by Flemming Funch
So, I mentioned the controversy about a Danish newspaper having published some Mohammed cartoons, which has created a huge negative response across the Muslim world. You know, Danish people being beaten up, Red Cross workers having to return home, countries closing their embassies, terrorist groups issuing death threats, etc.
French newspaper France Soir printed the cartoons recently, in the name of freedom of expression. The Egyptian owner of the paper fired the Editor in Chief. The employees of the paper got together and are demanding that he'll reinstate him.
It seems to be a very hot issue as well here on my little blog. Several thousand people more than normal came by here in the last two days. Some of them were Muslims trying to explain their righteous anger. Some of them were folks looking for an opportunity to bash Muslims. Some of them were Danes who're puzzled about the whole thing, and explaining what really happened.
I didn't see the actual cartoons before now. And, sheesh, I'm glad I found them. No wonder the Danish people are puzzled about what all the bruhaha is about. Because one would have to be extraordinarily vigilant or imaginative to find anything offensive about them. Essentially, like you might draw Jesus as a longhaired guy in sandals, you'd probably draw Mohammed as a guy with a beard and a turban. Duh. And most of the cartoonists here took the task in a tongue-in-cheek self-deprecating way. Like, the one above there. The text says "Hmmm, I can't quite seem to recognize him". A sort of comment on the fact that Mohammed rarely is pictured, so the blondehaired Danish guy can't really pick him out. Disrespectful? Why?
The only one of the pictures that even could be construed as offensive would be the one showing a guy with fanatical eyes and a turban in the shape of a bomb. Shouldn't really be a surprising choice to anybody, as a lot of what one hears about Muslims is fanatical people blowing themselves and others up as suicide bombers in the name of their religion. The drawing captures what mood one might imagine such people to have. Is that some kind of condemnation of all Muslims? I don't see it that way.
I suppose that the people who're so upset probably haven't seen any of the cartoons at all. And probably will close their eyes if they see this posting here.
I'm not religious, but I can imagine the point of a rule against the depiction of some religious figure. To avoid idolatry. I.e. that people start worshipping the picture of something or someone, rather than dealing directly with it. Aha. Well, seems like the opposite happened here. People are worshipping the lack of a picture, and rioting against pictures, and worshipping all sorts of interpretations, rather than just listening to what the man actually was saying. Or maybe he just wanted them to listen to God, rather than starting to worship him, which also sounds reasonable enough. But, again, the opposite is what happened.
Also, check out the Mohammed Image Archive. See, of course it isn't the first time that somebody drew a picture of Mohammed. There are lots of pictures, including some by Muslims, including pictures on magazine covers, in books, on paintings, etc. It is just that none of those created any kind of similar uproar.