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.
This report is part of the RAND Corporation Reprint series. The Reprint was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1992 to 2011 that represented previously published journal articles, book chapters, and reports with the permission of the publisher. RAND reprints were formally reviewed in accordance with the publisher's editorial policy and compliant with RAND's rigorous quality assurance standards for quality and objectivity. For select current RAND journal articles, see External Publications.
This document and trademark(s) contained herein are protected by law. This representation of RAND intellectual property is provided for noncommercial use only. Unauthorized posting of this publication online is prohibited; linking directly to this product page is encouraged. Permission is required from RAND to reproduce, or reuse in another form, any of its research documents for commercial purposes. For information on reprint and reuse permissions, please visit www.rand.org/pubs/permissions.
The RAND Corporation is a nonprofit institution that helps improve policy and decisionmaking through research and analysis. RAND's publications do not necessarily reflect the opinions of its research clients and sponsors.