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May. 12 2010 - 4:55 pm | 5,758 views | 4 recommendations | 132 comments

Rhetorical Question for My Muslim Friends

Vilks’ cartoon depicting Mohammed came on the heels of Muslim outrage about cartoons originally published in Denmark in 2005. The republication of the cartoons several months later sparked violent protests in the Muslim world and prompted death threats against the cartoonist.

Vilks’ cartoon, which was published in August 2007 by the Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda, did not provoke that level of global protest, although it has stoked outrage.

via Police: Swedish cartoonist object of attempted attack – CNN.com.

Just out of curiosity — exactly how much of a wuss does your God have to be, do you think, if he can’t take being picked on by a Swedish cartoonist?

I almost can’t wait to see which fringe/attention-hungry satirist decides to make himself a Canal Plus documentary subject by publishing the next image of The Prophet. Can we all take bets on this? I’m lobbying hard for the next Rob Schneider movie — maybe a supernatural-themed sequel, like Deuce Bigalow 3: Gigolo of the Eternal Afterlife or something – to include a bi-curious Mohammed scene.

Is that the most offensive thing imaginable? I’m straining hard but can’t think of anything worse. A Gilbert Gottfried routine also has possibilities, I guess. By the way, has anyone seen that new Gottfried-narrated ad for the “ShoeDini” shoe-horn? It’s the best film I’ve seen this year.

Okay, excuse the digression, I’m going back to work now…


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  1. collapse expand

    So, let’s get the street theater go-go’s out on this one…why was Mohammed poisoned by his own people? Jesus was killed by an expanding empire and the betrayal by Judas is acknowledged. Who (and why) slipped Mohammed the poison?

  2. collapse expand

    And better yet…answer why Jesus is given this age?

    From Ibn Sa’d page 244:

    … and there has been no prophet but he has lived half the life of the prophet preceding him. Jesus the son of Mary lived for one hundred and twenty five years, and this is the sixty second year of my life. He (prophet) died half the year after this.

    • collapse expand

      Both stories you mentioned above were written more than 100 years after Mohammed’s death. In fact Ibn Sa’d was born 150 years after. Prior to the Abbasid Empire, there was no recording of any historical events because the Umyyad were busy occupying and expanding the empire and they could care less about Islam (they killed mohammed’s grandson and attacked the holy mosque). They were indeed Mohammed’s enemies throughout his life and jumped on the wagon near the end knowing it was a chance to use what he built for personal gain.
      When the Abbasid’s revolt succeeded they had to find a way to justify all the actions of the Empire and no justification was present in the Quran, in fact the Quran condemns the actions of the Empires throughout history. They found a solution by inventing Hadith, narratives attributed to Mohammed. In these narratives many new things were invented including a new story of Mohammed that was different from the little details found in the Quran. Wahabis will defend Hadith to the death but there is little evidence to support it’s basis. Therefore, any criticism of Hadith becomes apostasy punished by death in the new found Sunni and Shia religions.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  3. collapse expand

    Thanks to blah54 for his notes on my questions.
    I’ll take them in honesty at face value. And I find them interesting. I like it.
    To note: One thing the West has given the world is the important notion of Democracy. It gives more people in the population a chance to do more with themselves than they would have under other forms of government.
    But History as taught is very localized (yea, there is a lot of it and the Punic Wars were important to the Great Empire that Rome was…). A lot of the rest of the world does get ignored. Here is a recent example:
    The Japanese invasion of Manchuria. There is a Museum (called the 9-18 Museum for the date the Japanese invaded China) dedicated to it north of Shenyang…it covers the atrocities. Anyway, it was 1931 or so and the War lasted a long time there. To over 1 Billion Chinese it means something. We learn next to nothing about it other than it happened…if that.
    There are a myriad of examples from around the world. I think part of the “punch” behind the attitude toward Western History can be attributed to Democracy where everyone can have a big mouth…i.e., make their thoughts known. There is not just an official line on what “happened”. People write opinions/descriptions from all sides. So there is material to work with. In the Great Silence left by Very Controlling governments of any sort there is less to work with. On the other hand, look at all the material left behind by the American Rev… Whoa, this is turning into a diatribe…thanks again for your explanations, blah54.

  4. collapse expand

    It’s not that someone’s making fun of Mohammed in a cartoon that’s the problem, or that the cartoon is making fun of Islam. It’s that the cartoon graphically depicts Mohammed.

    Any image of a person is thought to encourage idolatry, which is why Islamic art is based on geometric and organic patterns. Obviously, most Muslims don’t have a problem with everyone else not sharing this view. But when you draw their prophet, that is just a profoundly douchebagly thing to do.

