Draw Muhammad Day: Censorship, Sabotage, Threats & Murder
Draw Muhammad Day is not an assault on Islam or Muslims, and certainly not on Arab people of any nation. The protest is not racist or ethnocentric. The protest is not an attempt to infringe on the rights of others or curtail any individual’s religious freedom. The protest is in defense of individual freedom of expression. The protest is against one group forcing its religious doctrine on everyone, and censoring other’s rights of free speech and expression.
The protest was launched because serious threats were issued by Islamic Fundamentalists against the creators of South Park after an episode was aired showing a cartoon depiction of Muhammad.
On April 15, the day after the first of two episodes of South Park featuring Muhammad aired, Chesser made his first comment about the program through his Twitter feed. “May Allah kill Matt Stone and Trey Parker and burn them in Hell for all eternity. They insult our prophets Muhammad, Jesus, and Moses…” Chesser posted similar entries to his Mujahid Blog as well as the Revolution Muslim website later that same day. The post included a graphic picture of the Dutch filmmaker Theo Van Gogh laying dead on the ground with a knife in his chest after he had been assassinated by a Muslim extremist in 2004. Under the photo was the caption: “Theo Van Gogh – Have Matt Stone And Trey Parker Forgotten This?”
In the same post, Chesser provided the address to Stone and Parker’s offices in California, telling readers to “contact them” or “pay Comedy Central…a visit.” He also posted the link to a Huffington Post article that described a Colorado retreat owned by the two men. Chesser also noted: “We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh if they do air this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”
If an individual wants to create some depiction as part of their own personal expression, that act deserves the same tolerance and freedom from persecution as those who accept, as part of their own religious idiology, that they are not allowed to make such a depiction. In a democratic society that protects the equal rights of individuals; if Muslims are to ensure that their own rights are protected, they must work just as hard to protect the same rights for all, whether they agree with them or not. To be the recipients of religious tolerance does not mean that you have the right to impose religious dogma on individuals that do not adhere to your belief system.
There are many individuals of other faiths and world views who do not agree with the doctrines of Islam and who diligently defend the rights of Muslims to practice their own religion without persecution or oppression. These same individuals have the right to eat pork, draw Muhammad, engage in intimate relations with same gender partners and declare that they have negative feelings about Islam. These rights too must not only be tolerated, but vigorously defended if the right of Muslims to practice their religion is to also be ensured.
America is by no means alone in dealing with the public imposition of Sharia law within a democratic society. Discord has been growing in England as laws requiring Muslim Prayer rooms in public buildings, including privately owned work places, must be provided at tax payer or employer expense. Also causing disharmony has been the establishment of Muslim only swim days at public community pools. Apparently non-Muslims may only attend if they wear traditional Muslim dress, otherwise they will not be allowed to participate.
As Muslim immigration increases throughout Europe conflicts of this nature increase. In 2004 Theo Van Gogh was brutally murdered because of a film he made that Muslims found insulting. (See Photo above)
Van Gogh’s film Submission aired on Dutch television August 29, 2004. The film depicted four semi-nude women in dark, opaque veils, who had texts from the Qur’an written in calligraphy on their bare skin. The women had what appeared to be red whip marks on their backs and legs, on which were written Qur’anic texts that described the physical punishments prescribed for disobedient women. The highly controversial 10-minute film sparked outrage from the Muslim community.
On November 2, 2004, at approximately 8:45 am, an unknown assailant dressed in a traditional Moroccan “djelleba,” viciously attacked Mr. Van Gogh as he bicycled to work in central Amsterdam. The attacker shot and repeatedly stabbed him in the chest despite his pleas for mercy. Mr. Van Gogh struggled against his injuries to flee and managed to get as far as the other side of the street before his attacker shot and stabbed him yet again. The assassin then slit Mr. Van Gogh’s throat with a butcher knife as shocked onlookers screamed in horror.
On January 2 of 2010 a Danish cartoonist was attacked in his home by an ax wielding assailant intent on carrying out a fatwah that called for the mans death. Kurt Westergaard, a cartoonist who had received death threats for publishing images of Muhammad, managed to survive the attack by hiding in a secure panic room until police were able to detain the would-be assassin.
What has resulted from these attacks is terror, not tolerance. The use of violence has defined threats by members of the Muslim community as definite statements of intent rather than specious rhetoric uttered in a moment of passion. Rather than change a television channel, close a book, fold a newspaper or leave a theatre, some members of the Muslim community are deliberately choosing to expose themselves to material that contravenes their religious doctrine, then violently attacking whoever they deem culpable for offending their sensibilities.
On May 11 of this year, just last week, Lars Vilks was offering a lecture on free speech at Uppsala University in Sweden. Immediately after the start of his presentation Mr. Vilks was physically assaulted by a contingent of Muslim attendees. Rather than leave the voluntary lecture these individuals assaulted Mr. Vilks, hitting him on the head and punching him in the face, breaking his glasses. As police officers attempted to end the attack and rescue Mr. Vilks, they too were hit and kicked. Two individuals were arrested. The Muslims present hurled threats and profanity at Mr. Vilks until the lecture had to be cancelled because of security concerns. I young Swedish woman who tried to plead for the lectures continuation, and the freedom of speech of all the others present, was shouted down by the aggressive Muslim mob.
This is not an issue of religious tolerance. Religion should be tolerated and allowed to be exercised and expressed by its adherents as long as it does not violate other’s rights by forcing them to adhere to its doctrine. What religion cannot do in a democratic society, where all individuals enjoy equal protection under the law, is act as a political or legislative entity that dictates laws for all.
