Before decent behaviour suffers another blow
Here once more for those who need to know:

No right to offend my sensibility!
No freedom without responsibility!
No culture without civility!
No humanity without humility!


Copyright © 2008 - IBRAHEEM (O.E.H.Johansen) - All Rights Reserved

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