The above clip is from South Park’s 200th episode, which has reprised the role of the Prophet Muhammad, in a political parody of the fact that every religion can be made fun of without riots breaking out except for Islam.
In the episode, the children meet Tom Cruise at a chocolate factory where he is packing bundles of fudge into boxes. They ask him why he’s “packing fudge”, which angers Cruise and leads him to bring a lawsuit against South Park. The only way that Cruise will drop the suit is if the town brings the Prophet Muhammad to South Park.
The whole point of the show is to lampoon the double standards applied to Islam and other religions in the media. There is a scene involving the “Super Best Friends”, that features every religious figure acting as super heroes, including Buddha, who does lines of cocaine on a table as Jesus is speaking. For the scenes of Muhammad, the image is blacked out by a large “censored” graphic.
Eventually, Muhammad agrees to appear in South Park in a bear mascot costume so as not to offend Muslims. But this, apparently, still managed to upset Muslims. Despite the point of the cartoon being a farcical exaggeration of Islamic intolerance, reality managed to disprove that it was an exaggeration at all.
An Islamic group posted a video on YouTube today condemning the South Park episode, and calling for attacks on the creators. They posted images of Matt Stone and Trey Parker, followed with images of others who have dared to insult Islam, including a picture of the murdered Theo Van Gogh with a knife sticking out of his chest. In the video the speaker said that whosoever insults Islam shall be met with the sword, and that once the followers of Islam have taken up the sword against someone, there shall be no negotiation that causes them to change their mind.
This could properly be termed an official “fatwa” against the creators of South Park.
“We have to warn Matt and Trey that what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo van Gogh for airing this show,” the group said on its website. “This is not a threat, but a warning of the reality that will likely happen to them.”
South Park has managed to illustrate that not only does Islam not have a funny bone, but that it is a dangerously violent and extremist faith that is so intolerant that it actually manages to chill something as unserious as a cartoon notorious for portraying Satan as being in a homosexual relationship with Saddam Hussein.
CNN asks rhetorically whether South Park has gone “too far” this time. But, of course, it hasn’t gone far enough. The fact remains that we allow our fear of radical Islam to keep us from publishing portrayals of the prophet in the media, lest we inflame the delicate sensibilities of people for whom the concept of humour seems to have been surgically removed at birth.
No one has questioned the freedom of Muslims to believe that the Prophet Muhammad cannot be depicted, but to impose that view on the rest of the world isn’t an opinion any longer. It’s tyranny. South Park cleverly illustrates just how far that tyranny has spread, when a cartoon about a bear representing the prophet can compel Muslims to threaten murder.