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Interview: Administrator Says 'Draw Muhammad Day' Facebook Group 'Decided To Draw The Line'

Demonstrators in Hyderabad, Pakistan on May 19 hold banners and shout sloagans against the "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" Facebook event.
Demonstrators in Hyderabad, Pakistan on May 19 hold banners and shout sloagans against the "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" Facebook event.

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The "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" event on Facebook, organized by a group bearing the same name, attracted 80,000 members for its May 20 online campaign, resulting in more than 4,000 cartoons being uploaded to the site.

Islam prohibits the depiction of any prophet as blasphemous, and some Muslims rose up in protest over the publication of satirical cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad in European newspapers in 2006, with some of those protests turning violent.

Supporters of "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" said they were uniting against Islamic extremists who threaten those responsible for controversial speech concerning Islam. They also said they were taking a stand against self-censorship in the West, pointing to the controversial South Park episode that recently featured the Prophet Muhammad but was subjected to severe editing after Comedy Central, the television channel that aired the program, said it had received threats.

Pakistan responded to the May 20 campaign by banning Facebook on May 19.

An administrator of the Facebook group "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" spoke with RFE/RL about the online campaign, in which users were asked to submit cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. Speaking from Germany, 28-year-old Andy Freiheit, a German citizen using a pseudonym for safety reasons, discusses freedom of the press, religious sensitivity, and the global attention given to the Facebook campaign. The interview was conducted by RFE/RL Central Newsroom correspondent Kristin Deasy and RFE/RL Radio Mashaal correspondent Maliha Amirzada.

RFE/RL: When did you become in charge of the group? How long ago was that?

Freiheit: I [was put] in charge of the group probably the 10th or 11th of May.

RFE/RL: Has Facebook contacted you?

Freiheit: Oh yeah, but not in a negative way. They've just tried to verify that we are who we said we are. So we had to make a blog -- because the initial information, basically, was [attributed] to Molly Norris [a Seattle cartoonist who drew a poster of a fictional group, Citizens Against Citizens Against Humor, declaring May 20 "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day"], and she [later] left the group [and withdrew from the campaign], so we had to just change that. But anything else than that, no. I know the group's been reported like 100,000 times, but Facebook did not block the entire thing, like Google would have done, or whoever else cares more about money than civil rights.... I think it was because...our earlier moderators' accounts got hacked and they had to verify, because suddenly one of the guys, instead of logging in from Madrid, was logging in from Karachi, Pakistan. And you don't move 5,000 miles in an hour.

RFE/RL: Have you received any direct threats?

Freiheit: No, not me personally. I haven't received any threats to my person. They don't know my name. But we've received general threats to the admins and moderators of the group. But we take measures.... We have fake accounts.... We have proxies on our Internet and stuff.

RFE/RL: I'd just like your reaction to what happened in Pakistan. Were you taken off guard by how quickly things developed?

Freiheit: Well, Pakistan is an interesting case.... I don't think we can expect them to react in the way we would react....

We encourage our members to draw humorous and creative depictions of Muhammad. And since we know that many moderate Muslims will also get offended by the depictions, instead of the hateful ones that will generate more anger, we want to make easy-going depictions instead of the hateful ones many people are making. Well, the overreactions many Muslim extremists showed the world in 2006 [during the caricatures furor] were despicable and cannot by defended by the Koran, Muhammad, or Allah.
Since we know that many moderate Muslims will also get offended by the depictions, instead of the hateful ones that will generate more anger, we want to make easy-going depictions instead of the hateful ones many people are making.


[But] we have decided to draw the line, literally. We don't tell anyone to kill anyone; if they [Muslim extremists] do it, it's their actions, and we can't be blamed. We hope that they won't overreact. And if they want, they can have a peaceful protest -- which they have all the right to do, and express themselves in such a way. Freedom of speech is at stake, and freedom of expression, which we deem as the same thing -- from the Human Rights Act to the United Nations Article 19. And we free men, we've drawn a line.

In the "South Park" episode, we had Jesus watching child porn, and you had Buddha snorting coke, and then you have Muhammad, supposedly inside a bear costume. The comedy channel [U.S.-based Comedy Central] gets death threats for that. And you have to attack the ones giving out these threats.... You have to rally around that which you see, and you can confirm that this is an actual problem.... Now at least we started controversy, and through controversy...now there's more media to take this case, because a lot of people are just scared because of political correctness and afraid of being called all Islamohobic and whatnot. And yeah, we just can't accept this reaction from them. The Muslim religion doesn't stand above the rest of the world.

RFE/RL: So where do you draw a line between freedom of speech and hate speech when it comes to these cartoons?

Freiheit: That's subjective. That depends on the person watching [monitoring the Facebook group]. We don't have the capacity to watch every single photo [of a cartoon]. And if it's really, really offensive, I hope people report it so they can get removed. But right now, I'm watching a photo of Muhammad being on a surfboard, [and it reads] "My surfboard points to Mecca." That's a funny photo.

