Pakistan: The Draw Mohammed Day Controversy

Everybody Draw Mohammed Day Facebook Page

On April 25 a Seattle Cartoonist Molly Norris came on a radio show to announce that she was organizing a cartoon drawing event called Muhammad day in response to Comedy Central’s decision to censor an episode of South Park which had depictions of Prophet Muhammad [PBUH].

In the interview she said:

“as a cartoonist, I just felt so much passion about what had happened.. it’s a cartoonist’s job to be non-PC.”

This resulted in Jon Wellington creating a Facebook fan page on this issue labeling it as “Everybody Draw Muhammed Day”, he introduces the group as:

As a snarky response to Muslim bloggers who “warned” Comedy Central about an episode of South Park showing the Prophet Mohammed wearing a bear suit, one Seattle cartoonist, who calls laughter her form of “prayer,” is asking artists all over the world to create depictions of Mohammed on May 20, then submit the images to a Facebook page she set up. Speaking on a Seattle radio show on Friday, cartoonist Molly Norris said she announced her idea as a way of countering the fear exhibited by Comedy Central in censoring episode 201 of South Park.

The Pakistani blogosphere is in an uproar over the issue, Aamir Attaa at ProPakistani says:

Despite thousands of complaints, Facebook administration is not banning the page; unlike they usually do even for very minor violation of Facebook Terms of Services. This page is clearly violating the terms, by spreading hatred and disrespecting Muslims and their values.

Sana Saleem at Dawn blog writes:

Laughably, the campaign website also claims that the point is not to promote certain “personal/political/religious” messages, but to show the world that “we’re not afraid to depict Muhammad.” But, the question remains, who is the target audience for such a campaign? And what is the purpose of a mass campaign that has the potential to target and offend people of a certain religion?

….. Let’s act rationally once and for all, and help change the trend of the freedom-of-speech excuse being used to justify discriminatory campaigns.

Mani Pro at MANI's Fragasss reacts to say:

The Facebook fan page has been created to hurt our hearts, our souls, our emaan, our love for the prophet (SAW), the prophet for which his real followers faced all the pain in the world. Now when it's up to us, what pain are we willing to suffer?

Expressing her frustration Sahar Rabbani responds at Chowrangi:

They prove by their actions that they are the extremists, not we, and still they call us extremists and terrorists. It seems as if our whole life revolves around Facebook, we’re just so used to all this derogatory stuff that no one really bothers, we’re a dead nation who doesn’t take any action on such events which is really depressing. What we should do is to deactivate our Facebook accounts.

My response to the Molly Norris's interview at Teeth Maestro's blog was to question her hypocrisy on where she chooses to draw the line of Freedom of Expression when questioned about drawing on the holocaust:

Its interesting if you hear her Interview, when asked if she would make fun of the Holocaust – she responds “No, there is nothing funny about it” what a hypocritical statement exposing her idiotic position on Freedom of Expression:

This has generally lead to an uproar across the Facebook with many opposing groups cropping up against this initiative, but the most interesting and the neutral way of opposing this event was presented by some peaceful Muslims to launch a group called Honour The Prophet Muhammad Campaign, which is explained in this YouTube video:

Rabab Khan at Cacoethes Scribendi suggest restraint in going all out condemning the issue:

While I do agree with condemning Draw Muhammad Day, reporting it and insisting Facebook remove it, I also believe that we should look within for the inspiration required to battle such attacks. When we abuse, slander and increase the hatred, we are not helping the cause. We are only adding insult to the injury.

The uproar continued but in all the pressure Molly Norris may have withdrawn from her earlier position to regret to have gone to the show in the first place:

I regret going on a local radio show on April 25th; my ego took me there, it was a mistake. I meant for this to remain a fictional CARTOON, an artistic IDEA, never to catch fire as an actual ‘event’

Facebook or the group URL might be banned in Pakistan

With all the hue and cry about the event it seems that Ministry of Information and Technology in Pakistan may have instructed the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority to block the Facebook or the Facebook page according to the sources close to Aamir Attaa of ProPakistani:

A reliable source, who is in direct contact with Secretary MoIT, told ProPakistani that ministry has issued the directive to PTA to ban said blasphemous content in the country. Ministry of Information Technology directs PTA for banning any URL or whole of website in case of any inappropriate content available on it. It is yet to be ascertained if the whole Facebook will be banned or just a single URL will be filtered. In both the situations, step is inline with thousands of Facebook users and according to their urge of boycotting Facebook on May 20th.

While Imran Jafri at Mabo0t comments on the pending Facebook ban:

It is not yet clear If the directive was issued to ban the entire Facebook or the Facebook fan page in question. We will of course update this post as more details become available to us.

As of filing of this report neither the facebook fan page nor the main domain was blocked in Pakistan.


  • JohnnyLogic

    Usman said:
    “Religion is bullshit, means one person comes in public and says that more than 5 billion population of this world beliefs in bullshit? Such a man is sick. And his intentions are clear. This cannot be classifies as a free speech if it hurts majority.”

    500 years ago the Majority thought the earth was flat. That Majority doesn’t necessarily mean that they are right.

  • Buzdil Usmani

    I am not very good with words therefore, forgive me for being brief in certain matters, but the question is are we talking about the same person (PBUH) who gave us the first charter of human rights and the first constitution ever in history?

