Of cartoons, blasphemies and hypocrisy

Everybody is now aware of the events following the publication of the danish cartoon. The cartoon depicts the prophet Mohammed with a bomb-shaped turban. The message of the cartoon (as I understand it) is that Islam is being used as a pretext to justify suicide bombings.

Islam prohibits drawings or sculptures of Mohammed. Judaism has similar prohibitions. Fair enough. The cartoon breaks this rule, and so it’s considered blasphemy by some muslims. Yes. The cartoon can be seen as offensive and distastefull. But 40+ dead? Violent protests against European countries? Burning embassies and consulates? It’s beyond ridiculuos.

Paco Calderón, one of the sharpest and most talented cartoonists in México made an excellent cartoon about the the whole thing (it’s in Spanish). It also shows the original images that started it all! (good, because if you haven’t seen them, you’ll have a hard time finding them now).

Andrew Sullivan, writer for Time magazine, had an essay in the February 13, 2006 magazine. When speaking about the fact that the non-muslim Danish cartoonist dared to draw Mohammed (gasp) he says, quote: "I eat pork, and I’m not an anti-Semite. As a Catholic, I don’t expect atheists to to genuflect before an altar."

Now, to close, I want to tell you about the hypocrisy part. Unlike the Danish cartoon, which was published by an independent newspaper in a country with full freedom of speech, the following links contain cartoons published in countries in which there is very limited or no freedom of speech by state-run newspapers. You look at them and judge which cartoons are more offsenive, libelous and unfair. I will tell you one thing: none of the following cartoons triggered mass protests, murders nor burning embassies.

Anti-Semitic Cartoons in Qatar’s Al-Watan.
Political Cartoons in the Arab Media.
Israelis/jews as nazis.
Israelis/Jews As Hitler
Israelis/Jews Controlling U.S. Government
Classical Anti-Semitic Caricatures of Jews
Cartoons from the Arab World
Major Anti-Semitic Motifs in Arab Cartoons

Enough. Remember, these are mostly recent cartoons, from the 1990’s and 2000’s. Some come from countries with peace accords with Israel and full diplomatic relations.

Feel free to use the comments section if you feel I’m wrong or innacurate. Or if you have some ideas for more cartoons.

4 thoughts on “Of cartoons, blasphemies and hypocrisy”

  1. Marquitos, excelente post!!

    Deberías aventarte unas caricaturas para el concurso…


  2. comparing the cartoons on israel with cartoons on muhammed is simply like comparing pears and apples. everyday throughout the world in many newspapers there are cartoons published which shows the arabs as a primitive, terror-like, disgusting creatures. hopefully we know what anti-arabism is as we know anti-semitism.(for more information check out the site: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anti-Arabism ) The point is, the cartoons on israel criticizes the politics of israeli government. criticizing the politics of a country is same as expressing ideas(freedom of speech). but the cartoons on muhammed is criticizing a religion. tell me please, who with a reason and thinks his time is valuable, criticize any kind of religion? religion is religion. it is dogmatic. besides it was the wrongest starting point to mention there is no freedom of speech in islam. everyone has to respect one another’s politics but doesn’t have to accept or like it. everyone has to respect one another’s religion but doesn’t have to accept or like it. and last but not least i -as an atheist and not an arab-, would like to say that if someone doesn’t like that religion, it doesn’t mean you can affront it. But you should study more on the difference between the religion’s and politics’ aspects on our lives.

  3. Hello Gunes

    Thanks for the comment. In the original post, I link to several examples of anti-semitic cartoons published in the Arab media. They do aim to criticize Israeli policy, but they do so by using every element of classical anti-semitic cartoons. They’re almost identical to the ones published, for example, in Nazi Germany or Czarist Russia. For example, in this website (http://www.adl.org/Anti_semitism/arab/cartoon_arab_press_080702.asp) you can see Ariel Sharon holding a dead arab baby in his blood-soaked hands. This evokes the blood libel (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blood_libel_against_Jews). More fun: the character depicting Israel is often drawn with a big hook nose, dressed as an orthodox religious jew, and sharp teeth. Sometimes even horns and a tail. In your words: “primitive, terror-like, disgusting creatures” (take a look). So while the cartoons are meant to criticize Israeli policy, they do so by drawing upon anti-semitic elements.

    The point of the post wasn’t that the original Muhammad cartoon isn’t offensive. I’m sure many people found it offensive, just like I find many cartoons offensive. The point of the post is that the response to the cartoon is absolutely unjustified and shameful and stifles freedom of expression. If you think otherwise, I’d like to hear why.

    Oh, and also, the post does not say that there is no freedom of speech in Islam. It says that the linked caricatures were published in countries that, unlike Denmark, have little or no freedom of speech and whose newspapers are state-owned or state-run.

  4. sorry for my late response.

    the reaction to those cartoons, in the countries whose religion is set as muslim, was something one can perceive before it happened. i think, it is more important to look why those cartoons were published than to look whether the reactions are shameful or appropriate.. methinks, at this kind of circumstances, it’s better to look to the action than to look the reaction. because there is no consequence without a cause.

    this doesnt mean that i dont think the reactions were extreme; however it is beneficial for us to look from another perspective too; a person whose religion is criticized will listen you and response you. a person whose religion is affronted will react worse. and this people are not just faithful but deeply religious. those cartoons were included insults in the name of freedom of speech. for this reason i find it quite natural that those people react this way likewise i find it extreme, too. if someone provokes this people -and if its tool is ‘religion’, it is not hard to perceive that they can react worse than this. as a matter of fact, there is already a conflict in most areas between east and west civilizations. for years and still today. if you slap someone which is already angry, then you don’t expect him to be responseless.

    in spite of these facts, those cartoons were unpleasant and arrogant drawings of westerners who generally see different people (nowadays they are arabs and furthermore muslims) as “the other”. and then came the derisive cartoons showing the ridiculous reaction of arabs. no offense, but that’s what i call double standard. the reaction of arabs were ridiculous and the publication of the cartoons were too pleasant? were they really creations of freedom of speech? i have doubts.

    lastly, i wasnt mentioning you/your post when i said “the wrong starting point to show the lack of freedom of speech in islam”. i was mentioning the attitude of those cartoonists.

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