Previous Next
Muslim leader Irshad Manji blasts the negative responses to a now infamous South Park episode.

The criminal South Park episode.

Heard about the Southpark/Mohammed hoopla? In case you missed it, a group of fundamentalist Muslims are screaming death threats at the creators of the show, Trey Parker and Matt Stone, for their depiction of the sacred prophet of Islam.

I didn’t see the episode, but apparently they put Santa Claus in a bear costume while asking the audience to pretend it was the Prophet. Unfortunately, the clip seems to have been removed from everywhere except for a Fox News roundup.

Tons of discussion has ensued all over the web, including these remarks from Muslims compiled in a CNN article:

Zainab Sher said, “2 b honest 200 episode wasnt funny at all to me!” She then added, “Bringing Mohammad back! when you know it is a sensitive issue […] seems to me southpark is running out of ideas!!! that angle just brought everything down.”

Ahmed Ata Saada said he had seen all “South Park” episodes and he found them “very fun.” But he found it “ridiculous” to make fun of other people’s beliefs and sacred religion.

Omar Latif kept his comments simple, “DISAPPOINTED with showing our prophet.”

But one of the most interesting responses comes from Irshad Manji, a devout Muslim who is director of the Moral Courage Project at New York University and author of The Trouble with Islam Today: A Muslim’s Call for Reform in Her Faith. She wrote a post entitled, Sign My Petition…or else, and asked her readers to add their names against Islamic death threats.

Why? Well, in her words, Islam actually accepts free expression for several reasons:

1) The Prophet Muhammad warned Muslims not to put him on a pedestal. That’s because he’s not the one to be revered; God alone is to be worshiped. Welcome to the hypocrisy of those who claim to be protecting the Prophet while violating one of his core teachings.

2) The Qur’an expressly affirms that “there is no compulsion in religion” (2:256). Which means nobody should be forced to follow Islamic traditions, even if they’re “mocking” the religion.

3) The Qur’an advises Muslims to deal with hurt feelings by getting up and walking away (4:140). That’s it. Don’t retaliate. Just “do not sit with them.” Change the channel. Click the mouse. Move on. Once the dust has settled, come back to discuss the issues with those who’ve offended you.

I also can’t help but wonder, how many other religions/groups/people has South Park made fun of? As far as I can tell, they’ve just about covered everyone.

What do you think about the controversy around this South Park episode? Share your thoughts below.



About The Author

Christine Garvin

Christine Garvin is a certified Nutrition Educator and holds a MA in Holistic Health Education. She is the founder/editor of Living Holistically...with a sense of humor and co-founder of Confronting Love. When she is not out traveling the world, she is busy writing, doing yoga, and performing hip-hop and bhangra. She also likes to pretend living in her hippie town of Fairfax, CA is like being on vacation.

  • Alex Andrei

    I’d read something about a day in May being “Let’s Draw Mohammed Day”, as a mass expression of free speech. Cant remember which day it was. Should be interesting to see how this whole thing plays out.

    Despite all the hoopla and death threats, i do think that opening up free speech for discussion (again) using this seemingly taboo subject is good for society (at least ours.)

  • Turner

    Hey, devout followers of almost any religion ignore aspects of their own faith, believing it detracts from the “one true faith”.

  • Justruss

    To label the reaction to Messrs. Stone and Parker as being limited to ‘fundamentalist’ or extreme Muslims is somewhat naive.

    Revolution Muslim reaction is exactly as should be expected and is representative of the thinking of many, many millions of Muslims throughout the Middle East, Europe and North America.

    • P

      Calling out for the killing of anyone for drawing a cartoon IS a radical belief among Muslims. I do agree that it is a widespread opinion that they are extremely upset by it but in no way can you claim that the majority of muslims across the world condone killing 2 guys cuz the drew mohamed in a bear costume….

      I was raised muslim. The reaction of muslims to the newspaper cartoons and to south park is complete hypocrisy. First of all nowhere in the Koran does it say you can’t depict Mohamed. It says it in Hadiths that you shouldn’t depict any prophet because then you risk people worshiping a false idol. I don’t see people taking the streets in revolution when Jesus is shown in every other episode. And like Irshad said they end up doing what the whole idea of the rule was to not do in the first place.

      I personally think freedom of speech is essential and we should be able to make fun of everything. But I don’t know if the solution is to rebel against it outright and have everybody make a drawing, it seems that that will just create more hate instead of promoting dialogue and understanding.

      I did think episode was brilliant, though and wish they would have actually shown him.

      • Justruss

        P, I wish I could agree with you, but I’m living in Saudi Arabia and estimate a substantial portion of the 21 million Muslims (they are all Muslims as other religions are not tolerated) living here would react similarly. Then travel West to Egypt and Africa, east to Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan, all the way to Indonesia, and count all of those who would happily take up the cause. This is a considerable number of people, most of whom are not considered radical at all.

        In a rare (talk of religion is unwise here) discussion with a very liberal Saudi a few years ago, I suggested that while Mohammed was a prophet, he was a man and as such, imperfect. He told me to reign in my tongue, that such words were blasphemous and would get me in serious trouble.

        I am more interested in Zachary Chesser who issued the threat to Stone and Parker. I gather he is a 20 year old American who was always considered to be a social misfit. Perhaps a twisted mind is responsible for this case as certainly he is not a notable Islamic scholar. In the case of Salman Rushdi, the fatwa calling for his death for writing The Satanic Verses was issued by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the spiritual leader of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

        Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard still lives under tight security for his cartoon depicting Mohammed. Just this past January a Somali man broke into Westergaard’s home with an axe in an attempt to kill him and in February 2006, the Danish embassies in Damascus, Beirut and Teheran were set on fire by Muslims protesting his depiction of the Prophet.

  • DHarbecke

    “The secret source of humour itself is not joy, but sorrow. There is no humor in heaven.” – Mark Twain.

    Freedom of speech means you can’t hold any idea as too sacred to be approached. The side effect is it promises an endless supply of comedy. Looking forward to it! And don’t let anyone bully you out of it!

  • chad barnes

    “anything worth taking serious is worth making fun of” – an old family maxim

  • Turner

    One of the monks I lived with told me the first thing you need to know about becoming a monk is having a sense of humor. I wonder if I should send them a link to that episode and see if they find the parts on the Buddha; probably would, because of the absurdity, just like they try with Muhammad.

  • Marc Latham

    Critical humour is the best defence against fascism.

  • Daniel Ratheiser

    Thanks for the great info! If we want to learn about peaceful interfaith relations with Islam, we should learn from the example of Sufis. One of the most amazing Islamic interfaith events is the Sufi festival of Khwaja Muinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, India. Have a look at this article:

A holy mark or normal callus? Baxter Jackson uncovers the mystery of the third eye of...
What does inter-faith cooperation look like? Troy Nahumko finds a shining example in an...
While travelers may wish to participate in the spiritual month of Ramadan, sometimes...
New TSA security measures are making some Muslim women feel threatened. Is the name of...
Islamic immigrants can thrive in Korea, a country where everything changes fast.
Students in Florida as young as 10-years-old are showing up to school in anti-Islam...
During Great Eid, the streets really do run with blood.
A look at some of the effects of the holiday.
Over tiny cups of cardamon-laced Arabic coffee, Maolim Salim showed us his amulets he...
For Indonesia, the beheading of Ruyati binti Satubi was a provocation too far.
"Isn’t it cheating to gorge yourself after a day of fasting?”
A UK couple may end up in the slammer due to offensive comments made to Muslims. Is the...