We have a standard, but we just can't watch through every photo. We just don't have the time or capacity to do it. So there's a lot of photos that get uploaded that are really, really offensive, and we just have to apologize. If you watch the main site, the comments from the administrators, they haven't written anything directly offensive -- the last week at least. We had some moderators who started with hate speech, but they got kicked out.

RFE/RL: Here's a tough question for you: How would you feel if there were some deaths related to this activity?

Freiheit: We've actually discussed it, and we discussed if that was a risk we were willing to take. And, to be honest...if those guys kill anyone, then that's not something we've done. That's something we just have to put forward and show people. They wanted to kill Lars Vilks, the Swedish professor, just a few days ago! They've killed [Dutch film director Theo] van Gogh. They've tried to kill [Danish cartoonist] Kurt Westergaard. This happens; it has to be shown to get reactions. I actually think they will kill someone.... Someone will...make [someone] a scapegoat or whatever.

That's just the problem. If we say no, we have to stop the group, because we've gotten death threats and people are going to be killed. What message does that send? That sends, "Oh, yeah, we can get our way if we come with death threats, if we just kill someone, then they will stop." It's a dilemma; I can be honest about that. It's not something that's easily decided. But we've come to the conclusion that if someone is killed, then we're not to blame.

RFE/RL: I think the question here is whether inciting it and asking for possibly unnecessary deaths is worth it for a sort of in-your-face freedom-of-speech campaign.

Freiheit: Yeah, but you should know. In the West, the extremists like the Nazi movement, the communists -- they are actually able to express themselves.... Because you have freedom of expression, freedom of thought, and freedom of speech. And even though you don't like it, you have to accept it, because people are so different. And people throughout history forever have been offensive to one another, and you can't just say, oh, this is too offensive, you have to stop.

Radio Mashaal: What, exactly, do you know about Muslim culture?

Freiheit: I lived in Turkey for 2 1/2 years, so I know about the Turkish Muslim culture. While Turkey is quite secular compared to the rest of the Muslim world, I would say I have more than average knowledge about Islamic culture. But I can't say I'm an expert.

Radio Mashaal: What was the motivation behind this campaign?

Freiheit: It was a response against the self-censoring of artists due to Muslim threats. Like artists like the comedy channel, Kurt Westergaard, Lars Vilks, who were either threatened or had to censor themselves because of threats from extremist Muslims.... I can start with Van Gogh. Van Gogh made a movie about female life in the most conservative Islamic cultures, like Saudi Arabia. And he was murdered because a Muslim man felt offended. He was [nearly] beheaded on the street.

Radio Mashaal: What does that have to do with this campaign? I mean, getting death threats from somebody is one thing, right? And on the other hand, it's a very sensitive issue. If you already know about Muslim culture, you say you are familiar with that, what's the connection?


Freiheit: In the West, we had to conform a lot to Muslim needs -- like easy things, from things like making halal meat to accepting traditions and such. But there are some things we just can't accept. And when a country like Pakistan or Saudi Arabia comes talking to us about respect, then that's quite funny. Because they haven't even signed the human treaty act. And in the West we have something called freedom of speech....
There are some things we can accept quite easily. It doesn't matter to me if you want halal meat, and it doesn't matter to us if British Muslims have to make their own banks because they can't take loans.... [But] we don't accept threats.


Islam is more than just a religion, it's a whole way of life. There are some things we can accept quite easily. It doesn't matter to me if you want halal meat, and it doesn't matter to us if British Muslims have to make their own banks because they can't take loans. Such things are acceptable, it doesn't affect the rest of us. But when you want to come with your morals and your values and say your morals and values are something we have to respect, when our history says that we need to have freedom of speech, we need to have freedom of expression, we need these things that we've developed as a society through our history,...we can't accept that people should change their minds through threats. We don't accept threats.

Radio Mashaal: So if you talk about the freedom of speech, what do you think, would you also go for this "Draw the Holocaust" campaign [organized by Iranian newspaper "Hamshahri" in early 2006]? Because I guess, supposedly, there is a reaction to this "Draw Muhammad Day." What do you say to that? Would you join that as well?

Freiheit: Well, I think you're right.

I don't believe you should be banned from speaking about the Holocaust in Germany. I think that's despicable. If you knew about the political environment in Germany, you would accept -- no, yeah, you wouldn't accept. I think it's despicable that we don't allow freedom of speech in every area. I could talk about the Holocaust, I could scream out my window, "It never happened!" and I could get arrested. And that's despicable. But...[regarding] "draw Holocaust day," well, the Jews won't start giving me death threats for this. But that's what the Muslims do. What's the point in drawing the Holocaust?

