You’ve offended a billion Muslims!
My drawing of Mohammed attracted a mediocre troll who, in addition to scolding me for spreading my internet atheism in such an inappropriate venue (my atheist blog!), regurgitated a few extremely common tropes that are worth addressing.
The first is the hilarious idea that although Christianity is fair game, I’m not allowed to mock Islam – that further, I waged some kind of “racial attack” by depicting Mohammad firing his well-known lasers. Specifically, the troll said,
“Why did you as an author deem it necessary to mock every muslim in the world, by disrespecting their religion? […] When attacking an entire religion, instead of the specific assholes in power of the traditionally islamic nations, you’re damning millions and millions of people.”
Christopher Hitchens addressed this best.
Starting at around 1:42, he says:
If you’re like me, and you go on the air, you find yourself debating some whining, self-righteous, self-hating, self-pitying Muslim, and you tell him what you think of his Koran and his prophet, he says, “You have offended a billion Muslims!” You’ve noticed this? There’s a slight tone of moral blackmail here, I sometimes think.
If it was a matter of defending the right of someone to hold their religious belief, I would defend the right of a Muslim if there were only three of them. The idea of a billion is clearly intended as a threat. There’s a menace to it. You’ve upset a billion of us – you should watch out.”
The troll knew this, saying, “Here in Denmark, ie., we have pretty definate proof that the Muhammed drawings were published WELL KNOWING that it could ignite riots.” Islamists went from being poor, besieged, racially attacked from all sides, to being people who apparently have every right to start riots when someone publishes something they don’t like.
That is a kind of power I have absolutely no interest in defending, much less feigning deference for. It’s nothing but fascistic bullying, and that’s why it’s so important to draw Mohammad – and to be openly atheist, openly gay, openly female. They can’t murder all of us, and a religion that predictably inspires many of its adherents to riot is not a religion that any sane person should be defending.
To really belabor the point, I’ll just quote from the incredible feminist/atheist/Iranian activist Maryam Namazie
* Kuwait’s parliament recently voted in favour of a legal amendment that would make blasphemy a crime punishable by death following the arrest of a man accused of insulting Mohamed on Twitter.
* In Saudi Arabia, Hamza Kashgari, a 23-year-old reporter from Jeddah, faces the death penalty for blasphemy after he Tweeted an imaginary conversation with Mohammad.
* In April, two young Tunisians, Jabeur Mejri and Ghazi Beji, (one in absentia) were sentenced to seven years in prison for posting cartoons of Mohammad.
* Alex Aan, a 30 year old atheist, faces up to 5 years in prison charged with blasphemy for saying there is no god on Facebook.
* Asia Bibi faces execution in Pakistan for blasphemy.
* In Egypt, a court upheld the conviction of comedian, Adel Imam, of ‘offending Islam’. Author Alaa al-Aswany says: the court ruling sets Egypt back to the “darkness of the Middle Ages” and that this is “an unimaginable crime of principle”.
* In Britain, 17 year old Rhys Morgan was forced to remove a Jesus and Mo cartoon or face expulsion from his Sixth Form College and there were demands by various student unions at London universities that Atheist societies remove Jesus and Mo cartoons from their Facebook page.:
Despite their track record, it is therefore absurd how the fundamental debate on Islam and free expression here in Europe, North America and Australia is framed within a context of offence, racism and Islamophobia. Let me explain. If you are criticising Islam, the veil, sharia law, or Islamism in Iran, Egypt or Afghanistan the debate is not framed around racism and Islamophobia.