Everybody Draw Mohammed Day – A run away roller coaster?

You may remember a couple of years ago, there was a series of mass protests all over the Muslim world, when a Danish newspaper published cartoons of the Prophet (SAW). Some Muslims chose to take the way of violence, some burnt flags and took out rallies, and many economically boycotted all things Danish. The issue boiled the blood of almost all who claim to be Muslim.

Recently the South Park controversy came and went, but no one really noticed it much since Comedy Central decided they didn’t want to risk it after an extremist group sent a gruesome picture of Theo Van Gogh (a Dutch film maker who was killed for his film Submission).

After being invited to one too many groups declaring war against Facebook for not banning the fan page of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”, I figured i would read up on just what everyone was so antsy about and put in my two cents worth (and hopefully being able to kill the Writer’s block that has been troubling me for the past few months).

Everybody Draw Muhammad

Molly Norris, a cartoonist based in Seattle couldn’t understand why anyone would resort to threats of violence on the South Park depiction of Prophet Muhammad. Such extremism must be voiced out against; we have a right to draw whatever we want; our wonderful First Amendment gives us the right, blah blah blah. So Molly set out her thoughts in a way that she knew best: in a cartoon. Little did clueless Molly know it would go “viral” and take a life of its own.

 

I did NOT ‘declare’ May 20 to be "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day." I made a cartoon about the television show South Park being censored. The cartoon-poster, with a fake ‘group’ behind it, went viral and was taken seriously. I never started a FaceBook page; a stranger did and there is nothing I can do about it.

My one-off cartoon of a fictional poster does not work well as a long-term plan. The vitriol this ‘day’ has brought out, of people who only want to draw obscene images, is offensive to the Muslims who did nothing to endanger our right to expression in the first place. Only Viacom and Revolution Muslim are to blame, so write to them instead!

I apologize to people of Muslim faith and ask that this ‘day’ be called off. Thank you to those who are turning this crazy thing into an opportunity for dialogue, education and solutions.

Sincerely,
Molly

(I regret going on a local radio show on April 25th; my ego took me there, it was a mistake. I meant for this to remain a fictional CARTOON, an artistic IDEA, never to catch fire as an actual ‘event’.)

 

Something doesn’t quite add up here. Molly meant this as a cartoon, her own voice against extremism. So why did her “ego” take her on air of a local radio show? (In this day and age of super connectivity and broadband internet, is anything really “local” any more?) And why did she pass on the image to Dan Savage, a Seattle based blogger and a nationally syndicated columnist, in the first place? Oh sure, now she claims in interviews that she was an idiot, but if she meant this never to go viral why did she start spreading it in the first place? Dan Savage served as a promoter and his network of readers served as the means to disseminate this graphic out to the world and mothball this into the controversy it is.

"This particular cartoon of a ‘poster’ seems to have struck a gigantic nerve, something I was totally unprepared for"

Seriously Molly, have you been hibernating all these years? What cartoonist wouldn’t have heard of the controversial cartoons of the Prophet that sparked off worldwide protests?

We also find Jon Wellington, who created a Facebook event for this non-existent day, has backed out. He created the event on Facebook because he "loved [Norris’s] creative approach to the whole thing — whimsical and nonjudgmental." So why is he backing out? And now that he is backing out why not just delete the event and all its content? Instead of writing

New game: Be super-nice to everyone! Enough of this drawing nonsense.

just get rid of the event and remove the controversy! Because the wall on the event is looking like a duel between Muslims and those who are intent on bashing Islam and spreading hate.

And now the event has spawned into splinter Fan pages and what not where the extremists are having a blast in bashing Muslims and spawning hatred.

So while Molly may have washed her hands off this mess by posting an apology and a revised version of her cartoon, Molly Norris’ monster is still out there, growing rapidly and embroiling all in this controversy.

750_DrawMohammedPosterTellingSm

Facebook is also playing its part in feeding this monster. Instead of acting responsibly and shutting down all such events and fan pages that are clearly in violation of their terms of service particularly item 3.7 which states

3.7 You will not post content that: is hateful, threatening, or pornographic; incites violence; or contains nudity or graphic or gratuitous violence

So should we boycott Facebook for a day?

A campaign has started to call for banning Facebook on May 20 as a protest against Facebook’s inaction against the “Everybody Draw Mohammed” pages on Facebook.