Radio Mashaal: Why are you connecting Prophet Muhammad -- someone very special to all Muslim people -- with Muslim extremists?

Freiheit: Because they call themselves Muslims. Muhammad is the reason they give us death threats. If it was Chinese communists giving us death threats, we would draw Mao. If it was South African people giving us death threats, we would draw Nelson Mandela. If it was people from Argentina, we would draw [Juan or Eva] Peron. If it was Americans, we would draw [George] Washington, if it was French, we'd draw Napoleon [Bonaparte], if it was German, yeah, we've already drawn [Adolf] Hitler. If Australian, Indian, Mahatma Ghandi, whoever. If you think you can get your way by making death threats -- any group -- then they're going to have to face the fact that you're not, and you're going to get opposition.
This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments page of 7
    Next 
by: DW from: U.S.
May 21, 2010 19:21
Isn't "Hate Speech" still covered under Freedom of Speech? The word "Freedom" kind of implies one can say what one wants, regardless of whether it will offend someone else. Last time I checked (1 minute ago) the Constitution of the United States does not include the right to not be offended. It DOES include the right to be as offensive as one wants.
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by: Tom from: Ohio
May 22, 2010 16:16
Hooaa.... That's what makes America different, no country in the world is as free as us and to keep it one must be vigilant and defend one's "Constitutional Rights". For this we truly must thank our Forefathers and the British for pushing us into "Freedom" and this Great Country!
If you're not American you will never understand the Value of the "Bill of Rights" or the "Constitution"....
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by: Joozey
May 23, 2010 21:27
I guess then this level of freedom is accompanied by blind foolish patrionism?
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by: Imran Khan from: Karachi
May 24, 2010 03:30
As a Muslim I full agree with Facebook's defense of freedom of speech. In Pakistan they dont protest about killing Christians and other minorities, and about killing fellow Muslims through terrorism and suicide bombings, but they will protest, ban and willing to murder people for drawing pictures of Muhammad...Its a crazy, despicable country...At some point West and U.S. should say NO to Muslim fanatics...More power to Facebook and freedom..
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by: PO from: Stockholm, Sweden
May 23, 2010 08:36
Comparisons with the holocaust is just silly. The holocaust is a historical event that HAS HAPPENED, there is no doubt about it. Islam, Christianity etc. are faiths, and NOT HISTORICAL events, which is why they can be ridiculed.
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by: Turgai Sangar
May 23, 2010 18:13
Unless Islambashing is a prelude to some sort of Holocaust?
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by: turkai
May 24, 2010 14:05
Oh, gosh, then you're right, lampooning a long-dead historical figure should be banned everywhere, all over the world, forever!!! Heaven forbid that a Muslim should have to live with the fact that someone, somewhere, has drawn a picture of Mohammed! Horrors!!!

Doing something that offends people is not the same as hate speech. Like burning a flag, it is only attacking a symbol.
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by: Arsalan from: Karachi
May 23, 2010 20:57
If facebook does not take any action to delete the event, page and photos then muslims will take severe action against facebook and facebook will have to bare billions of dollar loss.
World comprises of more than 50% Muslims around the world.
Already many muslims have deactivated their account, stopped the ad campaigns, many muslims dont even login to facebook.

