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Art or incitement?

Published May 18, 2010 04:16pm


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We haven’t yet fully recovered from the aftermath of the Danish cartoon controversy and a whole new menace is upon us. Last month, the Comedy Central show ‘South Park’ self-censored an episode meant to feature Prophet Muhammad after receiving threats from a New York-based extremist group. As a result of that censorship, artists – claiming to be defenders of free speech – have responded by organising an event they call “Draw A Muhammad Day” on May 20.

The campaign claims to be an attempt to defend the freedom of speech. But a Facebook group used for campaigning the event has been widely condemned. The blogosphere, Twitter, and Facebook have been abuzz with counter-groups and protests. Facebook users are calling for a site-wide boycott to object to the fact that the social networking site has failed to remove the page, despite it being reported for offensive content numerous times.

Pakistani blogger Awab Alvi raises valid points regarding Facebook’s stance on the campaign:

I believe this might be a good case study on how tolerant Facebook administration might actually be. On one hand they are quick to delete the facebook page of a civil activist group [Peoples Resistance] which was organizing street protests in Karachi on the mere whim that we might be promoting hatred and violence, while in reality we were peacefully protesting against a military dictatorship, our democratic right – that group was deleted quickly and the administrators were issued warnings, this group continues to reign supreme raking over 34,400 fans since April 25th.
Alvi also mentions an interesting point that redefines the campaign’s claims of freedom of speech, providing a link to a radio interview by Molly Morris, the force behind the campaign. When asked if she would draw or make fun of the Holocaust, Morris replies, “No, there is nothing funny about it.” Moreover, owing to the frenzy that followed after the campaign was launched, Morris has published a disclaimer on her website declaring her disassociation with the campaign.

Laughably, the campaign website also claims that the point is not to promote certain “personal/political/religious” messages, but to show the world that “we're not afraid to depict Muhammad.” But, the question remains, who is the target audience for such a campaign? And what is the purpose of a mass campaign that has the potential to target and offend people of a certain religion? The truth is that ‘South Park’ has a wide viewership, which includes Muslims who have remained silent or protested peacefully despite knowing about the about ‘South Park’ caricatures of Prophet Muhammad for years. It was only recently that a New York-based Muslim group lead a campaign titled ‘The Defense of the Prophet Campaign’ to condemn the caricatures.

Part of the campaign included a seven-minute YouTube video titled ‘Help Us Remove This Filth,’ showing pictures of the dead body of Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gough, who was murdered in November 2002 in reaction to his film ‘Submission’. It was this campaign, which was seen as a direct threat, that led to ‘South Park’ being self-censored. No doubt, the group crossed the line by issuing such a threat to the creators of ‘South Park.’ For that they should be properly prosecuted in accordance with American law.

Given the aggressive and inappropriate content of the ‘Defense of the Prophet Campaign’, the Facebook campaign can be understood as a direct response to the extreme actions of a particular Muslim group. But doesn’t anyone realise that “Draw a Muhammad Day” is nothing more than a discriminatory campaign aimed at hurting Muslims worldwide? The Facebook campaign makes an extreme group of Muslim bloggers representative of the entire Muslim community and shows no regard for the millions of Muslims who have used their right to protest peacefully against offensive iconography. If the Facebook campaign is truly directed against those who stifle free speech, shouldn’t it target the group directly responsible, rather than the Muslim community at large?

The fact is, the New York-based group has earned quite a dubious reputation, even among American-Muslims. In the words of Ahmed Rehab, executive director, Council of American-Islamic Relations, Chicago:

The “Muslims” in this case are a group of literally 5-10 people who are widely reviled by the mainstream community for their radical and confrontational style including harassing Muslims outside mosques (where they tend to be banned) with outlandishly provocative anti-American rhetoric. Most suspect the group is fraudulent. Its mysterious leader, born Joseph Cohen, is an American Jew who converted to Islam in 2000 after living in Israel and attending an orthodox rabbinical school there. Whether true Muslims or agent provocateurs, the result is the same: they are five community outcasts.
Although it is clear that this small, fringe, extremist community chose to hit out against ‘South Park,’ the news headlines have stated, ‘Muslims attack freedom of speech once again.’ In these tense times, there should be more responsible reporting, and more thoughtful – and proportional – responses to the activities of certain Muslims of an extremist bent, who are often sidelined within their own communities.

That said, this can also be an occasion for self-reflection for the Muslim community at large. The truth is that there are plenty of people out there who will be willing to support the death threats against the creators of ‘South Park’ and join violent protests to register their condemnation. We, too, need to pause and re-think our options. Are death threats, violent outbursts, burning tires, and other acts of aggression really the way forward? Don’t they simply add more fuel to the controversy, draw more publicity to fringe activities, and further malign the image of the global Muslim community? The fact is, the best response to free speech campaigners is an attempt by the Muslim community to use its own right to freedom of expression to register protest and call for an end to offensive campaigns.

