A Further Defense of Everybody Draw Mohammad Day (With Pictures)
One year has passed since the first Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. One again, Hemant Mehta has compiled drawings of Mohammad sent to him. Here are two of the drawings that I liked from the compilation.
I already explained last year why I support Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. It is important to reiterate that this event was not planned by a hate group seeking to take away rights from minority religious groups or immigrants; it was a condemnation of violence that was used to intimidate others who have drawn Mohammad. Although different pictures contain different material (and we may each find certain pictures offensive or inoffensive) the idea behind the event was not hatred, but opposing hatred.
It is important to stand up for equal rights for everyone, and one of the aspects of Everybody Draw Mohammad Day that I like is that, unlike the actions those who tried to stop the construction of the Park51 Islamic Community Center in Manhattan, this event is focused on criticism of Islam (specifically of Islamic violence) while not taking away rights from Muslims. We should be more horrified by the violence and suppression of rights committed by theocratic Muslim governments and Islamic fundamentalist organizations than by cartoons of Mohammad.
A Response to Criticism from Allies
Even some who are involved in opposing discrimination and advocating working together with others of different faiths (two goals which I wholeheartedly support) have, in my opinion, misunderstood this event and taken it as an example of discrimination against Muslims. Even those who realize that they can get along with people of other religions while disagreeing with them, and not following the same rules as members of those other religions, think that not following the Islamic rule against drawing religious figures is discrimination against Muslims. As Jen McCreight noted in her entry about interfaith work, ”It’s totally fine for religious people in the interfaith movement to disagree about things – that’s the whole concept of interfaith work. But an atheist disagrees with them? Then they’re just being an asshole and need to shut up. We saw this sort of reaction with Everybody Draw Mohammed Day – when the atheists stood by their values, they were the ones in the wrong. They were the ones who needed to shut up lest they offend the others in the group.”
If Christians who believe that Jesus is the son of God and Muslims who believe that he was a prophet (but not the son) of God can get along, if religious people who believe drinking alcohol is a sin and people who drink alcohol can get along, if people who believe in one god and people who believe in many gods can get along, if people who hold completely different views of the divine and follow entirely different religious rules can get along without their practice of their own beliefs (in such a way that is not harming others) being considered discrimination against others, then people who draw Mohammad and Muslims should be able to get along without drawing Mohammad being considered discrimination against Muslims.
It’s time for humanity to realize that disagreement with and criticism of religion is included under freedom of speech and religion, and that these freedoms apply to nonreligious people just as much as they do to religious people.
Christian Jealousy of Islamic Intimidation
Conservative Christians (such as Bill Donohue of the Catholic League, who does not understand why anyone would actually blame the Roman Catholic Church hierarchy for its actions) have demonstrated that they are almost jealous of the fear that Islamic violence inspires; they seem to wish that people were reluctant to criticize, satirize, or mock Christianity in the same way that many are too afraid to criticize, satirize, or mock Islam. Although these Christians will claim that they just want people to consider the feelings of Christians, just as they consider the feelings of Muslims, I highly doubt that they will disagree when their own pastors make comments against Islam. The reality is that conservative Christians want to stop criticism of their own religion while advocating discrimination against (not just disagreement with) people of other faiths, and even members of their own faith. This is one of the reasons why I think that conservative or fundamentalist members of any faith are not able to correctly criticize other religions—because their own members secretly want the same kind of power to control other people’s lives. Again, one of the reasons why I support Everybody Draw Mohammad Day is because it was not motivated by this kind of desire for discrimination masked by a fake concern, but rather out of genuine concern for those whose lives have been lost due to religious violence.
There are those who would say that there are better ways to discuss the problems within Islam than drawing cartoons on a particular day of the year, and I agree. This event really isn’t about the cartoons themselves, but what they represent—a desire for a society in which people do not fear for their lives after expressing their views peacefully or not following baseless religious rules. Right now, even criticisms of Islam that do not contain pictures of Mohammad are being dismissed as hateful. Even criticisms of Islam from people who are or were Muslims and who experienced the effects of fundamentalist Islamic teachings in their own lives are dismissed. Even criticisms of Islam that demonstrate a concern for the Muslims who are being hurt are dismissed. I don’t have to like or agree with every single drawing of Mohammad to appreciate that these drawing help to stand up for a world in which these criticisms can be heard without their authors being threatened with violence.
Here is a Young Turks video clip from last year (May 2010). Hosts Cenk Uygur and Ana Kasparian discuss the Everybody Draw Mohammad Day event.
 Mehta, Hemant. Draw Muhammad Day 2: A Compilation. Posted on May 20, 2011 at Friendly Atheist. Retrieved on May 20, 2011 from http://friendlyatheist.com/2011/05/20/draw-muhammad-day-2-a-compilation/.
 Sharmin, Ani. On Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. Posted on May 20, 2010 at the Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on May 20, 2011 from http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2010/05/20/on-everybody-draw-mohammad-day/.
 Sharmin, Ani. Weird Arithmetic and Reasonable Criticism: Some Thoughts on Park 51 and Islam [Part 1 of 3]. Posted on September 9, 2010 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on May 20, 2011 from http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2010/09/09/arithmetic-and-criticism-part-1/.
 McCreight. What do you call interfaith volunteering where atheists participate? Posted on April 19, 2011 at BlagHag. Retrieved on May 20, 2011 from http://www.blaghag.com/2011/04/what-do-you-call-interfaith.html.
 Sharmin, Ani. Unsurprisingly Infuriating Comments and Their Antidotes: Secularism, Not the Pope, Deserves Support. Posted on September 29, 2010 at The Eternal Bookshelf. Retrieved on May 20, 2011 from http://eternalbookshelf.wordpress.com/2010/09/29/unsurprisingly-infuriating-comments-and-their-antidotes/.