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After Seattle artist Molly Norris jokingly suggested that May 20 become “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day,” in reponse to last month’s brouhaha over the South Park 200th episode poking fun at this ongoing cartoon controversy, she tried to backtrack by taking down her website and avoiding interviews.
No matter. According to CNN, more than 7,000 images of Islam’s prophet have been uploaded today, though the Washington Post reports that most editorial cartoonists have avoided the subject. (Unfortunately, though we’ve probably crossed paths around town in the last few weeks, I haven’t been able to reach Norris myself; you can check out the Seattle P-I’s interview with her here.)
What I find interesting — and what Norris seemed to be getting at in her original cartoon, which included “depictions” of Muhammad as a cup of coffee and a spool of thread — is the question of at what point a devout Muslim finds a depiction offensive? What if I draw a happy face here and say it’s the Prophet Muhammad? 🙂 And why, as South Park basically asked, does this one person get to be off limits in a multifaith, multicultural world? Certainly, it seems like Muslims have a lot more to worry about, both from within and outside their communities, than a few mean-spirited sketches.
Also, for what it’s worth, not all Muslims believe that drawings of Muhammad are sinful and must be censored; there are some beautiful old Persian manuscripts that depicted him during the Middle Ages.