Dispatches from the Creation Wars

The Caricatures Themselves

Since I found out that ScienceBlogs has a very cool feature built in for uploading images, I thought I’d go ahead and post all of the caricatures of Mohammed that were published in the Danish newspaper. Keep in mind what prompted the newspaper to publish them. A scholar was writing a book on Mohammed and could not find an illustrator who was willing to do the drawings for the book for fear of reprisal because Muslims believe that any drawing of Mohammed is forbidden. So the newspaper invited a bunch of artists to submit illustrations on the subject to test the extent of self-censorship going on regarding Islam. You will notice, in fact, that some of the illustrations make fun not of Mohammed but of the newspaper itself. Here’s my favorite. The rest are below the fold.

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Comments

  1. #1 Jeff Hebert
    February 3, 2006

    Just to be clear, as I understand it the objection from Muslims is not in any way related to the content of the cartoons, but to any attempt to make an image of Mohammed regardless of what the image is used for.

    I’ve seen a lot of people saying “But the cartoons aren’t even that offensive!”, but again, it’s not the content, it’s the simple act of creating an image of the Prophet that’s generating the hatred. That’s even scarier to me.

    I wonder who the guy in the purple shirt is in the last cartoon, he looks just like guy #7 in the police-lineup cartoon (the eighth one if I am counting correctly). The publisher maybe?

  2. #2 Gretchen
    February 3, 2006

    The guy in the purple shirt is Kåre Bluitgen (also #7 in the police line-up cartoon). He is the author of the book “Koranen og profeten Muhammeds liv” (“The Quran and the life of the prophet Muhammaed”), who had a hard time finding an illustrator and the Jyllands Posten took up his cause. The book has since been published, complete with illustrations (sometimes rather violent), and I think it’s funny that it isn’t receiving nearly as much protest as these cartoons.

  3. #3 tacitus
    February 3, 2006

    The irony is that images of Mohammed have been painted, drawn, and printed for hundreds of years. Since this has all blown up people have been posting examples of classical art, book illustrations, and comtemporary commercial art (some of which originates in Tehran of all places!), all containing images of the prophet.

  4. #4 Gretchen
    February 3, 2006

    Also– in the 7th cartoon the guy looking at the police line-up is saying “Hmm, I don’t recognize him.” And in the 8th cartoon the text reads “Prophet! Daft and dumb keeping women under thumb!”

  5. #5 Jeff Hebert
    February 3, 2006

    Thanks Gretchen, good to know. Appreciate the translations too.

  6. #6 Roman Werpachowski
    February 3, 2006

    I’m disappointed… I expected the cartoons to be something sharp, very critical of Islam. And this? getting upset over THIS? They’re crazy.

  7. #7 bcpmoon
    February 3, 2006

    There is hope for the muslim world (german site):
    http://www.spiegel.de/politik/ausland/0,1518,398885,00.html

    In short, a newspaper in Amman, Jordania published some of the caricatures and asked about their relevance when people are blowing themselves up in the name of allah. This takes guts.

  8. #8 Ed Brayton
    February 3, 2006

    bcpmoon:

    Unfortunately, the editor of that magazine was also promptly fired.

  9. #9 bcpmoon
    February 3, 2006

    Ed: True, but how much braver was that man compared to the european newspapers who took some time to reprint those cartoons, even though their risk is magnitudes smaller…
    I think that this man sees his fellow people not as fundamentalist as we (or our media) do, otherwise he wouldn´t have dared.

  10. #10 Ed Brayton
    February 3, 2006

    bcpmoon:

    Oh, I agree with that. Very brave man.

  11. #11 J-Dog
    February 3, 2006

    This whole story is depressing as hell to me. How do you deal rationaly with insane religious nuts? And besides the IDists and Christians, the Moslems are crazy too. I would like to vote for immediately banning ALL religions, but getting burned at the stake makes me break out.

  12. #12 bad Jim
    February 3, 2006

    Wikipedia has an informative article on the cartoons.

