The turmoil over the Danish cartoons was costly in human lives, damaged property and heightened ill will. In the West, the unspoken conclusion of many was that Muslims are overly sensitive, do not understand freedom of the press — and don't have a very developed sense of humor. This article examines — and quickly dispels — the latter belief. Quite to the contrary, a lengthy history of autocracy has bred a rich tradition of subversive political jokes. And while religion itself might be taboo, its earthly representatives were not, as a multitude of jokes about village mullahs attests. From irreverent bloggers such as the Saudi "Religious Policeman" to stand-up comediennes like Shazia Mirza, whose routine includes a sequence centering around the hajj, to women's rights activists such as the group "Sisters in Islam" whose magazine uses cartoons to critique "pompous Islamists," humor is wielded with effective expertise by Muslim reformers and enjoyed from the Muslim club to the Muslim street.
Reprinted with permission from EMMA, May/June 2006, pp. 24-26. Copyright © 2006 by EMMA Frauenverlags GmbH.
Originally published in: EMMA May/June 2006, pp. 24-26.
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