Another Possible Hoax of a Cartoon; Call for Graphology Expertise.—

1. Background.

The Danish clerics who spread the 15 Muhammad cartoons have been evasive about where they got the three most offensive ones, ones that had never been published by Jyllands-Posten or media in any country, at least before the dispute arose.

As NeanderNews revealed, the second extra "cartoon," supposedly showing Muhammad with a pig snout, is a crude forgery, not even a picture of Muhammad at all. It is rather an altered photo of a "contestant at the French Pig-Squealing Championships" in France. In the comments to an earlier post on the Volokh Conspiracy, a poster who identified himself merely as "K" raised an interesting issue:

I am not a graphologist, but a student who had a chance to attend very interesting lecture two years ago — a part of it was about the fact that whatever alphabet you learn to write the first influences the way you write in all the other alphabets you later learn. Hence you can identify, if sometimes with difficulty, that an individual learned to write Cyrillic or Arabic before they learned to write Latin [Roman letters].

Such individuals often never receive any instruction in writing in the "new" alphabet, and so they are:

1. Drawing the letters and not writing them

2. Maintaining the habits they have acquired when learning their first alphabet. -- eg. the letters have their normal shapes but look as though the have been written backwards (someone has started to write the letter from the wrong end)

Now look closely at the writing on the caricature that shows Mo[hammad] as a pedophile, and ask yourself doesn't it look a bit strange?

The more I considered K's comment, the more troubled I became. These extra three cartoons were presented as evidence of what non-Muslim Danes thought of Muslims, but what if all the cartoons were created by Muslims themselves, just to garner sympathy or to inflame anti-western sentiment? The pig "cartoon" has already been shown to be a hoax, though the perpetrator of the hoax has not been determined.

Maybe the manner in which the letters in the "demon pedophile" cartoon were written would reveal whether they were most likely written by someone who first learned to write in Arabic.

2. Analysis of Lettering in the "Demon Pedophile" Cartoon.

From the following picture, I deleted the actual drawing of Muhammad as a demon pedophile, retaining just the caption above the crude drawing:

(click to enlarge)

I was struck by two letters that seemed (to my untrained eye) to have been drawn in an unconventional way. The first was the first "M" in Muhammed. In writing a capital "M," it is common to start with a downstroke at the left side of the "M," then go back to the top left of the "M" and complete the rest of it without a break. It appears that the person who composed the demon pedophile cartoon did much the same thing, but instead started with a downstroke on the top right, and then returned to the top right to complete the letter "M" without a further break. In other words, it appears that he was writing that capital "M" from right to left, not from left to right as most westerners would have done. The first website on Arabic writing that I went to, not only confirmed my understanding that Arabic letters are written from right to left, but showed that there is a standard Arabic letter (alif) that consists of a single downstroke, so such a downstroke may well have been a natural movement for an Arabic writer.

The second letter that struck me as odd was the placement of the capital P in the word "PROFET." Note that the top of the P is not on the same level as the rest of the capital letters in the word or the note. I wondered whether there were any letters in Arabic that are commonly written with a tail below the line and a body that does not reach the top of the adjacent letters. In the second website I looked at, I saw this example of a font called "Hasan Al Quds Open Type":

(click to enlarge)

Shockingly, not only did I find a letter with (1) a body below the letters adjacent and (2) a tail below the line, I saw that (3) the letter looked remarkably like a Roman "p" and (4) it was placed on the left edge of the word, just as in the "demon pedophile" cartoon. Note the first and last words on the first line both have a letter resembling such a "p" on the left edge of each word. A word on the third line has the same letter resembling a "p" on its left edge.

These two oddly drawn letters raise a question in my untrained mind whether the author of the "demon pedophile" cartoon was brought up writing some form of the Arabic alphabet.

3. A Call for Help.

Obviously, I lack the expertise to evaluate the evidence I have raised on any but the crudest level. We need graphologists or other experts on how Arabs who learned to write first in Arabic eventually write Roman letters in the West, particularly in Denmark or Scandinavia. I am calling for the help of "An Army of Davids," using the "distributed intelligence" of the blogosphere to examine the questions that K raised in his comment to an earlier post of mine and that I have explored here. Much as in the CBS/Dan Rather forgeries, perhaps bloggers can contact the best experts in the field to determine whether the person who originally created this reprehensible cartoon was brought up writing Roman letters or Arabic ones.

