I am extremely happy today that I do not live in Pakistan [which has banned Facebook for the day] –I need my daily dose of Facebook. “Draw Muhammad Day” has caused a great outcry in the Muslim community, in fact, it’s an outcry that I find to be way over the top.
I, a Muslim, born and raised in New York, find this reaction to be disappointing. I believe it’s because I have a difficult time comprehending our community.
I don’t understand – Why is there an outcry now? South Park has a reputation of disrespecting all religions. They have shown images of other great prophets, most recently, Jesus and made a mockery of him and no Muslim said anything then. Do we not respect him as much as we respect the prophet Muhammad? I find it hypocritical that we choose to complain only when it comes to our last prophet. Hollywood and the media has shown images and depictions of G-d (Bruce Almighty), Prophets (10 Commandments), etc., but there was no Muslim outcry.
The Quran states, “show forgiveness, speak for justice and avoid the ignorant.” (7:199). That is exactly what we need to do. Although I doubt any of the artists will be asking for forgiveness for their drawings, I think we need to take advantage to reach out to non-Muslims and inform them about how we feel. We need to “invite (all) to the way of your Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, and argue with them in ways that are best and most gracious” (16:125). Of course, the ‘most gracious’ way does not include threats or violence.
We should be more open minded than others in our acceptance of freedom of expression, even if negative. Unlike places like Italy where you may be put in prison for up to five years for making negative comments about the Pope, we should let the artists express themselves, and we should express how we feel in a civilized manner. If that doesn’t work, we should ‘avoid the ignorant.’ Boycotting or banning Facebook is not a solution. In fact, giving so much importance to drawings is a bit excessive.
Instead we should be tackling bigger and more important issues. How about fight for the rights of the innocent men among the guilty out in Guantanamo, or rally against the injustice done to women in Muslim countries, or show our disapproval of the acts of people like Faisal Shahzad, or try to bring American troops back home from places where they, along with civilians, are dying/being killed in vain.
These are just some issues that I think are much more important than some drawings by cartoonists.