Tuesday, 18 May 2010

The May 20 Thing

The hype about 'Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!' (check Wikipedia entry) may not be as much as it is presumed by some - despite the fact that a few big names of mainstream media have given coverage to this now-anyonymous call for drawing images of Prophet Muhammad and uploading them on the Internet on Saturday, May 20 (the act may be called "now-anonymous" because both the Seattle cartoonist to whom the idea is attributed as well as the person who started the Facebook page have backed out). Also, the original Facebook page calling for the event has been surpassed in popularity by pages demanding ban on it such as Against 'Everybody Draw Muhammad Day!'.

The other kind of response is exemplified by Honour the Prophet Muhammad Campaign page suggesting, "No boycott of facebook on May 20th, rather it will be a day of activity! posting hadiths, Quranic verses, videos, and whatever you can!" Apparently this page is associated with a 22 year old student from UAE, Sami Zaatari, who has also uploaded a video on YouTube called Draw Muhammad Day - the Muslim Response. The video has been subsequently copied on Pakistan Youth Forum channel on YouTube (from where it is embedded here, since the comments on this version are more relevant to the debate).

The video has also been copied on the home page of the Seattle cartoonist who originally called for the event - hence a "news update" caption on Zaatari's video announcing, "The artist who started who started draw Muhammad Day has joined this campaign!!!!". However, it may not be as much of a victory: since the whole idea behind "Everybody Draw" was to avoid becoming target of Muslim extremists, it is uderstandable if the originators renounce it once it has taken roots. Secondly, as highlighted in some of the comments on the YouTube video (PYF version), the issue is something else.

Dispelling some of the misconceptions about Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a good thing but even if some non-Muslims become convinced that the Prophet was a great role model, the question will still remain whether like other good role models he can also be mocked or not. For instance, look at two of the comments posted on the Zaatari video on PYF channel:
He has the right to be mocked just like every single other thing on this Earth including Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Thor, Shiva, and all the other imaginary friends people have.

You seem intent upon missing the point. The issue isn't the Muhammed and his character. And it isn't that we're "haters" (although I'm sure there are a few out there.) No, this is an issue of FREE SPEECH. The whole point is that NO PERSON, NO IDEA, and NO IDEOLOGY has special privilege. EVERYTHING is open to scrutiny and criticism. Muslims have no right to expect their faith to be treated differently. It's time for Islam to quit whining and grow up.
This is the mood in which the so-called "Muslim Response" is being met. It seems that no matter how we handle the matter, we cannot avoid the central question: what is and what is not the freedom of speech. Perhaps a two-pronged Muslim response is needed. Firstly, there should be lawful protest against the May 20 event and such activities. Secondly, we need to probe deeper into the whole issue of the freedom of speech, and that is what I shall try to do on this blog in the next few days.


ReeBz said...

I'm waiting for those next posts..

Muhammad Hamza said...

Nice post,summing the whole affair nicely.

M.Rizwan Memon said...

Freedom of speech does not mean that you say whatever you want!! No, not at all, one should respect others values and beliefs. Drawing cartoons is bad in our religion, so they should know it and respect it! Similarly Jesus, Buddha, Krishna, Thor, Shiva... these peoples' religion allows it, or does not say that don't draw cartoons....

It's all about caring others belief. They don't have any other reason so they name it as their "freedom of speech"...

Test it! just say bad and offensive words to a person standing in front of you, then say to him, "Hey! It's freedom of speech dude"

Thinking said...

hmm...a very timely post...

I want to know what should be our part as a Muslim in all this...???

I can boycott the facebook...I can not look onto the website containing such hideous remarks about our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) but is this enough?

Where and how I can show my concern about this whole matter?

ReeBz said...

"no, this is an issue of FREE SPEECH. The whole point is that NO PERSON, NO IDEA, and NO IDEOLOGY has special privilege. EVERYTHING is open to scrutiny and criticism. Muslims have no right to expect their faith to be treated differently. It's time for Islam to quit whining and grow up."

Are these your words? or are you trying to explain the thoughts of a certain group?If these are your thoughts, then my feelings are hurt.
I agree with M.Rizwan Memon.Free speech doesn't mean that you start abusing and humiliating others.I have noticed that when these non-Muslim extremist humiliate Muslims and Islam they call it freedom of speech but when Muslims reply them, they ban them on their pages? is that called freedom of speech?Only non-Muslims have all the rights reserved for free speech?
Infact freedom of speech too has certain limits which should not be crossed.Speak until your words are not going to hurt someone else's feelings.Stretch your hand to full length thats your freedom and the very point where it touches the nose of the other person your limits of freedom ENDS!

Khurram Ali Shafique said...

@ReeBz: they are not my words, nor they can be. They represent a point of view that I am trying to show as wrong - watch the next posts.