Posted by Aly Balagamwala
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).
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.
(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.
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.
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.