OFFENDING MUSLIMS: IS THERE A HIDDEN AGENDA?

Living under the threat of a major, global Islamic outrage is Swedish artist Lars Vilks.

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This man had drawn a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed as a dog. Of all things, a dog, reviled by Islam as a dirty and low animal! Al Qaida had placed a bounty on his head to the tune of around $150,000.
The two sides of this issue are clearly polarised and typical: the artist’s ‘right to expression’ versus the religious outrage and vengeance that is mandated by Islam for any such act of sacrilege.

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Now, I have always been on the side of the underdog, no pun intended. I have defended the rights and freedoms of artists in the past, and have attacked religions for their essential irrationality, intolerance and collectivism.
However, on this event, I have my own two cents to offer.
I think this is a publicity stunt by a mediocre artist who has ambitions to historic immortality. Aspirations to the eternal glory of being the one to cock a heroic snook at the Islamists who, the West knows from experience, are intolerant to anything outside their book. He probably must feel that the risk to his life will be covered anyways by the State, and that he will tide over the immediate threats, then end up basking in the permanent fame brought about by world-wide media attention.
I have to ask why an artist (though he is well within his rights to do so) feels the need to paint or draw Jesus as a pedophile, or the Prophet Mohammed as a dog. Is his atheism overwhelming him such that he cannot but be so offensively contemptuous of religious figures? Or he has no other issues that command his attention?
I rather think not. I feel this is a good business tactic. Vilks’ next commission will be worth a fortune because this controversy is great for his business.
Perhaps it is time for us to take a break from spending our time defending these artistic rabble rousers and identify them for what they could well be: opportunistic mediocrities that need to be ignored.
Ignore this: who am I kidding? These actions are calculated to cause the maximum offense to the target audience. The artist surely knows that no Muslim can ignore this. Hence, as a strategy, this is invariably successful.
However, even if the world ignores this ‘art’, it would underscore one important point that Vilks himself advocates: “If you don’t like it, don’t look at it. And if you look at it, don’t take it too seriously. No harm done, really.”
Except to his own (expensive) safety and peaceful existence.

(Picture credits: CNN.com)

23 responses to “OFFENDING MUSLIMS: IS THERE A HIDDEN AGENDA?

  1. I think you’re right… all evidence points to this being a publicity stunt rather than an expression of artistic freedom. Of course, when he says “No harm done, really,” he’s not taking anyone’s beliefs into account. Or so I think.

  2. How right you are. A sad way to draw attention to your dubious talent. Though you need to clarify the word “Islamists.” You may mean Islamic fanatics, and they are not the same thing.

    Irving,
    Welcome to my blog.
    No, I stand by ‘Islamists’ (the word).
    Here is what a Wikipedia entry says:

    Islamism is a term usually used to denote a set of political ideologies holding that Islam is not only a religion but also a political system and its teachings should be preeminent in all facets of society. It holds that Muslims must return to the original teachings and the early models of Islam, particularly by making Islamic law (sharia) the basis for all statutory law of society and by uniting politically, eventually in one state; and that western military, economic, political, social, or cultural influence in the Muslim world is un-Islamic and should be replaced by purely Islamic influences. A broader definition gives Islamism’s role as “support for identity, authenticity, broader regionalism, revivalism, revitalization of the community;” while a narrower definition defines it as “an Islamic militant, anti-democratic movement, bearing a holistic vision of Islam whose final aim is the restoration of the caliphate.” Attributes of sharia law supported by many, but not all, Islamists include “enforcement of Islamic punishments, including prohibitions on taking interest, playing music, showing television, … and enforcing traditional dress and attendance at prayers.”

  3. The State’s paramount duty – some will assert the only duty – is to protect its citizens from physical violence and intimidation. It is Lars Vilks’ prerogative to pursue his self interest in any manner he likes that does not involve physical force against another – be it painting Christ as a pedophile, Muhammad as a dog, or Ram in his birthday suit. If his action were a strategy to get publicity at a low cost, and profit from it, that too is his right. Of course, you and I have every right to call him a rabble rouser, turd blossom [a colorful term used to describe Bush and Rove], or whatever, and dismiss his work as unworthy of attention, and ostracize him from every social gathering that we organize.

    Physical force against Vilks, when he has not threatened or used physical force against the opponent, however, should be criminal in any society that may be considered as civil. As John Galt says in the Atlas Shrugged, “So long as men desire to live together, no man may initiate—do you hear me? no man may start—the use of physical force against others”.

