Muhammed's Cartoon Cavalcade
Apparently the French publication France Soir has published some cartoons about none other than the last prophet himself, Muhammed. I've dug around a little but don't have the time for the research right now. I'd like to find copies, though.
Needless to say, this has got folks of a certain persuasion in a tizzy, as the Associated Press points out.
In Larry Gonick's Cartoon History of the Universe, he introduces the chapter on the rise of Islam with a word from the book's cartoon narrator explaining that although cartoonists prefer to deal in images, it wouldn't be prudent to risk offending the sensibilities of some, so you might notice that some of the main characters appear, as Gonick puts it, “off camera.”
Frankly, I agree with Gonick's take on it. I mean, France Soir certainly has the right to publish cartoons of Muhammed, and I wouldn't want to deny them that, but what's the point they're making? Today's Le Monde sheds some light on that:
"Under the title 'Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God,' the French daily published as a sort of 'headline' cartoon showing Buddha, Yahweh, Muhammed and God, sitting on a cloud. The latter said to the Muslim prophet, 'Don't pout, Muhammed. We're all caricatures here.' The twelve incriminating cartoons are published on interior pages. One of the caricatures shows the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban. Another represents a mullah stopping a stream of suicide bomber applicants. 'Our supply of virgins has run out,' he explains to them.
'Enough of these lessons from these retrograde bigots! In these drawings there is no racist intention, no intentional denigration of a community of the kind they say,' opines the editor-in-chief of the daily, Serge Faubert, in an editorial titled 'Intolerance.' 'To protect religious liberty doesn't mean to acquiesce to the principles of a religion. Just because the Koran forbids the representation of Muhammed should a non-Muslim have to submit to it,' he points out."
Okay, they do make a valid point. But is this really the way to do it? Flat-out antagonism? I don't know what they expect to accomplish. I appreciate the value France has always placed on secularism, and I support it. And French Muslims have strained this value as of late. It just seems that they're punching in the right spot, but perhaps hitting a bit too hard.