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.

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Google+
  • Linkedin
  • Pinterest


  1. Never seen this much othering in a Queereka post before.

    First of all, good for you labeling and disgarding all my posts as trolls.
    That way you don’t have to take any of my previous points seriously, or in any way as educated as yours.

    Second, do you have any message to young muslim people, who come to Queereka for all the great LGBT articles?

    If I was a muslim kid, I’d come for the encouragement on coming out, the articles on sexual health, and the posts on feminism.
    Certainly not to read assorted Muhammed cartoons and quotes from dead islamophobic right-wingers.

    Good job listing those awful things that you listed.
    The thing is, neither the muslim faith itself, or the qu’ran, are doing this.
    I can tell you that stuff like that is happening, because the judges and governments are awfully conservative and oppressive.
    The religious texts are an excuse, not a cause.

    Also, good on the british schools to crack down on religious bullying.

    I’m pretty openly queer, and I’ve never been murdered by any muslim friends or boyfriends.

  2. Second, do you have any message to young muslim people, who come to Queereka for all the great LGBT articles?

    Yes: the about section. If the sacrilege startles you, go read it first.

    I’m pretty openly queer, and I’ve never been murdered by any muslim friends or boyfriends.

    Isn’t secularism fantastic? I bet your bros have also never rioted in response to a cartoon. I bet some of them have had alcohol, or had nonmarital sex, or had gay sex, or eaten bacon, or shaved their beard, or not worn a hijab, or blasphemed. I bet some of them have even – gasp – drawn Mohammed. I know, right? But it’s actually not even a little bit surprising that not all Muslims are stereotypical fundamentalists.

    They’re as diverse as Christians (a religion you said it was just fine to blaspheme), not a scary hivemind we must never offend ever, or else they’ll riot. The last thing we should do is let the insane mob speak for all Muslims. Unfortunately, whether you realize it or not, that’s what you’re doing.

    So I have a suggestion for you: Instead of just assuming you know how millions and millions of other people would feel and then presuming to speak for them, take a few minutes and ask around. I’ll still be here when you get back.

  3. Good point about diversity among Muslims. Islamist fanatics have killed many many more of their fellow muslims than members of any other group. Instead of tarring all muslims with the Islamist label, we need to work with secular and liberal muslims to promote an Islamic reformation similar to the one which turned the Catholic Church from a font of atrocities (crusades, inquisitions, destruction of the Library of Alexandria) to the relative pussycat (although still responsible for millions of deaths each year through its absurd anti-condom and anti-abortion policies) that it is today.

    One slight quibble: A religion which predictably incites its members to riot at the drop of a cartoon should not be supported by any sane person, that’s pretty obvious. What is less obvious, is that any religion which stands in the way of social and moral progress should also be denied such support. That, unfortunately, covers all the major religions and most of the minor ones.

Leave a Comment

This div height required for enabling the sticky sidebar