Even if it should be determined that the creator of the "demon pedophile" cartoon was probably brought up writing Arabic, that does not necessarily mean that any Danish cleric forged the cartoon himself. It would still remain possible that some Muslim-hating person who was brought up writing Arabic created this cartoon, but it would definitely make it highly unlikely that these cartoons reflected typical Danish society (as they were originally supposed to do).

UPDATE: Because of the length of this post, I have updated it in a new post above. I found the comments below intriguing and highlight one of them in my update above. I also link some of the other bloggers who have spread the call for help.

Ken Lammers (mail) (www):
It looks to me as though this could have been done by someone with enough rudimentary skill to look in a Danish to Arabic dictionary and copy the words. However, your analysis tracks more for the alif / line than the mim / "p."

An alif, in it's initial form, would look a lot like the line you point out in the "M." However, I think your argument is stronger for the lower case "i" in PAEDOFiLE. The curve looks a lot like a curve I might expect to see in Arabic - curved slightly as though written left to right. Additionally, note the fact that there is not a dot over the "i" but a slash which goes up and to the right. This looks like a "fatha" which is a modifier for alif indicating how the long vowel would be pronounced (an "a" sound). Basically, the "i" is written as an initial form alif.

I think you are wrong on the "p" / mim. The form of the mim you are pointing to is the final form and stand alone form and wouldn't be written the way the "p" appears to have been written. The "p" appears to have been written as a line with the curve added. A mim is usually written starting on the left side, curving to the right in a circle, and a tail is added when the circle comes back to the left; often there is a gap on the left between where the circle began and where the circle ends and shoots downward into the tail. The two don't track. I think whoever wrote this just placed that letter a low.

I'd also note that (at least to my eye) the whole thing looks as if it might have been actually written left to right - or at least right to left letter-by-letter by someone used to writing left to right. The placement of the letters in the whole sentence is uneven. If I were writing left to right as a sentence I would expect the bottom of the letters to be more-or-less along an invisible line. Instead it looks much more like the letters were written one at a time, without any flow to the words. As well, the curves on a lot of the letters appear as though written right to left (straight line appears as a very shallow "C" curve): H, MM, N, I.
2.10.2006 5:34am
Ken Lammers (mail) (www):
Sorry, the above should read:

"I'd also note that (at least to my eye) the whole thing looks as if it might have been actually written right to left - or at least left to right letter-by-letter by someone used to writing right to left."
2.10.2006 5:45am
ed (mail):
No expert here. However, take a look at the four "E"s in the letter. Every E is different- the first has a squiggly bottom, and an extended vertical bar, and a second horizontal bar that is as long as the other two. The Second one is very rectangular, very geometric, and has the second bar shorter than the other two. The third is like the second, but the second bar is as long as the other two, and slants upward. The fourth is very rounded on the bottom, unlike the others, and the middle bar curves up, and out from the rest of the E.

This will not prove anything on its own. However, it does bolster the suspicion. If you write in a lanuguage that has an E, (Roman and Cyrillic) chances are they will look pretty similar every time. Or, at least they will have similar characteristics- especially in deliberate block lettering. I know mine do,
2.10.2006 7:54am
I used to teach beginning English to students in an Arabic-speaking country. Arabic has no capitalization, so many students had trouble knowing when to use capital letters. The small case "p" in "pROFET" could be a mistake.

On the other hand, leaving the letter lower case could be meant to emphasize that Muhammad was not "The Prophet" but someone falsely labeled a "prophet." That would show a more sophisticated understanding of capitalization.
2.10.2006 8:58am
What if the hoax is a hoax? Perhaps someone has constructed the writing to look like that of an Arabic writer attempting to write Danish.
2.10.2006 9:24am
Erik H.:
Idiocy alert. Why does everyone keep saying "I'm no expert, but..." and then posting an opinion? You're not an expert; therefore you don't know.

