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Opinion

'Everybody Draw Mohammad Day': What's a Muslim-American to think?

'Everbody Draw Mohammad Day' sparked outrage in the Muslim world and Pakistani ban on Facebook. A Muslim-American explains why the idea is so offensive to her and Muslims worldwide.

By Husna HaqCorrespondent / May 20, 2010

Pakistani students hold a banner as they shout slogans during a protest against Facebook in Lahore Wednesday. A Pakistani court ordered the government on Wednesday to block Facebook because of an 'Everybody Draw Mohammad Day' page on the social networking site.

Mohsin Raza/Reuters

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Molly Norris was frustrated.

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Comedy Central had decided to censor an episode of "South Park" that showed the Prophet Mohammed in a bear suit, and the Seattle-based artist needed to vent. Yet the way she chose to mock the network's decision virtually kicked me – and every American Muslim – in the gut.

She created a fake poster declaring May 20 “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day.”

Check out the reader discussion of "Everybody Draw Mohammad Day."

I am Muslim and I am American. I love my Prophet Mohammed, and I love my First Amendment right to free speech.

I understand that Ms. Norris has said her idea was satire – that she didn’t mean for it to go viral on the Internet, including an “Everybody Draw Mohammad Day” on Facebook.

But, apparently, what neither she nor much of America understood is how deeply what seems an innocent jibe offends Muslims.

To Muslims, Mohammed is the last Prophet of God – a particularly singular figure in Islam. He is the epitome of all the virtues one sees in the Quran, the model of a perfect human being. Volumes have been written compiling his words and actions, which along with the Quran, form the foundation of Islam. He is, in short, an intensely revered figure.

To depict him in a bear suit or with a pig snout – as he has been in two recent cartoons – is free speech, yes, but it is intensely offensive. It betrays a willful determination to refuse to see the world through Muslims eyes – to understand how innately the Prophet is loved by his followers and how profoundly flippant disrespect for him wounds us.

Imagine Martin Luther King Jr. portrayed as a monkey and you begin to understand the depth of Muslims' revulsion to such images.

Yet it is more than that, too.

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