Facebook is baring a BIG LOSS and will continue in future too. This effect the economy of United States of America.
"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction"
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by: Erum from: Pakistan
May 24, 2010 06:41
and what purpose will that serve! Do you think ppl are actually going to stop using facebook just because the mullah faction of the government and the ppl of this country think. Plz. I and others will continue using it, youtube and whatever the govt is trying to ban. The greatness of the Holy Prophet cannot be ignored. I have the utmost respect for him and no matter what anyone says or does against him, it is not going to make an iota of difference on his personality. This is the way I think. This is a childish act by some pakistanis, mullahs and so forth. I am not saying that I condone the drawings but to me the drawings mean nothing and I have no wish to do anything about it coz the importance in my eyes of the Prophet will remain the same. So whatever anyone is saying it doesn't matter to me. Take it or leave it! Cheers!
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by: - from: -
May 24, 2010 08:37
Just passing by here BUT Muslims are not 50% of the world, they are in fact about 15% http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Major_religious_groups christianity is by far larger than islam, so is india and china. The world is not what your priests tell you, learn to study the world.
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by: Anonymous from: united kingdom
May 24, 2010 19:19
yes india n china are far bigger but you do realise 31% of indian population are muslims and islam is the 2nd largest religion in the worl
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by: Turgai Sangar
May 26, 2010 12:56
Hm, here we have to stick to the facts: in 2009, Muslims formed 13.4% not 31% of India's population of India (which makes still an impressive number of 160.9 million); and globally, the Muslim Ummah encompasses not half but around 23% of the world population in 2009. In terms of fastest-growing religion, it's not clear who heads really: it's a neck-to-neck between evangelical Protestantism (mianly conversion) and Sunni Islam (natural and conversion).
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by: Salim from: Lahore, Pakistan
May 24, 2010 14:50
Many rational Muslims in Pakistan fully support Facebook and its members. There's nothing in Islam, Quran that prohibits the drawing of Muhammad's pictures, absolutely nothing. I challenge any Muslim fanatic to prove otherwise. Unfortunately in Pakistan and elsewhere fanatic, extremist Muslims and terrorist Jihadists and Talibans have scared the ordinary Muslims into submission. Muslim fundamentalists are evil people and believe in Islam ruling all over the world though violence, threats, terrorism etc.
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by: Turgai Sangar
May 26, 2010 13:03
Bwah, Salim, what do you mean when you talk about 'rational Muslims who defend Facebook'? Westernised urban intellectuals and artists, and Clifton Beach party youth? They're *nominal* Muslims.
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by: Iftikhar from: Karachi
May 26, 2010 23:14
Being a Muslim myself I full agree that in Islam drawing pictures of Muhammad is NOT specificall prohibited. Nothing in the Quran says that Muslims should ban his pictures or images. Facebook is correct and should not be afraid of radical, fundamentalist or Wahabi Muslims, which Pakistan is full of...Most Pakistanis hate America, Christians and Jews yet all of them want to come to the West and America. Shame on them. America is a free country, not a Islamo fascist country like Pakistan. Great job Facebook and its members. Keep it up.
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by: Azhar from: Islamabad
May 26, 2010 23:24
I fully agree with Salim. There's nothing whatsoever in Islam that bans pictures of Muhammad. Wahabis, Jihadis, Deobandis, Talibans in Pakistan are the real hate mongers, they support suicide bombings and beheadings of inncoent civilians. By banning Facebook etc ther are distorting the tru teachings of Islam. Real Muslims in Pakistan do not support this ban because they also believe in freedom Even prophet Muhammad did not ban or prosecute people for making fun of him, a historical fact. We love Facebook, You tube etc. Dont give in to Islamic fascists and haters.
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by: Asim from: Islamabad
May 28, 2010 03:37
As a Muslim who is familiar with Islamic teachings I agree that there's nothing in Islam that says a person cannot draw pictures or image of our Prophet Muhammad. Actually Musli radicals, Jihadists, fundamentalists and Wahabis have brainwashed and terrorised simple, gullible Muslims in Pakistan that Islam banns pictures of all prophets. This is not the case. I admire Facebook and other brave people for having the courage to do so, though I dont like pictures that are insulting of him.. Bur freedom of speech should prevail. We Muslims should learn to live peacefully with people of other religions in this world, and show tolerance and respect for other cultures and ways of life.
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by: Usman from: karachi
June 02, 2010 07:23
salim u might be right. but that does'nt mean that facebook did the right thing. just develop some page that goes against jews and others, and u will be soon blocked by facebook. the point is, rules must be same for all. and by the way, i m no extremist but shame on u people. u r defending those who developed/defended shameful pictures of Muhammad.
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by: raza from: bahawalpur
June 08, 2010 19:26
my dear... drawing is subject to idolatry.. so it is prohibited . whether good or bad drawing... you say yourself muslim... May ALLH show us all the right path. Ameen!

by: Shane Ye from: UK
May 22, 2010 14:33
The site in question is actually packed full of horrific and disgusting bigotry and anti-Islamic hatred. There are images of Mohammed as a child abuser, images of Mohammed engaging in oral sex on another man, images of Mohammed as a pig and so on. 'Andy' completely omitted to tell you this.

'Andy' also omitted to tell you that the Muslims visiting the site to protest usually get more insult and childish anti-Islamic sentiment. He didn't bother to point out that those who protest may receive hate mail from those who use the group to spread a message of hate.

Here's a comment that was put on the page by one of the moderators in reply to my question about why they thought racism was the best way to protect free speech:

' We hope to spark anger and protest from muslims around europe and the US. then the media will catch that and actually report on you and why you protest. We've had paper editors threatened etc.

When people see you protest against freedom of speach, but not against muslim murders of gays (nere in norway, like 6 muslims came). They might open their eyes to see that you're not really that compatable to our current society, and also add that you're the ones who need to assimilate to our superiour cultural values.

But the media won't ever catch it.'

I am an atheist, and within reason, a supporter of free speech. But this page is about hate and the stupidity of the mob.
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by: TSP from: Canada
May 22, 2010 16:24
Shan Ye;

'Andy' did not omit that there was offensive material on his site. He rather explicitly stated that there WAS some offensive material on the site, but that even though he does not approve of the excessively offensive material, there is just too much content for the moderators to be in complete control, which is why he also explicitly encourages other members of the group to report any excessively offensive material they may find.

