Religion

New Video: Muslim vs Muslim Fan Mail!

A sorta-close transcript after the jump!

I got a message on YouTube the other day from yet another Muslim man “warning” me that I’m going to get my throat slit for saying that we have the freedom to draw pictures even if they offend someone. I’m so tired of these messages, in which the sender pretends to not be the one who wants me dead but can’t hide his joy at the idea of someone else doing his dirty work. I wrote back to tell him the he should grow a pair of testicles and either come try to kill me himself or shut the eff up.

I mean seriously, I think this just says so much about kids today. It used to be back in the good ol’ days that if someone made fun of your religion and your god said they deserved to die, you killed them yourself.

But all I ever get are these emails from Christians and Muslims “warning” me. Warning me that someone else is going to rape me. That someone else is going to slit my throat. That someone else is going to send me to the fiery depths of hell for all eternity. Kids today are so lazy.

So I was going to make this video all about people’s opposing desires: a desire to see something terrible happen to a person they hate and an equal and opposite desire to be kind and humane. But then I got this other message from another Muslim named Habib, and it’s the best response to those Muslims who are sending me their faux death threats over my freedom of speech videos:

Honestly, I don’t know how you repeatedly bring yourself to dignify the idiotic comments your videos receive, and I am so, so embarrassed on behalf of my co-religionists for their disgraceful and quite frankly horrifying comments. It is a sad, sad thing that this virtue – the rising above of the ignorance of others and the dignified, objective and articulate positing of valid arguments that should be so promoted by the spirit of learning set forth in Islam – is best and most visibly practiced in this situation by an atheist.

And let me say I have absolutely no problem with atheism. I bristle at atheists who promote their views without an understanding of logic, premises and conclusions and so forth, but no more or less than I bristle at so-called believers who wouldn’t know a logical argument for their own faith if it hit them with a truck.

However, and when I can remember to be mature about it, I wouldn’t have either of them, or you, or, unfortunately, my brothers and sisters who so disgraced themselves with their posts in response to your video, silenced for the world.

Yes, sometimes I feel an instinctive bristling when I hear what some people say about Islam. But a) it is their right to say what they will and b) are we not giving them mountains upon mountains of fuel for the fire?

Habib went on to say that he serves in the US Army and is proud to defend freedom of speech and freedom of religion.

So there you go, extremist Muslims who want me to die. There’s a fellow Muslim who probably disagrees with me on a whole lot of important issues, but who has the intelligence and maturity to discuss rather than threaten. And you should be damned grateful for people like him, too, because it’s people like him who will encourage non-Muslims to believe that your religion isn’t a death cult full of hopeless, brainless barbarians. Unless that’s the look you were going for, in which case I’ll let Habib know that you’ll be sending your cowardly threats to him, as well.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

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12 Comments

  1. As a “cultural” Muslim I think I have some insight as to why Muslims react so strongly against insults to Islam. My culture (I am from Pakistan) deeply intertwines religion with history, culture, country and identity and any attack on Islam is viewed as a personal attack against us, our families, and our cultural practices. I think that’s also why you find moderate and non-practicing Muslims who feel that drawing the prophet is a horrible offense resembling a hate crime rather than a practice in freedom of speech. I don’t think it is a stretch to say that the anger that Muslims feel about cartoons of the prophet is comparable to the anger anyone would feel about someone drawing a humiliating and degrading picture of a loved one. Given that the legal system (rightfully) wouldn’t classify drawing cartoons as a hate crime, the frustration that an already “othered” Muslim community feels is intensified. I know that none of this makes the threats that you or anyone else has received okay but I thought it was worth pointing out.

  2. That threatening YT email you got was the funniest thing I have read in days. I couldn’t help but read it to the tune of Britney Spears’ “I’m a slaaaaaave for you”. I’ve never seen someone, apparently without the slightest hint of irony, describe themselves as “happily brainwashed”. Quite remarkable.

  3. Thanks for explaining that, Hena. One of the most important parts of skepticism is understanding the thought process that leads to irrational beliefs, so it’s good to have your perspective on why people think this way. The question is now, what do we do about it? In the case of, for example, drawing Muhammed, I’d recommend making it clear in doing so that you draw him to protest those who would infringe on your freedom to do so. At every turn, it’s important to clarify that you’re against Muslims forcing you to obey their religion’s laws, and not against them following their own beliefs – ie., you would never force a Muslim to draw Muhammed if s/he didn’t want to.

    The problem that this effort often seems to face is that efforts like Draw Muhammed Day get joined by many people who do it out of sheer bigotry against Muslims. When they draw Muhammed, it is indeed meant as an insult to Muslim cultures. We have to do whatever we can to speak out against these people and separate ourselves from them. Perhaps commit an offense against Christianity alongside a picture of Muhammed? For example:

    This is Muhammed (the prophet, not Ali): :)
    I, the artist of the above smilie of the prophet, deny the holy spirit and believe that communion wafers are just bread. And if you believe your god is everywhere, I’m tickling him right now.