    It’s like building an slaughterhouse and beef processing plant in the middle of a predominantly Hindu neighbourhood. You’re perfectly free to do so. But why would you be such an asshole?

    • collapse expand

      According to the quran Mohammed is just a man no more and no less. Depiction of humans is no crime or offense to anyone and to make mohammed an exception is elevating him to a level higher than other humans. That is against the teaching of Islam.

      Mohammed is just a reminder to humanity that there is but one God and to bring about peace. The word ‘Mumin’ typically translated to ‘believer’ has another meaning ‘a person who makes you feel safe to be around’. The word safety in arabic is ‘aman’ which is the root of the word. Similarly ‘kufr’ which gets translated into ‘infidel’ in Arabic means ‘to cover’ and in many verses ‘kufr’ is used to mean transgression and injustice. A simple search through the Quran for the word transgressor will show that clearly.

      Now tell me who is ‘kafir’? the person who drew a picture depecting a mere human? or a person who issues death threats and blows up buses, planes and buildings? is it Bin-Ladin and his gang or the Danish and Swedes?

      Quran says:
      And when you see those who engage in [offensive] discourse concerning Our verses, then turn away from them until they start another conversation.

      That’s it… There is no getting offended or threatening them. Quran protects their right say what she/he wants including mockery of Islam, God, and Mohammed or any other human. According to the Quran judgment is after death and no one is to be a judge over faith in this life. After all if God didn’t want us to have that right, he wouldn’t have given us free will in the first place. That idea is emphasized in the Quran many times.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  5. collapse expand

    Two notes: Yea, our cult of the Founding Fathers
    exists but it has many views. Rome had R&R. Our founders are much more researched..and criticized. And compared to…oh Stalin and Co they were a worthwhile lot. And look at the French Rev…whoeee! Heads off galore!
    The example of building the cow barn/slaughterhouse in a Hindu hood is good. Except, even if the act is fucked up, the response is nuts. Really nuts…for some people literacy (reading the Koran) is not good. They get misinterpretations. I don’t know, does a religion (and we aren’t going to get rid of them tomorrow) have to go through a period of insanity before becoming…what it preaches?
    Explain the Inquisition…God, that is a good blue book question! Never got that one…

  6. collapse expand

    Matt is across the board in any religion’s face. And he was right in calling out cowards who defile the world with their shit. Yea, he could know a few more things about Islam, but his general tenor is right on. Also, a note here on suicide bombers…I don’t think many are old, if any…so I guess aging does make most smarter. Of course many of the people sending them are older…well, it seems they just smarter at using the dumbos.

  7. collapse expand

    Disclaimer: If you aren’t in the mood for incoherent rambling, please skip over this comment.

    So the Miss USA pageant just crowned their first Muslim, which I guess is supposed to be a big deal. Being woefully ignorant, I had to wikipedia exactly what the word “Muslim” means. It says “an adherent of the religion of Islam.” I wonder if Islam has anything to say about a woman who undresses in front of millions of people for prizes. For all I know, there is no conflict between her religion and her actions. If there is a conflict, is she truly a Muslim? Just like when people say “I’m not a practicing Catholic”. Is there any other kind besides practicing?

    If religions set down certain rules that can be adhered to or not, then what is the point of religion? It just clouds the issues.

    As an aside, it seems that there is a scandal (surprise!) involving the newly-crowned young lady. Apparently there are photos of her winning a pole-dancing contest in 2007. (Imagine that. She didn’t seem like that kind of girl at all.) 2007 was so long ago, I’m sure there is just No Way that the pageant could have known about her “past”, but they are looking into it now. Donald is unique – he is both pimp and w****. I wouldn’t be surprised if he put a bug in the ears of right-wing religionists about her so-called ties with terrorists. Just to pimp his pageant.

  8. collapse expand

    This is certainly the aid of purity….testing. Is she truly a Muslim? An, that question of born of a medieval search for…number of angels on a pin head, unicorns…and now, the True Muslim. How advanced in thought are these minds!

  9. collapse expand

    Mr. Taibbi, the chances of you reading this comment are probably slim, but I’ve generally really enjoyed your writing, so I found what you wrote on this page troubling. I was hoping you could read the following article to get a bit of the context of why I might think this whole situation is framed a bit oddly, and then I can address each of your points at ftc68@yahoo.com

    American Everyman 23 April 2010

    South Park ran an unedited image of Muhammad in 2001 in an episode called “Super Best Friends“… and nothing happened.

    In fact, the episode had been on the South Park website for viewing at any time for the past few years (they just removed it)… and nothing happened.

