If you’re a devout Muslim, read no further. For below you’ll see drawings of Muhammad, as published in a Danish newspaper, that have caused true Islamic believers to cry “Blasphemy!”
(click on image to enlarge the blasphemy)
And more. There have been boycotts of Danish products, ambassadors recalled, bomb threats, and demonstrations. Today, as the BBC reported, the “Muhammad cartoon row intensifies.”
Newspapers across Europe reprinted the cartoons that were originally published last September in Jyllands-Posten as part of an article about self-censorship and freedom of speech. I’m pleased to support this effort to keep fundamentalism from infecting the health of secular democracies.
Muslims, relax. Do you really think that Muhammad or Allah is going to be disturbed by the publication of a few cartoons depicting how the artist visualizes the founder of Islam? Given that a disturbingly large number of Americans consider that most Muslims are fanatical crazies, you aren’t doing your religion any good by acting in accord with that stereotype.
Wikipedia has an excellent detailed rundown of this controversy (including descriptions of each drawing). This is a classic example of how rigid religious dogmatists can make a mountain of aggrieved righteous indignation out of a molehill of free speech expression. Here are some excerpts from the Seattle PI story:
Demonstrations and condemnations across the Muslim world continued. The Supreme Council of Moroccan religious leaders denounced the drawings on Wednesday. "Muslim beliefs cannot tolerate such an attack, however small it may be," the statement said.
…Mohammed Bechari, president of the National Federation of the Muslims of France, said his group would start legal proceedings against France Soir [one of the newspapers that reprinted the drawings] because of "these pictures that have disturbed us, and that are still hurting the feelings of 1.2 billion Muslims."
Earth to the Muslim world: People get disturbed by lots of things every day. People get their feelings hurt in lots of ways every day. Almost always these things and these ways aren’t illegal or immoral. They’re just part of life in a society where people can freely express themselves.
Most of humanity, I’m confident, doesn’t want to live in a repressive culture where every action is judged against the dictates of a holy book. Those who do want to live that way, go ahead. Just don’t impose your beliefs on the rest of us.
Update: a day later, the controversy intensifies. A 2/2 news story says:
Defending its decision to publish the cartoons, France Soir wrote: "Imagine a society that added up all the prohibitions of different religions. What would remain of the freedom to think, to speak and even to come and go?
"We know societies like that all too well. The Iran of the mullahs, for example. But yesterday, it was the France of the Inquisitions, the burning stakes and the Saint Bartholomew's Day [massacre of Protestants]."
Yes, imagine. Then, spread these cartoons far and wide until Muslims--and every fundamentalist--realizes that genuine spirituality is worlds apart from blind adherence to dogmatic dictates.