    Another shows KÃ¥re Bluitgen, wearing a turban with the proverbial orange dropping into it, with the inscription “Publicity stunt”. In his hand is a stick drawing of Muhammad. An “orange in the turban” is a Danish proverb meaning “a stroke of luck.”

    Thanks for posting readable copies, Ed.

  13. #13 bad Jim
    February 3, 2006

    It appears that the black rectangle over the prophet’s eyes in number 5 is the reverse of the eye slit in the veils worn by the flanking women, which would make it a feminist comment.

  14. #14 Kevin
    February 4, 2006

    Thanks Ed. I actually haven’t seen these printed in their entirely.

    The word that seems to crop up most in the English-language press is “denounce.” As in: X group denounces the cartoons.

    I say: good. Let’s talk about the Muslim religion. Let’s talk about the Christian, Buddhist, Hindo, and Buddhist religions. Anything less is tacit ignorance.

  15. #15 bcpmoon
    February 4, 2006

    May I recommend a blog for an insight from an saudi living in London, very funny read and a completely different perspective.

    http://muttawa.blogspot.com/

  16. #16 steve s
    February 4, 2006

    CNN, i read somewhere, didn’t show the cartoons because they were disrespectful.

  17. #17 Jesurgislac
    February 4, 2006

    Something that everyone usually agrees on: the right to free speech does not mean you have the right to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.

  18. #18 Ed Brayton
    February 4, 2006

    Jesurgislac wrote:

    Something that everyone usually agrees on: the right to free speech does not mean you have the right to shout “Fire!” in a crowded theatre.

    Nonsense. Of course you have the right to shout fire in a crowded theater – provided there actually is a fire, of course. But that has nothing at all to do with this situation. The post on your livejournal page is patently absurd. The caricatures were not commissioned to be offensive to Muslims, they were commissioned to test the question of how much self-censorship was going on. Some of the caricatures are actually insulting to the paper that commissioned them, yet they still printed them. That alone disproves this notion of intent to inflame.

    More importantly, it simply doesn’t matter why the paper printed them because the paper has the inalienable right to print whatever they want to print. People who respond to things they find offensive by calling for murder and “extermination” are insane and megalomaniacal. And frankly, they need to grow up and shut up.

  19. #19 Roman Werpachowski
    February 4, 2006

    More importantly, it simply doesn’t matter why the paper printed them because the paper has the inalienable right to print whatever they want to print.

    Nitpicking: what about libel and state secrets?

  20. #20 Ed Brayton
    February 4, 2006

    That’s beyond nitpicking. Of course there are exceptions. The fact that something might offend someone else is not one of them.

  21. #21 Jesurgislac
    February 4, 2006

    The caricatures were not commissioned to be offensive to Muslims

    That’s precisely why they were commissioned. Did you read the wiki article?

    More importantly, it simply doesn’t matter why the paper printed them because the paper has the inalienable right to print whatever they want to print. People who respond to things they find offensive by calling for murder and “extermination” are insane and megalomaniacal.

    Ah. So, a Danish right-wing newspaper has a right to publish something deliberately offensive to Muslims.

    But, Muslims who respond to this by waving placards with messages offensive to you are “insane and megalomaniacal”.

    I see.

  22. #22 Ed Brayton
    February 4, 2006

    Jesurgislac:

    Did you read the wiki article?

    No, and I don’t care about it. I read the actual article in the Danish newspaper (translated into English, of course) and it explains why they were commissioned. Some of them in fact made fun of the newspaper itself, were those ones designed to be offensive to Muslims too?

    Ah. So, a Danish right-wing newspaper has a right to publish something deliberately offensive to Muslims.

    Any newspaper, in any nation, whether “right wing” or not, absolutely has a right to publish something deliberately offensive to Muslims. Or to Christians. Or to Zoroastrians. Or to redheaded people. Or to anyone else, for that matter. No one has a right not to be offended by the views of others. If someone wants not to be offended, they don’t have to buy the newspaper. If they see it and they are offended, they are of course free to exercise their own free speech to denounce it, dispute it, call them names and rant and rave to their heart’s content. They are not free, however, to firebomb embassies and make death threats and threaten tourists.

