Liquid Racism and the Danish Prophet Muhammad Cartoons

This chapter examines reactions to the October 2005 publication of the Prophet Muhammad cartoons in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten. As in the previous chapter, it analyses humour by using the concept of ‘liquid racism’. While the controversy arose because it is considered blasphemous by many Muslims to create images of the Prophet Muhammad, the chapter argues that the meaning of the cartoons is multidimensional, that their analysis is significantly more complex than most commentators acknowledge, and that this complexity can best be addressed via the concept of liquid racism. The chapter examines the liquidity of the cartoons in relation to four readings. These see the cartoons as: (1) a criticism of Islamic fundamentalism; (2) blasphemous images; (3) Islamophobic and racist; and (4) satire and a defence of freedom of speech. Finally, the relationship between postmodernity and the rise of fundamentalism is discussed because the cartoons, reactions to them, and Islamic fundamentalism, all contain an important postmodern dimension.

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