Ont of the most wonderful things about the Internet is also the most dangerous: EVERYONE has access. This means that it is all too easy for a few bad apples to spoil the whole bunch. There are members of this group who are anti-Islam, and have expressed bigotry. This does not mean, however, that they speak for the creators/moderators of the site. They will hijack discussions when they can, and make the rest of the group look bad. What you need to understand is this should not be taken as an accurate representation of the whole group, just as we need to understand that Muslim extremists are not an accurate representation of the Muslim community as a whole.
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by: Arahman
May 24, 2010 18:14
If they can't take control of the content then why start the group? This was clearly made to offend Muslims and spread hate. This is no way to deal with threats, both behaviors are foolish. Nobody will look good in this type of the situations; not the people who are threatening nor the group administrators.
In Response

by: jess from: georiga
May 22, 2010 16:59
I am sure and have seen the hateful people that have used this site for thier own personal vendettas. However this movement has nothing to do with hate it has to do with certain inalienable rights. The ones we hold"Self evident here in this country. We do not negotiate with terrorists or with terroristic threats we do not change the principles on which this country was founded on so as not to offend the delicate religous sensabilities of others. You miss the point that it is a persons right to be an ignorant bigoted asshole if they so choose to derive humour form others or to simply peacefully speak their mind. I do not agree with some of htese more hateful cartoons however some are quite funny. Freedom of speach is not just protected when people are saying things that people want to hear. Point in fact there would be no need to protect it if not for the danger that someone would be offended. We protect it for that very reason and those people ifnorant as they may be taking advantage of this movement for their own bigotries have a right to say so it simply is that way. It is free for all or free for none And if free for none then you cannot speak out against them anymore then they can speak out against you. It is the most important right we have and We will not have it taken awya by some extremist religous faction who is ignorant to the ways of a free society. If they do not like it then they should not loook upon it that goes for anyone.
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by: CB from: US
May 22, 2010 17:51
Not everyone that chooses to participate in the group agrees with or endorses the hate and racism. Unfortunately, stupid children, or people with the apparent intelligence of your average small dog, see anything protesting something the muslim extremists are doing and immediately decide that screaming racist epithets and drawing things offensive enough to make jesus punch them in the face is the correct course of action.

Please don't lump those of us with functioning brains in with them. Making generalizations like that is like calling all muslims terrorists or something. Definitely not a statement that displayed your apparent intelligence. All you have to do is the same thing you have to do anywhere on the internet, and look past all the crap.
In Response

by: Jack from: Dundee
May 22, 2010 18:10
"those who protest may receive hate mail from those who use the group to spread a message of hate"

Hate mail? They haven't been threatened with death though have they?
People have been killed because of a depiction of THEIR prophet. How many christians have murdered people for making a film against christianity? How many writers have to live the rest of their lives in protected custody because they wrote a fictional book inspired by the bible?

None.

These muslims need to realise that there belief system can be questioned and can be made fun of by others.
We are protesting for freedom of speech. The majority are not trying to spread hate or cause offense but to make a stand and say that our morals will not give way to theirs simply because they demand it.

If these muslims are offended so what?
I'm offended by genital mutilation, honour killings, the lack of women and gay rights, public beheadings (a woman was recently beheaded in Saudi Arabia for being a witch!!) and the murder of artists for expressing themselves.
Have I sent a single death threat to the muslims that commit these acts? NO
In Response

by: Max from: Grollmus
May 22, 2010 18:28
Shane, with every right granted, there will be those who abuse it, although what constitutes abuse is rather subjective. In any case, you are proclaiming that rights should be taken away from ALL because of the few who abuse them. What's the sense in that?
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by: Reasonable Atheist from: US
May 22, 2010 21:41
I agree with Shane, however, Andy said the mods couldn't keep up with all the insulting pictures and other speech. What people post is not indicative of the reason the site was created in the first place. I have shaken my finger at Muslims and atheists alike. You can't judge the entire movement by the radical crazies that claim to be part of it. From the beginning, there was never any ambiguity regarding the nature of the site: draw Muhammad to express freedom of speech. People always have to drag things like this down, however, which is human nature. You get the loonies and you have to take the bad with the good. You don't have to necessarily accept it, but you have to understand it's going to happen.
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by: Lo
May 23, 2010 00:02
Umm actually he clearly states that there are hate drawings and that's not his goal but he can't moderate everything. He also states the he kicked a moderator for being hateful. He doesn't need to go into detail for educated people to put that together... so get a life your just trying to hate.
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by: Tyler from: US
May 23, 2010 06:02
"I am an atheist, and within reason, a supporter of free speech. But this page is about hate and the stupidity of the mob. "