Let’s act rationally once and for all, and help change the trend of the freedom-of-speech excuse being used to justify discriminatory campaigns. Most importantly, let’s sort out the issue of representation. The Muslim community at large – and not a fringe, extreme element – should retain the power to decide how to react to such situations. If our stance is that of peaceful condemnation, then we must rid ourselves of those who behave otherwise. The “Draw a Muhammad Day” campaign appears to be nothing more than a desperate attempt to incite and provoke Muslims – let’s not give them the satisfaction.

Sana Saleem is a Features Editor at BEE magazine and blogs at Global Voices, Pro-Pakistan her personal blog Mystified Justice. She tweets at

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.


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Sana Saleem is the co-founder of Bolo Bhi & Stories Beyond Borders.

She's on the board of advisory for Courage Foundation, Edward Snowden's legal defence fund.

She can be found on Twitter & Facebook.

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (90) Closed

Teeth Maestro May 18, 2010 11:39am
Great review
Mohsen May 18, 2010 11:45am
Nice read.
Shaista Ali May 18, 2010 12:59pm
Yeah she is right they are just trying to incite us. So, that more Muslims arose and do such stuff by which they claimed as extremist or terrorist. They are just inciting us so that we do violation. That's there plans & nothing else.
Rai Azlan May 18, 2010 01:10pm
Its always nice reading you. Since morning I am in debates and reading works of people on this issue and by now when I am finally in a position that I can say "I am no more confused about what I have to do". this has been a nice review which has added more strength to my no more confused status.
SQ Khan May 18, 2010 01:16pm
Why the Muslims to get hurt by a cartoon on Muhammed? Cant we be more tolerant? Come to India and you see their gods are on cartoon network channels. Why they not protesting? Why Hindus and Christians can take things in good spirit not the Muslims?
Big Z May 18, 2010 01:23pm
I agree with most of your article but I would like to add one thing to it. It was not the 5 people in NY who brought the whole drawing the Prophet controversy to the forefront. It was the thousands who burned effigies and buildings in the entire Muslim world who did that. Those actions made a mountain out of a molehill. It was a cartoon and it would have had NO effect on anything in the world if we had not made such a huge deal of it. Now in retaliation they are drawing far more degrading and filthy cartoons of the Prophet. It was one cartoon in one newspaper, of a country no one cares about. We should not have made it a problem for the Muslim world. We are telling them that these are our buttons and please push them. If they are trying to incite us, they are succeeding in that and its in our control not to let them get to us. Furthermore, Islam needs to evolve. The only reason the Prophet did not want any depictions of him was the fact that people would start praying to that depiction. I think we are in a much more civilized world and I doubt any Muslim would start praying to a cartoon.
Bilal May 18, 2010 01:26pm
AoA Nice Effort. I agree that they are trying to Incite Muslims. But we should act wisely and do not react violently. We Respect our Prophet (PBUH) and All the Prophets who came before Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). I don't know how to react but the best way I found is stick to our Religion and try our best to explore the truth and right info from Quran & Hadith. A better Muslim is the best answer to such campaign rather than reacting violently and getting labeled terrorist. And Yes we have to Worry about what other thinks of us because We live in a World, Society. May Allah Help us become a better Muslim who can understand the meaning of Quran and Act accordingly rather than following Illiterate Misguided MOLVI's. AH
Miroslawa Lewandowska May 18, 2010 01:33pm
In western countries especially, all mediums of thought-control, press, media, film and publishing industries are sadly allowed to be monopolised by a certain tiny minority who never miss an opportunity to 'offend' Muslims and others under the banner of 'freedom of speech'. There is no right-to-offend in a truly civilised society, and such deliberate incitements have nothing whatsoever to do with any 'freedom of speech. If these people were prosecuted for inciting hatred, they would perhaps stop. Alas, they won't be prosecuted, such is the hypocrisy of these self-proclaimed upholders of 'freedom to offend' others.
Zawad Iftikhar May 18, 2010 01:47pm
Agreed we should act rationally, lets just put aside the emotions for a while. Protesting is OK but violence is not.
Cronous May 18, 2010 02:01pm
The blog seems to confuse two different issues. Most western countries do not allow publications of literature that induces/asks people to commit violence. For example you cannot publish an article demanding that a certain person to be killed. Most westerners do not like Holocaust deniers because they feel it glorifies/promotes genocide, however, in most western countries it is not illegal to do so (Note that there is difference between not liking somebody's publications versus outlawing them). However, people who draw pictures of Mohammed or ridicule Islam are not asking anyone to be killed, are not asking anyone to get violent, and are not promoting genocide. They are putting forward their views. The fact that you don't like those views is not really relevant. Finally to those who argue that this some of kind of deliberate provocation, it is not. The goal is to promote a culture where you can express your thoughts without fear. Where are a large group of extremist followers of a religion or political ideology cannot threaten the rest into not making critical or ridiculing remarks.
