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Friday, March 22, 2019

Columns

Radicals don’t understand religion


Editorial cartoon courtesy of Comedy Central

One of the great things about living in a free country is having the right to say just about whatever you want. Some people, however, can go too far with their comments.

South Park celebrated the airing of its 200th episode, “200,” on April 14 by bringing back almost every famous figure in the show’s history for one more lambasting. From Tom Cruise to Mel Gibson, no one was spared — not even the Prophet Muhammad.

After the episode aired, Internet blog Revolution Muslim posted a warning to the show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, saying they made themselves targets for murder because of their depiction of Muhammad.

“We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show,” the posting said. “This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality of what will likely happen to them.”

For those of you who don’t know, van Gogh was a Dutch filmmaker who was murdered months after completing a documentary about violence against women in certain Muslim cultures. His attacker, a Muslim radical named Mohammed Bouyeri, shot van Gogh eight times in broad daylight and stuck his dead body with two knives before attempting to decapitate him in a public street.

Fully grasping the gravity of the situation, Comedy Central immediately moved to censor out all images and references to the Muhammad in South Park’s sequel episode, “201.”

The administrators of the Revolution Muslim blog issued a subsequent post to clarify their stance on the issue, claiming they simply wanted to warn Parker and Stone of the severity of their actions, nothing more.

“Our intention with this explanation is only, Allah willing, to create the possibility that a deeper and more productive dialogue may be initiated,” the posting said. “We hope that the creators of South Park may read this and respond, that before sending hate mail and condemning us that we may partake in dialogue, and that the Western media’s degradation of the most blessed of men ceases.

“Otherwise we warn all that many reactions will not involve speech, and that defending those that insult, belittle, or degrade the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) is a requirement of the religion.”

The curious thing about the Web site’s claim is that although it purports to be merely sending a warning to Parker and Stone, the original post also listed several mailing addresses where people could contact them, as well as a link to a Nov. 9 story from the Huffington Post that talks about their retreat home in Steamboat Springs, Colo. Did I forget to mention the post also began with a picture of van Gogh’s dead body?

Anyone who sees this as anything but a threat is certifiably insane. The message is loud and clear, and it’s not one of peace.

Abu Talhah Al-Amrikee — the author of the original post — and the rest of the people responsible for the Revolution Muslim Web site need to be condemned for attempting to incite violence against Parker and Stone. Their behavior does not reflect that of most Muslims, but threatening to kill people has unfairly thrust the entire religion into the spotlight.

Free speech has very few limits, which can sometimes seem unfair. The best way to combat these cowards is by using words, too — words that show them their threats will never extinguish the flame of free speech.

Alan Dennis is a communication senior and may be reached at [email protected]


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