Oh, but don't you see your own idiotic contradiction? There is scarcely a thing as free speech within reason! That is where the world intellectually falters, we are not firm in our ideals and so we have people like you who actually believe that freedom of expression is preceded by "respect" (tell me where it says we have to RESPECT religion, something altogether different from tolerating the existence of it).
In Response

by: HL
May 24, 2010 14:14
We must respect the other fellow's religion, but only in the sense and to the extent that we respect his theory that his wife is beautiful and his children smart.
-- H.L. Mencken
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by: Turgai Sangar
May 23, 2010 12:46
The vast majority of these drawings are anal and puberal to the extreme. It says much more about the nature and intellectual level of the Islam-bashers and other saviours of freedom and Enlighment than anything else.
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by: K.Watts from: Canada
May 24, 2010 04:52
Sir, people have full right to do say whatever the hell they want.. until people such as you cannot take criticism. Yes, hate speech is an issue, but it is only truly an issue when someone considers it as such. If it turns into death threats or actual violence, then yes, said person should be removed from the public. However, the act of speech is a freedom given to every man and woman, and without it, what good is free will.
In Response

by: Turgai Sangar
May 24, 2010 08:46
Yes Mr. Watts. So? Does that changes anything to what I said? Now that we're at it, I'm not in favour of axing or deleting the group in question. Let it be. At least we know who's on what side.
In Response

by: HL
May 24, 2010 14:17
God is the immemorial refuge of the incompetent, the helpless, the miserable. They find not only sanctuary in His arms, but also a kind of superiority, soothing to their macerated egos; He will set them above their betters.
-- H.L. Mencken
In Response

by: Kent Reichborn-Kjennerud from: Norway
May 23, 2010 18:30
Freedom of speech is a non-negotiable right. Just as some Muslims invoke this right when they attack freedom and democracy, others may invoke this right when drawing cartoons criticising our faith.

If Muslim sensitivities are a reason not to draw the cartoons, then others’ sensitivities are also a reason not to attack freedom and democracy.

We cannot have it both ways. Yes, people must be considerate of religious feelings but that discussion comes after accepting freedom of speech as a right.

If Muslims wish to protest against insulting Islam, let them begin with protesting Saudi Arabia’s destruction of national heritage sites linked to the Prophet Muhammad.

Freedom of religion is also a non-negotiable right. Just as British Muslims wish to invite others to Islam, they must accept the right of British Muslims to leave Islam. If our faith is so attractive, then what do we have to fear?

The right to life must also be non-negotiable. Just as British Muslims condemn the deaths of Muslim civilians in Iraq or Palestine, they must also condemn suicide bombings that kill nonMuslim civilians.

The silent barbaric logic behind killing “a child for a child” must cease. Murder is murder.

Freedom of the individual is non-negotiable. If Muslims object to the French ban on the hijab, we must also object to the “Islamist” plan to impose the hijab and ban women uncovering their hair.

Imposing religion or antireligion are two sides of the same coin. Extremism is intolerable. To remain silent in the face of intolerance is wrong.

If British Muslims expect wider society to speak out against racism and Islam-bashing, then British Muslims must also speak out against far-right ideologies that are interbreeding within a vocal and active minority among us.

If right-wing European films that show Islam to be a violent religion are irresponsible, then so are Islamist propaganda films that glorify suicide bombers in Palestine.

by: Robert Macher from: Hannover, Germany
May 22, 2010 14:34
Pork Chops for Pakistan.

Since Face Book Pakistan was shut down 24 Hours before Everybody Draw Mohammed Day I drew a picture of the big M this morning, wrapped a pork chop in this priceless piece of art, went to the post office and mailed it to Shahid Ahmad Kamal the Ambassador of the Islamic Republic Pakistan in Berlin.

By the time Ambassador Kamal gets my package on Tuesday (Monday is a Holiday in Germany) the pork chop should be ripe enough to express my feelings about religious tolerance and freedom of speech.

Just in case you're wondering. The Embassy of the Islamic Republic Pakistan is located at Schaperstraße 29 in 20719 Berlin. Feel free to send more care packages. A bottle of beer would go nicely with my pork chop.

Robi Macher



In Response

by: Joseph Vaughn from: Arkansas, USA
May 23, 2010 04:26
LOL!!!! Thanks, I'll do just that. I had a great laugh.

Joe.
In Response

by: Umair from: Pakistan
May 26, 2010 12:40
Ridiculous. Are you in kindergarten? You are actually 'protesting' (baiting) hate speech by committing an act that is hateful and non-tolerant. The problem with the west and people like you is that you keep talking about tolerance and freedom, rather than acceptance. Yes, muslims overreact, but then you should also be acting like the liberal freedom loving intellectual that you so claim to be. You always clap with both hands.
In Response

by: Turgai Sangar
May 23, 2010 12:44
Bravo! Sehr tapfer. Why don't you go and deliver it in person on Tuesday? Anyway, it reminds the sort of teasings, insults and humiliations that eventually culminated in Kristallnacht.
In Response