Arun May 18, 2010 02:16pm
It was this campaign, which was seen as a direct threat, that led to
Reflection May 18, 2010 02:21pm
Ms. Sana, Coming from a place in which a fair number of religious leaders (Deobandi Conference held in Faisalabad recently) refuse to condemn and prohibit suicide bombings within the country, it is hardly fair to say that only a few fringe extremists hold a violent view point towards the South Park controversy. A Religious Leader is supposed to be a representative of the faith of a large number of people. Thus, it does incriminate a fair number of Muslims in tacitly condoning extreme behaviour. About the Facebook group, there are around 31 Thousand people enrolled in it. It is hardly a summation of the entire attitude of the West. We are quick to label everything as a Zionist/Jewish/Hindu/Christian conspiracy, conveniently encompassing all those people without any problem. You have focused entirely on the acts of aggression, as the major component of self-reflection. We need to think about a lot more than just that. Our entire world view point needs an over-hauling, which sadly does not appear on the horizon. The Prophet has been depicted in various paintings and caricatures in the time period from 7 till 14 century AD. The refusal to have ANY caricatures drawn is a strictly Salafi Islam characteristic, the extent of which is evident in Saudia Arabia, where even Museums are not allowed to have any historical art/depiction with characters drawn. It is all but too easy to froth at the mouth and label it as a provocation. The primary thing is to get our house in order. Sensitivities can be dealt with eventually.
Umair May 18, 2010 02:28pm
To all those sending requests to join groups like 1) boycott Fb on 20th may 2) Leave fb and join twitter 3) create groups stand up against Prophet drawing day, is this the way to 'counter' those insults? Infact, we too, including me, insult our Prophet by not following his teachings! There are better ways to counter it, and you all know it.
praveen May 18, 2010 02:30pm
I think the protest of May 20 ,is clearly a wise and within the law of their land. It is definitely a reactionary to the Muslims violent acts, protests all over for any alleged caricature of Prophet. I know Islam is against depicting visuals of God, Prophet, but point is for westerners, it is no big deal. They make fun of their religion, God, Jesus both verbally and graphically as in cartoon. Muslims have to adhere to Islamic values, but west also have to adher to their belief. So there is inevitable clash. A rational thinking solution is let west live as themself and Muslims live with their belief in Islamic countries. One should not force their belief on other society. I definitely believe that in the west, people cannot comprehend that a person can kill, murder a person just because he put pencil on a sheet of paper, and that too whatever drawn on that paper is a third person.
mehreen May 18, 2010 02:31pm
We should protest against it so that they don't ever think about it. But not with violence. We cannot simply ignore it.
Cynic May 18, 2010 02:32pm
"The truth is that there are plenty of people out there who will be willing to support the death threats against the creators of
Ahmad Ali May 18, 2010 02:33pm
I have deactivated my Facebook account today, and I requested all my friends to deactivate their accounts on 19th May till 21st may to protest against this group. We demand the Facebook Team to remove the group "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" as soon as possible otherwise we will not use Facebook.
Ayasha May 18, 2010 02:37pm
I do not understand. I realize that the violent ones who want to control us all are a small fringe element but I'm puzzled as to why we don't see large, no huge, numbers of Muslims demonstrating against what these extremist do. In a huge crowd, they can't kill you. After South Park became intimidated by the Muslim fringe, one lady started a group to fight back against the oppression and violence. She was not Muslim, but she invited all. I don't know who many came, but I do know the lady panicked and withdrew. I remember what she said. She said "I'm afraid of Muslims because we never see them out opposing the actions of those who do violent things." That's a paraphrase, but the meaning of her statement is clear - and correct. "To kill one innocent man is to kill all humanity?" But who is to decide who is innocent and who is not? That's where I think they seem confuse peaceful Muslims. Who are the innocent ones? In my opinion, too many of them don't seem to know.
Guest May 18, 2010 02:53pm
Muslims don't respect feelings of other religions as well - Remember the paintings of nude Hindu goddesses by M.F. Hussain.
imran May 19, 2010 08:50am
MR SQ Khan stop taking nonsence Hindus and Christans can take making fun of there gods in a good spirit who are we to say, but we shall not allow any one to draw our GOD AND Prophet as they might please or think full stop!
