Wednesday, April 28, 2010

South Park Creators Insult Muslims

The 200th episode of the popular but irreverent and politically incorrect animated show, South Park, has portrayals of Buddha, Jesus, Moses and Krishna as human beings and it also has the Prophet Muhammad shown in a bear outfit. Muslims believe that it is forbidden to have any depiction of the prophet. Published caricatures of Muhammad have often drawn criticism, protests and violence around the world. In 2004 Theo Van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker, was brutally murdered over his movie about violence against women in Islamic countries.

A Website,, posted a message to Matt Stone and Trey Parker, the show’s creators, saying: "We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh for airing this show”. The author, "Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee", had included with his post (published on April 15 - a day after the episode aired) a graphic photo of the Dutch filmmaker on a street after he was killed by people seeking to represent the "religion of peace".

The site is currently inaccessible due to what a leader of the group told Reuters news service was a 'traffic overload'. The head of 'Revolution Muslim', Younus Abdullah Muhammad, told Reuters news service: "How is that a threat? Showing a case study right there of what happened to another individual who conducted himself in a very similar manner? It's just evidence."

The radical website also linked the statement to an article that contained details of a mansion in Colorado that Parker and Stone apparently own, suggesting the Web posters know where to find the South Park creators.

In an almost arrogant attempt to disclaim responsibility Muhammad said his group "didn't tell anyone to go to their houses and conduct violence".

Stone and Parker have often made fun of religious icons and leaders on the show. They criticized their network, Comedy Central, for removing their depictions of Muhammad from several episodes that were broadcast in 2005 (after a Danish newspaper published satirical cartoons about the prophet). Comedy Central has not commented on this case yet.

I am personally divided on how to react to this incident. There seem to be a lot of radical Islamic extremists running around blowing up things and killing innocent people, as in the attack on the World Trade Center. We are involved in an ongoing war against Muslim terrorists who regularly broadcast their intention to kill Americans and bring down the United States. It would be easy for me to instantly take any side that makes fun of people who have made themselves my enemy. Additionally, being a Christian, it is hard for me to relate to the idea that a depiction of anyone is a sin punishable by death.

However, I also believe deeply that people’s religious beliefs should be respected. Also, it has to be noted that while there are Islamic Terrorists to deal with, there are also over a billion law abiding Muslims that do not ascribe to these radical beliefs -- and while we are war with some terrorists that happen to be Muslim, we are not at war with the Muslim faith. So, I guess I have to say that showing the depiction of the Prophet Mohammad was wrong and even if it was intended to be harmless fun (which, by-the-way, I do not believe either, I think it was done for the specific purpose of offending Muslims and creating controversy), it should not have been done nor aired.

That does not take the website or these radicals off the hook. Their threats, even if thinly veiled, and their publishing of the men’s residential address goes beyond acceptable bounds. They should be held legally responsible right now for those actions and if any violence happens as a result of that article, they should be held responsible for that too.

I am also continually disappointed that the Muslim community, especially in this country, does not openly and strongly condemn these kinds of threats and actions. I have heard only one "Muslim" going on CNN and trying to disassociate the Muslims in America from this event. That is not enough. If a Christian or, God forbid, a Jewish terrorist had done this there would be legions of religious leaders issuing statements condemning the violence. It is this lack of reaction that makes the rest of the world apprehensive and distrustful of Muslim culture and religious doctrine.

Religious zealots often seem to get carried away thinking that they are on a mission from God (or gods) to make everyone behave in accordance with their beliefs. They often seek to spread their religion through any means they can, including force. These people, regardless of their religion, must be confronted and stopped. Intolerance is simply not acceptable even if it is done in the name of someones god. In this case that means we need to condemn both sides – the filmmakers for purposely violating Islamic religious tenants and the Islamic radicals for over-reacting and demonstrating that they can not function in harmony with people from other cultures and religious beliefs.

Today's Fun Picture

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