French paper prepares to publish a comic about Mohammed

A French newspaper is planning to publish a comic about Mohammed beginning Wednesday. Don't expect the New Year to come in quietly if it does.

FRANCE, December 30, 2012 – Get ready for the fur to fly throughout the Islamic world before 2013 changes its first diaper.

The New Year will only be one day old when a weekly French paper will begin publishing a comic about the life of Mohammed.

In an effort to defend free speech, the satirical newspaper called Charlie Hebdo, the name of its publisher and illustrator, has printed depictions of the Prophet Mohammed on a number of occasions in the past.

Now the new project according to Hebdo, who goes by the name Charb, “is a biography authorized by Islam since it was edited by Muslims.”

While Charb’s philosophy may be correct, his project is certain to set off new rounds of Islamic violence around the Middle East. In Islam Mohammed is merely a mortal, not a deity. Therefore images of the prophet are regarded as idolatry in many circles and any depiction of Mohammed, regardless of context, is considered blasphemous.

Charb’s efforts will no doubt also create a firestorm of debate among supporters of free speech and politically correct advocates who favor self-censorship and criminalization for insulting Islam.

While the Islamic world may again be enraged, the controversy will be extremely interesting with merits on both sides.

On the one hand, freedom of speech is a philosophy that is a major aspect of free societies throughout the Western world. Conversely, why would anyone purposely antagonize another culture when they already know the ramifications and outcomes?

Publishing cartoons of Mohammed is less a matter of not being PC as it is an act of stupidity and disrespect.

Says Charb, “I don’t think higher Muslim minds could find anything inappropriate.”

A biography of Mohammed, maybe. Cartoon depictions, no. There is no amount of rationalization by Hebdo that can make his efforts anything but inappropriate. The question is whether he even has a clue about what he undertaking?

According to Charb, the idea evolved after a newspaper in Denmark published cartoons of Mohammed in 2006. Hebdo was bold enough to republish them in his own paper, and he has been living under police protection ever since. Somehow that should be an indication that what he is about to do is unwise.

“Before having a laugh about a character, it’s better to know him. As much as we know about the life of Jesus, we know nothing about Mohammed,” said Charb.

In reality, quite a lot about Mohammed is known to historians, religious leaders and academics. While much of Mohammed’s life was scandalous and unpleasant, which is refuted by many Muslims, Charb is correct that a high percentage of the general population in the West knows and understands very little about him.

Even so, does that make it acceptable to create a caricature of the most revered human being of a particular religion when you are already aware of the sensitivities about such images among its believers?

Charlie Hebdo was attacked last year when a firebomb exploded at its offices. Its website was also pirated after the paper came out with an edition featuring several Mohammed cartoons.

No amount of rationalization by Charb can justify his actions. He is provoking a known reaction of violence in a region where provocation has an extremely low bar already.

If Hebdo’s actions were truly about free speech that would be one thing. This is about agitation and inciting emotions.

Hopefully, we will not talking about this on Wednesday, but don’t count on it. 

Peabod is Bob Taylor, owner of Taylored Media Services in CharlotteNCTaylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club, which creates, and escorts customized tours to SwitzerlandFrance and Italy for groups of 12 or more.

Inquiries for groups can be made at Taylored Media has produced marketing videos for British Rail, Rail Europe, Switzerland Tourism, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council, the Finnish Tourist Board, the Swiss Travel System and Japan Railways Group among others.

As author of The Century Club book, Peabod is now attempting to travel to 100 countries or more during his lifetime. To date he has visited 71 countries. Suggest someplace new for Bob to visit; if you want to know where he has been, check his list on Facebook. Bob plans to write a sequel to his book when he reaches his goal of 100 countries. He also played professional baseball for four years and was a sportscaster for 14 years at WBTV, the CBS affiliate in Charlotte.


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Bob Taylor

Bob Taylor has been travel writer for more than three decades. Following a career as an award winning sports producer/anchor, Taylor’s media production business produced marketing presentations for Switzerland Tourism, Rail Europe, the Finnish Tourist Board, Japan Railways Group, the Swedish Travel & Tourism Council and the Swiss Travel System among others. He is founder of The Magellan Travel Club ( and his goal is to visit 100 countries or more during his lifetime.


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