By Sami Moubayed
"......We are not saying that one should ignore the cartoons or outrageous statements, but rather, one should only give them the attention they deserve, with no exaggerations, and concentrate on more concrete issues relating to the Arab and Muslim worlds. The Prophet is too great to be affected by these ugly cartoons or the words of Ezzat Attiya. The reality is that these Arabs cannot - for a variety of reasons - speak out on the real issues that torment their lives. And even when they can, they are completely incapable of changing reality. That is why they go on to the next level - the small things in life - that they can control. It makes them feel important......
In 1930, the Syrian daily Al-Shaab wrote an editorial saying: "Men should unveil, before women in Syria." A woman's veil, it added, is a physical garment that covers her head and sometimes her face. It is a matter of personal choice and freedom. It does not prevent her from being a good citizen and a highly professional or prolific woman......
Most men in our societies are more veiled than any of these women. A man's veil is an abstract one, created by him at will and not imposed by God. It is a veil against freedom and education. It is a veil against new ideas and dialogue. It is this man-veil that makes him walk up to the Danish Embassy and set it ablaze, thinking that this will lead him directly to heaven.
It is this man-veil that accounts today for so much ignorance in the Arab and Muslim world, and results in statements like those of Ezzat Attiya or the recent one pertaining to actresses and their marriage scenes. It is this man-veil that produces men who cannot accept women as equals, or lets them debate whether a woman's toes should be revealed in public, while other people around the world are studying astronomy, genetics, and informatics.
It is this man-veil that wrongly dwarfs Islam in the eyes of the West from a great religion discussing grand ideas to a mob movement against a bunch of silly cartoons, or Rushdie. It is this man-veil that lets men fear and hate the West. It is this man-veil that has produced men who value and have nourished themselves on ignorance and violence - at will - and contributed nothing to civilization for the past 500 years......"