The Everybody Draw Mohammed Facebook site would never have existed without the Danish cartoon incident. Illustrators in a relatively unknown newspaper drew 12 illustrations of Mohammed, none of which would have been considered offensive by the average European reader. It was certainly nothing like Piss Christ, which won an award sponsored in part by the National Endowment for the Arts, depicting “a small plastic crucifix submerged in a glass of the artist’s urine”. Nor were they like Chris Ofili’s No Woman No Cry, in which the British artist, who has patrons like Charles Saatchi, depicted “a black African Mary surrounded by images from blaxploitation movies and close-ups of female genitalia cut from pornographic magazines, and elephant dung”
Both Piss Christ and No Woman No Cry attracted their share of controversy. What made the Mohammed cartoon incident different was how it escalated beyond a war of words into an affair of death threats. As Wikipedia relates:
Danish Muslim organizations that objected to the depictions responded by holding public protests attempting to raise awareness of Jyllands-Posten’s publication. Further examples of the cartoons were soon reprinted in newspapers in more than 50 other countries, further deepening the controversy.
This led to protests across the Muslim world, some of which escalated into violence with police firing on the crowds (resulting in a total of more than 100 deaths), including setting fire to the Danish Embassies in Syria, Lebanon and Iran, storming European buildings, and desecrating the Danish, Dutch, Norwegian, French and German flags in Gaza City. Various groups, primarily in the Western world, responded by endorsing the Danish policies, including “Buy Danish” campaigns and other displays of support. Danish Prime Minister Anders Fogh Rasmussen described the controversy as Denmark’s worst international crisis since World War II.
Critics of the cartoons described them as Islamophobic or racist, and argued that they are blasphemous to people of the Muslim faith, are intended to humiliate a Danish minority, or are a manifestation of ignorance about the history of Western imperialism.
The pattern of escalation was simple. Once Muslim clerics had made the publication of the cartoons punishable by physical violence it became obligatory to defy it. The matter had ceased to be a matter of religious dispute and became a sovereign issue, which was exactly how some Islamists saw it: Islam in their view, had always been sovereign in principle, charged with dominion over the world. What remained was the practical matter of enforcement. Some members of the Western public understood this, and while they might not have cared a fig for their countries or for nationalism in recent years, the realization that some cleric sitting in Pakistan or Saudi Arabia was claiming dominion over them, at once reminded them of why nations exist. They are there to keep just anyone from ruling over you. From the beginning of history man has stumbled under the yoke of his rulers; about all he asks for now is the privilege to be ruled by those who at least speak the same language and watch the same sporting events as he does. It is a minimal, almost pathetic request. So when the man who has to pay taxes, pick up his dog’s poop, dump his trash in the right bins, use Green Bags at shopping centers, endure public hectoring by NGOs and stop at painted lines that appear anywhere and everywhere on the road is suddenly told that to top it all, he has to obey the dictates of somebody whose name he cannot even pronounce about a subject on which he is ignorant, then something can snap.
It is probable that if the Mohammed Cartoons had not been turned into a litmus test of sovereignty then they would have been long forgotten by now. But since the issue has been cast in that unfortunate way there is nothing for it but to either submit or defy. Defiance in this case means to coldly, deliberately and purposefully contravene the prohibition; to give offense, but not gratuitous offense. The Facebook page tries to put it this way.
We also encourage you to make a creative and funny depiction of mohammed. There is no need to make hateful and totally respectless depiction of him. Remember that we also, sad, but true: hurt the feelings of the moderate muslims aswell.
Hopefully this page will spark serious debates in international forums.
We are not trying to slander the average muslim , it’s not a muslim/islam hatepage. We simply want to show the extremists that threaten to harm people because of their Mohammed depictions, that we’re not afraid of them. That they can’t take away our right to freedom of speech by trying to scare us to silence.
What is likely to result from Everybody Draw a Mohammed Day is more death threats. Fausta at Fausta’s Blog has received some. It’s enough to make anyone think of de-escalation, of backing down. How can we have gotten ourselves into this state over a bunch of cartoons? But in fact that would be to misunderstand the issue entirely. For radical Islamists, it’s not about cartoons, it concerns blasphemy and Islam’s sovereignty over the world. That makes the cartoons a serious issue for non-Muslims too. It is like the Landberger Gessler’s hat. Bow to it and you do more than bow. Any reservations about participating in the Day were dispelled by the memory of David Crosby’s Almost Cut My Hair, which expresses the problem perfectly in terms half a century old.
Almost cut my hair
It happened just the other day
It was getting kind of long
I could have said it was in my way…
Must be because I had the flu for Christmas
And I’m not feeling up to par
It increases my paranoia
Like looking into a mirror and seeing a police car
But I’m not giving in an inch to fear
Cos I promised myself this year
I feel like I owe it to someone
So it is in that spirit that I submit this drawing of Mohammed and his cat, Muezza. “According to legend, Muhammad one day awoke at the sound of the call to prayer. Preparing to attend, he began to clothe himself; however, he soon discovered Muezza sleeping on the sleeve of his robe. Rather than wake her, he used a pair of scissors to cut the sleeve off, leaving the cat undisturbed; when he returned from prayers, the prophet received a bow from Muezza in thanks. He then stroked his beloved cat three times. … It is also believed that when Muhammad gave sermons within his household, he would often hold Muezza in his lap.”
Now if Muezza and Mohammed had lived in more recent times, there is some probability that the Prophet would have had an Ipad and that Muezza might actually have drawn or taken a picture of him using the device. For proof of the possibility, see below. And then the Mohammed Cartoon controversies would never have happened. Where’s the cat when you need her?