Live-blogging: Are Muslims unfairly criticized?

A radical Muslim group has allegedly threatened violence against the creators of South Park because of an episode that insulted the prophet Muhammad.

In the episode, the children meet Tom Cruise at a chocolate factory where he is packing bundles of fudge into boxes. They ask him why he’s “packing fudge”, which angers Cruise and leads him to bring a lawsuit against South Park. The only way that Cruise will drop the suit is if the town brings the Prophet Muhammad to South Park.

The whole point of the show is to lampoon the double standards applied to Islam and other religions in the media. There is a scene involving the “Super Best Friends”, that features every religious figure acting as super heroes, including Buddha, who does lines of cocaine on a table as Jesus is speaking. For the scenes of Muhammad, the image is blacked out by a large “censored” graphic.

Eventually, Muhammad agrees to appear in South Park in a bear mascot costume so as not to offend Muslims.

The episode has been removed from YouTube, apparently because of copyright violations.

Closer to home, a Muslim civil rights group has criticized schools in the St. Cloud area for not reacting to racism there.

The BBC’s World Have Your Say program has dedicated its international call-in program today to the question of whether Muslims are “always being attacked.”

Here’s an example of what people are saying:

Bahrain : Like Japanese in World War II, Muslims are being branded as a target. We are not attributed for any kind of innovation or forward thinking. When people criticize us, we have no rebuttal.

Texas: It’s hard to hear what people are saying about us, it’s free speech. It’s not something Muslims are used to but Muslims in the West are getting more comfortable with it.

Oregon: Trying to secularize Muslims won’t help them.

Ohio: I used to be a critic of the faith, now I just don’t care.

Trinidad: I’m not so concerned. One feels they are trying to set the agenda for liberal societies in which they live, which is something they wouldn’t be able to do in any Mideast country.

Nigeria: There seems to be a general impression that there is a certain propensity for violence and the threat of it when it comes to that particular faith. Consider the flurry over the Catholic Church. No one has heard of threats against the parish priest. We take it for granted that we can say anything we want to about the Catholic faith. In the media there is self-censorship when it comes to Islam.

(A guest responded that that was an “attack.” “You’ve used the term ‘attack,’ the gentleman in Nigeria responded. It’s not an ‘attack,’ it’s a ‘criticism.’ I’m not attacking anybody.)

Another guest says “there are two thugs in New York who put a statement about South Park up, and people think they speak for all Muslims. Muslims have spoken about this by not speaking about this (South Park) for the last 14 years.”

Canada: Is the problem here South Park, or a culture that responds with death threats whenever there’s something they disagree with?

(Guest: “If there’s 100 Muslims and 99 of them love South Park, you’re not going to hear from any of the 99. Our crazies get more attention.”)

Jamaica: If there’s any faith that’s always being ridiculed, it’s Christianity.

  • Heather

    I’d say that “South Park” is pretty equal-opportunity in the insult department. Has Barbara Streisand issued a “warning” yet?

  • Ben Chorn

    the point of South Park is SATIRE and to question how we are viewing current events.

    On the Islam issue, I sometimes think of it like humans and bears- yes bears attack people from time to time (as do Islamic fundamentalist terrorists), however most bears are harmless and we all just need to learn to live together in harmony.

    Possibly not the best example, but once terrorists stop committing acts of killing in the name of religion and people become more open to the idea that not everyone wearing middle eastern dress is trying to blow up a building then we can all become better people.

  • John P.

    Any religious extreist can be dangerous. (See Hutaree Militia) If God is on your side, isn’t what you want to do okay? Like bears, it’s a minority that make the trouble, but I’m still very cautious around bears.

  • Drew Salisbury

    Wait are we talking about bears now? I always knew it was them. Even when it was the Muslims I knew it was them.

    Of course Muslims are unfairly criticized. Most religions are. I’ve been hearing a lot about the hypocrisy that we allow outright criticism of Christians, Jews, etc., but not Muslims, and also that of all the groups that receive criticism, why we only hear threats of violence from Muslims.

    The assumption is that there is a double standard, and that Muslims are inherently violent. To the former, I say, well, duh, and to the latter, I call bulls**t.

    There is a double standard. It exists because the western world currently finds itself in a situation where it can’t ignore the Muslim world anymore. A small group of extremists blew up buildings, and continue to blow up buildings, and because the western world is not really familiar with the way the world these extremists come from is, the western world responds by singling the entire “other” world out.

    Now, they get singled out in many ways, some seemingly preferential even (ie: not depicting their Holiest of Holy Prophets in a cartoon). But one would have to be a loony to think that this somehow is indicative of being held “above” all others. Muslims are treated differently because the western world views them as different. As an “other.” And not necessarily in a bad way, but certainly not in a good way. In a “I don’t understand you, and that kind of scares me” sort of way. Which, I guess, actually, is a bad way.

    But we must remember that Muslims are not extremists. Certainly, there exist extremists, but they come in all shapes and sizes, we just are focusing on Muslim extremists because we are not as familiar with their shapes and sizes the way we are Christian and Jewish extremists. We’ve had more time with them. We realize they speak for themselves and themselves only.

    Do I think Mohammed should be censored on South Park? Hell no. Do I think most Muslims think he should be censored? Probably, but that’s not the same question as do I think most Muslims would kill or threaten to kill over it.

    And s**t it made for way better TV having him blocked out anyways.

  • Mark Gisleson

    It would take next to no effort to find countless examples of radical Christianists having a cow over various South Park episodes, but they never quite get to the threats of violence stage because Parker and Stone have often ridiculed liberals and people like Saddam Hussein.

    I’m sure their humor is quite jarring if you’ve never seen an episode before, and I’m sure that’s true of most of the overseas Muslims who overreact to the show.

    Matt and Trey have offended me too many times for me to continue watching the show, but that’s their right just as it’s their right to bait others into becoming very, very angry.

    The real test of a satirist is whether or not they tolerate the threats they’ve provoked, or if they run around hiding behind the 1st Amendment to declare victimhood. Parker and Stone are quite rich, and are clearly not victims. And they are most certainly not in the same league as Salmon Rushdie.