    Agreed, TRF!
    BTW, yesterday, we had a small party at Crossword, Kolkata, where we celebrated 50 years of Atlas Shrugged. The interaction was brisk and interesting, and the cake was double-chocolate truffle. A Rand interview was screened, and copies of ‘Ayn Rand at 100’ gifted away free of cost. Enjoyed the evening.

  4. Ignorance & bad breath = Limited sight and short steps. East for europeans is not the same thing for us , in midday continent (continente del medio dia)ego limited and ego limitant produce an dependent & pending society. The big campaign to discredit the real love and the real life. Media mess is of no help to the undertasnding of human beings with different faces, voices and spices.

    Er… I get the feeling that this commenter typed in some foreign language, and this is the result of his PC translating for us. Unless someone knows what he is talking about?

  5. Agreed this might be a publicity stunt, but the muslim reaction was not practical. Speaking from a neutral side, consider this – If you are an ateist, you should not have any problem with the cartoons. If you are liberal Muslim, you will respect the cartoonists freedom of expression. If you are an orthodox Muslim, then you believe in Judgment Day when God will be handing out punishment to each one that deserves it… so why all this hue and cry?

  6. Rambodoc, this post seems to contradict your basic views…which are best expressed by TRF.
    But ofcourse if you mean you are torn about it, yes I guess I am too.
    I am totally against anyone offending others in the name of freedom of expression (as you probably know from the posts on my blog) but if the reaction to insult is VIOLENCE, my sympathy starts to tilt in favour of the one who insults. But I manage to keep my sympathy intact for the one who is insulted simply by believing that those who indulge in violence do not represent those who are actually hurt!!

    Nita,
    No, I am not torn regarding this issue, and no, this post does not go against what my basic views are.
    It is just that I have explored here the issue of motivation on the part of the artist.
    Come to think of it, why would a man do something so daft as to wilfully endanger his own life, unless this issue of fighting religion is more dear to him than his life? The latter did not seem to me to be the case.
    Clearly, there had to be a deeper motive.
    I have no qualms about defending his right to be offensive; given my previous articles and my known views, that is a moot point.

  7. Crossword must be a long way from College Street Coffee House, right? Hm, double-chocolate truffle, eh? Not a big fan of cakes 😦 If it had been bitter, dark chocolate (80% proof), however, I wouldn’t have even noticed the Ayn Rand interview 🙂

    TRF,
    Really? So much of bitterness?!? 🙂
    What would that normally go with? Milk? 😮

  8. oemar wrote:

    If you are an orthodox Muslim, then you believe in Judgment Day when God will be handing out punishment to each one that deserves it… so why all this hue and cry?

    Because a sizable majority of the orthodox Muslims (or Christians or Hindus) know that there’s no god! Only an insignificant few are so self-deluded as to reject all the evidence against god.

  9. That’s a good one TRF! Yes, I agree too, most of these so-called religious people are hypocrites.

  10. @Rambodoc

    I fail to understand ,that by which standard you regard a Muslim; Moderate, extremists, islamists etc. Does some one like you do any research like confirming it form another muslim or just google or wiki it?

    Perception is always different from actual ground reality but unfortuantely its effect is always prominent. Taliban, Alqaeda or so called extremsits are small in numbers and have a very small following in the masses. But they are intentionally highlited in the media and quoted as in they reperesent Muslims all over the world.

    aMmAr,
    I really didn’t use any such stratification. Oemar did.
    I only used the word ‘Islamist’, and defined it in the comment section.
    I really have to disagree with the latter part of your comment: if the fanatics were in a minority, how did they manage to rule countries like Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, to name a few?
    Yes, if this pertains to a country like India, or maybe Malaysia, I would agree. In general, though, I think orthodoxy is the driving force, the prime mover, of the Islamic States. Do you disagree?

  11. Afghanistan: Taliban might have a religious slogan but their not so hidden agenda has always been political. If you look into the priciples of Islam, you cant force a muslim or a non muslim to lead his/her life in accordance to sharia(rules of Allah). One cant even force his wife to take on a veil.

    iran:

    Question; if a hindu or christain would like to spend his/ her life in accordance to the rules prescribed in their respective religion would you call them Extremists hindu or Christain. I believe every religious or non religious person has all the rights in the world to enjoy what he believes in.

    BJP has a non secular agenda but India is a secualr state. so would you like to call that tenure of BJP the hindu era?

