Revolution Muslim, under intense criticism for what some perceive as a call for death to the creators of the South Park for depicting the prophet Muhammad in a bear suit, moved its website after it suffered what would appear to be distributed denial of service attacks, and offered to engage in open dialogue about the controversy. On Thursday, Revolution Muslim had written that Matt Stone and Tre Parker, South Park’s creators, might meet the same fate as Theo Van Gogh. Van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker killed by an Islamic extremist as a result of his portrayal of the prophet Muhammad. Its website inundated to the point of dysfunction, Revolution Muslim opened a new website at blogspot.
Readers of Revolution Muslim’s offer to engage in open dialogue might question its genuineness, given the tone of the detailed explanation the website published Saturday. While expressing an intention to create a possibility of deeper and more productive dialogue, Revolution Muslim doesn’t seem particularly interested in viewpoints opposing its own, nor does it seem apologetic that it’s original statement appeared to many to be a death threat.
About the dialogue it hopes to foster in the wake of the South Park controversy, Revolution Muslim said, ” We seek to create an opportunity for correction of wrongs and the alteration of behavior that many may suggest is insignificant, but nevertheless is a behavior which we hold to be not only sacrilegious, but which we feel typifies a cancer which bites at the root of global injustice. The cancer we are referring to is that of American imperialism and its coincident culture of pagan hedonistic barbarism, a culture which drives to dehumanize the intrinsic morality of the rest of the world. As it stands today the vast majority of the world has witnessed the cloud of American debauchery, and those whom it has not hovered over have at the very least been affected by its dust.”
Pagan hedonistic barbarism?
Dehumanizing intrinsic morality?
These don’t sound like words aimed at fostering understanding, reaching out to relate to those with an alternate point of view. It sounds more like “appease us or suffer the consequences.”
The lengthy statement published by Revolution Muslim goes into detailed religious summary of the Islamic position on blasphemy. It notes that Islam relies on consensus of its leaders and where they speak with one voice, there is no room for debate.
So what’s left to discuss, I wonder, and I say this with willingness to hear an answer but total consternation as to what that answer might be. Is there any interpretation of Revolution Muslim’s statement that allows for true consideration of opposing viewpoints and compromise?
As to what Revolution Muslim intended with the Van Gogh comparison, the statement is troubling. After explaining that under Islamic law death is mandatory for those who insult the prophets, the website states,”Thus our position remains that it is likely the creators of South Park will indeed end up like Theo Van Gogh… We are not trying to directly incite violence, but we are trying to explain the gravity of the situation and prevent this from occurring ever again [emphasis added]…”
The use of the word “directly” to modify the phrase “incite violence” is either an extraordinarily inept wording choice, or an indication of an intention to indirectly incite violence. With all the vitriol against the USA and its imperialist policies, as well as its alleged efforts to redefine Islam, Revolution Muslim’s referenced threat to South Park creators seems more retribution against American culture than adherence to religious commands about honoring Muhammad.
It’s unfortunate that Revolution Muslim chose to link this cartoon with broader issues of American foreign policy. Just as Stone and Parker don’t define American foreign policy, American foreign policy does not form the underpinnings of the cartoon Revolution Muslim found offensive. The simpler and more direct issue- whether non-adherents of a religion should publicly refrain from insulting the religion’s key beliefs- is lost in the verbiage.