Before their anger over a blasphemous film has subsided, Muslims have once again been enraged, this time over the cover of the latest edition of Newsweek bearing the “Muslim rage” headline that unleashed a storm of criticism and sparked controversy on social media. However, my favorite take on all the anti-western violence in 20 or so Muslim countries did not come from any of the always-too-serious serious pundits, top newspapers, or the busy social media. Rather, it came from the humor media.
Publishing a drawing in which cherished religious figures Moses, Jesus, Ganesha and Buddha were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, the Onion’s headline read: “No One Murdered Because of This Image.”
Here goes the story: “After the publication of the image above ... no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened, sources reported Thursday. The image ... reportedly went online at 6:45 p.m. EDT, after which not a single bomb threat was made against the organization responsible, nor did the person who created the cartoon go home fearing for his life in any way,” the Onion reported. “Though some members of the Jewish, Christian, Hindu, and Buddhist faiths were reportedly offended by the image, sources confirmed that upon seeing it, they simply shook their heads, rolled their eyes, and continued on with their day.”
The Onion’s Turkish equivalent, Zaytung (whose motto is “honest, independent, immoral news”), published a story titled “Video Showing Prime Minister Erdoğan Eating Beef Causes Havoc in India.” Here goes Zaytung’s story:
“Violent reactions among Hindus have worsened after a video showing Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan eating one and a half portions of İskender (beef döner with fried butter, tomato sauce and yoghurt) was loaded onto YouTube …
“Thousands demonstrated in front of the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi and the Turkish Consulate in Mumbai. Turkish diplomatic personnel have been relocated to safe houses...
“It was not certain who uploaded the video to YouTube or why. The video shows Erdoğan ordering one and a half portions of İskender at a restaurant ... After the video was shared on YouTube, angry Hindus launched a protest campaign on Twitter sparking violence across India ... Some protestors chanted: ‘Cow-murderer Erdogan!’
“Indian President Pranab Mukherjee called for restraint and said: ‘We respect everyone’s religious freedom, but no one should force the limits of our patience by eating beef.’
“Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu said the sharing of the video was unacceptable and condemned those who leaked it. ‘The prime minister did not intend to insult,’ he said.
“But in India angry protestors raided local Turkish Airlines offices and burned posters of Erdoğan and the Turkish flag, vowing to carry on with their protests until Turkey apologizes and YouTube removes the video.”
However, in real life Turkey, the country’s top Islamic cleric, Professor Mehmet Görmez, thinks the killing of over 20 people due to the blasphemous film was in fact a reaction to past and recent insults against Islam, including “Salman Rushdie’s book (The Satanic Verses), the film ‘Fitna,’ the Danish cartoons, the Pope’s Regensburg speech, the Swiss referendum over banning the mosque minarets, and a local German court’s decision to ban ritual circumcision.” What all these have in common, according to Professor Görmez, is that they lack “intellectual, cultural, scientific and artistic value.”
But is that not justifying violence? What’s next, Professor Görmez, two more blasphemous films, a couple of books, half a dozen new cartoons, a new papal speech a la Regensburg and a few more court verdicts igniting World War III?
Meanwhile, even the denial of God’s existence is being interpreted as an insult against Islam (see the prosecution against Fazıl Say). But then, is it not insulting to atheists to claim there is a God? And will it not be blasphemous to the Prophet Muhammed if non-Muslims believe he is not a Prophet?
I am not even going to ask how likely Christian or Jewish violence would be if a provocative Muslim author wrote “Worse Than Satanic Verses” for the Bible, produced the film “Jewish fitna,” drew cartoons of Moses, if courts banned church bells and the Sabbath, or if a Muslim cleric preached a la Regensburg.
But have fun by reading the humor media, as well as the serious pundits who dance with joy over the theme “oh-but-there-wasn’t-so-much-violence-in-Turkey.”