Sharia law is completely anathema to the American Constitution and the principles of democracy. Law based upon democratic principles are offensive to Islam because such law is based upon people. Sharia law is based upon the Qur’an and the writings of Mohammed, which Muslims believe to be the only perfect guidance. Therefore, Muslims consider it an offence to Islam for Muslims to live under democratic constitutional law. Sharia law openly despises democracy because it comes from man whereas American Law and the Constitution are based on the principle of governance of the people, by the people, and for the people.
Islam is primarily a political system. The Islamic legal code is called Sharia, meaning the way. The source of the Sharia is the Qur’an and the Sunna (found in the Sira and the Hadith). Sharia law covers all aspects of life including how a man and woman should have sex.
Sharia Law is based upon dividing all actions into forbidden (haram, haraam) and permitted (halal). Islam demands that Muslims form their own political units without influence from non-believers. Under Sharia Law non-believers are second class citizens, dhimmis, not given all the same rights as Muslims yet required to live by Sharia Law.
Pakistan, an Islamic country that operates under a somewhat informal application of Sharia Law, responded to the “Draw Muhammad day’ campaign on Facebook by blocking access to Facebook for the entire country beginning May 19 and lasting through the end of the month. The proclamation issued by the Lahore Court includes not only Facebook but any other sites or links that may feature such images and allows that the ban be extended past the end of May at the discretion of the court.
There are 1.8 million Facebook users in Pakistan, not all of them Muslim, but all of them subject to the censorship imposed by the court.
The official PR notification as reproduced by Aamir Attaa at ProPakistani is as follows:
BLOCKAGE OF FACE BOOK WEBSITE DUE TO PUBLICATION OF PROFANE ANTI ISLAMIC CONTENT ON ITS WEBSITE.
ISLAMABAD: MAY 19, 2010
In compliance with the orders of Honourable Lahore High Court, Lahore, on the Writ Petition No.10392/10, dated the 19th May, 2010, the Ministry of Information Technology has issued a directive to Pakistan Telecommunication Authority (PTA) to block the ‘Face Book’ and all other internet links displaying sacrilegious caricatures of the Holy Prophet.
Ministry of IT has also directed the PTA to remain alert and watchful and block all such links displaying the profane caricatures immediately.
Ministry of IT has requested public at large to contact a dedicated Telephone No.0800-5505 and e-mail address: firstname.lastname@example.org , to transmit necessary information, should anything to the effect of objectionable caricature get displayed/propagated at any website.
Although the Facebook ‘Draw Muhammad Day’ page is up and running, as of the writing of this article the DrawMuhammadDay.com website is down. It has been intermittent throughout the day but seems to have finally succumbed. It has been rendered inaccessible by an apparent campaign to crash the site. ‘Youfan’s blog‘ and the ‘It’s All What You Want‘ website have been offering instruction on how to help take down the site and are publicly celebrating their cowardly violation of freedom of speech and expression. Although not causing personal injury or death on this occasion, the impact on the rights and freedoms of others is no less violent.
Samuel Langhorne Clemens, aka Mark Twain, once wrote; “Irreverence is the champion of liberty and its only sure defense. True irreverence is disrespect for another man’s god.” These statements, irreverent though they are, represent key principles of a free society. The acts of criticizing, satirizing, and mocking are part of process that removes pomp and circumstance from an issue, allowing us to see more clearly and comprehend. The ability to challenge and test the veracity of our most sacred thoughts and beliefs is not merely a privilege but a shared duty.
The constitutionally protected right of free speech provides the cornerstone to a democratic society where derision and disagreement fuel the process of negotiation, discovery and cooperation. Our individual as well as societal growth and development are aided by access to the opinions and criticisms of others. Every idea, belief or endeavor benefits from the collective input of our society whether it is solicited, welcomed, encouraged or feared.
Free speech promotes development where a strong foundation is present, and exposes weaknesses where they either hide or lay undiscovered. Free speech is loved by the strong and feared by the weak. Truth welcomes free speech and accepts the strengthening process of criticism, where lies and falsehoods are unable to withstand its trials. It is for this reason that corrupt systems of thought, and the organizations, institutions and regimes built on them, will do anything possible to prevent this powerful force from exposing their masquerade.
Often time, the more ridiculous an assertion is, the more violently it is defended. When something is unable to withstand any questioning or criticism, it’s proponents seek to quell any dissent by any means necessary. In cases such as those mentioned, when both the assertion and the proponents are lacking in strength, the ridiculous is defended with the extreme. This unintended admission of weakness seeks to replace the strength of an enduring truth with lies wrapped in the protective cocoon of terror.
The rights of a free society cannot be allowed to wither and die in the shadow of threats. Terror cannot be allowed to subvert liberty. It is a constant battle that must be attended, and where an inch is given it must be reclaimed. Freedom cannot be allowed to erode by the giving of ground in the face of an irrational and tyrannical onslaught. In the name of freedom of expression; pick up a pen, pencil or crayon and draw your best Muhammad whether it be a portrait or a stick figure. Photograph it or scan it and upload it to the Facebook page and then pin it, tack it or tape it up for all the world to see.
Happy Draw Muhammad Day.
Editor’s Note: Liam Fox will be discussing his article this afternoon on NPR’s “All Things Considered”. The News Junkie Post will post the audio clip of the interview when it becomes available.