Location: London, United Kingdom

Sunday, February 12, 2006

You couldn’t make it up

The Sun’s article surrounding the spat between the Muslim Council of Britain and Ann Summers will take some beating this year.
The MCB are furious with Ann Summers for selling a blowup male doll called Mustafa Shag. Quite how they found out about Mustafa in order to be offended by him is not clear. It may be that there was some confusion: given that "blowup males" are one of Islam's leading exports, perhaps some believers went along expecting to find Ahmed and Walid modeling the new line of Semtex belts. Instead, they were greeted by just another disgusting infidel sex joke. The MCB’s complaint, needless to say, is that the sex toy "insults the prophet muhammad -- who also has the title al-mustapha.''
In a world in which Danish cartoons insult the prophet, Disney piglet mugs insult the prophet and Burger King chocolate ice-cream swirl designs insult the prophet, maybe it would just be easier if the MCB made a list of things that don't insult him. The MCB wrote to the Ann Summers sex-shop chain, "We are asking you to have our Most Revered Prophet's name 'Mustafa' and the afflicted word 'shag' removed."
You would think that as a muslim, they’d be "hurt" and "humiliated" that the revered prophet's name is given not to latex blowup males but to so many real blowup males:
The leader of the 9/11 gang? - Mohammed Atta.
The British muslim who blew himself up in a Tel Aviv bar? - Asif Mohammed Hanif.
The gunman who shot the El Al counter at LAX? - Heshamed Mohamed Hedayet.
The former U.S. Army sergeant who masterminded the embassy bombings in Kenya and Tanzania? - Ali Mohamed.
The murderer of Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh? - Mohammed Bouyeri.
The notorious Sydney gang rapist? - Mohammed Skaf.
The Washington sniper? - John Allen Muhammed.
But as yet no hurt and humiliation has been detected, maybe we'll just have to wait for that...
When is this loonacy going to stop? No time soon that is for sure. In fact, the boys from Brussels have been on the case and have revealed their cunning plan. The European Union's Justice and Security Commissioner, Franco Frattini, said on Thursday that the EU would set up a "media code" to encourage "prudence" in the way they cover certain sensitive subjects. As Frattini explained, "The press will give the muslim world the message: we are aware of the consequences of exercising the right of free expression......we can and we are ready to self-regulate that right." Quite whether this euro-claptrap will cover the grave Ann Summers error is not clear. More importantly, "Prudence"? "Self-regulate our free expression"? Those words give the muslim world the message: You've won, we surrender, please stop giving us a shoeing.
The issue is not "freedom of speech" or "the responsibilities of the press" or "sensitivity to certain cultures." The issue, as it has been in all these controversies going back to the Salman Rushdie affair, is the point at which a free society gathers the will to stand up to those that threaten it.
Don't hold your breath.


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