Why I Didn’t Participate in Everybody Draw Muhammad Day

Everybody Draw Muhammad Day was today, but if you weren’t aware of it, you’re not alone. I chose not to “celebrate” — despite having a few readers send me their drawings — because I just wasn’t motivated enough to do it. It’s not that blasphemy laws aren’t a problem in other countries or that moderate Muslims have changed their views on the issue, but the event is a reactionary one and there wasn’t much to react to this year.

When an American cartoon is censored from showing a Muhammad character (even in disguise) like South Park was in 2010, and when artists are killed or threatened for drawing cartoons featuring Muhammad, there’s plenty of reason for all of us to come together in solidarity and draw our own versions of the Islamic prophet. The fact that Islam forbids drawings of Muhammad is irrelevant — this is about free speech, pure and simple, not about disrespecting Muslims. Yet moderate Muslims have been quick to complain that this is just a way to “marginalize a community.” Not even close. It’s a way to fight back against oppressive religious dogmas that treat symbols as sacred cows. Drawing a stick figure with a smiley face and calling it Muhammad is not bigotry. If another group believes it is, then that belief deserves to be mocked. Remember: Respect people, not their bad ideas.

Maybe we’ll draw Muhammad again next year. But I hope there’s no reason to.

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