 

boycott facebook may 20

But why stick to just a one day boycott? Why not boycott until Facebook sits up and notices? Is our love for the Prophet so meager that it warrants staying off Facebook for just 24 hours? And where does this love for the Prophet disappear to when we blatantly ignore his teachings day in and day out? Do we boycott ourselves for not loving and respecting the Prophet by obeying his teachings? And does not the Quran tell us that all Prophets are equal and we should not distinguish between any single one? So why don’t we protest when South Park regularly depicts Jesus (AS) in its cartoons? Just some food for thought for us all as we stay off Facebook on 20th May.

About Aly Balagamwala

"Abu Ibrahym" Muhammad Aly Balagamwala (AKA DiscoMaulvi) is an entrepreneur/industrialist who was born and raised in Karachi, Pakistan where he currently resides. Aly graduated from North Carolina State University with a BS in Textile Chemistry, and somewhere in those 4 years became a practicing Muslim (May Allah reward the wonderful community of Raleigh, NC for that). He is/has been associated with the fabrics, towels, animal feeds, minerals, and grains/pulses/edibles sectors. Known in the Social Media / Blogging community of Pakistan as DiscoMaulvi, he occasionally writes on his personal blog From The Pulpit ... Sermons of DiscoMaulvi and is easily accessible via Twitter (@DiscoMaulvi) and his Facebook Page. Since he turned towards religion in 1998, Aly has been associated with various Social / Dawah projects. He was a Shurah member (1999-2000) & the President (2000) of the NCSU Muslim Students Association (MSA). He was also a Shurah member (2005-2009) and the Ameer (2007) of Active Saturdays. He is currently serving as a consultant for LiveDeen and as a Trustee of Little Deeds. In 2011 he joined the staff of MuslimMatters.org, where he is currently the team lead for MM's Comments Moderation team and is also part of the News and Social Networking teams. MM is a collaboration b/w Bloggers and Islamic scholars, to bring to attention issues being faced by Muslims in the West and around the world. He also blogs on Express Tribune Blogs. As an Amateur Technical Analyst of Karachi Stock Exchange, he is known on the KSE Yahoo Groups as Aly B of DCTA (Dhakka Chaap Technical Analysis).

Posted on 2010/05/18, in International Affairs, Islam, Opinions, Social Media, Society and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 18 Comments.

  1. good article.

    • @abueissa Jazak’Allah Khairin. I hope you will continue reading and commenting regularly. Look to the right side of your screen for options to sign up via email or RSS as you prefer.

  2. Excellently written. My opinion on the matter?

    DON’T boycott! Try to be there on the 20th May and spread his messages and teachings. Boycotting Facebook for a day won’t do anything.

    I’ve posted about this in detail on: http://artsyhands.com/2010/05/20th-may-draw-mohammad-day-and-facebook-boycotts/

  3. Dear Aly,
    Assalaamualaykum,
    Reading the history of Islam, I have realized that our Prophet(SAW) went through a lot in life…imaging running in the streets of Taif, chased by a crowd, throwing rocks at you…imagine the amount of bleeding where famously its quoted that his slipper was full of blood…he prayed for them…did not try to bomb them…lesson to us all.

    This cartoon controversy does not go away for many reasons. First and foremost, muslims as a nation are weak. It took a while to convince people to avoid Danish butter and instead choose something else…small measure on my behalf…but imagine if we all joined together…as an ummah, we don’t wish to do so….why bother…so what if coca cola supports israel…we don’t like pepsi…water does not taste nice…second largest religious group…if we co-ordinate our efforts…imagine the success.

    Secondly, our leaders are corrupt…cartoons are published…all the middle eastern countries with oil stay quiet…not a word…Pakistan made a clamour…big deal…no influence…a few months later…Qadhafi’s son got arrested for hitting a servant in Switzerland…immediately the oil sales were stopped…Qadhafi called for jihad against Switzerland because they had blocked building of minarets in mosques…the Swiss government was on its knees apologizing…why was this not done on day 1 when the cartoons were published…no word when Prophet (SAW) gets insulted…but all clamour when your own son gets arrested…

    finally…its a cartoon…the respect of the Prophet cannot be touched…let these idiots earn their sins…they disgrace themselves in this life and hereafter….we will avoid facebook on 20th may…maybe even longer…i am getting fed up of it anyway…
    keep blogging…you are doing well…
    Assalaamualaykum.
    Imran.

