Rage against cartoons

by R Dissa, Harrow, UK, The Buddhist Channel, Feb 8, 2006

Muslims have been up in arms about a cartoon that appeared in a Danish newspaper in September of the prophet Muhammad.  These have been subsequently reproduced several times by many European newspapers on free speech grounds. 

The latest news is that certain elements of the press in Europe are still reproducing the offending cartoons. As a Buddhist I am sympathetic to some of the Muslims who have been offended by the cartoon. Apparently Muhammad once advised one of his followers not to get angry.

Whereas some Muslims are now attacking Danish embassies, Buddhists were restrained in their protests when the famous Bamiyan Buddhas in Afghanistan were destroyed. Some Muslims did try and stop this but others were for it. I did protest at the destruction of the Bamiyan Buddhas by cutting out using petroleum in my car and switching to biodiesel. I have thus avoided giving Middle Eastern countries oil money to a certain extent.

In the Brahmajala sutta, the first of the Digha Nikaya the Buddha says that if other people praise the Buddha, the Dhamma or the Sangha we should not be elated and excited by this as we would not be able to practice Dhamma. The Buddha also asked if the audience should get angry if people criticised the Buddha, the Dhamma and the Sangha they said no, and he agreed for the same reasons. Again, once when the Buddha and his monks were being verbally abused at a certain village, (due to someone spreading malicious rumours) Ananda asked the Buddha that they should leave that village. ?But what if they attack us in the next place Ananda?? ?We?d go to another place.? ?But what if they attack us there as well?? ?We?ll go to another place.? ?Enough Ananda? said the Buddha. They stayed where they began and as the Buddha predicted the attacks died down after about a week.

The image of the Buddha has been used to sell many things like tea and rice and still is in European supermarkets. Some Buddhists protest, but for tea and rice I have no objections. They are really good tourist adverts and adverts for Buddhism. One of the biggest own goals by the Sri Lankan embassy in London was protesting to Clipper tea in England for using a Pollonnaruwa rock cut Buddha to sell tea. The tea packets simply are not interesting any more since they withdrew that image and free tourist information on Sri Lanka and Buddhism was eliminated.