Portrayals of the prophet Muhammad perceived as blasphemous by many Muslims have generated tension and violence in the past. A Saudi blogger received threats and faces a possible death sentence for tweets on the prophet’s birthday that were deemed apostate and atheist, and in 2005 Muslims responded to a cartoon of the prophet in European newspapers with violent protests.
Literature is no exception when it comes to the respect that Muslims expect for the prophet. Award-winning author Salman Rushdie’s magical-realist novel “The Satanic Verses” was banned upon its release in all Arab states, plus India, Pakistan, and South Africa. The ban was a response to Mr. Rushdie’s depiction of Islam, and a character, described by The New York Times as “a businessman turned prophet named Mahound – a figure Muslim critics regard as a thinly and perversely disguised representation of the Prophet Mohammed.”