Friday, April 30, 2010

South Park Show Mocking Prophet Mohammed Is Banned In Sweden

This week the famous satirical animated TV show “South Park” aired its “Episode 200” in the US. This episode features every celebrity ever mocked on the show—as well as team of superhero religious figures including Jesus, Buddha, Moses and the ever-controversial Mohammed. The Swedish affiliate of the network Comedy Central will not show 200 or its sequel 201, both controversial episodes of US satirical cartoon show South Park (nearly) depicting the Muslim prophet Muhammad.

There have been a hostile responses to South Park’s Episode 200 which was aired in the US. Most notably, a small group known as “” has warned the creators of the show; Matt Stone and Trey Parker that “what they are doing is stupid and they will probably wind up like Theo Van Gogh [Dutch filmmaker killed in 2004 by an Islamic militant] for airing this show."

In the episode notes Slate:

Mohammed "appeared" obscured from sight, first behind a black box marked "CENSORED," then in a U-Haul van and later on in a bear suit. In "201," he stepped into full view—or, rather, into what would have been full view, were the "CENSORED" box still not superimposed over him. (In an elegantly telescoping gag, it also turned out that the guy in the bear suit was actually Santa Claus, pretending to be Mohammed wearing a bear suit). What's more, every mention of Mohammed's name had been replaced with a shrill bleep—which wasn't the case in "200." Comedy Central, apparently acting in response to a threatening post published (after "200" aired) on a New York-based Web site called, had plastered the episode with fig leaves.

Still, even under the threat, Comedy Central—which  asserts that it believes strongly in creative freedom of expression—decided  to air the albeit censored Episode 201containing material mocking the prophet Mohammed (along with everybody else). Sweden on the other hand, chose to completely ban the show.

Sweden is a democracy where freedom of expression is stated to be strongly upheld. Swedish newspapers did for example publish Swedish artist Lars Vilks’s satirical cartoons portraying prophet Mohammed as a half-man half-dog in 2007. Yet this decision would end up putting Sweden on the map for its radical Muslim population.

Now, and probably as a response to the reactions from 2007, Sweden, which once so strongly defended freedom of expression, has decided to completely censor an irreverent TV show which has fans all over the world. It certainly seems as if Sweden has tossed in the towel and given in to the anti-democratic forces that are growing stronger inside the country. With this kind of hypocrisy, one can not help but wonder if Sweden still is a country which strives to defend and provide the democratic rights of all of its citizens.

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