May 20 is "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day." We looked at coverage of this event a month ago. It was the brainchild of an illustrator upset at Comedy Central's censorship of the South Park show. South Park, which has depicted the Prophet Muhammad in the past to no criticism, was pretending to depict Muhammad again. Comedy Central fearful of Muslim violence, blocked the pretend depictions and censored previous shows. So what does recent coverage show? Some pretty balanced reporting but also some typical errors. The Christian Science Monitor had a very helpful review to bring readers up to date on the controversy. Here's the Associated Press report on Pakistan's reaction to the day:
LAHORE, Pakistan (AP) -- Pakistan's government ordered Internet service providers to block Facebook on Wednesday amid anger over a page that encourages users to post images of Islam's Prophet Muhammad.
The page on the social networking site has generated criticism in Pakistan and elsewhere because Islam prohibits any images of the prophet. The government took action after a group of Islamic lawyers won a court order Wednesday requiring officials to block Facebook until May 31.
Oh, "Islam" prohibits "any" images of the prophet? Really? According to whom or what? Of course, not all Muslims believe that Islamic teachings forbid showing images of Muhammad. Muslims are most definitely not unanimous in their belief that any physical representation of Muhammad is blasphemous. Pictured here is a postcard from Algeria. The man about to enter the cave is Muhammad. And there are physical depictions of Muhammad going back for many centuries. You can view a few of them here.
I have absolutely no idea which Muslims believe what about depicting Muhammad, why they believe it or what any of the finer doctrinal points are. But I know that the AP report is not true.
This Seattle Post-Intelligencer blog was not one of the better discussions on the matter. Monica Guzman apparently doesn't like the idea behind the Everybody Draw Muhammad Day, which is fine, but this language was curious:
Everybody Draw Mohammed Day" took off within days of [Molly] Norris' April post and a subsequent appearance on "The Dave Ross Show" she says she also regrets. Thousands of images have already appeared on at least two related Facebook pages she did not create that boasted upwards of 71,000 members Thursday afternoon and features not discussion or debate but streams of verbal and visual vitriol.
Online causes form a yin-yang, so here's the bright side: A Facebook page against these Facebook pages had 72,000 fans Thursday.
The "bright side" is a Facebook page against other Facebook pages? Okay. I thought this FoxNews report did a much better job of presenting the case for all sides -- celebrating the day, protesting the day, etc. It explained the various Facebook groups and looked at comments posted on the various sites, including from Muslims explaining why they opposed the day. And it ended with an anecdote about someone who entered a drawing and why he did it.
Into this mix, the libertarian magazine Reason hosted a contest for who could draw the best entry for the day. Earlier this week, the editors reminded readers that it was Muslim clerics who drew the three "worst" cartoons (in the Danish cartoon controversy) and took them on a tour in Muslim areas, sparking riots that led to violence, property damage and death.
Today they announced the winners of their contest. The winner and runners up are all interesting as is the fact that Reason says they were all drawn by different people with the same name -- Spartacus. You can check them out here, if you're so inclined.