Tuesday, January 31, 2006

What responsibility do we have when showing images of other cultures/religions?

Interesting topic came up today on Reem's blog. Apparently a Danish newspaper printed a series of satirical cartoons with various depictions of Islamic prophet Mohammed, and has had to issue a major apology after the muslim world has become so angered that the paper, the editor, the cartoonists, and even Denmark have received threats. Apparently the cartoonists have had to go into hiding. And who can blame them after the horrific death of artist Theo van Gogh, who was killed after producing images of women with verses of the Koran on their naked backs. I would run like mad. Of course, I think I would have thought twice about making the cartoons, because I know what happened to that other artist.

Now with the cartoons in particular, that were apparently printed as an experiment in free speech, there are apparently two issues. One, I get. I mean, it is not responsible or respectful to show another culture's religious figure in a negative light. But the other issue is apparently simply that Mohammed's picture was created and displayed, and people viewed it. It is blasphemous in Islamic culture to create or view images of religious figures. As I commented on Reem's blog, Christianity used to have this same rule, but that rule was lost many centuries ago. Thing is: what responsibility does one have in respecting another culture's belief system when they are different from one's own beliefs? If the images weren't in the least bit disrespectful as far as content & depiction, would they be doing anything wrong in your mind by publishing an image of a prophet of someone else's religion? I mean, as an atheist, I have no issues with creating or viewing an image of any person. To me it's just an image. Surely, as long as I don't say mean things in what I draw, and don't go posting it on mosques or other places in an obvious effort to taunt, it is permissible for me to draw anyone I like. It's a sin for them, but I don't believe in sins. I mean Christians say it is a sin to take their "Lord's name in vain" so I am not going to run around shouting "Jesus Christ!" right in front of people who I know to be Christians. But that doesn't mean I see anything wrong (at all) with saying "Jesus Christ!" by myself or in front of strangers of unknown creed.

What do you think?

Interestingly, a Muslim in Belgium has created negative Christian imagry as artwork for a play, but has had to suffer little consequences, and is even endorsed and financially supported by the Ministry of Culture. Not that I am against his image. Like I said, I am an atheist. But interesting the way that mutliple standards play out, huh?

Back to the full blog...

No comments:


blogger templates 3 columns | Tech Blog