Drawing Mohammed: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

March 2, 2015

(My own contribution to the genre is below, the last item under “The Bad”.)

You’ll have heard about the Charlie Hebdo shooting in January, when Muslim gunmen killed the editor in chief and apparently more than a third of the cartoonists at the magazine, among others.  You may not have heard that there have already been other attacks since then, such as the St. Valentine’s Day shooting at a free-speech event in Denmark (CBS, Mark Steyn, more Steyn), or the beheading of 21 Egyptian Christians in Libya.

As many have argued, if terrorists are going to try to impose an extra-legal, supra-national death penalty on anyone who draws Mohammed, then a lot more of us had better start drawing Mohammed.

“. . . if publishing something might get you slaughtered and you publish it anyway, by definition you are striking a blow for freedom, and that’s precisely the context when you need your fellow citizens to set aside their squeamishness and rise to your defense.”

  • Reason magazine agrees that “we all must be Spartacus on Everybody Draw Mohammad Day. And that in a free society, every day is Everybody Draw Mohammed Day.”
  • Kathleen Parker agrees, “As for the rest of you characters: Draw to any heart’s discontent. It’s a free country.
    “For now.”

In that spirit, I present a selection of drawings of Mohammed: the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Good

Charlie Hebdo gets pride of place.  This is their cover the week after the attack, as it appeared on their Web site at the time (Mohammed himself holds an “I am Charlie” sign; the magazine says, “All is forgiven”):

Tout Est Pardonné

This is the cover they ran in 2006 when they reprinted the Danish cartoons (“Mohammed overrun by fundamentalists”; Mohammed: “It’s hard to be loved by [vulgar word for idiots]”):

Charlie Hebdo: Mohammed: It's hard to be loved by (vulgar word for idiots)

So it is possible to depict Mohammed in a positive light.  This one of the original twelve Danish cartoons (published in 2005, ten years ago this September), for example, does not appear to have been meant disparagingly:

Mohammed

(Incidentally, Wikipedia used to have a great high-resolution picture of those twelve cartoons, but apparently no longer does.  I still have this.)

The author of the Web comic Biblenauts (previously discussed here), while not Muslim himself, manages to offer a loving portrayal of Mohammed as a real prophet.  He explains,

Cartoonists typically show solidarity after events like this by drawing blasphemous cartoons in defiance. The most common subject is Mohammed, drawn in a ridiculous, violent, or sexual fashion. While I think defiance is important, mockery isn’t my style. If all drawings of Mohammed are blasphemous to terrorist eyes, I see no reason to make one which mocks him. A drawing which celebrates him works just as well.

His contribution is here:

Repel evil by that which is beautiful

According to this Web site, it wasn’t always unanimous among Muslims that depictions of Mohammed were verboten; the site collects several examples of historical depictions of Mohammed by Muslims.  This one, for example, is apparently of Mohammed on his deathbed, an illustration from a History of the World published in A. D. 1307 (apparently written by a Muslim):

Mohammed on his deathbed

A cartoonist in 2010 proposed Everybody Draw Mohammed Day and offered whimsical drawings of Mohammed as a spool of thread and a box of pasta.  After serious threats on her life, the cartoonist apparently changed her name and went into hiding.

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!

Reason actually managed to curate an Everybody Draw Mohammed Day contest, albeit ultimately hosted on a different Web site (articles about it here and here; final results here, linked from here).  One of their three winners invites imams to help finish drawing Mohammed themselves before they start executing people for it:

Connect the dots: Mohammed

The Bad

On the other hand, it is also possible (for now) to depict Mohammed less favorably (and the more his followers murder people for depicting him, the less favorably some of us are inclined to view him).

Here’s a light-hearted Charlie Hebdo cover from 2011 (the magazine is renamed Sharia Hebdo, with Mohammed supposedly the new editor in chief, giving a goofy thumbs-up; the larger Mohammed threatens “100 lashes if you don’t die laughing!”):

100 lashes if you don't die laughing!

Here’s one of the dozen 2005 Danish cartoons, with a translation:

Ran out of virgins

Ran out of virgins

Via this Danish Mohammed Cartoons blog, French cartoonist Plantu in Le Monde imagines being required to write “I must not draw Mohammed” a hundred times:

Plantu: I must not (draw Mohammed)

And Cox and Forkum offers this frank depiction of Mohammed (as well as other cartoons on the subject):

Mohammed PR

The courageous author of the witty (if not exactly G-rated) Day by Day comic has also tried his hand at drawing Mohammed more than once.  Here’s a whole strip on the subject from 2010.