    Militancy, not orthodoxy is the ruling force. USA has occupied IRAQ & AFGHANISTAN not on its orthodoxy but militancy. regardless of the crusade that was announced by George Bush Junior.

    aMmAr,
    You are not going to bait me with that. I am against all religions. And, yes, I do believe India is a non-secular state. The State has too many religious entanglements for it to be called secular. It is Hindu at times, while at others, it is irrationally pro-Islamic. It needs to be above it all.
    We need to address one question about rights: while every person has a right to his beliefs, does a person have the right to insult your Prophet by his speech or expression? Do you believe in such a right, or would you agree to someone attacking him or killing him??

  12. Lars Vilks is a mad man, disrespect shown is wrong, but he is mad, so we can only pray that he gets back to his senses soon.

  13. @Rambodoc

    I think nobody should be allowed to offend the religious sentiments of a nation or group of people in the name f freedom of speech. Freedom of speech itself is something that should be regarded as sacred. Men and women in different parts of the world have fought to earn this right.

    But if we’ll allow talentless bastards like this guy here to earn cheap publicity by humiliating the Holiest figures of all times then their will be a time when nobody will be allowed to exercise ones basic right and would’nt that be a lost?

  14. How does one separate out the freedom of expression of Salman Rushdie and Tasleema Nasreen with this cartoonist.
    What is freedom of expression?
    Does the right to express my atheistic views, give me the right to denounce some else’s religious feelings?
    I think not.

  15. Reminds me of MFH who has mastered the art of painting Hindu goddesses nude since years now. Hindus never responded Islamic style, thats until the recent feeble attempts. Maybe after the Islamists open their eyes, they will get used to seeing an artistic form of their God.

  16. How do you know what the motivations of the artist were?

    You’re clutching at straws.

  17. this post is rather interesting
    yes many artists find this rather convenient shortcut to name and fame , and are sometimes labeled avant guard liberal and modern by the extreme liberals . But then again it in the artists way to challenge stereotypes in the name of creative liberty but how is the question ?
    most artists and free thinkers find the backlash stifling and call the situation almost fascist.
    finally it comes down to which community it is that has been offended and how it reacts
    and most important is how the press and neo communists react
    The painter Lars is essentially no different than the young Chandramohan or the very famous M F Hussein due to his early works .

    lastly Jesus as a pedophile? i always thought the Aisha taker was labled as one!

  18. Prax, What on earth is the Aisha taker??
    Chri, this is my assessment, based on my limited understanding. You can call it conjectural. Or interpretational.

  19. google her or wiki her ul understand

  20. Hmm. Back to the “Right to offend” argument, I notice.
    Actually, I would like for one brave (and possibly anonymous/hidden/fictional) artist to go ahead and offend everyone in one shot – jesus as a paedophile, walking prophets as dogs while herding pigs, chewing on beef jerky and cavorting around with nude goddesses while at it.
    That way, with one big burst of media frenzy, violent outbursts and heated debates, we can put a quick end to this silliness. Maybe after that, people will get bored of this charade. At the moment, it’s a stupid vicious circle – opportunistic artists + sensationalist media + trigger happy religious types = repeated danish-cartoon-like mayhem.

  21. What a wonderful comment, Ashok!

  22. I am late to comment on this but I would go with Oemar’s opinion-
    //If you are an ateist, you should not have any problem with the cartoons. If you are liberal Muslim, you will respect the cartoonists freedom of expression. If you are an orthodox Muslim, then you believe in Judgment Day when God will be handing out punishment to each one that deserves it… so why all this hue and cry?//Although I don’t think ‘freedom of expression’ gives you the right to hurt anybody.
    //it’s a stupid vicious circle – opportunistic artists + sensationalist media + trigger happy religious types = repeated danish-cartoon-like mayhem.// very good equation krishashok.

  23. Muslims Against Sharia praise the courage of Lars Vilks, Ulf Johansson, Thorbjorn Larsson and the staff of Nerikes Allehanda and Dagens Nyheter and condemn threats issued by Abu Omar Al Baghdadi and the Islamic State of Iraq. Muslims Against Sharia will provide a payment of 100,000kr (about $15,000) for the information leading to capture or neutralization of Abu Omar Al Baghdadi.

    Muslimer mot Sharia berömmer Lars Vilks, Ulf Johansson, Torbjörn Larsson och övriga anställda på Nerikes Allehanda och Dagens Nyheter för deras tapperhet och fördömer hotet från Abu Omar Al Baghdadi och Islamistiska Iraq. Muslimer mot Sharia betalar 100 000 SEK (ca 15 000$) för information som leder till gripande eller oskadligörande av Abu Omar Al Baghdadi.

    Muslims Against Sharia

    Defend Freedom of Speech – Support Sweden!

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