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Sunday, February 18, 2007

Lions and Tigers and BOARS, oh my!! Muslims vs Chinese Year of the Pig

Happy New Year! Chinese, that is.

Considered to be the most important of all traditional holidays in China, the Chinese New Year (aka Lunar New Year) is celebrated worldwide in most every city with a substantial Chinese community.

Today happens to mark the beginning of the very auspicious Year of the Pig (aka Boar). Returning after a 12 year hiatus, the pig, a symbol of good luck, is believed to bring prosperity and good fortune to all; that is, all but our Muslim friends who find piggies abhorrent. So, in deference to those feelings of ill will towards the poor, oft maligned porker, the Chinese government mandated all things piggish to be banned from the upcoming festivities. As a result, the major state-run TV network, China Central Television (CCTV), ordered a ban on all ads containing any references, whatsoever, to pigs, and so the star of the show has ended up on the proverbial 'cutting room floor'. Ad agencies scrambled , last minute, to comply. Quite a costly endeavour, considering most of the commercials were already in the can. One such ad, that was scrapped (from Nestle SA), featured a smiling cartoon pig along with the message "Happy new pig year". Harmless enough, one would think, but not so.

And major bad luck for companies like Tenlow. Try coming up with something non-porkish for a company that manufactures pork snacks. Brand manager Wu Ying claims her company's ads are positive and that the pig's "....plumpness means prosperity." But tough luck, so it seems. The Chinese government claims the ban was implemented "to avoid conflicts with ethnic minorities." They wanted to make sure they did not offend Islamic sensibilities, given their porcine aversion. In other words, they don't want to ruffle the feathers of the 20 million or so Muslims living in China.

It's all very nice, the Chinese government's attempts to project an image of tolerance, but since when have they ever concerned themselves with the protection of religious and ethnic minorities and their inherent rights? I'm not so sure the Falun Gong would agree with that statement. And what about the Buddhists in Tibet? And are they really being sensitive to the feelings of a religious minority? Or running scared, like the rest of the world, what with an Islamist population of 2% scattered throughout their land, and no idea how they might react to what could and would be considered a personal, religious affront. However, I think the word 'conflict" is key. Muslims in communities throughout the world have shown us, in no uncertain terms, what little it takes to set them off , how easily they are offended, and by things they have no right to be offended by. The ensuing violence is something most countries are trying to avoid, so they placate them through appeasement. What's the Year of the Pig without some pigs? Occasionally you find some courageous ones who refuse to kowtow to such insanity. The imam of the Taipei Grand Mosque lodged a formal complaint with Taiwan's foreign minister after receiving from him a Chinese New Year greeting card showing four pigs. Thankfully, the Taiwanese Foreign Ministry defended the Minister's right to send the card, citing cultural not religious tradition.

Now to be fair, pigs are pigs and there are some very sound health reasons why it's best to avoid pork. And Islam is not the only religion that forbids it. Judaism also considers pork to be unclean. There are references to that in both the Bible and the Koran, but the fundamental difference between the Jews and the Muslims, is that the Jews are not offended by mere images of pigs. Owning a Piggy Bank or watching "Babe" on TV is not verboten. Being called a "pig", though not pleasant, would not throw them into paroxysms of rage. And interestingly enough, according to Omar Ahmad (director of the American Muslim Outreach and Educational Group in the Bay Area), although the eating of pork is considered taboo, nothing in the Koran actually prohibits the displaying of pigs. He also commented that "When governments make a decision about what Muslims want and don't talk to Muslims, they come up with something completely ridiculous, and here's what we've got." That's nice to know, however, many Muslims have made it perfectly clear they find images of pigs offensive, and in China many said they were very happy with the ban.

The problem with continuing on this PC path, is that the more you cater to their extremely unreasonable and unwarranted hyper-sensitivity to all things religious, their demands and expectations will only increase proportionately. And then what do we have? They need to become much more tolerant, if they expect us to tolerate them.


Photo credits: Fotosearch.com and Louisa Lim, NPR

12 comments:

Blazing Cat Fur said...

Perhaps it is time to resurrect the "Free Piglet" Campaign!

http://relapsedcatholic.blogspot.com/2005/10/our-bulging-go-back-where-you-came.html

Incognito said...