khurram May 19, 2010 08:57am
Apparently the purpose of caricatures in the past and this Drawing competition at present is to ignite anger in Muslim Community, Inciting them to react creating a chain reaction and further publicity of this event. Suggestions: Think twice before countering this campaign, don
Javed May 18, 2010 03:20pm
How come Saudi Arabia the home of the religion is not protesting? Come to think of it - is our religion so small, weak and threatening with this cartoon depiction of the prophet? Why are we so paranoid about it as if we are the protectors of Islam. Islam on his own is strong- A true Muslim will pray for those who are lost to find the correct path. Not through murder threats. Blasphemy has so widely being misused here in Pakistan. Are we so insecure, inferior and threatened with some cartoons?
Ameer May 18, 2010 03:25pm
Bravo Sana, you never disappoint!
Hamid Baloch May 18, 2010 03:45pm
Don't walk into this trap. They want people to go to streets and scream so they have more images to broadcast over TVs across west to show all Muslims are extremists. They will not stop doing these things and increase if we show reaction. Just boycott peacefully their products, films and our leaders who support them and work to make our country better. God has honored the prophet and none of these pathetic human beings can change that.
Sandeep india May 18, 2010 04:14pm
Just in the name of Freedom of speech, they are making of mockery of it..they are a set of spoilt brats who dont understand respecting ones religion..they are brought up in a fashion where they consider freedom is ultimate..facebook should immediately take cognizance and ban the page run against prophet Mohammed..
aneel May 18, 2010 04:19pm
Sweetie, my comment is that if according to your religion Mohammad should not be drawn...DONT DRAW HIM. How can you force the whole world to follow your religion. Its like saying that it is not allowed to eat beef in Hinduism, so noone in this world should be allowed to eat it. It is absolutely ridiculous how you Muslims try to force the whole world to follow your religion. You follow yours and let the others follow theirs.
GS May 18, 2010 04:24pm
It`s not a "plan" for incitement. Westerns are perplexed by this influx of threats that arrive whenever they remotely delve upon this topic. For years they have been making fun of other religious personalities, including Jesus, even when America was largely conservative in its Christianity. Yet they didn`t have to deal with this. For them, it is hard to understand why should they stop themselves for just one group of people if they have been, and are legally allowed to, use satire and poke fun at whoever. This certain group is not the result of their mass plan to incite, but their coming together to defend their rights. Because that`s how it`s been going on in the Western world for decades now - just because a certain group respects one personality, others need not, and they can also say whatever they want against that personality without being threatened with violence.
Mohd. Sharif Sindiwala May 18, 2010 04:38pm
Why is that Muslims have a history of being incited by relatively small issues - some random comment, book, TV show? Is there something not right here?
Owais May 18, 2010 04:41pm
True. They are waiting for us to react. But, if we don't react, that would be like a slap on their face. They will be humiliated - no doubt. Also boycott of facebook and those advertizing their products and services on facebook website is recommended. Most of the westerners only have one religion and that is MONEY. This way we will hit them where it hurts them the most - PROFITS.
Anonymous May 18, 2010 04:57pm
As much you present us with the facts. At least you should provide clear stance on what you think the right thing to do is. Clearly..
JK May 18, 2010 05:00pm
Have you seen the south park episode in which Muhammad (PBUH) was depicted ?? I have seen the episode and if you watch it and understand it, you won't be making arguments against South Park's creator. To put in a nut shell the creators where trying to make fun of people who get incited by any one who draws a picture of anyone or anything and labels it with Prophet's name. Don't get lured and tricked into this cycle, my friend Sana. Isn't it what the extremists use as a tactic to incite common people when they allege blasphemy on?? Start developing tolerance and find peace within yourself, god will be there.
Zeshan Tariq Malik May 18, 2010 05:58pm
Another attempt to hurt Muslims and label them terrorists. The only way forward is to peacefully and firmly voice our dissent at such offensive campaigns. For some reason, it's always Muslims that are targeted.
Aamina May 18, 2010 06:11pm
I agree. Although I don't know many details and I don't have the time to go verify whatever has been written here but I do know that, in today's age of communication and media, whatever certain extremist and violent Muslims do in the name of Allah or the Prophet goes against all Muslims. Its just some non-Muslims and some Muslims. The non-Muslims go unnoticed because they don't fly airplanes and crash into buildings but the Muslims really have to think what image they are presenting to the whole world.
Rabia May 18, 2010 06:17pm
There's no need for sophistry. Either you believe in free speech or you don't. If you want something that offends you to be removed from facebook as the self-righteous Dr. Alvi does, then you don't believe in free speech and you shouldn't whine about your page being pulled from the internet.
