[Foundation-l] Wikimania and the Muhammad pix

Dan Rosenthal swatjester at gmail.com
Thu Feb 21 15:42:48 UTC 2008

The fact that fawiki is not receiving any significant complaints on  
the topic is quite telling that there is little unanimity within the  
Ummah about whether the images should stay up, or indeed whether they  
even are depicting Muhammed (as opposed to depicting an interpretation  
of him).
On Feb 21, 2008, at 10:32 AM, Aphaia wrote:

> I have talked with several muslims and either they are Sunnis or
> Shiias, they share the same opinion: "depicting the Prophet" is an
> absolute no-no.
> Recently I had a conversation with a fawiki friend and asked if fawiki
> have any problem about hosting those images on their article. First he
> seemed to be very surprised to know fawiki hosted "Muhammad's images".
> After giving a glance, he got his calmness again and said they were
> not "depicting Muhammad" and Muslims know that. There are rather
> products of imagination by each artists. So they are okay. And
> interestingly I haven't heard anyone complaints about fawiki hostings.
> In other words ... how about thinking that those images are okay as
> long as they are not taken as "depicting / illustrating / portraits"
> of Muhammad? And if it isn't taken so (and I understand that is the
> case of enwiki), it would be a serious offence (and perhaps it would
> be historically errors too, if it is true these artists didn't aim to
> portrait him)
> On Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 11:13 PM, Robert Stojnic  
> <rainmansr at gmail.com> wrote:
>> Not long ago when I was randomly browsing through a mosque's library
>> in middle east, I found a children's book about Islam, and I remember
>> seeing people in it.. E.g. when Muhammad was leaving Mecca there
>> was a picture of *some guy* on a donkey followed by people.. There
>> wasn't exactly an arrow point to him saying Muhammad, but it was  
>> pretty
>> clear from context..
>> So, my impression is that the pictures are not huge taboo unless  
>> they are
>> misused. Now, how can a single pictures stir some much controversy?
>> Well, for that to understand you need to try to put yourself in a
>> third-world
>> position. So, imagine, that western culture is not dominant in the  
>> world,
>> imagine it's chinese. And, all your kids read chinese literature,  
>> dress
>> chinese way, write in chinese script (since roman is no longer cool),
>> watch chinese movies, learn chinese in school, look at chinese  
>> websites,
>> etc... And imagine that only thing that keeps you as community is  
>> your
>> religion considered by china as barbaric, and you as possible
>> terrorist and second-class citizen... and that somewhere in
>> well-off china, someone posts cartoons of baby jesus being pissed
>> on by buddha and confucius... Would you be offended? Would it be
>> by the picture itself, or by it representing a symbol of  
>> humiliation and
>> power of the first-world to desecrate even the things you find most
>> sacred and all in the name of free-speech?
>> I'm not trying to advocate anything, just to draw a picture of how  
>> I've
>> seen people feel - which not might be fully representative, but might
>> give some insight ..
>> r.
>> On Thu, Feb 21, 2008 at 1:16 AM, Dan Rosenthal  
>> <swatjester at gmail.com> wrote:
>>> Nada,
>>> I'm not sure you're representing the position accurately of Shiite
>>> muslims. Far from all muslims take offense. Many, but not all Sunnis
>>> do, and some, but not nearly as many Shiite's do. Furthermore, I'm  
>>> not
>>> sure I believe you are in a position to state that there will be no
>>> demonstrations. There have already been demonstrations, as  
>>> reported in
>>> the news. You cannot predict the future, and is both folly and
>>> dangerous to give assurances that you have no ability to uphold.
>>> Finally, I would appreciate that the conference organizers not  
>>> dismiss
>>> something that potentially could affect the safety of conference
>>> goers, and not assume that skepticism and criticism equates to poor
>>> knowledge of Islamic belief, or uncivilized behavior. That was
>>> dangerously prevelant within the Alexandria bid team during the
>>> Wikimania bids, it's dangerously prevalent in Egypt's demonstrations
>>> (and official state action, no less) today, and it seems borderline
>>> prevalent in the tone of your post.
>>> When the government of the country that we are hosting a major
>>> conference in, completely bans the sale of foreign newspapers for
>>> displaying pictures of Muhammed, and chastises the ambassadors from
>>> other countries for doing so, we have every right to be concerned
>>> about the status and safety of Wikimania. And we have every right to
>>> express our dismay in the heavy-handed censorship displayed by the
>>> Egyptian government, censorship which is fundamentally opposed to
>>> Wikimedia principles.
>>> -Dan
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