The Blanket

The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent

Ulster Muslims’ fury at web cartoons

Last week, we carried the full text of the email interview Elham Buaras conducted with Blanket Editor Carrie Twomey. This week, we carry Muslim News' edited version of that interview.

Elham Asaad Buaras • Muslim News, Issue 203, Friday 31 March 2006

Muslims were left outraged after a Belfast web-journal the Blanket republished the infamous cartoons of Prophet Muhammad (p) which prompted protests throughout the world. The journal carried a cartoon each week from Sunday March 19 in an effort to highlight what they sees as “Islamic totalitarianism”. It will be the first Ulster outlet to do so.

The Blanket’s Editor, Carrie Twomey, told The Muslim News cartoons were not a form of religious hatred but rather “a comment on current events.”

But Muslim community representatives in Ulster said the cartoons encourage Islamophobia. Jamal Iweida, President of Northern Ireland’s largest mosque, Belfast Islamic Centre, told The Muslim News repercussions caused by the cartoons were being ignored. “They depict Prophet Muhammad in a way which is not true and correct. We welcome criticism and debate but I believe that these cartoons are just creating more anti-Islamic feeling and more racism against Muslims and I consider this very inappropriate”.

Twomey said, “The Blanket is a free speech website, to publish the manifesto and the profiles and not publish the cartoons would have been cowardly.” She also denied the journals motives were “a quest for notoriety”.

But former politics student at the University of Ulster, Deena Hamid, told The Muslim News, “It’s got absolutely nothing to do with freedom of speech because everything that needs to be said about the cartoons has already been said. There’s a line where satire ends and bigotry begins and the journal has no qualms about crossing it for a bit of cheap publicity.”

In reference to one of the cartoons which depicts the Prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban, Twomey discounted the interpretation the cartoon as insinuating that all Muslim are terrorists, instead she said the cartoon was intended to illustrate “some forms of Islam are a mind-bomb, it is the thinking.”

Although the journal said they would “consider anything submitted” many Muslims question if the journal would have the same zeal in publishing other cartoons that reinforces other controversial stereotypes such as anti-Semitic or racist cartoons.

Muhammad Shahbann, 22, a Medical student at the University of Ulster, told The Muslim News, “The decision wasn’t based on challenging Muslim extremists, it’s about imposing secular fundamentalism. I dare the Blanket to publish a cartoon portraying all Republicans as IRA terrorists; they wouldn’t dare because there would have severe social and political repercussions. So why is it acceptable to depreciate all Muslims as terrorists through our Prophet? Because were an easy and soft target.”

Geography teacher, Ahsan Khan, from Newtownabbey in Belfast, told The Muslim News, the Blanket is dismissing the safety and welfare of Muslim lives, “The publishers of the cartoon are delusional if they believe in absolute and unchecked freedoms. They’re probably so caught up in being part of a big story that they forgot that the right to life surpasses freedom of expression. If what you say challenges my right to live peacefully it should be censored. The cartoons are directly claiming all Muslims are terrorists then what’s to stop them from publishing cartoons saying all Muslims should be killed?”

Twomey said her publication aspires for absolute freedoms of expressions but conceded “in practice we know there are boundaries. There are enough people seeking to tighten the boundaries. Our position is to push against them.”

However Iweida said the republican publication was “serving the interests of the extreme right wings and racists elements of society”.


Read on:
Full text of interview Elham Buaras conducted with Blanket Editor Carrie Twomey























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The Blanket - A Journal of Protest & Dissent



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