Ahmed May 18, 2010 06:54pm
There is a need to redefine the term "freedom of speech" and all the Muslims should campaign together for such a definition that should ensure that no one is allowed to hurt the collective feelings of a group of people.
Arvind Bhatt May 18, 2010 06:54pm
Be like Jesus and say "Forgive then O God(------fill in the blank with Budhaa, Krishna, Jesus or whoever is your GOD) for they know not what they do". Also see the controversial but thought provoking religious movies like "Last Temptation of Christ" or "Stigmata" etc. and evolve.
Rafey Bin Hijazy May 18, 2010 07:15pm
I agree to some extent with some of this. But wouldn't anyone of us slap someone who abuses or makes fun of our parents, or would we just stand there, ignoring that person. Its all about strong. But our dilemma is that we are not strong. And there's not much we can do about it. Its like our cyber war. People are playing mind games with us. There's not much that we can do. I agree. But atleast take a stand against it. If you cannot stop something with your hand, at least condemn it from your tongue, with your words. That doesn't mean talking it out just between us. We should say what we have to, directly to them. We can use our 'freedom of speech' to warn them.
Maher Elahi May 18, 2010 07:17pm
It is a well rounded and wholesome take. I do wonder as to how many of fellow muslims living under toxic atmosphere of hatred fueled by lunatic fringe will see eye to eye with her.
Cynic May 18, 2010 07:20pm
Or -- maybe they are just trying to exercise their right to free speech - a value that many consider as important as freedom of religion. Neither seems to be regarded highly in Islamic culture.
Haider May 18, 2010 07:23pm
Western free speech, what a joke! In certain European countries if you speak against holocaust, you will end up in jail.Now thats free speech!!!!
Shahzad Khan May 18, 2010 07:25pm
There are better ways to protest than just marching down the streets burning tires.. I like your take on this matter.
Shaan May 18, 2010 07:27pm
The greatest example is that if the Prophet Muhammad, Sallalahi-Alaihi wa Salam. He and the sahaba were beaten and kicked out of Mecca. Several authentic accounts show that many sahaba were tortured to death, burnt alive - or were made to watch their very own mothers being tortured, raped and slaughtered. The Holy Prophet remained calm and collected. Instead of asking Allah to send angels to level At-Taif, he asked for mercy for the people there. After years of harassment, embarrassment and strife, the truth shone through. Within a decade, nearly all of the Arabian peninsula had accepted Islam as the way of Allah, and Muhammad (sas) as the last prophet and messenger of Allah. During the bloodless conquest of Mecca, the same people who lead the slaughter and torture of the Muslims were pardoned. Not a soul was harmed, at the command of Rasoolullah (sas). Before an individual admits they he or she are wrong, they go through the stage of denial. I clearly see these cartoons as a simple stage of denial. When a child feels unimportant, he will act out in any way possible to get attention. As Muslims, we must not give any undeserved attention - this is negative reinforcement. Instead, we must follow the examples that I have written about. Muslims, act with dignity, honor and true Islamic moral values of the Prophet Muhammad (sas). Only then will it be clear to all enemies of Islam that the true path is the one that they have been fighting against.
Khan May 18, 2010 07:36pm
The hypocrisy of western media (including facebook et. al.) doesn't amaze me. Truly, it doesn't. All these incitements, conspiracies and political games against us, they doesn't amaze me, its just natural, we all know its a war against Islam and such things are tend to happen to make Islam look like Evil, rather what amazes me is the impotence of our influential people, who knowingly keep quiet, rather call it "our own war" and make every effort to show us criminals than those who purports the crime from behind the curtains.
Raki May 18, 2010 07:36pm
I totally agree with the author that we should not fall prey to the designs of the perpetrators of this insensitive campaign. I am all for the freedom of speech, but with equal passion I abhor the use of this freedom in a way to hurt the feelings of a community. Simultaneously, I don't think any kind of violence is a fitting response to any kind of insensitive expressions. The physical and virtual media is littered with material that smells of bigotry and violence. My personal response to such stuff is not to see/read it. After all, no one forces anyone to see or read it. This is exactly the same response I had when M.F. Hussain - who I still think is the best Indian painter ever - made paintings of naked Hindu goddesses. However, the people who agree with this article but feel nothing wrong with and say nothing against the acts of terrorism in and outside Pakistan are as big bigots as the people they are condemning in this case.
Nosher Khan May 18, 2010 07:51pm
