Yesterday, May 20th was the Draw Muhammed Day which is extending into today, ostensibly put together to defend freedom of expression/speech. The original creators of the day have backed out, including Molly Norris, due to the tremendous amounts of bigotry and hate that it engendered, but others continued with the campaign.
Taking a glance at the Facebook page, most of the freedumb expressions are hateful and bigoted depictions of Muhammad meant to anger Muslims. Is it a coincidence that the ones who are reveling most in this day are racists and Islamophobes?
Robert Spencer and Pamela Geller have both been utterly gleeful over the event. Unconditionally supporting it, Spencer got in the act himself drawing Prophet Muhammad with a bomb on his head, though the depiction looks a little bit like Spencer himself, and Geller added to the fray by drawing Prophet Muhammad with the face of a pig.
As Shahed Amanullah said, this is pretty much collective punishment on the whole Muslim community for the actions of a few. The inspiration for this event was the threats that the South Park creators received from a group called Revolution Muslim.
We reported at the time that this group is composed of four or five individuals, all with dubious backgrounds. Not only are they on the fringe in terms of their beliefs, they are completely rejected in the American Muslim community. Yet for some curious reason the media took this story and ran with it as if these Revolution Muslim characters represented or had any clout amongst American Muslims. It is as though anyone can say they are Muslim or represent Muslims and they will get airtime if they do or say something crazy.
The event itself was a mixture of self-righteous internet warriors who cared less about free speech and more about offending and disparaging Muslims. The initial fan page was deleted by Facebook, shortly after that another one was started.
There were pictures of Quran’s in toilets, of Muhammad depicted in all sorts of ways which I won’t repeat or reproduce here because they are vile and disgusting, and go beyond any justification of free speech and into the realm of outright hostility and bigotry towards Muslims. People can view the site and judge for themselves.
However, I must say that if this event was put together to defend freedom of speech it has failed. Freedom of speech, the freedom to offend, to be a racist is not in dispute but when you get called out for it don’t begin whining. There also seems to be a level of incitement, the strange and morbid wish to receive death threats, as the moderator put it, “Did you receive any death threats? If so, post them online and share the fun. :)”
Interestingly enough, a few participants in the Draw Muhammad Day expressed disappointment at not receiving death threats, one Jack Burns wrote,
The Pakistani government has blocked access to Facebook and YouTube over a campaign encouraging users to post images of the Prophet Muhammad online.
A group of free speech advocates declared May 20 “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” to protest censorship of an episode of South Park that featured illustrations of Muhammad. In 2006, the show poked fun of a controversy over Danish cartoons with images of Muhammad. For Muslims, it’s blasphemous to show an image of him, but the episode aired without much notice.
That’s part of the freedom of speech. It’s not always neat and clean. It’s not always nice and smooth. Sometimes it’s a little ugly and a little bit dirty, but it’s free speech.
– Liam Fox, NewsJunkiePost.com
Then last month the prophet appeared on South Park, again, this time in a bear suit. In response, a radical Muslim website posted a warning to the show’s creators saying they could end up like Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker who was shot and stabbed to death after making a film that protested domestic violence in Islamic cultures. Comedy Central censored all references to Muhammad in the following South Park episode.
That sparked cartoonist Molly Norris to establish “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” in protest; a Facebook page was created for people to post drawings, and the campaign spilled over into YouTube.
“The reaction of people drawing cartoons and encouraging people to draw cartoons is to make the point that one group cannot impose its ideology or its theology on others simply by saying we don’t allow that or it offends us,” says Liam Fox, who writes for the website News Junkie and says he supports the protest.
But many of the drawings and comments posted on the Facebook page weren’t just depictions of Muhammad; there were some very anti-Muslim comments. That prompted Norris and many other professional illustrators to withdraw their support for the protest.
“It may be a sincere attempt at trying to make a statement about free expression,” says Rex Rabin, president of the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists. “It just kind of strikes me as unnecessary and childish.”
Rabin says he believes in free speech and he thinks cartoons can be a great way to make a statement. But he says he sees no point in cartoons that are simply meant to offend an entire religious group.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations has condemned the threat of violence against the creators of South Park. But a spokesman for the organization, Ibrahim Hooper, says the protest has created a worse situation.
“It was being taken up by Muslim bashers and Islamophobes and those who have a deep hatred for the faith of Islam and that’s what we’re seeing today,” he says.
Still, Hooper and CAIR are asking Muslims to respond to the situation by organizing educational events about Islam.
Fox thinks all groups have to have a thick skin in a free society, so he stands behind “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.”
“That’s part of the freedom of speech. It’s not always neat and clean. It’s not always nice and smooth,” he says. “Sometimes it’s a little ugly and a little bit dirty, but it’s free speech.”
Facebook briefly took down the “Draw Mohammed” page, but then put it back up. By Thursday afternoon it had more than 100,000 members.