Residents of Sadr City, Baghdad angry over "Buddy Christ" leaflets

Iraqi Shiite residents of Baghdad's Sadr City are upset about smiling Jesus posters that appeared on the streets after a joint US-Iraqi military operation:

Residents found a picture of "Buddy Jesus" from [Kevin Smith's] 1999 film "Dogma" posted in the streets, accompanied by a badly photocopied pamphlet bearing a crude approximation of a US military crest and outlining a US "plan" to subjugate the neighborhood.

"That picture abuses our Imam Mahdi and his holy character, and mocks our sacred figures," said resident Abu Riyam Sunday, apparently mistaking the satirical movie still of Jesus for one of Shiite Islam's historical imams, whose images adopt a Jesus-like iconography.

Link (thanks, Mitch Wagner)

Reader comment: ttrentham says,

Kevin Smith posted on his own blog about it today: Link.

Chris says,

This story is really unfair to Muslims — thanks AFP. It makes them sound like morons, confusing obvious iconography of Jesus for that of one of their Imams. Anyone who knows anything about Islam knows that Jesus is also a sacred figure to Muslims (though in a different way than for Christians, clearly). Shoddy journalism on AFP's part — shockingly insensitive and ignorant of the beliefs of 1 billion people. No wonder we have trouble understanding each other. See this Wikipedia link for a good explanation.

Nathaniel Thomas says,

Although I don't know what the residents of Sadr City thought the
"Buddy Christ" picture to be besides what the AFP story says, I think
Chris underestimates the number of people who realize the significance
of Jesus in Islam. One man AFP interviewed "apparently" thought it
was the Imam Mahdi. I can't find any imagery for the Imam Mahdi, but
iconography for figures important to Shia Islam are actually similar
to "Buddy Christ". For example, pictures of Imam Ali: JPEG LINK.

I'm not sure how much recognition there would be of the Sacred Heart
motif in Sadr City. The muscular and rather alive (as opposed to
crucified) Western image of Jesus in the Buddy Christ does suggest
Imam Ali. Also, the beard has a certain thickness that is close to
representations of Imam Ali, as for example here: JPEG LINK.

I admit that Imam Ali appears in green with a hood, so it's not a
close match. I've also never seen pictures of the Imam Mahdi.

Since "Buddy Christ" is not a typical western representation of Jesus
(albeit playing off Sacred Heart images), it is entirely possible that
the residents of Sady City assumed it was some mockery of Imam Ali or
the Imam Mahdi by the occupation forces.

Although Chris' concern is commendable, for a Shia Muslim in Sadr City
that iconography of Jesus might not be "obvious". The AFP doesn't
paint Muslims as "morons", but it does show that the very Catholic
Sacred Heart imagery might not be immediately apparent to some Muslims
in Sadr City.

Elías says,

I don't know where the guys commenting about islam live, but I've lived all my life – 31 years now – in a city that is half catholic, half muslim, and most muslims here doesn't realize that Jesus is a prophet in islam. It's even usual to make jokes about Christ, just as some people makes jokes about Muhammad.

And I've never seen a muslim complain about profanation of christian images. For example, some time ago the spanish songwriter Javier Krahe cooked a crucifix for a TV program and the only ones who got offended were a few too delicate christians, but nothing serious (Link to video).

It is true, anyway, that muslims -at least where I live, Melilla, Spain- are not very comfortable about making jokes about christianism, for they have more respect for that religion than, e. g., judaism, and some think there shouldn't be jokes about any religion, at least the monotheistic ones. But I don't think any muslim feels particularly offended by the jokes about Jesus.

Roba says,

Will we please stop philosophizing over other religions just because we "live in the neighborhood"? Take it from someone born Muslim but who isn't religious, ALL Muslims consider Jesus a prophet and holy. In fact, it is one of tenants of Islam. You cannot be Muslim UNLESS you believe in the following:

(1) believe in God,

(2) believe in His angels (Gabriel and the whole shabang),

(3) believe in His books (New Testament, Old Testament, Quran),

(4) believe in His messengers and, finally,

(5) they do not differentiate among the messengers whom they claim to believe in. Anyone who differentiates among the messengers is, ipso facto, not a believer.

So let's stop making up stuff because of neighbors and actually start reading, eh?