Draw Me a Muhammad May 13, 2010

Draw Me a Muhammad

Next Thursday is Everybody Draw Muhammad Day.

As I’ve written a few times this past week, I support this.

I stand behind the college students who have been courageous enough to do this over the past couple weeks.

No doubt this event is divisive, though. If you’re thinking about chalking Muhammad on your own campus, the Secular Student Alliance has some excellent advice on their website, like this tip:

Discuss what, exactly, your message is:

Discuss with your group what you hope to achieve. Are you setting out to offend Muslims, or protesting the use of threats of violence to project certain ideas from criticism? (Hint: the latter.) Make decisions with that in mind, and the event will go more smoothly. You don’t need to post images that would be tasteless whether they featured Muhammad or not -– the South Park version or smiling stick figures labeled “Muhammad” do the trick.

Some may be asking: What is the point? Why are you going out of your way to attack Islam? Why do you want to offend religious people?

That’s not what this is about at all.

I agree with the commenter who noted:

It’s about sending a message to Muslim extremists — and other religious extremists — that their terror tactics will not work.

It’s about rejecting out of hand the attempt to make criticism of Islam — or of any other religion — off-limits, simply out of fear of violence.

It’s about the fact that many people feel comfortable critiquing, or poking fun of, or indeed commenting on, any religion other than Islam, for fear of violent retribution — and it’s about refusing to allow ourselves to be extorted in that way.

And it’s about spreading the target around… so there are so many people drawing Muhammad, the terrorists can’t possibly go after all of us.

I have no desire to draw purposely offensive images like Muhammad with a bomb on his head. Instead, I think the harmless stick figure Muhammads are just as (if not more) effective. They make our point for us. Rational people would not and should not be offended by such harmless, crude drawings. And yet, people are receiving death threats or being censored for creating them.

We need to stand in solidarity and draw the images together. It doesn’t matter if it’s hand-drawn or made out of clay (a putty prophet?) or put together with household objects. It’s not about being anti-Muslim; it’s about showing the radicals that we don’t follow their religious laws and they can’t stop us from speaking out against them.

I want you to make a Muhammad.

Not an evil, scary, offensive one — the stick figures worked just fine. Be creative.

If you do create an image of Muhammad, though, please consider sending it to me. I’ll compile as many as I can and post them on this site that day.

I will protect your anonymity unless you tell me otherwise. The less outright-offensive and more thought-provoking it is, the better.

Here’s hoping there’s a positive response.

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What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • If you are stuck inside and can’t go out to draw stick figures you can use the following stick smiley in all of your messages/e-mails/posts:


  • Epistaxis


  • Aaron

    That is blasphemy! True believers knows that the only halal way to draw Muhammad is:


  • Would a Muhammad with breasts be in bad taste?


  • Dave P.


    Oops…I may have offended two groups at once.

  • Richard Wade

    . .


    I suggest this, the absolute minimum representation of a human being. Two dots above one dot. The more minimal the drawing, the more ridiculous the objection to non-Muslims depicting Muhammad is shown to be. The objection is essentially reduced to being against the writing of the word “Muhammad” in a public place.

    Draw three dots on the sidewalk, and nobody will even notice it. It won’t be recognized as a drawing of a person. Write “Muhammad” with an arrow pointing to those three dots, and you have what some Muslims consider justification for murder.

    Three dots?

  • odc

    i might be a bit thick, but i don’t get how 3 dots is the absolute minimal representation of a human?

  • Parse

    I’d be tempted to chalk “Which (if any) of these is Muhammad?”, followed by three identical stick figures.

  • Mak

    Yeah, I don’t get the dots thing either. Even the mighty Google couldn’t help me.

  • Luther

    Why not “Freedom To Draw Images Day”.

    – Draw Muhammad
    – Draw Jesus
    – Draw God
    – Draw William Smith
    – Draw L. Ron Hubbard
    – Draw The Easter Bunny
    – Draw whomever, whatever you choose

    I would have called it “Freedom To Draw Day” but I was concerned that the NRA might join in.

  • Hugh

    Many years ago in a usenet newsgroup, someone said that the word “Frisco” was offensive to people who lived in San Francisco. You can guess what happened next: posts repeating the word “Frisco” over and over again, ASCII art “Frisco” banners, etc. etc. We should treat Mohammed the same way. Obviously (to any sane person), the point is not to give offense but to point out the stupidity of the taboo. If you are a Muslim and you find depictions of Mohammed offensive, don’t draw one! The end! But I am NOT a Muslim so your taboos do not apply to me. How dare you try to impose them on me! That’s MUCH more offensive to me than a drawing of Mohammed is to you.

  • If I could draw, I would make a drawing of Muhammad drawing Muhammad.

  • Darric

    “I have no desire to draw purposely offensive images like Muhammad with a bomb on his head. Instead, I think the harmless stick figure Muhammads are just as (if not more) effective. They make our point for us. Rational people would not and should not be offended by such harmless, crude drawings. And yet, people are receiving death threats or being censored for creating them.”

