February 5, 2006

A DOUBLE STANDARD ON PROTESTS in Britain?

Once again, the message is that if you blow things up, or even look as if you might, we’ll be nice to you. And once again, I note that this is a very unwise message to send.

I should note, by the way, that last night I spent some time reading an advance copy of Claire Berlinski’s new book, Menace in Europe : Why the Continent’s Crisis Is America’s, Too. It looks very good, and I hope it finds a wide readership. The timing is certainly right.

UPDATE: Berlinski emails from Istanbul:

Evidently there were “hundreds of demonstrators” at the Danish consulate here today. (I missed it; I was happily oblivious until I read the news.) Now, “hundreds of protestors” never congregate in Istanbul without government sanction. There is no such thing as freedom of assembly here; if you’re out protesting, it’s because the government authorized it, period. So Denmark and Turkey are going to be part of one big happy EU family? Sure thing. Tell that to the Danish diplomats cowering in their consulate in Istanbul and nervously reviewing the fire escape plans.

Oh, and someone shot a Catholic priest in Ankara today, too. Not clear yet whether it was related.

That said, “hundreds of protestors” isn’t that much in a city of 10 million, and when I went out today everyone seemed to be their normal friendly selves, including the Islamist grocers down the street, who have never been anything but pleasant to me. So don’t be put off if you’re thinking of visiting, Istanbul is still great, and very safe. (Almost certainly safer than London: I have no doubt that if the protestors get too frisky here, the government will mow them down like dogs.)

Jim Geraghty, also in Istanbul, has a report, too. “The Syrian reaction is intolerable. But the Turkish reaction is honorable. I hope the world can see the difference.”

ANOTHER UPDATE: Berlinski — perhaps my most devoted reader in Istanbul today — sends this followup in response to Jim’s post:

Jim Geraghty is absolutely right, everyone should have the right to protest peacefully if they so wish. If you’ve got your panties in a wad over some cartoons, by all means, you should be perfectly free to say so. My point is that people here don’t enjoy the freedom to protest–just ask the mothers of Kurds who have disappeared in Turkish prisons–so when they do, unimpeded, it has a certain significance. He’s right, there’s a world of difference between the Turkish reaction and the Syrian reaction. But Syria’s not applying for EU membership.

Indeed.

MORE: Michael Totten reports on Islamist violence in Beirut and observes: “I strongly suggest the civilized people of Lebanon, Muslim and Christian alike, stage a counter-demonstration downtown where flags are not burned and where buildings are not set on fire.”

MORE STILL: Iraqpundit:

Anyway, since when did stupid, tasteless cartoons start stirring such passions among the Muslims? Arabic language newspapers and magazines regularly run cartoons that offend all sorts of communities. It would be easier to respect all this rage if these angry people applied the same standards all around.

You know, in 2002, 15 Saudi schoolgirls burned to death when Saudi religious police wouldn’t let them escape their building because they were not in hijab.

Waiting for my fellow Muslims to react to that kind of criminality with the same impassioned outrage they save for offensive newspaper cartoons has been rather like waiting for a desert-blown Godot. Our community leaders, as always, fail us.

Indeed.

AND YET MORE: Jim Geraghty sends a correction:

I’m in Ankara, not Istanbul, and the shooting of the priest was in Trabzon, not Ankara. As of 4 a.m. local time, the U.S. Embassy didn’t have any information on motive. The wires ( Link) are reporting the kid was shouting “God is great” as he ran from the shooting scene; if accurate, this would appear to be Islamist terrorism.

Dang.

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