    For 4 seasons they had that image in their opening segment for every single show… and nothing happened.

    So for years on end no Muslim group, “radical” or otherwise, has threatened Matt and Trey or Comedy Central about the image of Muhammad that has been available for all to see every single day.

    All of a sudden last week a group called “Revolution Muslim” threatened violence against Comedy Central if they aired an image of Muhammad which forced Comedy Central to censor the show and now you have even liberals talking about those “radical Muslims” and their threats of violence. Karl Rove couldn’t have done it any better.

    Problem is, Revolution Muslim was started and run by a “converted” Israeli settler who studied at an orthodox rabbinical school in Israel before becoming a settler in the occupied territories.

    You don’t think a orthadox Israeli settler would have any desire to see progressive Americans start to hate “radical Muslims” do you? You think “Revolution Muslim” helps or hurts the Israeli PR campaign after Operation Cast Lead and the Goldstone Report?

    Here’s the research your team should have done before you went out and spun-up the neoconish ”radicalized Muslim” hype for your progressive audience…

    “Revolution Muslim” is always there to say just the wrong thing to make Americans hate “Radical Muslims”. They praised the killing of Daniel Pearl with a childish puppet show. They sent “Get Well” wishes to the guy who shot those 13 people at Fort Hood.

    Yousef al-Khattab, 41, a radical Muslim in the borough of Queens who runs RevolutionMuslim.com, claims on the site that the soldiers massacred at the Texas base deserved to be massacred, and he insists the victims are in “eternal hellfire.” As for the suspected gunman — Army psychiatrist Maj. Nidal Malik Hasan — Al-Khattab hails him as a hero. Fox News

    You can count on “Revolution Muslim” to say the wrong thing at the right moment to get Americans to hate all those “radical” Muslims.

    But the only thing is… “Revolution Muslim” (his creative fake “Scary American Terrorist” website) was started and ran by a man named Yousef al-Khattab. Yousef al-Khattab was born Joseph Cohen, in Brooklyn, New York. He was jewish. But not just jewish, he was a settler who went to Palestine to live on the illegal Israeli settlements.

    Joseph Cohen isn’t alone though. There is another “radical Muslim” convert from Judaism (the original fake “scary American Terrorist“) who makes sure that “radical” Muslims are hated in America, his name is Adam Pearlman and he went by the “radicalized” Muslim name “Adam Gadahn“. Adam Pearlman is actually the grandson of a member of the board of directors of the Anti-Defamation League (at least he was on the board… Dr. Carl Pearlman died in 1998).

    Gadahn grew up on a goat farm in rural Riverside County and moved to Santa Ana to live with his grandparents, the late Dr. Carl Pearlman and his wife, Agnes, in the mid-1990s. It was here that he learned of Islam via the Internet and later fell in with a radical sect at the Islamic Society of Orange County OC Register

    And the funny thing is, after all that hate speech and those calls to violence, Cohen never got arrested. Hell, even Fox News knew exactly where he was. Guns, death threats, and all the rest and amazingly Yousef al-Khattab (Joseph Cohen) was never arrested.

    A New York City bicycle cabbie who mocked the murder of journalist Daniel Pearl and posted a prayer on the Web calling for the murder of Jews is now sending a ‘Get Well Soon’ message to the suspected Fort Hood gunman, the New York Post reported.

    After growing up in a jewish neighborhood in New York and attending a orthodox rabbinical school in Israel, Joseph Cohen went to live in a settlement in the West Bank to help steal Palestinian land from Palestinians.

    His story is that he “converted” to Islam after meeting someone in a chat room. You know what “settlers” are like in the occupied territories don’t you Mr. Stewart? Ever see that video of them beating the old Palestinian woman with a baseball bat?

    Ever see that video Mr. Stewart? If not, take a look here. This video was released by B’Tselem (an Israeli peace organization).

    al-Khattab has claimed that he has nothing to do with the site anymore but the person he founded it with left prior to all of this earlier this month. al-Khattab claims to have quit the site in late Dec. last year. His partner who started it with him also claims to have quit the site earlier this month. I guess no one wanted to go to jail for issuing death-threats over the internet. But someone did it.

    I find it funny that after being born and raised as a jewish person, after attending orthodox rabbinical school in Israel, and after being radical enough to move to occupied territories in Palestine to live as a settler (the most hard-core of Israeli Zionists), ALL OF A SUDDEN Joseph Cohen dropped all of that teaching and suddenly became a “radical Muslim’ after a chat in a chat room. He became a “radical Muslim” then just HAPPENED to move back to the city he lived in before… Brooklyn, N.Y.

