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Muhammad Depicted in the Supreme Court Courtroom.--

Duncan Frissell has a nice post on the depiction of Muhammad in a frieze on the wall of the Supreme Court's courtroom. In response to complaints, C.J. Rehnquist refused to remove the work, but he altered its description in Supreme Court literature. In response to complaints:

Rehnquist replied that the depiction of Muhammad "was intended only to recognize him, among many other lawgivers, as an important figure in the history of law; it [was] not intended as a form of idol worship," and that "[a]ltering the depiction of Mohammed would impair the artistic integrity of the whole." Rehnquist also dismissed the objection to the curved sword in the marble Muhammad's hand as reinforcing the stereotypical image of Muslims as intolerant conquerors: "I would point out that swords are used throughout the Court's architecture as a symbol of justice and that nearly a dozen swords appear in the courtroom friezes alone." Rehnquist said the description and literature, however, would be changed to identify Muhammad as a "Prophet of Islam," and not "Founder of Islam." The rewording, based upon "input of numerous Muslim groups," would also say that the figure "is a well-intentioned attempt by the sculptor Adolph Weinman to honor Mohammed, and it bears no resemblance to Mohammed."

David Chesler (mail) (www):
Ce n'est pas un proph├Ęte.
2.7.2006 11:24pm
Lev:
How would anyone have even the slightest idea what Mohammed, as opposed to any other Arab with a beard...did Mohammed have a beard...looked like anyway?

In any event, once the US becomes an Islamic Republic, all of the figures of humans will be chiseled off.
2.7.2006 11:38pm
Pius XXX:
Weinman, eh? Hmmm... :)
2.8.2006 12:44am
Wintermute (www):
Well I think it looks just like Muhammad.

As for the sword, all we know Jees did was tump over some tables at the temple. Muhammad sort of raided camel caravans, didn't he?
2.8.2006 2:01am
Freder Frederson (mail):
How would anyone have even the slightest idea what Mohammed, as opposed to any other Arab with a beard...did Mohammed have a beard...looked like anyway?

Yep, and Jesus had flowing chestnut brown hair and those intense blue eyes.

As for religious people getting upset about unsettling truths about their founders, just try pointing out to a Mormon that the early Mormon settlers in Utah often survived by stealing cattle, raiding wagon trains and often murdering California and Oregon bound pioneers and see their reaction.
2.8.2006 7:40am
You Fool! (mail):
"[T]he figure 'is a well-intentioned attempt by the sculptor Adolph Weinman to honor Mohammed, and it bears no resemblance to Mohammed.'"

I'd have to agree, mainly because he's not burning in Hell. (PBUH)
2.8.2006 9:21am
NYer:
The Manhattan Appellate Courthouse, at 27 Madison Avenue, has a series of sculptures along its roof line depicting great lawgivers, such as Moses. The statue of Mohammed was removed many years ago after protests (nonviolent, I presume) from Moslems. But this was a free-standing statue that was easier to remove than a portion of a frieze.

The statue's absence is obvious to an observer, though of course the observer wouldn't necessarily know whose statue had been there.
2.8.2006 11:19am
AK (mail):
"Rehnquist also dismissed the objection to the curved sword in the marble Muhammad's hand as reinforcing the stereotypical image of Muslims as intolerant conquerors"

Well, it could be that, or it could be an accurate depiction of a 8th-century general who conquered Arabia in a series of bloody wars.
2.8.2006 12:02pm
Bisch:
Curious the lengths that some folks will go to get the decalogue in some courtrooms while others fight to get their prophet out.

"Patient trying to get out. Patient tring to get out."
"Man trying to get in. Man trying to get in."
2.8.2006 12:37pm
SimonD (www):
In any event, once the US becomes an Islamic Republic, all of the figures of humans will be chiseled off.
I doubt you'll have to wait that long. If the Michael Newdow brigade had their way, most of that frieze would be long gone, since it's in danger of conveying the idea that our legal system has roots in Judeo-Christian theology, as the Supreme Court's courtroom frieze depicts.
2.8.2006 2:11pm
Thomas Roland (mail):
SimonD--"our legal system has roots in Judeo-Christian theology..."

You are right, of course. It has "roots," and certainly not "all of its roots" in Judeo-Christian theology. The roots include (jeez, how'd you miss it?) Mohammad, as well as Hammurabi, Zoroatrian lawgivers, etc.
2.8.2006 10:34pm