I just found this in the Tucson Citizen archives. It is a letter I had written to the Editor and I didn’t even know that it was published. This was me, a month after I turned 18 years old. It was published on February 11, 2006, which means I was done with college applications and just waiting to hear back while finishing my last semester in high school. I was fiery back then, full of opinions, and rightfully so, i expressed them. It was also when I was known as Tasneem in the publication world. Great times, I guess. Click to read or see below.
Tense times easily ignite emotions
The newspapers that published cartoons against our prophet should not be punished, let alone their editors beheaded, as some Muslims suggested. History repeatedly has proven that a free press is the best defense against oppression.
But as a Muslim, I was offended by these cartoons not only for insulting my religion, but also because they are discriminatory and racist.
One depicts Muhammad with a bomb-shaped head about to explode, suggesting all Muslims are terrorists. The purpose of political cartoons is to reveal truth. Bluntly linking the Muslim faith to brutality is ignorant.
Every religion has extremists, and actions of a few do not give the right to label all unfairly. The Quran explicitly states disapproval of violence.
The Western world’s treatment of Muslims in recent years has pushed tensions so high that any remark or small action can trigger emotions to burst.
Many Americans believe the war in Iraq is for democracy, but the Muslim world sees us as invading their lands, murdering civilians and imposing tactics foreign to their ancient culture.
Violence is not the way to peace, but when you feel you have no control, it is a natural reaction.
These cartoons are another way of telling us we are barbarians with false values. The European press is telling us we are not wanted in “their land.”
The cartoons represent the gap between the West and the Muslim world, and it is not closing. The catastrophe taking place should force us to see that – press freedom or not – democracy is intended for tolerance and understanding of every individual for the benefit of society.
TASNEEM OLINDA HASSAN
senior, Catalina Foothills High