    • @Imran Jazak’Allah Khairin for the comments. You are right that the Muslim Ummah needs to unite and voice out collectively on a lot of issues. I personally think that we tend to be react to everything rather than pre-empt things. Be pro-active, spread the message by your actions and attract your enemies to your view point. This was the way of the Prophet (SAW). May Allah give us guidance to follow his (SAW) way.

  4. if masses dont act on the teachings of Islam and Prophet Muhammad (S.W.A) in daily life then that does never mean they should not act on the day where they are willing to do. if i did not pray 4 namazes on a day and got a chance to offer 5th then what should i do, skip that 5th too considering that i skipped 4 earlier so this 5th is of no use. to me all this is non sense just lame excuses for not boycotting the day. if masses failed to re-act on certain days, to me it is not because we are not a good nation, it is because we are not good Muslims individually.
    i ve boycotted the Face Book for 3 days not for those who make such groups, i know there hearts ve been blackened and perhaps would never turn around, i did a boycott of Face Book and sent them a msg that they are responsible for spreading hate around the globe and they should take initiative to act positively.

    • @qaysy My point was not to suggest that a person not fulfilling one part of his deen should give up the other part also. My point was that unfortunately our love is misdirected and only comes to the forefront when someone hurts our ego. It is “how dare they insult OUR Prophet (SAW)” with the emphasis really on the OUR part.
      Boycotting or not boycotting will not change your level of Iman. Acting on Prophet (SAW)’s teachings will definitely raise your level of Iman.

  5. Assalaamualaikum.

    We have 2 opinions here:

    1) Boycott FB to show displeasure and disapproval, and hopefully hurt them in the pocket book. This may show the power of Muslims on FB, and may teach them a lesson to nip such pranks in the bud in the future.

    2) Ignore the calls to boycott, to prevent FB from getting any unnecessary publicity. The publicity from the non-Muslims (and some Muslims) who visit it out of curiosity brings revenue to FB and may encourage them to tolerate such sensational events in the future. Some
    even say that the same medium can be used to present the reality of Muhammad SAW to the curious ones (proactive, rather than reactive).

    Both opinions have good intentions and sound reasoning. We should respect the one who holds an opinion different to ours, because it is their right.

    Wassalaam.

    • @Saeed Jazak’Allah Khairin for that comment. I totally agree with you on the point that “Both opinions have good intentions and sound reasoning. We should respect the one who holds an opinion different to ours, because it is their right.”

      We need to respect each others opinions since both sides will quote their proofs from Islam on how to react to such things. And as long as they can cite this proof (based on the correct Usool-ul-Fiqh) we should continue to respect the opinions of the other.

  6. It’s only blasphemy to the religious.

  7. Alhumdolilah left the Facebook at that time and haven’t returned. This was the turning point in my life.This was when Surah e Kafiroon became completely clear to me. The muslim youth needs to recognize that the differences between muslim and non muslim are epic. We need to own up those differences and stand tall for them. What we must remember is that in Quran e majeed Allah Tallah say “Rafana laka zikrak” for our Holy Prophet s.a.w If its not us standing for him and with him it will be someone else. Allah Tallah has no fear of anyone nor any shortage of creations. The place that we will lose though will be irrecoverable. We are muslims,we love our Prophet s.a.w and we respect him.if that means fundametnalist,conservative,narrowminded extremist than so be it. And that means following him to the best of our abilities.

    • Dear Muslim

      I commend you on your choice to quit Facebook after the Draw Mohammed Day incident. I did not for some reasons. Do I have any less love for the Prophet (SAW) than you? Allah (SWT) knows best.

      May Allah (SWT) increase our love for the Prophet (SAW) and for His Deen.

      • I wouldnt say brother that you have any less love. Its just an emotional thing ,if truth be told i was at that time going through a very bad spiritual phase and i felt that may be if i leave something purely for that respect that i should have for my Prophet pbuh may be Allah Tallah will grant me the level of love that a muslim should have.
        I think, and its just a hunch, that decision turned out to be a spiritual turning point for me. So i am not by any means trying to say that all those who didnt quit facebook have lesser love than i have.All i am saying is that it was something that after having done i thought was absolutely worth it. perhaps which is why i recommended it.May Allah Tallah gives me strength to leave all things that make up for the distance that is between me and his beloved pbuh.

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