I mean, please, look at what Eugene posted: "there is a standard Arabic letter (alif) that consists of a single downstroke, so such a downstroke may well have been a natural movement for an Arabic writer."
Wow! An actual downstroke? It must be ARABS! Never mind that almost every language in the world seems to use a single downstroke as part of their alphabet, which is because it's a "natural movement" for the entire literate population, not to mention every three year old with a crayon. The letters I, l, P, t, T, E, D, and K might serve as examples. No, it must be Arabs...

Don't be a fool.

Anyway, I'm no expert, and I've never spoken or written Swahili or Russian, but to me it is clearly a mixture of the two. With a smattering of Greek, which should be obvious from the joined "ae". Sigh...
2.10.2006 9:25am
Nobody Special:

Look at what Jim Lindgren posted, not Eugene.

Also, Jesus (Mohammed?), lay opinion can be useful for eliciting leads. Especially when it is a subject that most everyone is pretty familiar with- the written word.

Also, the joined AE, common in Scandanavian languages, is from medieval Latin writing. I know that was supposed to be sarcastic, but you just plain screwed up, son.
2.10.2006 9:32am
Arthur (mail):
It could also be the work of someone whose first alphabet was Hebrew . . .
2.10.2006 9:49am
great unknown (mail):
Valid comment about the Hebrew, except...the vast majority of Hebrew speakers, whether in Israel or other countries, are fluent in non-Hebrew languages. In Israel in particular, the level of high-school English studies, mandatory for a degree, is far superior to that of New York City Public Schools (I know: I taught in NYC).
My cousin emigrated from the USSR to Israel at age 12. In tenth grade high-school he had the ironic experience of being a native Russian reading an English translation of "Crime and Punishment" in an Israeli high school.
2.10.2006 9:59am
Jane Galt (mail) (www):
Interesting. I'd point out that the E's and D's are almost certainly being written "backwards" — the natural movement for someone who writes left to write is to start at the far right of the downstroke (the right of the top bar of the "E", the top of the "D" downstroke); whoever wrote this is starting at the right of the bottom bar and going left &up, which would be a natural movement in Hebrew, and seems to correspond to one of the characters in that font you show. The D is being written by starting with the top of the loop, drawing down, right and around, and then sweeping up, making the vertical an upstroke rather than a downstroke—again, a most unnatural move for someone who is a native writr of English. Though I couldn't say whether writing is taught differently in Denmark, it seems unlikely.
2.10.2006 10:04am
Buck Turgidson (mail):
This argumentation seems to be on thin ice. Illiteracy is not limited to immigrants and non-native speakers. The most radical anti-immigrant sentiments are often expressed by the people who fall into the partially literate demographics.

The comments suggesting that those who learned to write Cyrillic first somehow would have problems writing in Roman alphabet are nonsensical--the script lettering is a lot more alike than the Soviet posters might suggest. The real difficulty might be limited to the "Asian" languages, such as Arabic and Hebrew on one side (both right-to-left) and Korean/Japanese etc. on the other. And I am not even convinced that this is the case, except for people who are, in fact, only partially literate. It is true, however, that most of the Muslim immigrants in Western Europe do fall into that exception. But this is not the case with the clerics and community representative who, as a group, tend to be quite literate and well versed in their adopted languages.

The cartoon in question is quite crude and no self-respecting newspaper would have published it. Never mind the literacy--it is clearly drawn by someone with no discernable ability. This and the pig-squealing photo were clearly home-grown concoctions. The only question is, whose home. It is possible that they did appear in some deranged mail addressed to Muslims. It is highly unlikely that it was produced as a part of some organized campaign (but there are plenty of neo-Nazis or sympathizers in Northern Europe). I am, however, with you, guessing that the fakes were a production by the very people using them to stir up unrest. I simply don't see any clear evidence to prove it. Your graphology argument is close to worthless. Please try to stick to facts in these matters, not speculations.
2.10.2006 10:11am
Rami (mail):
Anyone know if "Muhammed" the standard Danish spelling?
2.10.2006 10:26am
I don't think any of this could pass Daubert...
2.10.2006 10:31am
Seamus (mail):
Sounds like a new application of the Tawana Brawley strategy.
2.10.2006 10:41am
I don't see why it really matters who the hoaxster is, unless you end up tracing it back to the President of Iran or something. Perhaps an individual Dane is the hoaxster, or perhaps an individual Arab is the hoaxster; either way, I don't see how it says anything about the larger group to which they belong.
2.10.2006 10:43am
Preferred Customer:

The comments suggesting that those who learned to write Cyrillic first somehow would have problems writing in Roman alphabet are nonsensical--the script lettering is a lot more alike than the Soviet posters might suggest.

