Happy Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!
Muslims belive that Mohammed is the prophet of the one true god, Allah. Due to its especially strong aversion to idolatry, Islam prohibits reproductions of the prophet’s likeness. Of course, Mohammed’s likeness is impossible to ascertain, but more on that later.
The Islamic prohibition against depicting Mohammed is strong enough that some Muslims expect non-Muslims to abide by the ban. The largest and bloodiest example of Muslim outrage over non-Muslims’ depictions of Mohammed came after Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten published 12 taboo-challenging cartoons on September 30, 2005. More than 100 people died in subsequent riots, which also saw the burning of Danish embassies in Syria, Lebanon, and Iran. Anger over these cartoons is unabated today; as recently as January, cartoonist Kurt Westergaard was attacked in his home by an axe-and-knife-wielding maniac. Westergaard’s crime was the image of Mohammed with a bomb for a turban.
Swedish cartoonist Lars Wilks published some Mohammed-themed drawings in August of 2007. The next month, a $150,000 bounty was put on his head by Al Qaeda. Nearly three years later, the attacks keep on coming. This past March, a plot to bomb his house was foiled when several Yemeni Muslims were arrested in Ireland, en route to their planned attack. On May 11, Wilks was attacked while giving a speech at the University of Uppsala. On May 14, arsonists attempted to firebomb his home. They were arrested on May 16.
Last month, South Park was the target of threatening grumbles from New York-based RevolutionMuslim.com. The show’s crime was its reference to Mohammed. This prompted cartoonist Molly Norris to declare today to be Everybody Draw Mohammed Day. She has since backed away from the idea, perhaps out of fear for her own life. But that’s the point, isn’t it?
If I could convey one message to the type of person who would kill me for what I am about to do, it’s this: don’t be such a fucking baby. Lots of people are offended by lots of things. Guess what? The world keeps turning and all of our lives go on. I am offended that anyone believes that consciousness survives death. I consider it an insult to the proper understanding of life’s fragility. I have no desire to go around murdering people who believe in the afterlife. Why? Because I am not a fucking baby. I can live with opinions that differ from my own, no matter how dear they are to me. I certainly don’t expect people who disagree with me to act as if my beliefs are superior to their own. That’s what fucking babies do.
Now to answer the call of the day. I don’t know what Mohammed looked like, but that doesn’t really matter, because neither does anyone else. In doing research for this post, I came across the Mohammed Image Archive, a website that has collected historic and modern depictions of the prophet (should you decide to visit, be sure to check out the hate mail section. It’s priceless.) The one thing that all the artists have in common is that they have NO idea what the guy looked like. They just made pictures and called the subject “Mohammed.”
If you believe that their art attempts to show the guy, you kind of have to believe that I am doing my best to commit the forbidden idolatry, too. With that in mind, I solemnly declare that the image I have posted below is an earnest attempt to depict the prophet Mohammed. The picture was a 6-year-old girl’s attempt to impress her favorite musician at the time. When I unearthed it, I was impressed that what may have begun as a penguin wound up looking exactly like the founding prophet of a major world religion.
Theo Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker whose 10 minute piece Submission addresses the repression of women in many Muslim countries. As he lay on the ground with a bullet in his body and his killer walking toward him to finish the job, Van Gogh’s last plea was that “we can still talk about it.” Moments later, his throat was slit.