Prophet Mohammed Sculpture at Top US Court

Depictions of the prophet at US public buildings draws mild rebuke from US Muslim leaders. At the same time they draw a sharp contrast between the cartoons, which they consider blasphemous and designed to offend, and statues or sculptures meant to honor M

Prophet Mohammed Sculpture at Top US Court

Amid an international outcry over cartoons of Prophet Mohammed (PHUB), some American Muslim leaders have expressed concern about depictions of the prophet at US public buildings, including the Supreme Court.

At the same time they draw a sharp contrast between the cartoons, which they consider blasphemous and designed to offend, and statues or sculptures meant to honor Mohammed as a historical figure and lawgiver.

"We have expressed the Muslim community's concerns about a variety of images of the Prophet Mohammed, whether it be in textbooks, editorial cartoons or even in the Supreme Court," Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Washington-based Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), said.

The sculpture of the prophet at the country's top court is part of a marble frieze depicting 18 influential lawgivers, including Moses, Confucius and Charlemagne.

The sculpture of Mohammed shows him holding a Koran in his left hand and a sword in his right. The frieze has adorned the courtroom since the building opened in 1935.

Hooper said CAIR in the past has requested that the sculpture be removed, as Islamic tradition forbids any depictions of the prophet. But the court turned down the request, saying that altering the frieze would compromise its artistic integrity.

It agreed, however, to change literature about the sculpture to refer to Mohammed as the "prophet" rather than the "founder" of Islam.

"The court ruled that the good outweighed the bad ... and the community's response was one that was very tempered," said Edina Lekovic, spokeswoman for the Muslim Public Affairs Council in Washington. "They (community leaders) came out and said that they disagreed with the court ruling but they appreciated the thought and the intention behind the sculpture."

Hooper said though Muslim leader still objected to the sculpture it did not "mean we are going to force our views on others."

A statue of Mohammed that stood in the Manhattan Appellate Courthouse in New York was removed in the 1950s following protests by representatives from various Muslim nations.

CAIR in 2001 also succeeded in having a 14th century Persian painting with an image of the Prophet Mohammed removed from a PBS documentary about Islam.

There have also been cases in which US Muslim leaders have succeeded in having images of Mohammed removed from public school textbooks.

Hooper said while depictions of the prophet on public buildings or in textbooks were objectionable, they bore no resemblance to the cartoons first published in a Danish newspaper and which have sparked violent protests in the Muslim world. One of the cartoons shows the prophet wearing a bomb-shaped turban.

"The cartoons were published with the stated intent of incitement and insult," Hooper said.

He pointed to a cartoon that appeared in various US newspapers in 2002 that showed Mohammed driving a truck with a nuclear bomb and a headline that read, "What would Mohammed drive?"

"The stated intent in that instance was political commentary, not to gratuitously insult Muslims," Hooper said. "Intent is a big factor in this whole controversy."

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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