COMMENT:Otherwise, all is well —Mian Ijaz Ul Hassan
Such conduct reminds one of children who take to banging their head against a wall or the floor to register a protest with their mother. These tactics may work with a feeble-hearted mother but surely an adversary would not give two hoots even if you jump off the wall or dig a hole to bury yourself
One of the newspaper headlines today read, “Protestors go berserk in Peshawar”. They burnt down shops, smashed the Peshawar Press Club, pelted Edwards College and targeted public installations including streetlights and traffic signals. While they were at it I wonder why they stopped short of dispensing with schools, hospitals and such other offensive social utilities.
My eight-year-old grandson Mustafa who goes to school in Cairo because his father is posted there came home rather upset on learning about the cartoons at school. After reporting what was discussed among his friends he confided in his mother, “Mama I hope we don’t do any such thing”. Apparently most children have better sense than us adults.
I am completely baffled as to why an Iranian website should launch a competition for cartoons of the Holocaust. First no Jewish newspaper has been involved in publishing the cartoons, second how can any sane Muslim, in spite of his condemnation of Israeli policies, extend his anger to a point where he stoops so low as to mock the suffering of the Jews in Gestapo camps and their death in gas chambers? It is trite to debate that the number that perished at the hands of the Nazis was six million or six thousand or to insist that there are other people who have also been subjected to an equally terrible fate by no means belittles the pain and suffering of the Jews by racist Germans. The terrible fates of other nations and people should be mourned in their own right.
Incidentally, Michael Leunig, a renowned Australian cartoonist, has sent the first contribution to the Iranian website on the subject of the Holocaust. In fact according to a newspaper he has sent two cartoons. One shows a poor man with a Star of David on his back walking towards the infamous Auschwitz death camp in 1945 with the words, “Work Brings Freedom” over the entrance. There is tragic irony in the words because what the words brought the poor Jew, in spite of the terrible trials and hardship he was subjected to on promise of freedom, was unforeseen, inevitable death.
The second cartoon shows the same scene but depicting “Israel 2002” with the words “War Brings Peace” over the entrance and the same man walking towards it bearing a rifle. The cartoon brings into dramatic relief the lie that Israel is there to enforce peace in the region. It is however politically incorrect and a lie to present the poor Jew who perished at Auschwitz as an agent of Zionism. All Jews are not Zionists.
As a people most of us take pride in being irrational. Rational people we believe may be wiser but they are also calculating. But wisely enough while equating rationality with restraint and even cowardice we do not compare irrationality with stupidity. Rather than make an impression on others, we get angry to convince ourselves of our own potency. While expressing our resentment caused by an adversary we protest by burning down the buses, already in short supply, we need to commute in the city. But “what goes of their father?” as they say in vernacular.
Such conduct reminds one of children who take to banging their head against a wall or the floor to register a protest with their mother. These tactics may work with a feeble-hearted mother but surely an adversary would not give two hoots even if you jump off the wall or dig a hole to bury yourself.
I recall the late Eqbal Ahmad recounting to me a dialogue between a Vietnamese and a Palestinian revolutionary. The Palestinian asked with a lavish smile, “Comrade, tell me how do you make the revolution?” The Vietnamese requested, “Comrade, first you tell me how you do it.”
The Palestinian said, “Well we for instance burn the buses and destroy the bridges”. Before he could proceed further the Vietnamese revolutionary informed him, “We neither burn the buses nor destroy the bridges”. “Why not?” asked the Palestinian revolutionary. “Because”, answered his Vietnamese comrade, “we ride the buses and need the bridges.” It took some time for the Vietnamese to make his point finally adding, “Comrade, revolution is like breaking a rock with eggs.”
Any protest, resistance or revolt — all essential stages for change — without a political purpose and guidance of reason and rationality is often counterproductive to the people’s interests. This explains why the police remained silent spectators to the mob going berserk in Peshawar. It only moved into action when the unruly crowd tried to march towards the Governor’s House.
I have just received a telephone call informing me that a crowd rampaging the city in protest against the blasphemous cartoons has taken hostage a Lahore police SP and is targeting private properties at will. I am told that a McDonald’s restaurant and a Citibank branch have been attacked and the windows of the Punjab Assembly building have been smashed. Citizens are being advised to stay away and be careful. Otherwise, all is well.
Prof Ijaz Ul Hassan is a painter, author and political activist. He can be reached at http://www.ijazulhassan.com