Whom Did Opus Offend?

The Washington Post ombudsman, Deborah Howell, investigates the reasons the Post and other papers refused to run two recent installments of Berke Breathed's "Opus" comic strip. The purported justification was that the strips could be offensive to Muslims. Yet as Howell discovers, it does not seem that Muslims were offended.

Ibrahim Hooper, spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights and advocacy group, wasn't offended. " 'Opus' poked fun at the strip's characters, not Muslims or Islam. I see hundreds worse on the Internet every day," he said.

Akbar Ahmed, chair of Islamic studies at American University, also wasn't offended. He said there is a strong Muslim tradition of satire and self-deprecation. "I think there is a danger of us becoming so politically correct that we end up by blunting the critics' bent and the satirists' wit. Muslims need to be sensitive to the fact that in Western culture there is a healthy tradition of not taking things too seriously."