blasphemy

Journalism and blasphemy: Can The New York Times cover Charlie Hebdo images with words, alone?

Journalism and blasphemy: Can The New York Times cover Charlie Hebdo images with words, alone?

So who is forgiving who and for what?

In the world of religion, and human rights, there is one story out there that must be discussed today and that's the post-massacre issue of Charlie Hebdo. The problem, of course, is that print journalists are trying to discuss a visual image -- yet their decision to show, or not to show, the image itself is affecting their coverage.

The New York Times -- one of the key players in this debate -- has a lengthy report on this subject that, to be blunt, quotes an admirable array of experts on what the cover may or may not mean. It's a fine story, in many ways. However, as GetReligionista emeritus M.Z. Hemingway notes with near fury at The Federalist, where's the art? We'll be back to that in a minute.

Here is how the Times states the crucial issue: What does the cover say?

The cover shows the bearded prophet shedding a tear and holding up a sign saying, “I am Charlie,” the rallying cry that has become synonymous with support of the newspaper and free expression. Above the cartoon on a green background is the headline “All is forgiven.”
While surviving staff members, at an emotional news conference, described their choice of cover as a show of forgiveness, most Muslims consider any depiction of their prophet to be blasphemous. Moreover, interpretations quickly swirled around the Internet that the cartoon also contained disguised crudity.

So forgiveness mixed with, yes, blasphemy. I would also like to raise another question: While the "All is forgiven" statement is not in a thought balloon, is it completely clear who is being forgiven and who is doing the forgiving?

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Muhammad, satire and blasphemy: In wake of Charlie Hebdo attack, exploring what Muslims really believe

Muhammad, satire and blasphemy: In wake of Charlie Hebdo attack, exploring what Muslims really believe

The Charlie Hebdo attack has put a focus on what Muslims believe concerning visual depictions of Muhammad, Islam's chief prophet and central figure.

New York Times rundown of threats and acts of violence over blasphemy and insults to Islam notes:

People of many faiths have committed violent acts in the name of religion and issued threats over insults. In Islam, though, there are strict prohibitions on the rendering of images of the Prophet Muhammad and other religious depictions.
In a number of countries where Islam is the prevailing religion, such insults are crimes. Some are punishable by death.

Of course, these same blasphemy laws also affect other issues in the news. Just think of all of those stories about converts to other faiths, usually Christianity, facing legal threats or even death sentences. There are many ways for unbelievers (including "moderate" Muslims) to insult Islam, but the alleged ban on images of Muhammad is the key here.

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Attention liberals: Blasphemy cases on the rise in Egypt

As I have said numerous times, I cannot imagine how hard it must be to cover the aftermath of the Arab Spring in a land as complex as Egypt, especially in news articles of a thousand words or less.

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Let's revisit Benghazi and the 1st Amendment

If you didn’t get a chance to watch the Benghazi whistleblowers testify before Congress yesterday, you should. Part of what made it so interesting was how dramatically their testimony contradicted the official line received and published by the media in previous months. It was also just a good lesson in how bureaucracy works and how competing interests can impede the search for truth or justice.

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