The cartoon, showing the revered figures of the four major religions in orgiastic revelry in the heavenly clouds, was liked more than 85,000 times on Facebook before it was taken down for violating Facebook's policy on sexually explicit material.
The image satirizes the recent violence and killings in some Muslim countries on the pretext that some unknown filmmaker in California produced an amateurish low-budget film that mocks Muslims and portrays the Prophet Mohammad as a philanderer and pedophile. Digital Journal
reports that following the posting of the 14-minute trailer for "Innocence of Muslims" to YouTube, riots have broken out in Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Gaza, Sudan, Tunisia and several other Islamic Middle East countries and led to the tragic death of Christopher Stevens the US Ambassador to Libya, and three other Americans, all staff of the US Consulate in Libya.
comments: "Following the publication of the image above, in which the most cherished figures from multiple religious faiths were depicted engaging in a lascivious sex act of considerable depravity, no one was murdered, beaten, or had their lives threatened, sources reported Thursday. " The Onion
comments, further: "...not a single bomb threat was made against the organization responsible, nor did the person who created the cartoon go home fearing for his life in any way. "
Some analysts have, however, argued that the seeming sensitivity of the zealous religious hordes in Islamic countries to disrespectful representations of the Prophet Mohammad in Western media and films is politically motivated. According to analysts, it reflects the political tension between the Islamic world and the West. Incidents such as release of a cartoon or film poking fun at Muslims and the Prophet Mohammad merely provide opportunity for Arab Muslims to express their anger and opposition to the West, especially the US.
According to NBC News
, Hassan Shibly, an Islamic cleric and civil rights lawyer in Florida, who works for the Council on American Islamic Relations
, said the reasons why an amateurishly produced film such as "Innocence of Muslims" sparked such violent protests are both emotional and political. Shibly explains that while it is true that images of the prophet are forbidden in Islam, the violation of the prohibition and mockery of Islam are not sufficient to explain the extent of violent reaction. He implies that the violence is politically motivated and called on Muslims to ignore what he described as "trashy" productions. He condemned the killings, saying: "It’s so hypocritical for (the attackers) to do these acts in the name of the prophet Muhammad. Muhammad didn’t win over his enemies by violence, he did so through compassion." He noted, however, that "Muslims love the prophet of God more than we love our own parents, more than we love ourselves. When people attack Muhammad, it definitely hurts us on an emotion level. But, that said, it doesn’t justify the violence. That’s just totally unacceptable."
John Esposito, professor at Georgetwon University, said: "For Muslims, Muhammad is a sacred symbol. Muhammad represents and embodies the religion of Islam. He’s not a god, but plays the role historically that Jesus played historically." According to NBC News
, Esposito said that the Muslim world remains religiously conservative and its people are simply unaccustomed to such extreme critique of their religion and its prophet as they are exposed to via the Internet. Esposito compares the uproar to that which followed release of the 1988 Hollywood film "The Last Temptation," which shows Jesus in salacious revelry, feelings of doubt and depression before he died on the cross. Christians reacted sharply to the movie and mounted pressure to prevent the movie being shown. According to Esposito, Christians in the pre-Internet era were shocked by such irreverent depiction of the sacred person of Jesus because such extreme portrayal of Jesus was uncommon at the time.