  4. It’s unfortunate that the craziest members of any group (Christians, Muslims, Atheists, Feminists) are also the loudest and the ones people remember. It’s very annoying when people assume I’m bitter, angry and intolerant because I’m an atheist. Or assume I’m an idealistic transvestite bent on exterminating all men because I’m a feminist.

    Therefore, I sympathize with Christians who feel a bit alienated by the way they are depicted on this as well as other skeptical sites. (I’m looking at you PZ.)

    I also sympathize, to a infinitely larger extent, with the majority of Muslims who are terrified by the way they are talked about in the main stream media. From listening to the news you’d think any Muslim is liable, at any given moment, with absolutely no warning, to whip out a box cutter or a self destruct bomb.

  5. Rebecca,

    You maybe guilty wishful thinking here. Its possible that the individuals who told you they wanted you dead, didn’t try to kill you because of a conscious, but because they knew that they could end up being severely punished, if and when the authorities learned what they did. It may not have been a conscious at all, just fear of being caught.

  6. Infophile, I like the idea of committing an offense across the board. I think that would at least remove the argument that this particular act of blasphemy is an act of bigotry. In addition, supporting secular charities in those regions of the world most dominated by Muslims would probably accentuate the idea that westerners and secularists are not against the Muslim people.

  7. And let me say I have absolutely no problem with atheism. I bristle at atheists who promote their views without an understanding of logic, premises and conclusions and so forth, but no more or less than I bristle at so-called believers who wouldn’t know a logical argument for their own faith if it hit them with a truck.

    Wow! I think, based on the encounters I’ve had with some of the “New Atheists”, that it didn’t matter to them what hateful lies you told to promote atheism, or what other prejudices you have as long as you shun religion. That’s all they seem to care about, bashing religion even when there is no good reason to do so. I got so angry about it that I am now a firm opponent of “New Atheism”.

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/2010/06/24/atheism-is-a-dogma-get-over-it/

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/2010/08/09/misdefining-terms-for-purposes-of-propaganda/

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/2010/08/12/p-z-myers-screws-up-a-critique-of-a-religious-writer/

    As for the Muslims who make death threats (and those ARE death threats, Rebecca, however cloaked they may be), I have a blog entry about them too:

    http://circleh.wordpress.com/2010/05/04/muslims-get-a-life/

  8. Hena,

    No matter what, any criticism is Islam will be regarded as bigotry by some Muslims, and even maybe some oversensitive non Muslims. The idea that Draw Muhammad day, for example, was an act of bigotry is absurd. It was a response to the previously successful ( and to some degree unfortunately, still successful death threats, that were meant to silence all criticism of their religion. Muslims need to be shown, that they will get no special treatment, and that in the end death threats can’t stop criticism.

    As for the idea that supporting secular charities operating in Islamic countries, will probably accentuate the idea that Westerners are not enemies of Muslims, we have good reason to doubt that it will be very effective. Just look at how Palestinian children are raised, and the mothers who see no greater honor than having one of their sons become a suicide bomber and die for the cause. Also, some former Muslims talk about how they were taught to blindly hate unbelievers no matter what, and than when they chose to reject Islam, they feared for their lives, because large numbers of Muslims still take Sharia’s apostasy laws very seriously. Some famous former Muslims, even have armed body guards to protect themselves, from people who have the faith, they once did. Large numbers of Muslims who live in the west still not only think its okay to threaten those that criticize their faith, but believe they have a duty to do so, regardless of the fact that many in their host countries had been nice to Muslims in general.

    Of course not all Muslims are hate filled, Sharia loving Jihadists bent on forcing Conversion Submission, or Death, on the entire world, but I think that evidence suggests that large numbers of them are. Look at Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Egypt and Afghanistan, even after the Taliban were thrown out of power.

  9. Damian, it is important to note that the countries you mentioned all have many other reasons to hate the Western world beyond simply drawing offensive cartoons. A legacy of colonialism has left them crippled and neo colonialism, wars, occupations etc. ensures that they stay that way. Considering the situation, I’m not surprised that they view offences to Islam as a kick in the teeth from the playground bully.

  10. Considering the situation, I’m not surprised that they view offences to Islam as a kick in the teeth from the playground bully.

    But it was NOT about that and never has been. It was always about non-Muslims claiming the right to criticize Islam and stop walking on eggshells regarding issues with Islam that are seen as evil or stupid.

  11. Hena,

    Its not just about the cartoons really, but their culture in general. I wasn’t blaming their hatred of the west on us drawing cartoons of the prophet. There are things in the Koran that say you can’t draw Mohammad or Criticize Islam, by the way.

    Also there are Muslim countries that have declared war on non Muslim countries that are not western countries at all, such as the Thai Jihad. This can’t have anything to do with western colonialism, since Thailand isn’t a western nation, and they never had colonies in any Islamic country.

    Islamic Crusades 4: Lessons From the Thai Jihad

    Can you explain all this if all their hatred is due to things like Western Colonialism? I also have other objections as well.

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