By S
éamus Smyth

Tensions and debates have exploded over a recent American film that made a mockery of the prophet Muhammad, as the film managed to make its way over to the Middle East where this sort of artistic “freedom” is strictly forbidden. From ridiculous hash tags on Twitter, to a French magazine conjuring up even more images of the Islamic Lord, it has caused hostile debate over artistic merit and religious freedoms.

At a United Nations meeting this past month, the head of the Arab League went as far as to suggest that international law criminalize blasphemy to ensure, and potentially restore, some form of world peace.

While westerners cry free speech and wave their rights like children waving goodbye at the airport, one must understand, or least attempt to comprehend, why drawing Muhammad should not be tolerated. As the story goes, Muhammad did not want to be depicted in any form because he did not wish to encourage idolatry, which can be defined as blind or excessive adoration. He believed his followers had more important tasks to uphold than concerns over his appearance. Others believe that it is insulting to depict him in any shape or fashion because a human could never accurately portray him.

Whether or not you believe in the teachings of Islam is irrelevant. If this is to be a truly free society, than we must respect the beliefs of everybody attending the global party that we exist in. Christians may or may not take issue with the rock-star treatment that Jesus Christ receives, but it can surely be said that the depiction of Christ is not as strictly taught or regulated as is the case with his rival/ally/fellow invisible friend “big Mo,” or however else one wishes to define these sacred individuals.

Think of someone who is so important to you that it makes your heart ache with sorrow just at the thought of someone disrespecting them without their approval. Well that is the way the Islamic world feels when respectable artists and anonymous hacks decide to sharpen their pencil and sketch the image of the one that they choose to bow their heads to. You’re right, it does sound crazy. But so does drinking the blood of Christ disguised as wine, wearing a turban in the middle of summer, and crying hysterically at a Taylor Swift concert.

We all have different versions of insanity, the same way being “normal,” is potentially the most ambiguous term found on the human tongue. So what one should take away from this highly contested ordeal is not that one’s freedoms are being ripped away like a Frisbee from a dog’s mouth, but that there are still people who believe that the way one should live has actually been laid out by a higher power and should be obeyed with the most stringent of obedience.

Art is beautiful because it endorses positive emotions and represents beauty in ways that few can convey an adequate response to. So why draw a picture that will stir up nothing but ridicule and anger?

Maybe there are other issues with Islam that one may disagree with, but this can be saved for another family-dinner discussion.

Nobody is trying to convert anybody to Islam. Nor is anyone trying to force all to roll out the red carpet for the impending appearance of any religious superstar. A requested ban on all drawings and depictions of Muhammad is a principle founded on respect and tolerance and is one that Christians, Buddhists, Jews, Atheists and even Taylor Swift fanatics can, and should abide by.