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hiding beneath the covers

In November, Yale University Press will be releasing a book entitled The Cartoons That Shook the World on the Mohammed cartoons that Muslims rioted over (citing prohibitions against pictorial representations of their prophet) when they were published by the Dutch newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005. It's an intriguing subject--one which I wrote about at the time here and here--but Patricia Cohen's NYT piece on the book points out a crucial omission by the book's publisher: the actual cartoons themselves!

Religion scholar Reza Aslan not only withdrew his blurb from the book, but also said that "to not include the actual cartoons is to me, frankly, idiotic," and asked, "what kind of publishing house doesn't publish something that annoys some people?" Ibn (Why I Am Not a Muslim) Warraq observes:

We do not need the Ayatollahs when we have our own publishing housesdoing the work of censorship, and thereby betraying one of the main principles of democracy: freedom of thought and speech, which Yale should be proudly defending. And also, thereby, emboldening religious fanatics: threats work, is the lesson they will draw from Yale's disgraceful behaviour.

and asks:

Are we to submit all our books to Muslims before we publish hem? Why are Muslims' sensibilities more important than anyone else's? What of the sensibilities of the rest of us? What about the claims of Clio-the Muse of History? What about the Truth?

Heaven forbid that readers--if potential rioters can actually be called that, most likely being unacquainted with any books but one--ever encounter an opposing idea or a contrary opinion hiding beneath the covers of a book from an academic press! They would rather have us all hiding under covers of a different sort, worried about trespassing upon their taboos and offending their delicate sensibilities. If I were designing this book, the cartoons would be prominently featured and this would be the frontispiece:

20090816-mohammed.jpg

(Gustave Doré's illustration of Mohammed, his body rent open as punishment for being a "disseminator of scandal and of schism," from Canto 28 of Dante's Divine Comedy)


links:

Wikipedia provides a refresher on the cartoon controversy

Among many other places, the cartoons are online here

Harper's featured a great article entitled "Drawing Blood" by cartoonist Art Spiegelman


update (10:20am):
This Danish site has more images of Mohammed including the cartoons and alternate versions of that scene from Dante.

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Comments

The Spiegelman article is really terrific.

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