A very good read indeed. The article clearly highlights the actual agenda that such an event is carrying forward and calls to light the fallacy of those that claim that this is a movement to preserve the rights of freedom. What people don't realize is that certain freedoms are allowed to everyone within society, so long as they do not infringe upon the freedoms and rights of other individuals. Moreover, freedom of expression also incorporates a freedom to make known what offends a certain facet of society so as to avoid hurt sentiments and social backlash on a large scale such as this. This episode may have been carried out with the noble intentions of securing freedoms for all, but has actually proved to be an attempt at discriminating and disregarding the feelings of an entire community.
Ibtisam May 18, 2010 07:55pm
(y) "..the best response to free speech campaigners is an attempt by the Muslim community to use its own right to freedom of expression to register protest and call for an end to offensive campaigns." totally agreed!
WAJDAN SAYED May 18, 2010 08:19pm
Yeah.. They are trying to ignite the Muslims.. but .. Islam teaches us to remain calm.. we will protest peacefully by boycotting Facebook. Thousands of users have reported .. ..The creator of the event has been deleted.. but the event is there. Its not deleted yet... We, the Muslims, have declared a peaceful boycott of facebook.. Until facebook deletes that event.. else we are ready to leave facebook for ever... love of the PROPHET MOHAMMAD P.B.U.H is more valuable than Facebook.. Its a request to all my Muslim brothers and sisters, boycott, but peacefully, dont harm or damage any thing or hurt any human being...
Nimrah May 18, 2010 08:27pm
Very well said and rightly so. I am not a Muslim and that is besides the point. Freedom of speech also means responsibility. And people who are doing this are making a farce of freedom itself. The cartoons and pictures on facebook are deeply offensive to me even though I am from a different religion and I can understand the provocation it can cause. These are people who think their idea of freedom of speech is the only idea and that has to be imposed on the rest of the world.
Maher May 18, 2010 08:40pm
We must Boycott until all such event remove from facebook
Talha May 18, 2010 10:11pm
Agreed, Wonderful article ...
Minto May 19, 2010 12:31am
Good advice for the hatemongers. Keep writing!
Obaid May 19, 2010 01:27am
well, agreed. thanks !
Ali Raza May 19, 2010 01:34am
What Facebook and the West doesn't realize is that "free speech" is a double edged sword. They start this, more and more people from the Muslim world will try to poke fun at the Holocaust. With particular regard to Facebook defending the rights of people supporting this day, perhaps they need to look behind the irony of their other actions in reaction to this. A few friends of mine, took a litmus of the other side by praising Hitler and starting a campaign against the Holocaust. Not surprisingly, their accounts were soon deleted from Facebook for good. My question, is that why the double standards?! If group finds talk against the Holocaust as offensive and leads to a certain individual being immediately condemned, why not in this case? Surely, free speech is a universal right but its one we all must exercise responsibly. Its not a matter of being a Muslim,Jew or Christian, its about playing fair.
Mohammad A Dar May 19, 2010 02:14am
Behind this whole propaganda is to give Islam and Muslims a bad name, It is not so innocent as it is depicted, but a deliberate campaign against the teachings of Islam run by the Jews and the Nu con Christians.
Atheist May 19, 2010 03:53am
Strange that there are no peaceful protests in any Islamic nation by the "ordinary non-radical Muslims" against the restrictions on other religions or "for" freedom of speech. May I ask the moderate Muslim community at large (which according to this article forms the vast majority of Muslims) why such discriminatory laws - like the Blasphemy law - are passed - even by democracies like Pakistan which supposedly act according to the will of the majority? Evidence sometimes doesn't support the assertion that "majority Muslims are moderate". I might be mistaken if we are dealing with a new definition of "moderate" here. I would be glad if my modest comments are published.
Shahzeb Ismail May 19, 2010 04:00am
Would banning of facebook as a social networking forum by all the muslims be the answer? I mean if its all muslims it can hit them hard, their freedom of speech our freedom of choice
Nabeel May 19, 2010 04:19am
You're right again. I don't like to think of it as a discriminatory anti-Muslim campaign - it is just something started and promoted largely by the Western cousins of the extremists here. What I mean to say is that hatred and intolerance are feelings held by a few hateful and intolerant people, both in Lahore and in New York City. Ignoring them is the best response - they WANT the kind of furious reactions that they are provoking. For most others who joined the groups, it's about freedom of speech - a principle they will fight tooth and nail for. However they often seemingly fail to realize that freedom of speech ends when you are being offensive - it turns into hate speech, which is illegal.
BushraS May 19, 2010 04:29am
Well written. I had not listened to Molly Norris' interview with Dave Ross. It is interesting that she thinks it's a cartoonist's job to poke fun at everything but there's nothing funny about Holocaust. Also, those who make draw cartoons about Holocaust are, by implication, "neo-Nazis". Every community has its line of tolerance. While exercising the right of free speech is the only way to counter acts which cross these lines, it is also important for one group (with its own off-limits areas) to respect the other's sentiments.
