In light of the Charlie-Hebdo attacks and as a former Muslim I feel it is necessary to point out that my comics are not intended to be an exercise of spiteful and provocative irreverence for its own sake. Any cartoonist who draws Islam’s prophet for these reasons takes a profoundly weak platform from which to spread their craft. Like most meaningful endeavors this is something one grows into. My comics are not about disrespecting people, but discrediting bad ideas. For me, that bad idea is religion. More specifically, it is about Islam, which happens to be the bad idea with which I am most familiar.
I have no illusions about drawing the prophet. Before I conceived this project, a friend of mine chidingly remarked: “If you start drawing Muhammad I don’t know you—” and there it is in plain English: religious extremists are getting their way. It is taken for granted that drawing Muhammad or even satirizing Islam is an activity best left alone. In a free society, ideas should not be beyond question or ridicule. Any good idea should be able to withstand criticism and a few doodles.
Anyone can draw a stick-figure of Muhammad sodomizing a goat and offend Muslims to get attention—but this would be in poor taste and preclude meaningful dialogue. This does happen and we should on some level accept it. The First Amendment is not limited to people with something intelligent to say—imbeciles and bigots also share this right (so long as they do not harm others in its exercise).
While I am convinced that religion has outlived its usefulness, I do my best to give people the respect and compassion they deserve. I know decent Muslims—as well as those whose views are unsavory (to say the least). People are entitled to their beliefs, but I cannot tolerate being threatened into silence because I may offend the delicate sensibilities of a violent fundamentalist.
I dream of the day Islamic leaders will implement reforms that make their religion less malleable in the hands of religious fascists. In the best of worlds, Muslim theocrats would humbly renounce state powers and accept the more realistic title: professor of mythology. I aim to encourage people to renounce superstition and embrace free expression and mutual respect. We have no savior besides each other.