Bill O'Reilly Discusses the Cartoons

Last night’s program included the following discussion between Bill, Dr. Mamoun Fandy of the Baker Institute for Public Policy (top), and Kamal Nawash of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism (bottom).

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O’Reilly: Now for the top story tonight, two views of the Muslim demonstrations over those cartoons. Joining us from Washington, Kamal Nawash, president of the Free Muslim Coalition Against Terrorism and Dr. Mamoun Fandy who writes a syndicated column published in the Arab world.

You it’s getting to the point now, Doctor, where I feel very uneasy. I think this whole thing could go up, this whole Muslim versus the West could go up at any time. Am I wrong?

Fandy: I think. I think you are probably wrong, Bill, on this one. I think those cartoons that we are talking about are very offensive to any Muslims. And if we want to enlist the support of one-fifth of mainstream Muslims, one-fifth of the world population on our side in the war on terrorism, you should not attack or defame the very core of Islam, that’s basically Prophet Mohammed. If these were political cartoons about Osama Bin Laden, or about those extremists, I don’t think you would find these riots.

O’Reilly: But Doctor, we live in a free… many of us in the West live in a free country, a free society. You see Christianity, you see Judaism, you see almost every religion poked fun at. Poked fun at. So you’re telling me that Islam should be granted an exemption from this?

Fandy: No. There is no exemption Bill. I think probably if you go give a speech and make fun of Islam the way you want is different from, say, Fox News putting something on the air and becoming more or less a policy of the institution. One lesson, I think probably, Danes should learn is from none other than the Israelis. Despite their fifty years deadly war with the Arab world, they never treaded in these dangerous territories of defaming Islam, because they wanted to keep the conflict {garbled}

O’Reilly: Okay, okay, I’ve got your point. That’s why we don’t show the cartoons here. We’re not in the business of offending for the sake of offending. These cartoons, they had a certain basis in fact, where there was one that was picturing Mohammed and he was saying ‘hey, we’re out of suicide virgins, stop the suicide bombing’. I mean ‘We’re out of virgins, stop the suicide bombing.’ There was point to them, they weren’t just made to insult Islam. Am I wrong here Mr. Nawash?

Fandy: I think you’re wrong Bill, on this one.

Nawash: You know I’m really disappointed in the comments of your guest. The issues here are not whether the cartoons were offensive. The issues here is [sic] whether we as a people have a right not to be offended and once we are offended, how do we respond? Sure, I, as a Muslim, find those cartoons offensive. But, you know, but that’s tough. I understand that not everyone loves my Prophet the same way that I do. Not everyone cares about my religion as I do. And certainly I’m not going to go out in the streets and burn anything or do anything like that. So I think that any responsible Muslim leader, or any responsible Muslim, like your guest, should be going out of their way to preach to other Muslims, ‘Hey people, let’s be reasonable. We are living in a free society and if we had a choice between not being offended or living in a censored society, I certainly would take freedom over censorship any day.

O’Reilly: Freedom in the Muslim world is defined differently, and I’ll give you both an example. The Pakistani Foreign Ministry spokesperson came out today and said, hey, this is over the line, those cartoons were over the line and ‘there is no such thing as an over-reaction.’ I’m quoting here. There is no such thing as an over-reaction when you make fun of the Prophet Mohammed. Now, my God. You know you’re opening up… and just like Van Gogh got murdered in Holland for making a documentary about how some Muslim women are treated. We can’t… I mean this is anarchy guys. This is a clash of civilizations. Isn’t it Doctor?

Fandy: I think, Bill, we have differentiate here between things, we can’t just lump everything together. If we want to succeed in this war on terrorism we should have mainstream Muslims on our side and isolate extremism. Now, these cartoons gave the Muslim world to Osama Bin Laden. These cartoons were manipulated politically by dictatorial regimes, by fascist extremists. But, this is probably the most stupid act anybody could do to undermine…

O’Reilly: So what you’re saying to me Doctor, look you’re right, we need the Muslim moderates on our side, but you’re saying we can’t criticize anything about or poke fun at anything Islamic for risk that we’re going to alienate them.

Fandy: No. No. I think you can criticize and make fun of anything Islamic the way you want, but however, you have to really just ask yourself, ‘what is the purpose of doing this?’

O’Reilly: All right. The purpose was for the Dane who did it, to show the Muslim world that killing people and thinking you’re going to get virgins for doing it, is dopey. Mr. Nawash, I’m going to give you the last word on this. Is there any solution at all? Because we see this time and time again.

Nawash: I do think there are solutions. I’d like to say one thing really quickly. I think Muslims who are offended by this cartoon, they should be more offended by other Muslims who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam.

Fandy: {interrupting} We are offended by this.

Nawash: No, by people who commit acts of terrorism in the name of Islam and in the name of the Prophet Mohammed.

Fandy: We are.

O’Reilly: Doctor, you don’t see, you don’t see demonstrations like you saw when little children are blown up. You don’t see them Doctor. Go ahead Mr. Nawash, I’ll give you the last word.

Nawash: Or when people’s heads get cut off. And in terms of the solution, just like political and religious leaders came out in the beginning and instigated people over the cartoons, they need to come out now and calm people down. They are the only ones who can stop this.

O’Reilly: Well, I don’t think we’re going to see that. But I do think the story will go away, but it’s just a frightening scenario. Gentlemen, thanks very much, we appreciate it.

Dr. Fandy seems to be saying that on the one hand, we should not do anything to “fan the flames”, but he doesn’t address how those flames started in the first place, how the embers are allowed to smoulder.

Mr. Nawash has it right. None of us has a right to not be offended, and if we are offended by something, tough. Being offended does not mean that one can go out in the streets and burn something, blow someone or something up, or cut off someone’s head.

The Cartoons are here.

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