It's not that they would have difficulty, per se. The point is that they would form the characters in a distinctive fashion. The idea is that writing can be "accented" the same way that speaking can. You learn writing in one fashion early on, and this influences your writing through the rest of your life.

This is not a crazy suggestion. I've seen plenty of evidence of it--it's often fairly easy to pick out the writing of native Russian speakers, because it often does have a different, distinctive look as against someone who learned to write using Roman characters.
2.10.2006 10:45am
Prof. Nokes (mail) (www):
I should note, first off, that my own study has been of paleography (medieval Insular hands), so I'm on much shakier ground when it comes to contemporary hands. It seems to me, however, that though it might be possible to demonstrate that the Latin alphabet is not the first alphabet of the writer, it is probably impossible to demonstrate on the basis of the sample what the first language of the writer is.

Even if you could round up an expert to verify that the words were written by someone with Arabic literacy, that would still not demonstrate that the drawing was done by the same hand (after all, there is nothing in the drawing itself indicating the the figure depicted is Muhammad), nor would it likely convince anyone who was not already open to the possibility of forgery.
2.10.2006 10:57am
nk (mail) (www):
To us law geeks the "evasiveness" of the Danish clerics in providing a foundation and chain of evidence for the cartoons should be the most telling point. They are not competent evidence. To me the cartoon looks like it could have been drawn and written by any fourteen-year public school student. Maybe it was one of the clerics' own kids. Or a schoolmate who wanted to harass the Muslim kid. But that's beside the point. A) They won't say where they got them plus B) they are using them to incite riots equals C) they are phony until proven genuine.
2.10.2006 11:00am
Setting aside that everybody seems to be assuming the writer is right-handed:
I find the comments on the "natural" way of writing a letter in the English alphabet to be dubious -- e.g., Jim's statement that people make an "M" with a downstroke for the left leg, then going back and filling in the middle squiggle and right leg. I, to take an example familiar to me, don't. I start from the bottom left and do it all as one connected line. My writing is a hybrid of script and printing, depending on which is easier and clearer (to me, that is). I also find that the variation in letter formation among the younger set is greater than it used to be in the days of Palmer script. My son, for example, has a lot of screwy counter-clockwise motions that he invented because nobody told him otherwise.
2.10.2006 11:07am
Tumbling Dice:
This is (maybe) an interesting aside to this story. However, the story is the reaction to these cartoons and its similarity to the reactions we see in the "radical Muslim street" every time someone offends.

To (sort of) quote Allen Iverson, we're talking about Cartoons, man. Cartoons!

And it's funny that the one with the bomb in the turbin seems to resonate more now given the reaction.
2.10.2006 11:13am
Marcus1 (mail) (www):
My brother started learning Arabic recently; his comment to me the other day was how messed up their capitalization is. The lower case p certainly seems fishy.

It may be speculative, but I think there is firm ground. If this isn't a hoax, what on earth is it? Mohammed as a pedophile? Who on earth would think that was going into a magazine? Maybe there's a pedophilia scandal in Islam like there is in the Catholic Church, but I'm not aware of it. So what's the point? Everything to me suggests this was just an extremely crude attempt by somebody to sit down and draw the most offensive thing they could think of. That some anti-Muslim Dane drew this seems pretty far-fetched.
2.10.2006 11:33am
Press (mail):
While interesting, I wonder if we're missing the point here. I can't see how this has been anything other than a manufactured series of protests designed to rally the Muslim world against the West. A response to the pressure the West has been putting on Syria, Iran and the new Palestinian leaders.
2.10.2006 11:43am
Nobody Special:
The "Mohammed as pedophile" charges circulate mostly among fringe groups that take offense to the fact that he had a 12 year old wife or something similar at one point.