    I disagree with this. The whole purpose behind the drawings is free speech and free speech allows us to offend people, even when done on purpose. As long as what is said is not hate speech those who are offended need to just deal with it. By only drawing stick figures and making sure the pictures aren’t “offensive” we are bowing down to pressure.

    Its like telling a comedian he can talk about Muhammad but can’t make jokes about him.

  • Darrick, I agree 100%.

    How often have we laughed at ludicrous representations of jesus? The thumbs up Jesus, the Jesus alien being crucifed, burger king jesus…etc. Why does Islam get a special pass, because they say so???
    What do their images of Jews look like?

    I plan to have my blog devoted to the most offensive and irreverent images of Mohammed I can find. What’s it going to inspire? Are they going to fly a plane into a building? Threaten us with jihad? Call us Satan? Get mentally challenged women in burkas to blow themeselves up? Support bombings in Times Sq?

    Oh…wait… they already do that.

  • Michael

    I’m thinking of a display with multiple Muhammad’s. Maybe they can be readily covered up, but not all at once. It will ask “How many Muhammad’s are there?” and “Isn’t there only one Muhammad? Which one is he now?”

  • Jon

    Hemant, I think this is a mistake. This is not friendly atheism.

    It’s true. A handful of idiot Muslims became violent over a trivial thing. So your response is to stick your finger in the eye of the entire Muslim world?

    It’s George Bush logic. A couple of dozen violent crazy people attackes some civilians in America. So now we’re going to react by going to war publicly against two countries and other countries without declarations. And how has that worked out? You take a Muslim world that was initially very hostile to OBL. They condemned 9/11 up and down. Even the radical clerics condemned him, as they had despised him before when he tried the same thing in Muslim nations (that is, he attacked civilians in order to stir a revolt against the regimes he objected to.) But our blundering overeaction, which has punished many that had nothing to do with the violence (1.3 million dead in Iraq as of 2008 according to Oxford Research Bureau’s estimates) has turned scumbag OBL into a hero and swelled the ranks of Al Qaeda.

    Sure, this will piss off the radical Muslims. But it will also bother the moderates, who will start to become sympathetic to the more radical views. You want something to be outraged about? Why not object to the thousands killed every month in Iraq based on a pack of lies. Why look for ways to cause further suffering amongst this belleagered group?

  • Killer Bee


    I think old Mo (pb&j) would be proud.

  • Jon

    One other point. Notice what’s happening here. The west is very good at focusing with laser like precision on the sins of others. Shouldn’t you first focus on your own flaws? These are the ones you can change. We’ve got 1.3 million dead in Iraq. We enable Israel to sustain an apartheid state. Jewish only roads in occupied Palestinian territory. A mass slaughter of caged civilians that started in Nov 2008. All made possible with US weaponry and support. 1400 dead, chemical warfare, children and women crushed. We don’t talk about that a lot. We’re outraged that some idiot Muslims became violent about cartoons and several people were killed. It’s wrong. I oppose it. But as Jesus said why don’t we focus on the beam in our own eyes before getting fired up about the speck in our neighbor’s eye.

  • D

    While not Muslim, I believe that “Draw Mohammed Day” is a misguided attempt to support free speech. It’s using a shotgun to kill a fly.

    I understand that these demonstrations are to send a message against Islamic fundamentalists who have threatened journalists, artists and the media for portraying Mohammed.

    That said, these depictions hurt the main stream Muslim community. As I understand it, Islam prohibits depictions of Mohammed. Doing so is deeply offensive to Muslims. (As I am not Muslim, please correct me if i am wrong). This exercise takes the other extreme and actively insults a symbol that many people hold sacred and dear.

    So now the exercise of free speech has turned into hateful speech. By urging those to draw Mohammed, it invites racial stereotypes, and offensive portrayals, even if not officially condoned.

    While we have the right to free speech, we should use care when we exercise that right. Our speech has power, and as we would not draw swastikas or write the N word, we should respect sacred beliefs held by others in the community.

  • @Jon,
    You make some valid points, all of which I have been making my entire adult life. I’ve seen firsthand what horrors we have inflicted on others, either ourselves, via proxies, or in the case of Iraq (I was not there), as proxies for Israel.
    I support Israel from a practical standpoint, but I don’t like Israel from a personal standpoint. They’ve blown up relatives homes, killed relatives of mine and are extremely arbitrary and brutal in their crackdown on dissent.
    That being said, as an American and a member of the “civilized” west, I have a vested interest in seeing that certain ideologies do not gain a foothold here in the United States. I’m intimately aware of what evil we have wrought, and I wish that others would make the effort to understand and speak out about the truth, as you have. At the end of the day, however, I’m a pragmatist. Sometimes there are no good guys, Jon. Sometimes there can be no good guys.
    Thanks for bringing those points up.

