The writers on the “South Park” television series have been warned to stay away from the “M” word – Muhammed – following threats by American jihadists.
Last week's episode, in which the founder of Islam was disguised in a bear costume as part of the plot line, prompted a concrete threat to writers Matt Stone and Trey Parker from the head of the RevolutionMuslim.com website. Producers of the series, broadcast on the Comedy Central cable network took the threat seriously and have since quietly told their writers to stay away from the “M' word for their own good.
The warning posted on the U.S.-based radical Islamist site was quite blunt: “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,” it said. The post was accompanied by a graphic photo of the murdered Dutch filmmaker, who was stabbed numerous times in a brutal slaying in 2004 by a jihadist in response to a movie he produced that accused Islam of condoning violence against women.
Along with the post was a link to a news article that provided information about the location of a home in Colorado owned by the two writers – intimating the jihadists know where to find them if they do not comply with their demands to retract their “insults” to Mohammed. The site's founder, Yousef Abdullah Mohammed, denied to the Reuters news agency that they had posted a threat to Stone and Parker, saying the group “didn't tell anyone to go to their houses and conduct violence.”
Although some news outlets reported that the site was shut down, it has since been resurrected and is back up and running. A a statement entitled “Clarifying the South Park Response and Calling on Others to Join in the Defense of the Prophet Mohammed” was posted to the group's website on Sunday by Yousef, justifying the earlier post that contained the threat. (Excerpts of the statement follow at the end of this article.)
The series has in the meantime continued its storyline, but with one change: the word “Mohammed” was bleeped out every single time, and the Mohammed character was blocked out with a large sign that stated, “CENSORED”. A message on the South Park Studios website states: “We do not have network approval to stream our original version of the show. We will bring you a version of [episode] 201 as soon as we can.”
The Hollywood Reporter website quoted a statement from writers Parker and Stone in which they commented on the network's decision: “In the 14 years we've been doing South Park we have never done a show that we couldn't stand behind. We delivered our version of the show to Comedy Central and they made a determination to alter the episode. It wasn't some meta-joke on our part. Comedy Central added the bleeps. In fact, Kyle's customary final speech was about intimidation and fear. It didn't mention Mohammed at all but it got bleeped too...”
Excerpts from the Jihadist statement, “Clarifying The South Park Response and Calling on Others to Join in the Defense of the Prophet Muhammad”:
“In an effort at covering over their actual intention to incite, the creators of South Park carefully contrived a plot line that they believed could only stump those Muslim extremists that may arise to defend the honor of the Prophet Muhammad...
"By placing the Prophet Muhammad in a bear suit and thus believing that they could not possibly be accused of portraying his image, the creators of South Park sought to insult the sacred and show their blatant and general disregard for religion while at the same time creatively avoiding the Islamic law as they understood it. …increasingly many Muslims the world over realize that the United States in (sic) engaged in a comprehensive war against Islam. Whether consciously or subconsciously, the dehumanization of a conquered people's culture is part and parcel of all conquest, and the South Park episode is an example of how even seemingly unimportant images in a society can and do contribute to a dominant powers aggression and subjugation of all things 'other'....
“As for the Islamic ruling on the situation, then this is clear. There is no difference of opinion from those with any degree of a reputation that the punishment is death. For one example, Ibn Taymiyyah the great scholar of Islam says, “Whoever curses the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) -a Muslim or a non Muslim- then he must be killed... and this is the opinion of the general body of Islamic scholars. Likewise Ibn Mundhir, another classical scholar, said, “It is the consensus of our scholars that the one who curses the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) should be executed!” This is also the opinion of Imams Malik, al-Laith, Ahmed, Ishaq, Shafi'i, and Numan Abu Haneefah.
“This shows that taking this stance is virtually obligatory, but it does not mean that our taking this stance is in some way an absolute call toward the requirement that the creators of South Park must be killed, nor a deliberate attempt at incitement, it is only to declare the truth regardless of consequence and to offer an awareness in the mind of Westerners when they proceed forward with even more of the same....
"In the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad two key events stand out that provide evidence for the permissibility and indeed preference for retaliation against those that insult the Prophet Muhammad. In the first, a blind Muslim man who had a Jewish wife (and some say servant) assassinated his wife once she continuously would curse and criticize Muhammad. In the other a Jewish poet by the name of Ka'b bin al-Ashraf was killed for his poetry insulting the Prophet even though he was living under peaceful covenant with the Muslims and was within his own territory.... it must be known that this is the position in Islam, that there is consensus in it and that for those that argue the harm coming as a consequence exceeds the benefit, then they should know that this is at best an argument that entails a difference of opinion although the evidence suggests adopting the platform that we ourselves have taken.
"The law, known as shariah, in Islam is sacred and it is for no man to change, alter or disregard when reacting to events like the recent degrading of the Prophet Muhammad (saws) on South Park.... Thus the postings that have caused so much controversy on revolutionmuslim.com with regard to this matter were actually not the publication of the opinion of some Muslims but a referral and deferment to Islamic Law, thus fulfilling our divine obligation to command the good and forbid the evil by teaching and preaching the religion of Islam no matter how strange that way of life may seem to some. This is a divine order, obligatory for at least some Muslims in any community to fulfill...
"Thus our position remains that it is likely the creators of South Park will indeed end up like Theo Van Gogh and we pray that Allah makes that reality. However, as stated in the words of the Prophet above, if one cannot alter the situation with their hand then they must speak out against it and try to change it that way and we would also like to Mr. Parker and Mr. Stone understand the tastelessness of their portrayal, apologize and reflect on the words that follow.
"Any Muslim that condones this type of behavior or minimizes it does not fulfill the obligation of hating it with his or her heart and thus as is stated emphatically in the hadith may fall outside the necessary status of holding onto even the weakest of faith. Many conquered peopled (sic) become completely oblivious to function of their oppressor in enslaving their minds so we seek no harm against them, but do hope that they may be inspired to adopt a proactive stance and work alongside us in the struggle to liberate Islam and Muslims from foreign control.
"We hope that the creators of South Park may read this and respond, that before sending hate mail and condemning us that we may partake in dialogue and that the Western media's degradation of the most blessed of men ceases, otherwise we warn all that many reactions will not involve speech and that defending those that insult, belittle, or degrade the Prophet Muhammad is a requirement of the religion. As Osama bin Laden said with regard to the cartons (sic) of Denmark, “if there is no check in the freedom of your words, then let your hearts be open to the freedom of our actions.”