Lifestyle & Belief

Prophet Muhammad in pop culture can lead to violent consequences


Egyptian protesters tear down the US flag at the US embassy in Cairo on September 11, 2012 during a demonstration against a film deemed offensive to Islam. Thousands of angry Egyptian demonstrators protested against the film made by an Israeli-American who describes Islam as a "cancer" as an armed mob attacked the US mission in Benghazi killing an official.



Four Americans died, including Ambassador to Libya Christopher Stevens, after gunmen stormed the US consulate in Benghazi, Libya on Tuesday.

Violence there happened alongside protests in Cairo, Egypt against an American-made film that railed against Islam and the Prophet Muhammad.

The protests also happened on the 11th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the US.

Stevens’ death is the latest violent reaction to using Islam, Islamic references or the Prophet Muhammad in arts and culture.

Here is a short history of other incidents:

1. Jyllands-Posten cartoons
The Dutch newspaper Jyllands-Posten is still feeling the effects seven years after it published a dozen editorial cartoons depicting the Prophet Muhammad.

In June of this year, a Danish court convicted four men of plotting a terrorist attack against the newspaper’s offices in Copenhagen.

Police said they caught the men – Sahbi Zalouti, Mounir Dhahri, Munir Awad and Omar Aboelazm – in late 2010 with enough weapons and ammunition to kill 122 people.

The New York Times counts six other attempts since 2006 to attack the newspaper, a “prestige target,” according to Magnus Ranstorp of the Swedish National Defense College.

“They are coming from all quarters — from local homegrown youngsters, to Al Shabab, to individuals from the Caucasus, to remnants of Al Qaeda in Pakistan — all focusing in on one tiny country,” he said.

2. The Satanic Verses
India’s ban against author Sir Salman Rushdie’s novel remains, although Iran’s government has long since abandoned the 1989 fatwa against him.

In 1998, the Iranian government said it no longer supported the death threat against Rushdie ordered by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini almost a decade earlier.

Muslims consider the book blasphemous and subsequent death threats forced Rushdie into hiding and to travel with bodyguards.

Extremists still hold Rushdie accountable, however.

As late as 2006, the Martyrs Foundation suggested the bounty on Rushdie’s head stood at $2.8 million and the fatwa would remain forever.

Earlier this year, Rushdie withdrew from a speaking engagement from an Indian literature festival because of death threats.

3. Charlie Hebdo
The French magazine displayed Muhammad on its cover and called him editor-in-chief.

Critics responded by throwing a Molotov cocktail through the office windows and burning it to the ground.

The magazine also republished the Danish cartoons in 2007, resulting in a lawsuit against it.

Editors said they were responding to Islamic party victories in the Tunisian election.

4. Super Best Friends
Comedy Central’s long-running South Park waded fully into controversy when it depicted Muhammad as a character in July 2001.

The pre-9/11 episode called The Super Best Friends showed Muhammad battling a cartoon David Blaine alongside Jesus and Buddha.

The show’s creators, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, did it again in 2010, disguising Muhammad in a bear suit. suggested they would likely end up dead alongside Theo van Gogh, a Dutch director murdered in 2004 for his documentary about violence against Muslim women.

“This is not a small thing,” a representative for the website, Abu Talhah al Amrike, told Fox News. “We should do whatever we can to make sure it does not happen again.”

5. Theo Van Gogh
A 26-year-old Dutch citizen of Moroccan descent named Mohammed Bouyeri shot and fatally stabbed Theo Van Gogh in 2004.

Van Gogh (also an author and newspaper columnist) had produced a film called Submission about treatment of Muslim in Islam.

However, he didn’t restrict his targets to Islam or Muslims.

He backed Somalian refugee Ayaan Hirsi Ali for Dutch parliament, was also friends with anti-immigration advocate Pim Fortuyn and railed against the Dutch monarchy.

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