Get ready for “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” on May 20th, the brainchild of a Seattle cartoonist challenging Muslim extremist website Revolution Muslim, which recently made some pretty serious “veiled” threats against the creators of South Park. She also seems to be slightly taking aim at Comedy Central for its decision to censor a recent episode of South Park featuring the prophet Mohammed. So how will Muslim extremists react to the internet being flooded with Mohammed cartoons? Based on past events, it’s kind of hard to tell.
The Prophet Mohammed’s portrayal in cartoons first captured the attention of the world in 2005 when a Danish newspaper published a series of Mohammed cartoons in an attempt to contribute to the debate regarding Islam and self-censorship. These Mohammed cartoons were published in other newspapers around the world, leading to protests that escalated into violence and more than 100 deaths.
And the recent portrayal of Mohammed in South Park episodes ‘200’ and ‘201’ has also elicited a response from Muslim extremists, as bloggers on the website Revolution Muslim have implied that the creators of the show now have targets on their back and might not live to produce another Mohammed parody. However, it is interesting to note that, before the Danish cartoon incident, South Park showed an uncensored version of Mohammed in the 2002 episode ‘The Super Best Friends’, which caused no response from Muslim extremists whatsoever.
And so when South Park’s episode ‘201’ was heavily censored by Comedy Central, the show’s creators were surprised and unhappy with the decision, which they had no part of (other than the censoring of Mohammed’s image and name). Kyle’s “I’ve learned something today” speech at the end about fear-mongering and intimidation didn’t even mention Mohammed, but the entire thing was bleeped out.
In light of these events, Seattle cartoonist Molly Norris is trying to stand up to all the intimidation and fear herself by making May 20th “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day”, encouraging artists and aspiring artists everywhere to create their own Mohammed cartoons. An event has even been created on Facebook encouraging artists to submit their cartoons. Molly Norris originally created a cartoon poster depicting various items contending to be the prophet Mohammed, including a teacup, a spool of thread, a purse, and a domino, with the caption, “Will the real likeness of Mohammed please stand up?” The cartoon has gone viral and was posted on the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” Facebook event page, which now has over 5,000 guests.
So what impact will the “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” Facebook event have? Well, as of now, the page’s creator has abandoned the event, due to people just not getting it and posting overly offense pictures of the prophet. The page’s creator also points out that “hatred breeds hatred” and encourages people posting on the event wall to make some Muslim friends.
So have we learned something today? Well, perhaps that there is a fine line between hate speech and satire, or maybe that cartoons aren’t the best way to combat religious extremists (after all, you may also be offending those that practice their religion peacefully). And we’ve also learned that “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” will likely have little impact on combating religious extremism, as the cartoons submitted join the many others floating around on the web that have flown under the radar of groups like Revolution Muslim.