paagle May 19, 2010 04:48am
It is not simply an attempt to incite Muslims. Islam is entirely based on Mohammed. It is the Islamic religion that is the basis upon which non-Muslims in Muslim countries are oppressed. It is the Islamic religion upon which Muslims base often offensive criticisms of their host cultures in non-Muslim countries (not long ago women in Denmark felt compelled to march through Muslim neighborhoods to proclaim that they are NOT whores because they don't satisfy Muslim standards of modest dress). This is not to say Muslims are not wronged. Clearly they sometimes are. But from the outside the religion seems to inculcate a tribal, us-vs-them mentality. Muslims will go bonkers defending Muslim rights or the "honor" or Islam anywhere in the world, but couldn't give a toss about the conditions of non-Muslims next door. And all this, we are told, is based on the words and deeds of Mohammed. Any criticism of Islam is an offense to Mohammed.
Cherish May 19, 2010 04:52am
I feel that at least a part of the Pakistani/Pakistani origin society in the United States do not put in an effort to understand the workings of the civil society of the country of their residence. What is stopping them from protesting in a peaceful manner? I have seen a number of groups protesting against different governments and organizations in New York City- the Kurds, the Saudi Shias, the sympathizers of the Indian Maoists etc.
vg May 19, 2010 05:10am
It is nice to see Muslims are sensitive about being accused and to dwell into issue of freedom of speech. But has any Muslim has done any introspection about how mullas and imamas are preaching the Islam and issuing fatwas? If they can say Muslim woman can not work and accepting woman's earning is haram and Muslims can not have insurance, Muslims can't celebrate Birthdays? How we non Muslims are supposed to feel about Muslims in general? You guys need to be thinking more about your institutions and try to reform those before you can expect other to be open about Muslim community. One fact is clear that more and more people are becoming suspicious about Muslims in general and Mullas and Imamas in particular. The reform comes in withing and has to come sooner that later.
adeelkunwar May 19, 2010 05:52am
Truly said, a desperate attempt to hurt Muslims.
khoula khan May 19, 2010 06:27am
Yeah.. she is absolutely right in the sense that let not response in the way which they want, let not fulfill their devilish hopes by creating violence.. Lets remain and condemn peacefully but to do is to gain strength economically. Today economic of mostly Muslim countries are captured by west, lets try to play other way round, lets try to bound their economy, and it is possible. The only power require is the power of strong belief on our selves and education. Let be optimistic and think in long run... hopes should be there.
shahab May 19, 2010 07:04am
This is the time we should be more assertive then being reactive to the situation. Look around and decide yourself what change you can bring (at all level) to counter such campaigns aim to malign our identity as a muslim.
Altaf Sheikh May 19, 2010 07:15am
Congratulations to all Muslims. PTA has banned facebook on the order of LHC against drawing blasphemous caricatures of Holy Prophet (P.B.U.H). Regards,
Mansoor Khalid May 19, 2010 07:34am
Pakistan has already suffered much at the hands of violence and in my personal opinion; this thing is going to turn very ugly. Agreed that its might be art or anything else but with
Ali May 19, 2010 07:45am
The US government should prosecute these people for hate crime. This is not freedom of speech. It is certainly inciting hate and hate preaching.
Shahzeb May 19, 2010 08:00am
Very nice article by respected Sana Saleem. I wish whole world should respect our religon and should undestand our feelings and our love for Holy Prophet Hazrat Muhammad (PBUH).
Zulfiqar Haider May 19, 2010 08:16am
The conclusion is very appropriate; we must not react, because this is what they want, all of us must condemn it peacefully.
khurram May 19, 2010 09:02am
May Allah Bless you and guide us to follow the beautiful peachings of our Prophet Muhammad (Sallalahoalaihewassalam).
imran May 19, 2010 09:04am
"Whether or not the actual majority of Muslims does it, it is a popular belief that Islam makes it legitimate for Muslims to become violent if they believe the Prophet has been insulted
imran May 19, 2010 09:24am
In the name of Allah, the Gracious, the Merciful. Say,
Kashif Reza May 19, 2010 09:39am
Freedom of Speech: In Denmark, Europe and Western World, they protect there so called Freedom of Speech but they did not define there boundaries or limitation of Freedom of Speech. They Insult Islam, Our Beloved Prophets and Our Believes after doing all this when our Muslim Scholars want to talk on this issue with the European authorities they regret to meet with them. Are this Denmark, Europe and Western World Freedom of Speech?? ?? waooo what a Hypocrites they are ??? Now from Denmark, Europe and Western World point Freedom of Speech is the right of every person and he has a right to say any thing and anywhere even there Constitution Protect this (Freedom of Speech is bigger then someone Believes, Religious, Respect and it
Molly May 19, 2010 09:44am
