Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Not an Image of Muhammad!

The blurry image in the upper left, purportedly depicting Muhammad as a pig-nosed man, was one of the three extra images that Danish Imam Ahmad Abu Laban, of the Islamic Society in Denmark, included with the original twelve images from the Jyllands-Posten and took along on an organized tour of the Middle East as 'evidence' of anti-Muhammad cartoons. According to the tour's spokesman, Akhmad Akkari, the three extra drawings were included to "give an insight in how hateful the atmosphere in Denmark is towards Muslims."

When I saw this blurry image several days ago, it looked oddly familiar to me, but I couldn't place it. Yesterday, at lunch with some other Korea University professors, our talk turned to this controversy, and I remarked that I really felt that I had seen the pig-nosed image before.

Now, I know why. I have seen it before, and it wasn't a caricature of Muhammad. According to Neanderman of NeanderNews, the blurry image was:
...not a satire of Mohammed nor any other sacred Islamic figure but a photo of Jacques Barrot, a pig squealing contestant at the French Pig-Squealing Championships in Trie-sur-Baise's annual festival. NeanderNews discovered this photo [upper right], taken by Bob Edme of AP, posted on an August 15, 2005 AP story seen here on MSNBC’s website.
This further lessens the credibility of Ahmad Abu Laban, who has defended his Middle East tour with these words reported by the Telegraph:
"The whole story is about dialogue of civilizations."
Right. Except that one of the dialogue partners sounds decidedly uncivilized.


At 6:10 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Let's hope the pig men don't find out about this.

In all seriousness, though, this is a very insightful series you're doing here. I'm especially fascinated by the apparent conflict in Islamic doctrine. I had always heard that it was taboo under Islam to depict any living thing, period. It seems (from the distant sidelines anyway) that there is some kind of a doctrinal schism within Islam.

I worry about which side seems to be winning. Are there voices of moderation, tolerance and modernity and do they have any credibility within the Muslim world?

At 6:35 AM, Blogger Saur♥Kraut said...

I was directed here by Mallory, and I'm very glad she mentioned you.

What a marvellous blog you have! I'm definately bookmarking it. Thanks so much!

Incidentally, I know you're correct in what you're saying. I've been to a couple conferences concerning the Muslim faith (given by scholars such as yourself) since the early 90s although I'm no expert, myself.

This is fascinating reading!

At 6:45 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

James, well, there is the schism between Shi'ite and Sunni.

One person who left a comment stated that traditionally, Persians have been more liberal about showing images of Muhammad. I don't know if this means that Shi'ites are more liberal about this, or just Persians.

At any rate, we find depictions of Muhammad from many Islamic sources, and I doubt that they're all Persian (or even all Shi'ite).

And "living things" -- well, the Muslim world is full of such depictions. Perhaps the imams have just never had the power to enforce their rulings.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 6:48 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Sauerkraut, thanks for visiting, and I'm glad that you like the blog.

I'm no expert on Islam either, so I'm also learning a lot through this series.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:34 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd heard of the Shi'ite/Sunni divide a time or two. Grin. Perhaps, I should have clarified that I was curious about something new and/or developing now. I suppose some more extensive reading is in order. Suggestions?

At 8:09 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

James, one thing that has made Sunni Islam more radical in the past 30 years is the influence of Wahabi Islam, sometimes called Salafi (I think), which is being pushed by Saudi Arabia through their funding of mosques throughout the world.

Try Wikipedia on Wahabi or Salafi, and see where that leads.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:12 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

James, I just realized that by reading, you meant moderate Islam.

There are moderates, but they don't have the money that the Saudis do. They don't seem to have the numbers, either, but perhaps they're just quieter.

Perhaps your reading on Wahabis and Salafis would lead you to their critics.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:22 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks. Keep up the fine work (I know you will).

At 2:30 AM, Blogger Scottage said...

Gypsy Scholar, I too have been directed here by the Malory site, and I'm very impressed with your coverage of the incident. I know some things about Islam, but even Muslim friends and so-called experts (a professor I am friends with who teaches at Bar Ilan university on the origins and roots of Islam) are learning quite a bit about he religion and the culture from this whole incident.

James, my understanding is that there are many, many distinct sects if Islam, from a variety of different backgrounds and cultures, and with many variances in their levels of practice. I think that Bernard Lewis and Thomas L. Friedman have done particularly well in depicting the diversity in various Muslim communities, and how different Muslim Sects interact and differ.

Anyway, thanks for the great reporting, Scholar, I have bookmarked you and linked to you in my blog as well. I will keep reading your perspectives.

At 6:11 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Scottage, thanks for your kind words.

I don't know much, really, but I think that the issue is an important one, so I'm trying to learn as much as I can.

Interestingly, I've noticed that I'm getting a significant amount of traffic from Muslim countries. Except for the person who calls himself "Muslim," however, none have commented -- though some have stayed at my site for up to 30 minutes.

I hope that they're also learning something new about their own religion.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 7:23 AM, Blogger Scottage said...

I'm seeing the same thing, Gypsy. Traffic from Middle Eastern countries on my blog is up over 80% from last week, but to date, only Muslim has reported on my site as well. And it can't just be him coming back again and again, there are different Middle Eastern locals. Perhaps a bit surprising, however, is that European traffic is down. I wonder if they aren't taking this issue as seriously.


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