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Thursday, 28 September 2006

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Josh in Berlin

Most people and newspapers in Germany criticize the cancellation of this Mozart opera. Even a representative of one of many Muslim organization criticized this decision.

I think I am in a very small minority who approves of the decision. It's an insult to all religions and to Mozart himself.

What benefit would we get if we had this opera? It seems the only reason to defend this stupid opera is to avoid giving the impression of appeasement to the Islamofascists. That's not enough for me. Analogy: People can call me coward all day, but I don't get intimidated. I am not doing something just to prove to someone that I am not a coward. Well, I did that in kindergarten and elementary school, but now I am more confident and don't feel I have to prove anything to anyone. Jesus, what a hero I am. :-)

Free Speech is important, but I am practical. Is this opera helping us or harming us? I think this opera would only strengthen Islamofasicsm since it would help their propaganda. To win the war on terrorism, we need to have moderate Muslims on our side, so that they don't support the terrorists, but give us information about them. And we want the moderate Muslims to win over their autocratic governments and fundamentalist groups in the Arab world. This opera, however, alienates the moderate Muslims and helps the fundamentalists.

I think we should criticize the Arab world all day on how they treat women, violate human rights, lack democracy, have too much corruption, etc etc. And we should lecture them all day that they should make peace with Israel, that they should spend their money education rather than military, that they should save Darfur, that they need economic reforms etc etc. Since nobody likes to be attacked, criticized and lectured on every issue, we should avoid making fun of their Prophet of defaming their Prophet. Rather we should focus on the topics that matter. That's not appeasement, but about focusing on what is important and it is about setting priorities.

Though, as I said: I am in the minority on this one. Most Germans criticize the cancellation of the opera. It was the opera house who decided to cancel the show. Not the federal or the city government. If (!) the government had told the opera show to cancel the show, then I would be critical and complain about strangeling free speech and about unacceptable government intervention into the arts. But that was not the case.

Let's not forget that Muslims are not the only religious group who dislikes controversial art:

This is from Oct 23, 1998: "Last May, William Donohue, the ever-vigilant president of the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights, raised quite a ruckus about the fact that Corpus Christi, Terrence McNally's play-in-progress, featured a gay, Christ-like protagonist who has sex, off-stage, with his male disciples. Donohue, who has a gift for strained analogies that rivals McNally's own, has called the play "hate speech," "bigotry," and of course "blasphemy." He has argued that a similar depiction of a black or Jewish religious figure would be roundly condemned. Only Catholics and their beliefs, Donohue insists, are held up to such ridicule."
Long article here:
http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m1252/is_n18_v125/ai_21273530

Yeah, yeah, this only happens to Catholics.... Right! And some Jews say those kind of attacks only happen to Jews. And some Muslims say those things only happen to Muslims

The play was then shown after all. And perhaps the Idomeneo opera will be shown as well soon. They certainly got a lot of publicity, which they ususallly would never get.

"On May 23, 1998, the New York Times announced that the Manhattan Theatre Club would be canceling its scheduled production of playwright Terrence McNally's newest play, Corpus Christi, due to bomb and death threats made against the theatre, its personnel, and the playwright. The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights disavowed responsibility for the threats but did publicly applaud the decision, calling the play "blasphemous." A week later, after counter-demonstrations by a roster of well-known contemporary playwrights, the play was reinstated at MTC. Although the Catholic League's president had not read the play, reports claiming that it depicted a gay Jesus-like figure who has sex with his apostles was enough to ignite a series of events that captured the attention of New Yorkers, theatre artists and others, perhaps to a greater extent than McNally's play itself.
On opening night, two separate demonstrations took place concurrently on opposite ends of the block outside the theater. Play protesters assembled at one end with placards declaring McNally's play a lie and homosexuality a sin, as well as demanding the play be censored. At the other end of the block, supporters of the play, who..."


The same play was shown in Germany, but then cancelled after death threats and bomb threats.

Kiki

I think this episode is less about the "arab world" but more about the west and the way it is going to choose to interact with the rest and the world and to fight ideas, which breeds violence and leads to terrorism. Cancelling the Mozart opera was wrong because it makes an unsettling assumption that Muslims can't take criticisms and that they are all willing to become terrorists when their religion is criticized. That of course isn't true and even if is the challenge to the West is to remain itself while acknowledging and respecting differences, which are not intolerant and hurtful.

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