    But, Muslims who respond to this by waving placards with messages offensive to you are “insane and megalomaniacal”.

    It has nothing to do with the messages being offensive to me. It has to do with threatening violence against people for daring to offend them. It has to do with threatening the lives of innocent people, setting embassies on fire and pledging to “exterminate” people. If this distinction is not immediately obvious to you, I would suggest that you are either insane yourself or you are a complete and utter moron. And if it’s offensive to you to be called a moron, you are of course free to speak out against it – but you’re not free to threaten to kill people over it or set things on fire.

  23. #23 spyder
    February 4, 2006

    Gosh, the first and seventh cartoons are really funny, and i was hoping the others would be so as well, but no so much. I wonder how much trouble one could get in here by creating a charicature cartoon of Scalia, Roberts, and Alito all praying to the recently canonized saint who founded Opus Dei. I would hope that such would not lead to restrictions or repressions, but i am pretty sure that such would not lead to overt violence and threats of extermination.

  24. #24 Roman Werpachowski
    February 6, 2006

    Ah. So, a Danish right-wing newspaper has a right to publish something deliberately offensive to Muslims.

    But, Muslims who respond to this by waving placards with messages offensive to you are “insane and megalomaniacal”.

    No. If these Muslims stood in front of the JP editors’ office and shouted “you’re an offensive moron”, it would be fine.

  25. #25 Kristjan Wager
    February 6, 2006

    No, and I don’t care about it. I read the actual article in the Danish newspaper (translated into English, of course) and it explains why they were commissioned.

    Never the less, they were commissioned to be offensive to Muslims – it was the newspaper’s attempt to make a point about freedom of speech in Denmark.
    As many others have said in many different blog discussions, it was within their rights to do so, but they could have done it in a less deliberately offensive manner, and still get their point across.

    And I base my claim not only on the article in question, but on the debate that has been going on in Denmark since then, and the statements made by the editor when on television or being interviewed.

    All in all, this entire affair is incredible stupid, and all the participants likewise. Thankfully, there have been no actual harm done to any person so far.

  26. #26 Ed Brayton
    February 6, 2006

    Kristjan Wager wrote:

    Never the less, they were commissioned to be offensive to Muslims – it was the newspaper’s attempt to make a point about freedom of speech in Denmark.

    I don’t think these two claims are equal to one another. An attempt to make a point about freedom of speech in Denmark, particularly about the degree to which fear of irrationally violent people were causing de facto censorship through intimidation, is entirely legitimate, even necessary in fact. If that was their intent, I don’t think it’s equivalent to say that their intent was also so be offensive to Muslims. This is especially true since only a small percentage of the caricatures could be viewed as offensive even by the most hyper-sensitive Muslims. But most importantly, as I keep repeating, it simply doesn’t matter whether the caricatures were intended to be offensive to Muslims, it is not a crime to offend Muslims (or any other group), particularly when the nutball variety that considers virtually everything an offense.

  27. #27 Gretchen
    February 6, 2006

    Kristjan

    Let’s say that you’re offended by depictions of giraffes. You and your friends have threatened and even killed people on certain occasions for drawing giraffes, to the point where now a guy is trying to write a book about giraffes and he can’t find anyone to illustrate it. So he talks to the local paper, and they commission a bunch of artists to draw giraffes to make a point against self-censorship. Does that mean that the paper was trying to offend you?

    Ed

    it simply doesn’t matter whether the caricatures were intended to be offensive to Muslims

    It matters in discussion of whether the paper was being unnecessarily rude or bigoted in publishing the cartoons. Whether the paper had a right to publish them and whether the paper should have published them are two different questions. “Freedom of speech” is not in itself sufficient reason to publish them– if it were, newspapers would be neverending because they would publish everything under the sun.

    So the question there is whether the cartoons should be considered unnecessarily rude and/or bigoted, and if so whether the rudeness is justified. It would be pretty difficult to make a case for bigotry being justified.

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