    Let me refresh your memory the following was the charter and constitution which He (PBUH) created:

    01. It guaranteed every citizen Freedom, Security, and Justice.
    02. Security of Faith, Mind, Life, Honor and Property.
    03. Freedom of Speech and Assembly.
    04. Freedom of Worship for Muslims as well as non-Muslims.
    05. Rule of Law. All people in the State were equal and had equal rights.
    06. The Right to Trial. Everyone considered innocent unless proven guilty.
    07. Protection against external threat or attack.
    08. Economic Justice and Equity.
    09. All slaves were emancipated since the only Master is Allah.
    10. Very shortly, the following seven basic needs were guaranteed by
    the State to all citizens: Food – Shelter – Clothing – Employment – Tools –
    Transportation to and back from work – Free Medical Care.

    Now after reading these points go back to the point number 3 looks familiar? I bet it does.

    Now lets look at the whole scenario in a new light you are going to make a cartoon of the person who gave you the freedom of expression in the first place.

    Tell me all of you! Do we really have that right?

    If so what gives us that right?

    The constitution?

    The very constitution which is completely designed on the basis of the points given above.

    Now think again and decide if your actions are in line with the rights and responsibilities given in that constitution or any other constitution across the globe.

    Lets be reasonable and think freely for a moment.

    The big question is what will these cartoons achieve?

    How will they change the lives of people who are trying to make them?

    Will it help us in any manner possible?

    Will it make us any better?

    Will it make us any superior than any other?

    Where is the benefit in it for anyone?

    We must be responsible for all our actions RIGHT?

    Let me remind you once again that in this world we Co-exist we cannot sustain our lives without the help of other humans or any living thing on this earth. Why should we be involved in such wasteful activities while there are million and one things we could all do together to make this world a better place for the coming generations.

    This is our responsibility and no one can deny it.

  • […] it’s social media kin, the almighty Facebook, before the two sites were banned by Pakistan, several Pakistani bloggers expressed their frustration at the “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day&#82… Although none write about the potential for revenge, you can tell they are hurt. The way I see it, […]

  • […] has come into the limelight in South Africa for jumping on the “Draw Muhammad Day” bandwagon. “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” is a drawing event organised by a Seattle cartoonist, […]

  • The point that many commentators seem to miss is that true freedom of speech protects not just the speech people like but the speech people hate. I want no part of drawing the Prophet or gratuitously antagonizing Muslims, but freedom is freedom, and that includes even mockery or insults directed at things other people consider sacred. For some people, religion is clearly a higher value than freedom of speech. But in America, religious beliefs, no matters whose, do not allow suppression of speech (at least not by the government). And physical violence in response to words, no matter how offensive, is unacceptable. These principles have actually worked pretty well to free our country from violent religious disputes. Unfortunately, another point that some commentators seem to overlook is that threats of violence, which initiated this whole controversy, only serve to provoke more mockery, more insults, and reciprocal violence. America has in many ways done great wrong in the Muslim world, and particularly the Arab world, but threats will not change her heart, weaken her resolve, calm her hostility, or teach her respect for Islam. America should show more respect for Islam, the Prophet, and the Holy Qu’ran. But some Muslims need to understand that words and pictures are only words and pictures, and can be answered with other words and pictures or ignored.

  • […] de publieke verontwaardiging rond de Facebookpagina “Teken Mohammed Dag” [en – alle links], waarop campagne wordt gevoerd om op 20 mei massaal zelfgetekende karikaturen […]

  • Things aside..i was happy that PTA took such was a good act.For those who are bothered by this act should understand the importance of this act,fine..PTA might and can allow the access of facebook again in Pakistan but,initially this step was a must.

    One thing i want to clear,Muslims are never and were never extremist,just imagine it personally,how would one feel and might react when you would create a negative image of the one you Love.Muslims love Prophet Muhammad ( P.B.UH)and this act was their love for Muhammad (P.B.U.H).

    Above all,Facebook should keep a strong check regarding such pages.

    Love for all..Hatred for None..


  • […] Pakistani blogosphere entered into a huge debate on the creation of a Facebook page calling for creation of cartoons of prophet Mohammad on May 20. […]

  • J

    I don’t understand why Muslims seem to obsess over Muhammad so much. At least Christians believe Jesus was literally God incarnate so some offense makes sense. But lets face it, even if muslims are right, really Muhammad was just a guy that lived a really long time ago who happened to be spoken to by God. So in that sense he was special but he still had human foibles, probably no better or worse than someone like Moses or Abraham. I think the fact that he wasn’t able to keep himself to only one wife but instead went and married other, in some cases much younger wives, should make that clear. Its one thing to believe in a religion, but when that religion seems to define your whole society maybe that’s when you know you’re a little too religious. I think the muslim world today is a lot like Europe in the 1600’s, hopefully it wont take the middle east 400 years to reach where Europe is today.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »


  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.

Receive great stories from around the world directly in your inbox.

Sign up to receive the best of Global Voices!

Submitted addresses will be confirmed by email, and used only to keep you up to date about Global Voices and our mission. See our Privacy Policy for details.

Newsletter powered by Mailchimp (Privacy Policy and Terms).

* = required field
Email Frequency

No thanks, show me the site