Nevermind that Mary was 12-13 when she bore Jesus...
2.10.2006 11:43am
Gary McGath (www):
I can't offer any expertise on writing analysis, but can offer some computer expertise. The image, at least on the link presented in the post, is clearly a medium-resolution scan. Note that the interior of the strokes is lighter than the outside; this is characteristic of a scan, as are the random black dots scattered about. There are also some artifacts; note that there is a white line going across near the top of "DEN PAEDOFILE". This makes it more difficult to tell how the letters were actually stroked, and could lead to errors.

Just advising caution.
In the Rathergate discussion, there was a similar problem, as only medium-resolution images of the memos were made available on the Web.
2.10.2006 11:49am
"The "Mohammed as pedophile" charges circulate mostly among fringe groups that take offense to the fact that he had a 12 year old wife or something similar at one point.

Nevermind that Mary was 12-13 when she bore Jesus..."

Actually, I think it's based more on his early marriage to Aisha, and indeed there is some literature to suggest that having such a "young" wife that he could protect was noble, or something. Apparently it is reasonably established that she was around 6 when their marriage was arranged, and 9 when made, um, "official." I am personally a little trouble by such arrangements, no matter what the cultural background involved is.

As for how old Mary would have been, I am not aware of any sources of traditions that discuss that.
2.10.2006 1:01pm
The "Mohammed as pedophile" charges circulate mostly among fringe groups that take offense to the fact that he had a 12 year old wife or something similar at one point.

Nevermind that Mary was 12-13 when she bore Jesus...

This smear, or libel of Muhammad dates back hundreds of years. A political marraige by Muhammad (as far as I know, all the marriages except to his first wife were political) was to a six year old girl. Christians who understood Islam to be "Muhammadanism", that is, a heretical religion worshipping Muhammad, regularly cited this marriage as proof of perversity, thereby disproving the divinity of Muhammad.

Of course this misunderstood the nature of Islam, but the smear of "Muhammad was a paedophile" is well known and very resented in the Islamic world. Them's fightin' words.
2.10.2006 1:03pm
John Lederer (mail):
Nobody Special--

This is throughly off topic, but I am wondering about the source of "Mary was 12 or 13". My curiosity is raised because menarche currently occurs in the US and Europe at about 12-13, but if one goes back a century and a half, the average age was 15-16, and anecdotally, Roman and Greek sources indicate ~16. So Mary pregnant at 12-13 would not only be a virgin birth, but likely birth by a not yet fertile female.
2.10.2006 1:17pm
I'm no graphologist either. But I have a little experience in English and Arabic calligraphy and typography. I noticed a few interesting things about the writing that may indicate that it isn't the product of a native speaker.

1) If you look at the lowest horizontal stroke on the first capital E, it is a curved or squiggly line. This is characteristic of the arabic character "sukkund" which is denotes a glidle (sp?) stop. These symbols are used extensively in old texts in the Arab world including the Quran.
2) Many of the letters have too many strokes, and are thus inefficient. Over time native speakers develop proficiency in writing quickly and use less strokes per letter on average. Looking closely at the first M of the last line it has four strokes. Most native speakers would make it with two or three. Also notice on this M that the strokes don't match up correcty. This indicates a lack of familiarity with the structure of the letter.
3) The cross strokes on the E's and F's seem to be drawn from right to left. The "ink clumping" you notice on some of the letters is formed when the author keeps the pen on the paper for too long without moving it. It often indicates hesitation in executing a stroke. If you look at the E and F in the word "Profet" the ink clumping is on the right hand side of the letter indicating that the person put pen to paper, considered the stroke momentarily, and then pulled the pen from right to left across the page. This is also inefficient in writing Roman letters because the movement across the page is from left to write, so cross strokes from right to left slow down the production of the letter. (Also interesting is the large amount of ink wasted on the beginning of the uppermost crossbar on the E in "Paedofile." It appears that this stroke went from left to right [note the ink clumping on the left of the letter]). This is consistent with the idea that the person is an Arabic writer since the long delay would indicate a discomfort with the left-to-right stroke.
4) The u in "Muhammed" appears a great deal like the Arabic Laam (one of the most common letters as it is part of the arabic AL meaning the). If you notice the right side of the letter is longer, this is what an individual Laam looks like, almost like a Roman capital J. Also note that a native writer of Roman based letters would not make the right side larger as it is inefficient in writing a full word. There is no need to bring the pen that high if you're going to move on to the next letter.
5) Finally as a general matter the letters do have a more "drawn" feel than usual native Roman-based letters. The cross strokes have the slant of calligraphy fonts, especially those used in Arabic. This is indicated by the sharp points on both ends of the cross which indictes that the pen was held at an angle. Most Roman letter writers without calligraphy experience hold their pen straight, which results in "block" letters and not angled letters. Finally the curves on the D's are tapered which indicates holding of the pen at an angle, and experience with "drawn" letters. These same curved shapes are common in the arabic letters Jeem, Haah, and one other that I am not even going to attempt to transliterate but comes from the back of the throat.