Yes, this has been horrible. I regret doing that radio show on April 25, before my cartoon went viral -- my ego took me there and I let myself get side-swiped. I never did commit to making a place where people could send drawings; others have built facebook pages and I can't do anything about it. As to the holocaust stuff -- I would make a cartoon about anything if it served a larger purpose. My cartoon (of a poster backed by a fictional group) was specifically about Comedy Central's censorship of South Park due to Revolution Muslim's threat. I felt strongly that Comedy Central overreacted and sent a message of fear, leading America down a slippery slope toward censorship for artists. My 'concept' behind the original cartoon was about more people than just Matt Parker and Trey Stone (of South Park) drawing Mohammed so that the pool of targets would be watered down for Revolution Muslim's aim. That's all! I never meant it to leave my home town. None of my cartoons ever have! I have been sick over this and if I had wanted it to happen I would be thrilled. I only hope this entire thing will eventually bring Muslims and non-Muslims closer together in understandng. Dang-it! Thanks, Molly Norris
Bindu Rama Rao May 19, 2010 08:24pm
A lot of fury is being expressed by Sana and others - offcourse without seeing the show - no withholding judgement here. Same thing happened during the Rushdie episode - how many really read it. or even opened a page? Protest all you want after you have seen it. Or is that asking for too much?
Bindu Rama Rao May 19, 2010 08:48pm
first thing you do is BAN it - have you considered other ways, such as ignore it? Those who are happy to ban others are the first to complain when they are banned.
Saad May 19, 2010 10:07pm
Very well said Raki!
Saad May 19, 2010 10:13pm
Rightly said. A small example would be of Prophet Muhammed's (PBUH) visit to Taif, where he was stoned by the locals. Yet in-spite of his sufferings he wished them well. A simple yet resounding example.
annie May 20, 2010 05:41am
This ban is a ridiculous and an insult to the people of Pakistan. It reeks of fascism!!
Adil May 20, 2010 07:23am
Sad state of Muslims - so many posts about the drawings and how it hurts our sensibilities. Silence on suicide bombings, sectarian violence, women oppression, lack of education, inability to deal with the modern world etc.
BTG May 20, 2010 07:27am
As someone said earlier in the flood of comments on this topic, if one religion tells that COW is sacred and should not be slaughtered for BEEF, can it be applied to ALL the religions of the world?? It is not possible, right?? Then if Islam prohibits its followers not to depict their Prophet in any sort of physical image, let the followers of Islam refrain from doing it.. Why it should be forced on ALL the people of this world, who don't normally follow Islam?? I don't understand this point... And regarding protesting, I haven't seen (or) heard (or) read of any protests (Peaceful (or) Violent) conducted by so-called "MODERATE and PEACE loving" Muslims, against the "VIOLENT" followers of Islam. So does this mean that "MODERATE and PEACE loving" Muslims implicitly / passively encourage the "VIOLENT" followers to do what they wish against the followers of other religions? Can someone please be kind enough to answer these 2 questions for me... I would really appreciate it...
Kamran May 20, 2010 07:27am
The most balanced article that I have read on this issue... Great job Sana Saleem... I'm thankful to you for this... Most sane people will vouch for freedom of speech, and advocate it... but freedom of speech doesn't mean that we can stand in the middle of a road and start calling people names just because we can "say" whatever we want... freedom of speech doesn't give us the right to abuse... If the West differs with us on this issue, I would love them to respectfully tell us that... tell us that they don't think it's offensive... But actually drawing a caricature; or arranging "events" like this amounts to abuse... We'd not tolerate being abused... we'll protest against it... peacefully... in whatever way we deem appropriate...
Ali Hasan May 20, 2010 07:29am
Couldn't agree more. Insecurity and inferiority-complexes are the names of the game.
habib May 20, 2010 07:31am
.. just do it!
Rational Thinker May 20, 2010 07:57am
Why protest and resort to violence ? Dont you think Allah has the power to punish them ? By resorting to such protests you yourself prove that you have no belief in Allah and his powers.
Eddy May 20, 2010 08:21am
If the Muslims that are over reacting to this thing are so faithful, do you really think that the caricatures or drawings make so much as a speck of difference on the character and personality of the Prophet (PBUH). The more we create this circus the more we ask for it from those perpetuating this fiasco. Banning Facebook, Youtube and even Wikipedia is not the way to go. Severing communication and locking ourselves isn't the solution to the problem. At the end of the day we would be the ones being laughed on.
Kamran May 20, 2010 08:14am
I hope people understand that one can disagree in a respectful way too...
Kamran May 20, 2010 08:15am
I hope people understand that one can disagree in a respectful way too... what they're doing is disrespectful to most Muslims...
dilip mehta May 21, 2010 07:46am
Well said ADIL could not agree more wish there were more Muslims like you.
Nabil Saleh Jun 01, 2010 11:46am
a balanced and comprehensive article ...agree with you views..hope most of us do as well.