http://www.mysanantonio.com/opinion/columnists/melkikhia/stories/MYSA020206.2O.mansour.1bdb12e0.html Web Posted: 02/02/2006 12:00 AM CST San Antonio Express-News I watched only part of President Bush's State of the Union address. I just couldn't bring myself to watch the whole speech. I soon discovered that I wasn't alone. Since then, I had the opportunity to talk to a number of academic acquaintances in the Middle East. I was interested in getting a firsthand Arab response to the turmoil taking place between the Europeans and Muslims, but I also took the opportunity to get some feedback on Bush's speech. To my surprise, none of them heard the address. When I told one that Bush had promised to put in place programs to end America's dependence on Middle Eastern oil by 2025, he retorted, "From your mouth to God's ear." He was hoping without the need for the region's oil, the United States would be less inclined to involve itself in the area's politics. However, Bush might need to speed up the effort. A huge storm has been brewing between Europe and the Islamic world since the publication in the Danish daily Jyllands-Posten of 12 cartoons depicting Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, as a terrorist. A Norwegian newspaper also carried the cartoons. Muslims throughout the world took offense, and many were even angrier at the Danish editor's claim to freedom of speech. Demonstrations worldwide denouncing Denmark were followed by the closure of the Libyan Embassy in Copenhagen and the recall of the Saudi ambassador. Worse yet were the public boycotts of Danish goods in the Muslim world. Danish companies in Saudi Arabia were forced to shut down, and a huge dairy factory under construction had to be put on hold. The citizens of Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates also boycotted Danish products. France Soir, Germany's Die Welt, Italy's La Stampa and Spain's La El Periodico have come to the support of Jyllands-Posten. In Europe, fliers and posters are asking Europeans to boycott Muslim businesses. Mr. Bush, whether you want it or not, you now have what your neocon advisers planned all along. You have a global religious and cultural war, and I promise no one will emerge a winner. As an American Muslim, I found the cartoons offensive and unnecessary, even if sanctioned by freedom of expression. Can you friggen believe this! Fifteen million Muslims in Europe and 8 million in America have been subjected to alienation, discrimination, cultural, political and legal barriers by governments and citizens alike, all done in the name of security or freedom of expression. To deal with this, Arab and Muslim peoples, not only governments, must swallow a difficult pill that includes the following: First, they need to borrow from Gandhi's book and its emphasis on resistance without violence, for violence only gives Western society the incentive and excuse to interfere in their lives. Second, they need to respect themselves and demonstrate freedom of expression by weaning themselves off Western aid, goods and services. Moreover, they must divest themselves from Western markets. Third, I never thought I would agree with the Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi, but I urge Muslims to sever political and economic relations with any country using "freedom of expression" as an excuse to manifest hate for them. Fourth, sell to and buy from each other and countries that respect them. That will mean dealing with Latin American countries, as well as China, India and South Korea. Fifth, investment must be done within Islamic societies. There are 1.7 billion Muslims, and they don't need Western society to create their own common currency and market. Only by becoming truly independent will they be able to stand up to the nonsense coming from Washington, London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and elsewhere.