by: Farooq from: Pakistan
May 24, 2010 08:25
Robert this act of yours depicts the mental state you are in at the moment. I can only pray to God to enlighten your mind and soul.
Just think again on what you did and then think again. I pity your poor act.
In Response

by: Waqs from: Lahore
May 28, 2010 22:23
Many Pakistanis who are writing against Facebook and against free speech are either brianwashed by Islamic mullahs or jihadists or Wahabis or are too afraid to say what they feel inside. I know it because I used to be one of them. Pakistanis murder their own Muslims through suicide bombings, beheadings etc, yet they wont face the truth. Which sura in Quran bans Muhammad's pictures ? Of course they cannot answer because Quran doesn't ban them. Pakistan is living in a medieval, dark and barbaric age. They have absolutely no tolerance or fairness or equality., I'm sorry to say. Most of the people that I know here are just relgious nuts, narrow-minded. They all want to American dollars and American Green cards ironically. I commend Facebook and its members for having the courage to face these fascist Islamic barbarians. More power to Facebook, Youtube, etc
In Response

by: C Speechly from: Cape Town
May 24, 2010 22:31
This is the best thing I have read on this issue. You may have burst something in my stomach which, I now realise, is my punishment for laughing at a Sacred Cow.

Thanks,
Flic
In Response

by: Abdul Waseh from: pakistan
June 12, 2010 18:20
dont worry reality ll open when ur eyes for ever . i pray u see reality before a big big loss .
waseh53@yahoo.com

by: Anonymous
May 22, 2010 14:40
Free speech is an absolute core principle of a free society. Threatening that foundation only makes us want to yell louder. This is the way of the modern world...you CANNOT tell me what I can and cannot say!!!!
In Response

by: umair from: pakistan
May 26, 2010 12:42
Exactly. But there are ways of doing everything. By yelling louder, you are inciting the extremists to use religion to yell louder. Protest in a civilized respectful manner that breeds acceptance. That should be the case for both the west and islamists.

by: Lou from: USA
May 22, 2010 14:41
In your article you write, "Islam prohibits the depiction of any prophet as blasphemous. . . " This is not correct. In fact, "There is not a single verse in the Qur’an that prohibits making or having pictures of Muhammad or people or animals or trees."
http://www.answering-islam.org/Muhammad/pictures.html

by: Anonymous
May 22, 2010 14:43
I agree with almost everything here. I support your Facebook with all my strength! You should not be able to control a situation with violence!
In Response

by: Erum
May 27, 2010 04:07
so true. No one should tell us what to use or read and what not to! You tell them Anon!

by: James
May 22, 2010 14:47
"Those who sacrifice freedom for security deserves neither freedom nor security." -Benjamin Franklin.

by: Matt H from: Omaha, NE, USA
May 22, 2010 14:49
I am thoroughly embarrassed by the quality of "Freiheit"'s speaking. His jumbled words and poor sentence structure create the illusion that "Draw Muhammad Day" is something that people are doing simply because they're told not to.

The truth of the matter is, no one should be entitled to tell another person what they can or cannot speak, draw, or think to express themselves. The "Draw the Holocaust" event is just as valid as "Draw Muhammad Day," as would be a "Draw the American President Being Killed Day" because they are all occasions where people are expressing themselves though picture. These are just pictures! Pictures do not equate actions!

Despite the fact that these images may be offensive, they have just as much of a right to exist as any other image. If someone is offended by da Vinci's Mona Lisa and makes a death threat to the museum owner's life, would we take it down? Of course not!

I will openly admit that I know NOTHING about Islam, but that's not the point here. You should not be required to understand something before you draw it. If someone feels otherwise, great; but they cannot force it through the threat of deadly force.
In Response

by: Matte from: Texas
May 23, 2010 03:26
I am surprised really that the Muslims haven't taken to protesting at any white, European art, esp vividly Christian or Catholic works and pictures of women who don't have black bags over their heads.
In Response

by: Robi YYe from: US
May 23, 2010 04:35
I think it is despicable that they would have a "Draw the holocaust day". Why? THat is becase it is a spit in the face to all holocaust survivors. It is also in the past and is a real part of Jewish and German history. ON the other hand, Muhammad is not even "real". There is no face to him, so all people have to do is just think "That's not Muhammad" and move on. But no, they get really offended over a supposed picture drawn by people. IF Muhammad is so great, then why are his people so sore over made up drawings? Albeit, it is their religion to have no representation, so why care if outsiders make a drawing?
In Response

by: Rhazes
May 26, 2010 04:55
If your culture and society makes holocaust denial despicable, then don't you think that another culture and society with different values and belief systems will find something else equally reprehensible. You cannot expect others to think like you (same goes for Muslims).

For Muslims, Muhammad (PBUH) is not an imaginary figure, a core part of the belief of some Muslims is that the prophet is to be loved more then anything in the world. Put yourself in their shoes and may be you will see why they find this campaign so despicable.