    Anybody believe that shit? Jon Stewart does. So much so he mocks “radical Muslims” for threatening South Park.

    Now, go here and watch Jon Stewart joke and make derogatory comments about the group that threatened the creators of South Park for showing the image of Muhammad on their recent show. Then he thanks all the “other” religions for not behaving like the “Radical Muslims” did when Stewart makes fun of their religion. He then shows clip after clip showing how they have made fun of Jewish people without anyone threatening violence.

    Radical Muslim is a COINTELPRO site, run by a “converted” jewish settler pretending to be a “radical Muslim”. He is the ONE Muslim that complained about the South Park episode… an ex-radical Israeli settler, Mr. Stewart… real Muslims haven’t threatened South Park once since 2001 when they FIRST ran an image of the prophet on their show.

    • collapse expand

      Saying that Israelis benefit from ‘bad muslim’ image is one thing and saying that those lunatics at RevolutionMuslim.com are conspiring to make Muslims look extreme is another. Would you also say Bin-Laden, Thawahri, and all their likes are also planted by Israelis to scare Americans of the ‘extremist’ muslim? Facts are facts, the ideology that produces extremist Muslims exists and similar ideologies exists in just about every religion through manufacturing holy scripture or choosing to read it in a certain way. I know it’s tempting to assume a conspiracy, but in all honesty no conspiracy is needed because Wahabis/Salafis have done a damn good job making Islam look bad.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
      • collapse expand

        I haven’t assumed a conspiracy. Like you said “Facts are facts, the ideology that produces extremist…” From this entire brouhaha, the following context has never, I repeat NEVER, been brought up:

        South Park ran an unedited image of Muhammad in 2001 in an episode called “Super Best Friends“… and nothing happened.

        In fact, the episode had been on the South Park website for viewing at any time for the past few years (they just removed it)… and nothing happened.

        For 4 seasons they had that image in their opening segment for every single show… and nothing happened.

        So for years on end no Muslim group, “radical” or otherwise, has threatened Matt and Trey or Comedy Central about the image of Muhammad that has been available for all to see every single day.

        The twisted and perverse history of the organization behind these threats is virtually never part of this entire conversation.

        There’s too many things wrong about the way this entire issue has been framed. I only meant to bring new information to the table – I would drown in inanity if I tried to engage all the problems with this issue and Matt’s take on it.

        Once again, Matt, your understanding of an issue and of a people is incomplete. But if you want to know why – get in touch with me (ftc68@yahoo.com)

        In response to another comment. See in context »
        • collapse expand

          “There’s too many things wrong about the way this entire issue has been framed.”

          At this point, perhaps we can all agree on that.

          In any case, not being a South Park viewer, I appreciate your enunciation of facts concerning the presentation of that show.

          And just to add some spice to this freedom of expression concoction, I note the recent reporting of the cancellation of a play about the life of Bernard Madoff, because it offended the sensibilities of Elie Wiesel:

          Theater J pulls Madoff play after objections from Elie Wiesel.

          In response to another comment. See in context »
  10. collapse expand

    To ftc68, re: Matt Taibbi (aka as Ruggles the Clown). You are right on with your analysis of the Mulsim/Xtian/Jewish interfaces. As you have evolved this far I want to inform you that there is no “real” Matt Taibbi, (known as “Mike” to his friends) and that there are 4 full time writers who have created this “personage”. If you care to meet with them, we can arrange something. And both of these double, triple entendus (and maybe more) can be elucidated more.

  11. collapse expand

    Montefiore’s excellent work on Stalin backs your idea that Stalin toadied to a different sort of sacrosanct ideology. You want to puke when you see Stalin letting husbands or wives liquidated as their spouses (high party members) beg for their lives. He could not do it as the “party”…whatever make believe that was, could not do it. Right, so who cares about these other high ranking idiots, but is is the total lack of humanity that is so disgusting, to whomever it is displayed.

  12. collapse expand

    Matt: the comment by Paul Tullis is, I think, excellent. In the same vein, my answer to your question is that this is not about god, and has never been about god; it’s about colonialism. You’ve done some amazing reporting about Goldman Sachs and its global tendrils, and the complicity of our political and media elites in the activities of global capitalists. Combine that with the agendas of global institutions like the IMF and World Bank, the fecklessness of the UN, and the constant military involvement of the “Christian world” in the “Muslim world,” and what you get is a whole bunch of pissed-off Muslims who feel like their material wealth continues to be looted by the West. To someone like me, in the US, colonialism and orientalism seem like ancient history, and our wars seem like discrete events; but to people in Muslim countries, it’s everyday life (that for some can be traced back over a century), because they’re the ones who have to live with the material consequences of western-supported dictatorships, wars, drone attacks, austerity programs, and climate change. From within that context, it seems to me that this cartoon (cartoonish?) anger comes down, in large part, to people feeling like they’ve been ripped off by powerful foreign forces that are now adding insult to injury by attacking the only remaining element of self-determination they still have: their religious beliefs.