What a hoot! had no idea there was a save the piggie campaign. Thanks for the url!
I think perhaps it should be resurrected!!
I did see some news coverage of the festivities in China, and there did appear to be golden pigs around in shops. So it's not a total pig-loss.

msquared said...

SO it's Year of the Pig. That explains why google had pigs in their logo today.

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Blazing Cat Fur said...

The Free Piglet Campaign gained international stature - the Crusader Piglet Logo was created by Silent Runnings an Aussie blog. I had forgotten about it as well alas until your post - so I promptly added Piglet to my site - The Cross of St. George was a nice touch evidently the sensistive Moolahs take great offence to this.

Incognito said...

yes indeedy, Msquared, that's the reason. Just checked google and there they were.

Incognito said...

I did notice the Piglet on your blog, BCF! Good on you! They are cute little things, notwithstanding their piggieness. People need to get thicker skins. Veggies have endlessly been made fun of and I just laugh.

mcwads said...

Cool blog! I agree with most of what you're saying, but, in fairness to the Chinese, Taiwan is no model of tolerance and civility. Just look at what they do to their pigs!

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/3136587.stm

Oberon said...

.....don't confine yourself with labels......you're better than that......don't be afraid.

Incognito said...

Thanks McW. Pretty horrific what they do. Problematic situation when you are dealing with people's traditions, as horrid as they are. As for my Taiwanese comment, it was just to illustrate the difference in attitudes towards censorship.

Hello Oberon, am going to assume you are referring to being afraid about being open re. my politics, and as I have mentioned in past posts and comments, it's because my industry is so intolerant.
But thank you for the pep talk. Am slowly revealing myself.

Paraglider said...

{it's because my industry is so intolerant.}

Sadly, some of this has clearly rubbed off on you. It's all too easy to imbue whole groups with stereotyped characteristics that don't bear scrutiny. More original thought and true observation, please!

Incognito said...

Hello Para. Not sure which group you're referring to, specifically, so I'm going to assume you mean both the Chinese government and the Islamic population they are supposedly protecting from being offended.

You're right, I am intolerant.... of intolerance. Intolerant of *any* system that infringes upon man's inherent right to freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom to worship any way one chooses, to conduct one's life as one sees fit as long as it doesn't cause undue harm to another. Islam happens to be one of the most intolerant, religions that exists to date,if not *the* most. I don't include the secular or cultural or westernized Muslims, but there aren't many of those around, and if there are they have remained largely mum. Granted there are a few who have become a little more vocal, but not enough to make a difference. Why are there not more? because they fear for their lives if they are critical of Islam and the fundamentalist faction. I don't have to tell you how they react when confronted with what they deem offensive to Islam.

As for the Chinese government (and you will note that my criticism has never been leveled at the Chinese people) they have made some progress, however they are still actively violating their people's human rights.

And I wasn't stereotyping any group in this post. Just stating the facts. If that happens to look like stereotyping, that's not really my fault.

And I would agree with you, it is sad to have been forced to become intolerant. If the Muslims let others live and worship as they pleased without forcing their idealogy on others, than I wouldn't be writing this blog.
Cheers,

Incognito said...

Hello Para. Not sure which group you're referring to, specifically, so I'm going to assume you mean both the Chinese government and the Islamic population they are supposedly protecting from being offended.

You're right, I am intolerant.... of intolerance. Intolerant of *any* system that infringes upon man's inherent right to freedom. Freedom of speech, freedom to worship any way one chooses, to conduct one's life as one sees fit as long as it doesn't cause undue harm to another. Islam happens to be one of the most intolerant, religions that exists to date,if not *the* most. I don't include the secular or cultural or westernized Muslims, but there aren't many of those around, and if there are they have remained largely mum. Granted there are a few who have become a little more vocal, but not enough to make a difference. Why are there not more? because they fear for their lives if they are critical of Islam and the fundamentalist faction. I don't have to tell you how they react when confronted with what they deem offensive to Islam.

As for the Chinese government (and you will note that my criticism has never been leveled at the Chinese people) they have made some progress, however they are still actively violating their people's human rights.

And I wasn't stereotyping any group in this post. Just stating the facts. If that happens to look like stereotyping, that's not really my fault.

And I would agree with you, it is sad to have been forced to become intolerant. If the Muslims let others live and worship as they pleased without forcing their idealogy on others, than I wouldn't be writing this blog.
Cheers,