  • @odc & mak,
    Check out Understanding Comics, The Invisible Art,(Scott McCloud), pages 28-32.
    McCloud gives examples of simple iconic expression/imagery taken from both art and life. Two dots and a simple line is the example he shows for the most iconic representation of the human face, but a dot could easily be substituted for a line.

  • I’d like to see some Rule 34 on Muhammad, maybe as a cat-boy….

  • Vas

    Rule 34 on Muhammad!?!?
    as in…

    Rule 34:

    If a mark is missing or out of position, the race committee shall, if possible,

    (a) replace it in its correct position or substitute a new one of similar appearance, or

    (b) substitute an object displaying flag M and make repetitive sound signals.

    Well I guess thems the rules… how do they apply to Muhammad? Is he on the RC?

  • @Vas,
    I’m thinking she’s hoping for some HRA (hot rear action) sweaty mancat-on-catboy Muhammad porn. Rule 34 goes something like, “If it exists, porn can be made of it”…or something to that effect.
    Not so sure that would qualify as inoffensive.

  • JB Tait

    Maybe a whole book of “Where’s Muhammad”, in the style of Where’s Waldo? Except, don’t purposely put one in.

  • Dan W


  • Bob

    Isn’t the prohibition on representational art a later addition to only some sects of Islam, i.e. it’s not a core tenet of the religion?

    And if some believers get extremely bent out of shape by an otherwise innocuous stick figure (if it was named “Steve”, would they care?), shouldn’t we ask how ‘moderate’ they really are?

    Them’s the breaks of free speech. American Musilims can and do criticize the beliefs of others and that’s their right. Demanding respect and protection from offense is not. They need to get over themselves.

  • If it is ever accepted to be able to draw a figure of Muhammad, the next controversy will be over what figure immediately comes after Muhammad. There will be great wars and many lives lost over this contentious issue.

    For example, some will fight for
    O{-<   @{-<

    while others will fight for

    O{-<   O(-<

    Perhaps the first group will call themselves Sunni and the later group Shiite.

  • Bob Carlson

    Them’s the breaks of free speech. American Musilims can and do criticize the beliefs of others and that’s their right. Demanding respect and protection from offense is not. They need to get over themselves.

    But doesn’t this case concern Muslims in Sweden rather than America?

  • Curtis

    The point of this exercise is to make drawings Muhammad seem ordinary. If his portrait becomes part of popular culture like pictures of Christ or saint, then what are the terrorists going to do? Attack everyone? If 10 people draw picture, they are targets. If a million people draw pictures, no one is a target.

  • Can you imagine 50 people a day, walking in, drawing Muhammad, and walking out? Friends, they may think it’s a movement. (nods to Arlo Guthrie)

  • Richard Wade

    odc asked,

    i might be a bit thick, but i don’t get how 3 dots is the absolute minimal representation of a human?

    and then Mak said,

    Yeah, I don’t get the dots thing either. Even the mighty Google couldn’t help me.

    Sorry I didn’t catch your puzzlement earlier. My attempt to draw it with my keyboard didn’t work very well, so I’m drawing it here:
    three dots of great significance

    See? Two eyes and a mouth. We are wired to see faces so readily that we see a face in just three dots. Much more chalk goes into writing the word Muhammad, but by itself, that word is not considered “offensive.” Gotta add at least three dots.

  • Bob

    But doesn’t this case concern Muslims in Sweden rather than America?

    Sweden is not the only place where representational depictions of Muhammed cause theological indigestion among (some) Muslims. Dennmark and Madison WI (specifically at my alma mater) come to mind. A few moments with Google will turn up infinitely many more.

    The Enlightenment value of free speech trumps the religious privilege of being free from offense. Remember, this isn’t about offensive depictions of Muhammad, this is about any depiction of Muhammad, whether supplicating himself piously in prayer, looking lovingly on his wife/wives, or valiantly leading his followers into battle.

    Nobody would care to draw Muhammad if there weren’t incitements and conspiracies to murder cartoonists, physical attacks, arson, etc. regarding a few pictures. I understand if some see this as a middle finger towards religion, but given the context, it pales next to the death threats and hysteria among the religious.

    Apparently my offense at being told to abandon Enlightenment values to safeguard religious privilege doesn’t count as much as the offense to a Muslim’s religious sensibilities. Perhaps people would care more about my feelings and strongly-held beliefs if I started making death threats.

  • Kasey

    Do we have to draw on a sidewalk with chalk? Can we also support the cause by drawing it on something else, like our cars?

  • Jash

    I am planning to put pictures on my orkut and facebook accounts. I am a bit worried though, because I have quite some muslim friends. Should I go ahead with this plan? I might most probably be sticking to the stick figure theme.

  • I want to infuriate Muslims. And then I want them to realize, oh, no one has to die because of it.

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