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May 21st, 2010
07:31 PM ET

Does Draw Mohammed Day = Holocaust denial?

Secular students chalked smiling stick figures on campuses labeling them 'Muhammad;' Muslim students reacted by adding boxing gloves and re-labeling the drawings 'Muhammad Ali.'

The Led Zeppelin-inspired Pakistani rock star Salman Ahmad is plenty progressive – he opposed his country's decision to shutter Facebook and YouTube on Draw Mohammed Day on the grounds that it made Pakistan look intolerant and that it was impossible to enforce.

But theologically, the devout Muslim guitarist seemed to understand Islamabad's impulse to do whatever was necessary to keep Pakistanis from seeing images of the Prophet Mohammed.

Raised in New York, he was able to put the issue into a context I hadn't heard before.

It's as intolerable to Muslims to have images of the prophet, he said, as it is for Jews to accept Holocaust denial or for African-Americans to hear “the n-word.”

Neither of those things is illegal in the United States (though Holocaust denial is illegal in parts of Europe). And it's true, as the backers of Everybody Draw Mohammad Day told me earlier this week, that no one has the right not to be offended.

But to be absolutely clear, when I was talking to Ahmad, he said “the n-word,” not the word itself.

If you're American - white or black - imagine how shocked you would have been if he'd actually said the word.

Now imagine how shocked you'd be if there were Facebook groups urging people to use that word, or to deny the Holocaust.

- Newsdesk editor, The CNN Wire

Filed under: Islam • Judaism

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soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Aliraza

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    November 8, 2012 at 3:59 am |
  2. Dave Mauriello

    There's a difference between self censorship for the sake of not offending someone and self censorship for fear that you'll have your head cut off. THAT is something those of you who write this touchy-feely drivel seem to forget. As long as there are people out there who will kill me for drawing Mohammed, then I'll draw Mohammed and if the moderate Muslims want to register their complaints of offense, it should be with the yahoos of their faith who are threatening me far more than with me.

    YouMadeMeSayIt.com

    May 30, 2010 at 3:35 pm |
  3. Jewish Internet Defense Force

    Uh – there are groups that deny the Holocaust on Facebook, and Facebook did not censor them. They did, however, ban the draw Mohammed pages. Where have you been?

    May 30, 2010 at 11:15 am |
  4. Joe

    What if I draw Muhammed with invisible ink.

    May 28, 2010 at 3:29 pm |
  5. Cariessa Guinnen

    Ladies and gentlemen I present to you Freedom of Expression. Those of us who will not be denied our freedom of expression are fed up with people being killed (Theo Van Gogh) and threatened (South Park Artists) by whiny crybabies who think that the world should bow down to their point of view.

    But let them have their "Draw Holocaust Day". Let them bring to light the role that Islam and the Mufti played in 5000 Jewish children being sent to death camps instead of allowing them to be sent to the UK and other snuggling with Hitler and his cronies.

    Yes, we had our day of freedom of expression, let them have theirs. They'll hang themselves with it.

    May 25, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  6. Mohammad Usman Ghani

    As renowned of a news channel 'CNN' is, it is as immature.
    Asking a Muslim, who has been living in the USA let alone a guitarist, what he thinks about such serious issues. Ever try asking a scholar?
    Don't you think it would make more sense?

    May 25, 2010 at 11:01 am |
    • Meg

      First of all, I find it joyfull to see that muslims draw gloves on the stickfigure, and added Ali. Finally a sane, and witty response to the drawings from the religious side. It took years to get this far. Until now the only response have been death threats and condemnation.

      About your comment now:
      It is about time to ask someone that is not a scholar.
      The scolars i have seen commenting on these issues, have all been so narrow minded,
      that their answers would only make any sense, if the issue instead was, "if they themselves drew the prophet".

      So, since some of the drawings are made in the USA. A muslim living in the USA could actually know something about the american culture, that the scolars dont know
      Your comment about him being a guitarist makes no sence.

      The scholars dont take into account that:
      1. the "artists" are not muslims, and by that they dont have to obey the rules from the quran.
      2. even if the "artists" were muslims, they didnt draw the prophet to worship his image, which is the reason the rule exists.
      3. the "artists" lives in a time where a picture have a complete different meaning.
      Imagine the prophet walking down the street in the center of some big city. He would be captured by dozens of surveilance cameras, and also accidental footage from mobile phones.
      All these instances of creating images of the prophet, are all so far away from the concept of creating an image, that the concpet of image that the prophet would understand or have, that the image rules in the quran would have no relevance.

      Ill end with a well known quote from Omar Khayyám (1048–1131),
      And do you think that unto such as you;
      A maggot-minded, starved, fanatic crew:
      God gave the secret, and denied it me?–
      Well, well, what matters it! Believe that, too.

      /Meg

      June 29, 2010 at 6:53 pm |
  7. toxictown

    As silly as I think Islam (and all religions, esp. the Abrahamic branches) is/are, there is no real need for this. Offending people by mocking something "sacred" is like shooting fish in a barrel – being offensive for the sake of being offensive just to get a rise.

    May 25, 2010 at 10:34 am |
    • Cariessa Guinnen

      Look up Theo Van Gogh. Look up Lars Vilks. This is not about offending anyone, it's about proving to extremists that we will now bow down to their demands because of threats of violence.

      This isn't about offending Islam, it's about forcing radical Islam to accept that they do not make the rules for the rest of us.

      May 25, 2010 at 7:07 pm |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.