Just as you find holocaust denial despicable and African-Ameircans feel offended when they hear the N-word, so is the case with Muslims. If out of respect you don't use the N-word for African-Americans, is it too difficult to understand why the Muslims have same expectations regarding this issue?

by: Yushud Givaschitt from: US
May 22, 2010 14:51
Islam is a way of life, not a religion...It has a religious aspect, a financial aspect, a military aspect and a governmental aspect. So one cannot consider it a true religion. Can you imagine if Judaism or Christianity, as religions, where to run governments or have a military arm??? We will be subjugated as we all conform to the Politically Correct notion that we "give" offense and it's not others that "take" it.
In Response

by: michel Curzi from: montreal
May 22, 2010 20:06
well Christianity did have its own states (almost) and armies, and it was not a prettu sight...
In Response

by: Turgai Sangar
May 23, 2010 12:50
"Can you imagine if Judaism or Christianity, as religions, where to run governments or have a military arm???"

Yes I can. Many can. See the influence of the evangelicals and the Ashkenazi-supremacist Zionist lobby on the Bush jr. administration and the consequences of that up 'till today.
In Response

by: Mir Ali from: UK
May 23, 2010 16:48
So islam, according to you, is not a true religion. I suppose this makes you right and over 1.5 BILLION muslims wrong. As to subjugation, never mind Judaism or Christianity, America is subjugated by Wall Street (Capitalism) and you are not even good at that, are you?
In Response

by: Stephen from: Aberdeen
May 24, 2010 01:17
Fair point. However the core point of this entire dispute is the depiction of Mohammed. I highly doubt it wouldn't affect an american if their capitalism was subjected to being depicted in a newspaper, or any form of media. In fact, people criticize capitalism for being a disgusting thing as well - from people who in fact actively engage in that form of system. Are they persecuted? No. If i were islamic and was to disagree with that system, would i be entitled to the same nonchalance? under the current climate, i'm inclined to think not. Christianity was the same... 200 years ago, just to put it into perspective.
In Response

by: C Speechly from: Cape Town
May 24, 2010 22:43
Mir Ali the good news is you can now free yourself of this Western freedom. The volcano has ceased its puffing and you can too. So fly off to an Islamic paradise. Have a safe trip home.

by: Shan Ye from: UK
May 22, 2010 14:52
Your article says:

'The "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" event on Facebook, organized by a group bearing the same name, attracted 80,000 members for its May 20 online campaign, resulting in more than 4,000 cartoons being uploaded to the site.'

It's worth pointing out that in order to protest against the group, many who are protesting against the group are clicking the 'like' button, which artificially swells the apparent membership. The 'AGAINST Everybody Draw Mohammed Day' group, which had 30,000 more members than the hate site (before Pakistan blocked Facebook) suffers with the same problem. Bigots were and are joining especially to post offensive images to the protest site.

In reality, I think we are dealing with a small number of bigoted people who are pretending to be acting as they are in favour of free speech.
In Response

by: Ghazanfar from: Sargodha,Pakistan
May 23, 2010 20:45
you are 100% right shane , now the group aginst draw muhammad day has 50,000 more people however facebook is blocked here in my country . facebook admins are responsible for spreading hatred and racism because they didn;t dleted this group however millions of people have reported it . i know when 1000 people report a certain page facebook blocks it , but why they are not blocking it ... is anyone has answer of it . we didn't able to sleep in night properly due to this freedom of speech
thanks shane for provinding valuable comments i appreciate you
In Response

by: falstaff from: Canada
May 24, 2010 19:11
"we didn't able to sleep in night properly due to this freedom of speech"

Are you seriously that weak of a person that because someone draws a picture making fun of something that you like, you can't sleep? Utterly pathetic, & says far more about you than the person drawing the picture. You do NOT have the right to not be offended!
In Response

by: Erum from: Pakistan
May 27, 2010 04:12
dude, if you didn't sleep at night, thatz your problem. Freedom of expression stays! and like I said before, Prophet Muhammad (SAWS) is above all that. So leave it dude and leave it to God to handle it! We can't even free ourselves from sins, and we are trying to throw stones at others. There is a saying, "people in glass houses should not throw stones at others! Take the hint!
In Response

by: Turgai Sangar from: Eurasia
May 24, 2010 08:37
When I just checked, the smear group against the Prophet (saw) had 114,609 members, the one opposing it 169,819. That gives a difference of 55,210 and this despite the fact that Facebook is blocked in Pakistan and that the penetration rate of media like Facebook is lower in the Muslim Ummah (where parabolic antennas and mobiles are more important media than e-networks) than in the West.

Note that there also seems to be a second 'against' group which had 46,904 fans at time of checking. There is probably a bit of overlap with the other one yet added together it makes the gap much wider.
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