I hope this helps..
2.10.2006 2:24pm
Mary Katherine Day-Petrano (mail):
"These two oddly drawn letters raise a question in my untrained mind whether the author of the "demon pedophile" cartoon was brought up writing some form of the Arabic alphabet."

Well, when in doubt, resort to the disability test -- if you want to know if a person s substantially limited in a major life activity, watch how the person performs that activity.

In the case of the author of the offending cartoons, apply a similar test -- if he writes from the right hand side of the page to the left hand side, your question will surely be answered.
2.10.2006 4:39pm
Omar Zapata (mail):
Well, as a newspaper cartoonist myself, I just thought I'd point out a mistake in this cartoon that I sometimes made a lot in my earlier drawings: the hands. Whoever drew this cartoon mighta been left-handed, b/c he drew two right hands on the character.

You see, whenever I draw my characters and need to draw the hands, I'd use my free hand (the one not holding the pencil, hehe) as reference. Anyway, with a little contorting, I saw that Mo's "left" hand is actually a right hand. Do the twisting yourself with your own arms to align yourself with the Mo cartoon. You'll see that there's no way a real left hand could hold a doll that way. A real left hand would have the thumb facing downwards to have the palm facing away from the viewer.

So this guy probably just drew his own right twice, because he was holding the pen with his left hand.

What am I implying? Arabic is written from right-to-left. So if you're right-handed and writing Arabic script, you'd be covering up what you're writing. But if you're left-handed, you're free to see what you've written. When I took Arabic class, my right-handedness was annoying in learning to write Arabic because I'd keep smearing my script! (I could sympathize with Western lefties)

Now I know it's a long shot, but yall asked for help. And I don't know how right/left handedness works in the Arab world. But maybe it's a lead. And if it's just wild speculation, don't murder me. Just pat me on the back and give me a smiley sticker for trying :)

Omar Zapata
2.11.2006 4:20am
Omar Zapata (mail):
Oh, and as for the terminal "mim" you were talking about (the p-looking thing). I thought that too when I saw the P in "prophet". But the thing is that the terminal mim grapheme is written as one stroke, and not two as that p in prophet has. That was the way I was taught, anyway. The point of Arabic script is that it's very much like English cursive, with little need to lift up the pencil except for starting a new word or adding vocalizations and certain other strokes (like how we cross 't' in english cursive).
2.11.2006 4:31am
A Heroic Citizen:
Very interesting post, but I wonder if maybe this rabbit hole goes deeper still. Consider:

Instead of limiting our investigation to the manner in which the text was written, let us turn our attention from the parts to their whole. In this case, twenty-six letters. Why write a text with only twenty-six letters? Why not twenty-five? Or perhaps even twenty-seven? Such an arbitrary choice as "twenty-six" suggests a motivation horrifyingly devious in its unarbitrariness. Indeed, once we realize the significance of 26 A.H, or After Hijra, the twenty-sixth year of the Islamic calendar and 648 by the Christian reckoning, things start to fall into place.