    None of this is to argue the merits of religion, or to suggest that violence (or the threat thereof) is justified or legitimate, or that religion isn’t implicated in plenty of bad behavior. But, if we’re going to make generalizations, then we should make the correct ones, and it seems to me that it makes no sense to generalize about Muslims being angry about slights to their religion without considering the context within which this is taking place.

    By the way, thanks for using the words “Muslim” and “Islamic” correctly. I haven’t seen many journalists get those words right, and I suspect that’s something that rankles many people.

    • collapse expand

      Colonialism? err yes, the perpetrually outraged Muslims are the colonists! They move to more enlightened places such as Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland, and the UK, and then get enraged about freedom of speech, or if the citizens don’t want a “super-mosque” built next to a (smaller) cathedral.

      The sad reality is that in the West, college students are the ones to “give the finger” to authority & politicians — Muslim college students on the other hand (from Iran through this latest batch in Sweden) are more prone to call for draconian & medieval Imams to run everything. That’s what’s really sad in the video — college students encouraging the stifling of speech as well as violence, over what, a wimpy cartoonist?

      Just think who they’re outraged by — the Swiss, the Swedes, and the Danes. Yeah, real “bad” societies eh? Not quite as enlightened as Sudan, Iran, Yemen, Saudi Arabia etc.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  13. collapse expand

    So cool Carl, right on…too much literacy maybe drives some people crazy, what, with all the new ideas. Guess they need time to mature…

  14. collapse expand

    What is it about the skeletons in other people’s closets? The smell and the darkness? A few years ago, there was a work of art exhibited in Santa Fe that depicted the Madonna in a bikini. There were death threats. Laughing at others is not a sense of humor – it’s derision, bullying. Imagine a cartoon of Jesus fellating a grotesquely endowed dog. Put that on a T-shirt and wear it to a Christian revival meeting, see how your sense of humor holds up.

    • collapse expand

      @falkburger – If you wore a shirt like that you might raise the hackles on some fundamental christians but that’s about it. If you wore a Mohammad shirt in downtown Cairo Egypt, you wouldn’t last 5 minutes. I dare you to even try it.

      This is the difference between Muslims and Christians with regards to issues of offending one’s religion. In the western world we routinely make fun of and criticize our own religious leaders. In matters such as Child molestation by priests, they are rightly denounced and criticized all the way up to the Pope in Catholicism. In Islam there is no criticism. To criticize Islam is to criticize Allah and Mohammad, a big no no. It will likely get you a death fatwa and a permanent new name.

      In response to another comment. See in context »
  15. collapse expand

    f-burger the humpty burger adds addleism to the World…he screws so many things together it is a hodge-podge that…well, one example is enough…The Shack…you know, the book about meeting the holy trinity in a shack. I have not read it, only about it. Imagine a book about Allah along those lines. Salmon Rushie did the Satanic Verses on an even more abstract level and he had to go into hiding for years. That would just not happen under xtianity. Quit the moronic analysis and try…beading or something more attuned to you logic.

  16. collapse expand


    Do you even know why the cartoons were drawn in the first place? They were done in response to these stifling of free speech by Jihadists in the European countries.

    It has come to a point where people are afraid to speak out against Muslim problems in the west for fear of violence. If someone speaks their mind about problems with Muslims or the truths about Islam, they are given a fatwa. Just look at what has happened to Pim Fortuyn or Theo Van Gogh!

    In the US, Muslims and their apologists in the media attack people who speak out against Sharia Law or Islam and if that doesn’t work, they get a death fatwa. Sharia Law and the Constitution are diametrically opposite. There is no way they can exist together. One follows the principle of Human Rights, Democracy and Freedom, the other does not.

  17. collapse expand

    Do you have any Muslim friends or is that just a “rhetorical” device? If so they must be remarkably tolerant to put up with stuff like, “how much of a wuss does your God have to be”. In Islam, by the way, Mohammed is a prophet and a man, not god. This kind of language is counterproductive. It lumps moderate Muslims, who are appalled by the violence committed by extremists and who are themselves much more often the target of that violence.

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    I'm a political reporter for Rolling Stone magazine, a sports columnist for Men's Journal, and I also write books for a Random House imprint called Spiegel and Grau.

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