[LETTERS to the editor]Cultural tolerance is the solutionMuslim people all over the world have protested violently about cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad, fire-bombing embassies and calling for the heads of the cartoonists. The fires and explosions have injured hundreds of innocent people and dozens have been killed. Many Western people are still simply just reproaching the Muslim reaction, which in my view is missing the point. At this time, it is crucial to create reconciliation between the two cultures. Some might say it will be extremely hard to come to a resolution with the Muslims in this situation. It is likely to be difficult, but we can find an answer in Toynbee’s phrase, “History repeats itself. Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”
Today’s situation significantly, but sadly, matches the Crusades of the 11th to 13th centuries. At that time, the Muslims were defending their religion and lands from a European invasion. They fought brutal battles for hundreds of years and as a result, many innocent people died. Hundreds of years couldn’t stop the religious fighting and the more they fought, the more they loathed each other. However, ironically, it took just a little time to actually end the war. As soon as the Muslims re-took Jerusalem, they showed respect to the European inhabitants and spared their lives. It was tolerance and generosity that ended the long war.
The way the Crusades ended shows us the way to cope with the problem today. The Western cultures should wait patiently and rather than “playing up” the severe reaction of the Muslims, they should show respect for their concerns. For their part, the Muslims should recognize that violence just brings hatred and pursuing violent protests will make nothing better. They should also learn to show respect for European cultures, as their ancestors did hundreds of years ago. Problems could then be resolved by talks, the most peaceful and effective way. If this is not done, we may be doomed to repeat history, and become embroiled in a modern day Crusade.
by Woo Jae-hee