Faraz Rana, a lawyer based in New York, has authored this exclusive piece for PTH. We welcome his contribution and hope that he will contribute regularly. (Raza Rumi)
Depictions of the Prophet (pbuh) are banned in Islam so people (presumably, Muslims) don’t idolize the images. The lawyer in me will tell you that a non-Muslim drawing a similar image, especially in jest, will not violate that rationale. Nor will Muslims ever confuse a cartoon with a serious depiction. Of course, using technical legal arguments to quell incensed religious rhetoric is about as effective as eradicating objectionable content on cyberspace by blocking it. Oh, wait.
The debate on FacebookGate and the underlying arguments on the limits of free speech will never be resolved by rational minds. So, in case you missed it, here is just a quick sampling of the conversations sprouting all over, coincidentally, Facebook.
The Facebook group was a collective effort to malign Muslims. The group was intended to be a demonstrated exercise in free speech by some bloggers, as a direct response to the decision by the producers of another TV show to curtail their creative outlet in the face of death threats. As often happens on the Internet, the ones with the most pent up vitriol for just about everything under the sun tend to have the most free time to vocalize it. The group was hijacked and the posts became offensive. What is interesting, though, is that the group was not very popular until people started pointing fingers at it. After that, it went Facebook viral and the offensive content just perpetuated itself. It is as if Muslims snatched the offensive content from the jaws of obscurity and brought it back to life for the whole world to see. Continue reading