Earlier today, American political satirist and video game developer Noel Proulx released a comic strip that will surely end up getting talked about in the next few days, depicting Islam's prophet Muhammad in an interview regarding the death of Osama Bin Laden. The comic strip shows a bearded Muhammad with a halo surrounding his head, commenting that Osama Bin Laden will not be getting his seventy-two virgins, instead receiving seventy-two "Tauren," a character race in the popular online game World of Warcraft, which are essentially bipedal "cow people." Here is a link to the comic strip.
The comic strip, released on Proulx's website Excuse the News, shows Muhammad twice in an Egypt-like setting, with his full body and face displayed. Islamic law demands that imagery of the Prophet Muhammad should never be depicted by anyone. In 2005, Denmark's newspaper Jyllands-Posten released a political cartoon depicting Muhammad, which led to numerous protests and even death threats. More recently, the Comedy Central show South Park depicted Muhammad wearing a bear costume in an attempt to take a stab at censorship in the media, which resulted in their network heavily censoring the following episode by beeping out a majority of the content. The South Park episode also brought about death threats and other protest.
I'm treading on this story carefully because Noel Proulx happens to be a friend of mine, who contacted me on May 5th to say that he might have a breaking news story for me, but not going into details as to what that story pertained to. I found out moments before beginning this article that he had graphically depicted the Prophet Muhammad in his comic strip on his website, a site that I have contributed to in the past. Asking Mr. Proulx why he decided to depict a graphic image of Muhammad in his comic strip, he replied "I didn't so much `decide' to use him, it came about naturally in development of the strip. I did make a decision not to self-censor or avoid the subject out of fear. The point was not to make fun of Muhammad, [but] he is used to deliver the Bin Laden insult. I guess in short I wanted to step where people are afraid to step."
Noel Proulx's comic strip hasn't yet gotten national attention, and there's a chance it might not. It doesn't depict the Prophet Muhammad in an offense way, beyond merely depicting him in the first place. Will this comic strip result in protests and hostility? Or will all of the recent developments throughout the Muslim world inspire a calmer reaction to the strip? I suppose only time, and 1.5 billion Muslims throughout the world, will tell.