I am writing in response to Andrew Levine’s article (“Don’t Fuss Over Political Spoofs,” Daily Nexus, Feb. 6). Levine talks about how Muslims are overreacting to the depiction of our beloved Muhammad (PBUH) and how this overreaction is not justified. He gives several good points about the political cartoons and their effect in Europe, the Middle East and several other Muslim countries, with several Muslim countries protesting. Unfortunately, some protests have broken out into violence. I do agree with Levine that violence is definitely not the answer to these cartoons.
However, some comments Levine wrote in his article were very far-fetched and I was shocked when I read them. He first compared the political cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) to the political cartoons of President Bush. Now, this is comparing two completely different people. Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) was a religious icon, whom Muslims believe to be the most perfect human being then, now and forever. President Bush, on the other hand, is simply a leader of a country, who has not done anything to benefit America during his presidency. To make a comparison between these two is ridiculous. It is one thing to make a satirical cartoon on a person who represents a country of 300 million. It is another thing to make a satirical cartoon on a person who represents a religion of over 1 billion. When making fun of a religious icon, you are not only insulting the religious icon, you are insulting the followers of that religion.
In the news, you’ll read that Muslims are protesting just because people are depicting Prophet Muhammad pbuh) with political cartoons. However, this is not the only reason why. Political cartoons depict what the media perceives, or wants to perceive, as “true.” With such political cartoons as a man with a bomb on his head, with a turban wrapped around it; or one of a man holding a dagger; the perception of Islam is that of a terrorist religion. The media has implanted this idea into the heads of people who are naive or uninformed about Islam. People begin to take these cartoons as fact, and soon enough, the face of Islam will be destroyed in the eyes of non-Muslims everywhere. To me, it has already begun in the United States because Bush has made the word Islam synonymous with terrorism.
Just recently, there was an article about the same Danish newspaper, Jyllands-Posten. This newspaper rejected political cartoons of Jesus three years ago “on the grounds that they could be offensive to readers and were not funny.” The article continues with the editor of the newspaper, Jens Kaiser, saying, about the Jesus cartoons, that “I don’t think Jyllands-Posten’s readers will enjoy the drawings. As a matter of fact, I think that they will provoke an outcry. Therefore, I will not use them.”
This is clearly a double standard, and according to the Jyllands-Posten, the feelings of its Christian readers are far more important than its Muslim readers.
Islam is a religion of peace. The meaning of the word Islam means peace and submission to God. In our holy book, the Quran, we are commanded to respect others’ religions, and we should expect the same from others. With these political cartoons, our prophet (PBUH) and religion were clearly disrespected by their authors. In his article, Levine states that the European newspapers were not declaring war on Muslims when printing these cartoons. If these cartoons were not declaring war on Islam and Muslims, then what was the motive behind them? These cartoons were a direct attack on Islam and what it represents, and I commend those who have protested this disrespect of our beloved Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and of our religion.
Shahid Shaikh is a senior chemical engineering major.