Saturday, February 18, 2006

Empathy as a counter to violence

The Bangkok Post today has an editorial article by Nazry Bahrawi, a Singapore based journalist who proposes 'empathy' as a means of calming the violence which has erupted over the motoons.
He quotes Chandra Muzaffar (The Muslim Reader magazine)'s suggestion,
that responsible reporting in a globalised world means journalists ''should not only learn about religion; they should also develop some empathy for faith and the practice of faith''.
He goes on to spell out what practising that empathy might look like.
Had the editors at Jyllands-Posten exercised empathy towards Muslims, perhaps much grievous harm could have been avoided.
Meanwhile, empathy on the part of Muslims means several things.
Chief among these would be reacting in a less unwarranted manner to religious controversy. Renowned Europe-based Islamic scholar Tariq Ramadan, for example, has publicly deplored the violence seen so far as ''too excessive and not the way forward''.
But the appeals for a calm reaction must move beyond lip service.
A good start would be to declare a moratorium on death fatwa (or Islamic decree) _ which has been dispensed freely in the past as seen in the case of Salman Rushdie, who penned The Satanic Verses, and Amina Wadud-Muhsin, who publicly staged a female-led congregational prayer.
It seems a nice sentiment but I question whether it's possible to stop the tide of rage and violence. I does seem to have gone beyond the original stir up. As an example, check out Michelle Malkin's "Cartoon Jihad In New York" here, and the numerous blog links in the sidebar

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