Infidels of the world, lend me your ears! We the Jerka Jerka Jihad, representing every Muslim in the galaxy, wish to warn Rupert Murdoch’s Fox News against depicting the prophet Muhammad as an Australian who loved his country so much that he gave up his citizenship to become an American.
We (as in myself and some bloke I mentioned the idea to at an Allah Made Me Funny show while everyone else was laughing themselves silly) have had enough of your evil filthy infidel media insolence. Ignore our warning and we will put a jihad on you. Or maybe that should be fatwa. Whatever.
Sound ridiculous? Well, it’s almost as ridiculous as the media overkill triggered by a dozen numbskulls from New York who called themselves “Revolution Muslim” and made imbecilic threats against the makers of South Park. The New York Times reported that some 20-year-old calling himself Abu Talha al-Amrikee (literally “Talha’s-dad-who-also-happens-to-be-American”) clarified things on Revolution Muslim’s blog as follows:
“We have to warn Matt [Stone] and Trey [Parker, the co-creators of South Park] that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show. This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”
The executives at Comedy Central, which broadcasts South Park, may have wondered whether to take such blogospheric fantasies seriously. Normally, a warning coming from 12 bloggers claiming to represent 1.3 billion people worldwide would be treated as ridiculous. Unless, of course, we’re talking about Muslims.
My guess is that most Americans, Muslim or otherwise, have never heard of Theo van Gogh, a Dutch filmmaker murdered by a lone psychotic Dutch-Moroccan man. And even fewer will have heard of Revolution Muslim. But that didn’t stop Comedy Central taking precautions and censoring the depiction of Muhammad in the broadcast episode.
But I’m seriously wondering what all the fuss was about. I mean, the prophet Muhammad was apparently shown wearing a bear suit or had his visage covered with black spots.
Compare this to the depiction of the Virgin Mary in an earlier episode, in which her statue was shown as a place of pilgrimage where people were healed by the blood flowing from her backside.
The episode, entitled ”Bloody Mary” and broadcast in December 2005, offended millions of Roman Catholic and Orthodox Christians and should have been extremely offensive to Muslims. We won’t know if this miraculous menstrual fluid “joke” at the heart of the episode triggered some wacko bloggers in Latin America, eastern Europe or the Philippines to issue threats. Perhaps that’s because our media are even more ignorant about non-Western Christians than they are of Muslims.
The fact remains that I didn’t read of too many Muslim religious groups complaining about it, which leads me to ask: What would Muhammad say about South Park?
Or, better still, would he even have bothered with it? Muslims should know that their prophet had bigger concerns than a few jokes. He and his extended family were forced to live in the wilderness in conditions so dire that at one stage they ate leaves. He was then driven from his home by his own people. The city where he sought refuge was invaded three times. When he finally overcame his foes and returned victorious to his home town, biographers record him as saying to his former oppressors: “As Joseph said to his brothers in Egypt, so I say to you – go, you are free!”
Muslims know of Muhammad as a man who happily forgave the men and women who murdered his followers, even the woman who chewed the liver of his uncle slain on the battlefield. Perhaps Talha’s-dad-who-also-happens-to-be-American and his blog colleagues could learn some basic Islamic history before their next online outburst.
Talha’s father might also recall that one of the canonical books of Muhammad’s sayings, collected by Imam Tirmidhi, contains an entire chapter devoted to Muhammad’s jokes. Maybe Talha’s old man should watch some of the cable TV broadcast across Muslim countries and see what blasphemous humour is broadcast in Urdu, Arabic, Turkish, Bengali, Bahasa Indonesia and a host of other languages commonly spoken by Muslims.
Talha’s papa might, for instance, consider an episode of Late Night With Begum Nawazish Ali, the comedic talk show hosted by the openly gay Ali Saleem cross-dressed in a sari and playing the widow of a Pakistani colonel. Among Saleem’s guests are leaders of Pakistani religious parties who happily shake her hand on the basis that she is really a he!
Who knows? After this controversy, Abu Talha himself might be invited on to the show. Certainly he’d be more useful to Muslims there than behaving on the blogosphere like a caricature terrorist from Team America: World Police.
And so, dear infidels, let me end this fatwa with a reminder that Team America, that hilarious movie which enabled many of us (Muslim or otherwise) to laugh ourselves senseless during the senseless days of Bush, Blair and Howard’s disastrous “War on Terror”, was brought to us by none other than the makers of South Park.
Irfan Yusuf is Associate Editor of altmuslim.com, a lawyer, and author of the comic memoir Once Were Radicals: My Years as a Teenage Islamo-fascist. This article was first featured in The Age.