Mohammed at the diner

Here’s Mohammed chilling out in 2012:

Mohammed lounging

A Swedish artist in 2007 sketched Mohammed as a rondellhund.  Mark Steyn explains,

They have a tradition in Sweden of roundabout dogs — canine scultptures that pop up mysteriously on Swedish roundabouts — and Lars Vilks decided to do a drawing of Mohammed as a roundabout dog. He wound up with a fatwa on his head. And one night he came home to find the jihad boys had firebombed his kitchen.

One of his sketches is here:

Mohammed as roundabout dog sculpture

A French cartoonist in 2012 imagined that Mohammed would love to kill Charb, the editor in chief of Charlie Hebdo who was killed in the attack two months ago (“Mohammed publishes a comic strip on the death of Charb—with lots of boxes”):

Mohammed publishes a comic strip on the death of Charb

My own contribution to the genre is here (copy and distribute at will):

Mohammed as Gulliver

The Ugly

There are some drawings of Mohammed that get a little gross.  I won’t reprint them here, but they do count as drawing Mohammed; so I’m providing links to them, with the understanding that you won’t click on them if you don’t want to look at pictures like these.

Day by Day again caricatures Mohammed, this time in a parody of one of Matisse’s Odalisque with Magnolias paintings.

There is a whole Web site styling itself Draw Muhammad Day, a Tumblr blog, collecting drawings or other pictures submitted by the public.  A lot of it is pretty gross and juvenile, on the level of middle-school graffiti—OK, I take that back, it’s more obscene than middle-school graffiti—but some of the submissions are all right, such as these two examples.

Muhammad suffers from Allah-gies

Mohammed with word-cloud beard

Honorable Mention

Though Comedy Central prevented them from depicting Mohammed, the vulgar but sometimes incisive South Park creators fought the good fight and did succeed in producing the great pro-free-speech, anti-terrorism two-part South Park episode “Cartoon Wars”.

In this video, the turbaned and robed character clarifies, “I am not Mohammed!”  I’m giving the creators credit for courage anyway.

Updates (March 3rd, 2015):

  • Fixed typo in last paragraph.

Mohammed portrait

Mohammed painting

Mohammad with Aisha receiving a revelation from a turkey buzzard

Mohammed Google Doodle

Draw Mohammed contest

Mohammed looks in the mirror

Inigo

Mohammed: "Terrorism demeans us all--Muslims and infidels alike."

Honorable mention to the comic strip Over the Hedge for mentioning Draw Mohammed Day in 2010.

Muhammad (Ali)

Update (March 9th, 2015):

  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali and others agree (this is from 2010), “Spread the risk.”  In that spirit, the People’s Cube contributed this great image:

Risk Spread

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7 Responses to “Drawing Mohammed: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly”

  1. lassy Says:

    Reblogged this on Will the real reality please stand up! and commented:
    For your contemplation only.If he had taken the WHOLE BIBLE into account there are plenty of verses were God instructs various Kings to slaughter every man,woman and child.Kills first born’s and generally is not very niece.
    Cherry picking verses is like astrology you can make the point for anything you wish.


  2. […] Defense Initiative organized a big Mohammed Art Exhibit & Contest in Garland, Texas yesterday (you heard it here first).  See some of the drawings here (warning: some rude content).  Via Creeping Sharia, Breitbart […]


  3. […] Norris was the quirky cartoonist who thought of “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” in 2010.  Mark Steyn reminds us what happened next:  After a wave of death threats from Islamist […]

  4. Jack Curtis Says:

    Seems to me, the only significant issue in this is: Have I a right to kill you when your behavior displeases, but does not harm me? If slavery is to be avoided, the answer must be: “No!”

    All else presented around Charlie Hebo and Mohammed seems irrelevant from here …


  5. […] bullies tell us not to draw him, we must draw him all the more; otherwise the bullies win.  It’s as simple as that.  Charles Cooke reflects on this further in “Free Speech without Apologies” (nutshell: […]


  6. […] light of the Charlie Hebdo shootings last winter and the terrorist attacks this week in Paris and elsewhere, I posted on Facebook, […]


  7. […] Update (February 2nd, 2016):  While you’re here, also check out my exclusive amateur translation of this French-language interview with Mark Steyn about his cat Marvin.  More on Steyn here.  Mohammed drawings here. […]


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