Everybody Draw Mohammed Day
There is a huge hullabaloo over a drawing contest held by Facebook, a popular social networking site, which has not only set the net on fire but now full-fledged protests have erupted all over the Muslim World . A Facebook group with thousands of members is supposedly holding a contest which the Muslim users believe insults Islam. Everybody Draw Mohammed Day, a group owned by a European (as described by one of the many opposing sites that have now mushroomed up against it), announced that it would hold a drawing contest depicting the face of the prophet Muhammad. The group now has 39,025 fans. More than 14,276 members said they would join the contest, which is going to be held on May 20, 2010.
Most of the people protesting all over the world don’t know how this situation has developed. The actual facts behind this whole scenario are that there were recent appeals of the Muslim community to South Park (a popular TV series) not to show episode "201" by Comedy Central which had visuals showing Prophet Muhammad. A group of people also opposed this appeal because they were unaware of the reasons for Muslims for being so hurt for visually depicting Muhammad and therefore they protested this censorship. Then as an idea to make the non Muslims understand why the Muslims feel so hurt by this particular phenomena, a leading Islamic website started a campaign called Everybody Introduce Prophet Mohammed Day! The campaign aimed to achieve 1 Million internet posts introducing Prophet Mohammed to Non-Muslims. Their plan was for every Muslim with access to the internet to introduce Prophet Mohammed to 10 Non-Muslims anywhere on the internet, either through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Blogs, or standard e-mail so that people better understand the reasons for their reaction over certain issues.
Then on 20th April, 2010, a drawing appeared on Internet by a small group of people announcing May 20th to be an international day where everybody should create a drawing of Prophet Mohammed as an event supporting unrestricted freedom of speech. The drawing went viral on the internet, and within one week the idea became popular on Facebook, was supported by numerous bloggers, and generated coverage on the blog websites of major U.S. newspapers. Muslims first responded to this by planning to boycott facebook for not censoring anti-Islam content. It was suggested through various facebook groups like AGAINST "Everybody Draw Mohammed Day!" and other fan pages to boycott FaceBook on 20th May. The news spread like wildfire, more thanks to the Muslims opposing it, than the actual group could have managed or hoped for.
Now my point in explaining this whole situation is that one of the first things that a child is taught when he starts to socialize is not to react to teasing by his peers. That is so simply because one not only want to save them the anguish of feeling rebuked but also because, as human nature goes, the more one gets affected by teasing, the more one gets teased. It’s that simple. Had the Muslims not reacted to the initial push, it would not have come to shove. One thing has as usual led to another and what would have been a little known incident has turned into major international news. Similar situations have happened enough times before for us to know now that nothing comes out of them in the end. The wide scale protests do nothing but advertise the wrong done in the first place, spread general displeasure among people of all faiths and make coexistence harder. Why then do we not learn to ignore such things, especially when acknowledging them makes the situation worse? Spreading the news of something said or done, or drawn which infuriates a community is not helpful but harmful to not only its own self esteem but to others who eventually view that infuriated community. One has to remember that one cannot force people to respect but inspire it by tolerance and grace. Many other such incidents will keep happening, I feel, till the time we learn to embrace our faith and stop expecting other people to understand it.
(For those who might feel that my beliefs are wrong, there is solace in the fact that the Muslims have managed to use the situation to their advantage, instead of calling for boycott of Facebook, a campaign to introduce Prophet Muhammad was launched on 18th May 2010, just two days before 20th May and is now very popular and in a day have more than 6000 fans. The comments on the above facebook page are very positive and fans feel this is the best way to positively respond to actions which are directed just to hurt Muslims. Thus also in a way, proving my point. Now what remains to be seen is what will happen tomorrow, it being the ominous 20th of May).