Friday, February 17, 2006


The rioting going on in many cities in the predominantly Muslim countries over the depiction of the Prophet Muhammad in a Danish newspaper should not be viewed as a unique event. Rioting due to some kind of grievance has been a common occurrence in countries all over the world throughout history. The people that are most affected by the rioting are usually the poor or disadvantaged who happen to live in those parts of the cities where the rioting takes place. Even though these rioting people believe that through their acts of violence and destruction, they are making a bold statement against their perceived oppressors, they are only hurting themselves. Each shop or business that is affected will most likely not resume doing business there again because of the increased risk of recurrence.
In 1992, the Los Angeles riots, caused death and destruction so severe that even now almost fourteen years later, many of the stores and businesses have never returned. In South-Central, there are still shells of burned-out buildings that remain unchanged and makes this district look like a war zone. Supermarkets and other stores, which were looted, never re-opened. Who were the losers in this? The people who lived there. They had to travel very far to get basic services like shopping for groceries, banking, a haircut, etc. Not only that but the jobs that these businesses provided were also eliminated causing further hardship.
It has always amazed me how stirred-up violent passions can be so destructive. It is a process where the rioters are, in effect, punishing their very own families and neighbors by their actions. The problem is that the people that suffer in the aftermath are always the people that are the most vulnerable amongst us and in most cases they do not even know why the rioting took place in the first place.
I don't mean to criticize those who boycott and protest but when there is violence, destruction and death, it just does'nt make any sense.


Fahd Mirza said...

You have given words to the sentiments which everyone ought to listen and understand.

Yes, you are right.

For example, in Peshawar Pakistan, where the worst riots happened. Most people are so poor, they cant even properly feed their family, yet they were burning the shops of their fellows. They were hurt, they were ridiculed, but what they achieved after the riot, just more poverty and deprivation, nothing else.

DagoodS said...

I admit I find mob mentality fascinating. Watching what would normally be considered ridiculous behavior become the accepted standard is an interesting thing to watch. If we convince otherwise sane individuals that insanity is necessary, they will do the insane.

When we had the blackout of August, 2003, the only place with gasoline was a few miles from my house. People drove 100’s of miles, waited 8 hours in line, filled their cars, and drove home. One day later, electricity was restored. One day. If they had the presence of mind to wait, they would never have wasted the time. They panicked, thinking they would be “out of gas.”

Of course, the wisest thing to do is to offer to rebuild those areas hit, but I fear most will not see it that way.

Good post.

Renegade Eye said...

I don't believe any tactic is always wrong or always right. Other factors are leadership, power, vision, strategy etc.

Pete's Blog said...

Its such a waste.

People are being killed for cartoons.

There are much more important issues that need discussing by Muslim and Western countries - like imbalances of wealth and the current oil war in Iraq.


Dr Kuha said...

Yeah...I don't understand all the anger about the cartoons. They're not even good cartoons.

I have a theory that a lot of people who were moved to riot over the issue were spurred to do so. Of course, it may have been accidental. But I mean, it took a REALLY long time for this controversy to begin, given how long ago the cartoons were first published. So it seems to me, that someone stirred them up, like poking a bee hive with a stick. Someone with an agenda, perhaps.

It's a thought, and most likely not true, but still possible.

roman said...

fahd mirza,
Protests and boycotts are the way to achieve some recognition of religious respect. Rioting has just the opposite effect and hurts more than it helps. I hope that ultimately "reason" will prevail.
BTW, I read your post on database management and was very impressed with your in-depth knowledge of the subject.
Peace :)

roman said...

I know what you mean. When I saw the news images after the flooding in New Orleans, I was amazed at how "matter-of-fact" looting has become. The news hounds were right there at major retail outlets because they already accepted the fact that looting would take place and sure enough, they were right.

roman said...

renegade eye,

"leadership, power, vision, strategy"

Yes, with these qualities in play any grievances can be remedied. I wonder if they are in play now?

roman said...

spooky pete,

"imbalances of wealth" This one needs all our attention and I fear that most of the grievances that exist today and throughout history are really the result of this ever-expanding inequity between haves and have-nots. How can people in disadvantaged areas of the world view such decadence as exists today and not feel anger. We see this anger expressed at the slightest provocation whether natural or man made.

roman said...

dr kuha,
We can't discount any of these possibilities. Is it still called paranoia when it's true? Maybe there is an agenda at play here. The logical conclusion one might reach would be that by destroying signs of western culture (KFC, MacDonalds, Holiday Inn)there is a steady erosion of acceptance and an increase in alianation and thus driving the wedge in deeper between the Islamic world and the West. Accidental or not, the result is still the same.

Dr Kuha said...

I don't know about you, but sometimes I wouldn't mind distancing myself a little more from Western "culture."

roman said...

dr kuha,
Yeah, there are some aspects of our culture that I'm not too proud of. The worship of money and status as a substitute for spirituality being just one example.
The rule of law, however, should always be respected (even by presidents) ;)

Fahd Mirza said...

Roman thanks alot.

Trailady said...

Violence only breeds more violence. I have never seen a riot bring about good. Peaceful protests are much more powerful. Anyone can work up a temper and throw a tantrum, but it's not honorable behavior. Good post!

roman said...

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