Depicting Prophet Muhammad In Images: Religion vs Freedom of Speech

Getting to the bottom of the big worldwide debate over the prophet’s depiction.

Sohil Nikam

September 2, 2020

Trending News

2 min

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French President Emmanuel Macron stirred up a new row by saying that he won’t condemn cartoons of Prophet Muhammad. He was speaking on the back of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo’s re-publishing of its controversial cartoons on the eve of a trial in Paris of alleged accomplices in a 2015 attack on the magazine’s offices. Operated by Islamist terrorists, the attack had led to 12 deaths. At the bottom of this debate seems to be one particular description of the prophet: “A messenger for the word of Allah, not to be revered himself as a deity.”

Islamist scholars interpret this particular teaching as a complete prohibition on any portrayal of Prophet Muhammad. Although non-Muslims might find it weird, it is one of the central tenets of Islam. Many European publications, prime among them being Charlie Hebdo, have tested these rules of Islam. Muslims from across the world have protested against their covers. But for journalists at the magazine, the offence is the point. They believe that submitting to the demands of the Muslim community will damage French secularism, which is a major part of the country’s culture.

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