I’ve been trying to determine what exactly about these cartoons has set off the riots. Honestly I can’t figure it out. I thought at first it was because the images of Mohammed in the cartoons was considered insulting or degrading. The more I read, I find out that Muslims (supposedly) consider any depiction of Mohammed as prohibited. Fine… but what about these?
While the debate rages, an important point has been overlooked: despite the Islamic prohibition against depicting Mohammed under any circumstances, hundreds of paintings, drawings and other images of Mohammed have been created over the centuries, with nary a word of complaint from the Muslim world. The recent cartoons in Jyllands-Posten are nothing new; it’s just that no other images of Mohammed have ever been so widely publicized.
This page is an archive of numerous depictions of Mohammed, to serve as a reminder that such imagery has been part of Western and Islamic culture since the Middle Ages — and to serve as a resource for those interested in freedom of expression.
Two examples in the archives stand out to me (in a big blinky Las Vegas lighting kind of way)
The television cartoon South Park aired an episode on July 4, 2001 called Super Best Friends. In it, the founders of the world’s great religions — including Mohammed — team up for super-hero action. Mohammed (seen here) is depicted repeatedly throughout the show.
Spike TV created a parody advertisement for an imaginary video game called Holy War, featuring religious icons battling to the death. One of the characters is Mohammed, who is shown first defeating Joseph Smith…
…and then getting beaten by Moses, who cuts off his head with the Ten Commandments.
Moses beheading Mohammed with the 10 commandments gets no attention, but a cartoon depicting Mohammed in a Danish paper sparks international rioting? Huh?
But could it be it’s all manufactured? From the Mohammed Image Archive:
Furthermore, when a delegation of Danish imams went to the Middle East to discuss the issue of the cartoons with senior officials and prominent Islamic scholars, the imams openly distributed a booklet that showed not only the original 12 cartoons, but three fraudulent anti-Mohammed depictions that were much more offensive than the ones published in Denmark. It is now thought that these three bonus images are what ignited the outrage in the Muslim world.
Well that certainly would explain a lot wouldn’t it?
The three depictions are on the image archive site (and can also be seen here).