648 AD marks the high water mark of the early Muslim community's war against the Sasanians, a Persian civilization whose defeat would allow the Arabs to pour as far east as the Oxus River. When we scramble the word "Sasanian" we arrive with this interesting result: "A NASA Sin." Now what NASA sin could those devious Arabs, who so many of you rightly pointed out no doubt penned this cartoon themselves, be referring to?

Long did I rack my brain, but with little success. Were there Muslims in the Challenger explosion? Not according to Google. Maybe astronaut ice cream has pork in it! No, not that either. I mean, obviously all Muslims are anti-science, but somehow it feels deeper than that.

Then it hit me! I'd been thinking about this all the wrong way. Not NASA the US Space Department, but NASA, a discoteque on Boltens Gard in Copenhagen! The sin those crazy Muslims are pissed about is that universal symbol of moral decay and Western decadence, the disco!

Quick, someone bust out their international phone card and have them evacuate downtown Copenhagen! Code Blue! Code Blue!

Hey, great work, Team! Rest assured we'll all be well-thanked once the dust settles from this most recent attempt by those devil-worshippers to cloak a deadly plot in the kind of numerological batshit that would do a Kabbalist proud. Thank God the civilized world has people like us who aren't afraid to see past the easy answers and recognize the world for the long string of elaborate conspiricies it undoubtably is. That's some top notch detective work, Einsteins.
2.11.2006 4:35am
Omar Zapata (mail):
Egads, I really need to write out everything before submitting. Anyway, as much as "looks drawn" letters might be a lead, it might not. Like I said, I'm a cartoonist, and I know that lettering isn't an easy task. Lettering very much involves "drawing" letters, because lettering in a cartoon must be legible. Especially in the use of capital letters.

While I wouldn't rule it out, we should make sure not to base it completely on the "looks drawn" idea.

But that "O" is really funny looking. Certainly looks sloppy for a Westerner used to the Roman character. But we all make mistakes, hehe.
2.11.2006 4:37am
Neil Loncarich:
Haha. This is all very interesting. I enjoy reading the handwriting analyses of all the commenters, because it's like a group of amateur mystery solvers. Too much time watching Discovery Channel/Court TV/TLC mystery shows. It's easy to say "Who cares who did it, it's an obvious fake, move on", but I think it's more fun to bring out the Encyclopedia Brown every once in a while. Now, if anyone can use photoshop to discover latent fingerprints...
2.11.2006 4:46am
waltj (mail):
One caution: The cartoon caption in Danish is clearly handwritten, while the Hasan al-Quds font is a stylized form of Arabic usually seen in either printed material or calligraphy. I don't know of anyone who handwrites in Times New Roman, and it's the same in Arabic. In most other versions of Arabic--printed or handwritten--the final form of the letter "mim" looks much less like a "p" than it does in the HaQ font. It might be more useful to compare the handwritten Arabic script that was also visible on the cartoon (which IS how Arabs typically write) with the Danish caption to see if there are any similarities.
2.11.2006 5:34am
Lars J. Helbo (mail):
This (very interesting) discussion made me take a closer look at the drawing, and that really made me wonder. Now, if I with my western cultural background was to make a drawing of Muhammed (pretending that I really could draw), I would probably make a man with a big beard and turban. In fact this is the way he is shown in each and everyone of the original 12 drawings in Jyllands-Posten.

What I would however certainly not do, would be to give him horns on his head. In other words, in my eyes, this is not a drawing of Muhammed. It is a drawing showing the devil.

Then I started looking for pictures of the devil on the net, and I stumbled over a number of Tarot-cards. This one is typical:


Could it be that this drawing was originally meant to show the devil with Adam and Eve in his hands? This could also explain, why there are two small figures instead of one.
2.11.2006 6:59am
debbrowser (mail):
I'm not sure of the significance, but check out the third-to-last picture in the Jawa Report gallery. Note the word "profet" on the banner. Note also that the banner was obviously professionally made and distributed to the rent-a-mob.

2.11.2006 8:50am
debbrowser (mail):
Oops! Here's the link:
2.11.2006 8:53am
PapaLaz (mail):
If the three additional cartoons were examples of hate mail received by Danish Muslims, the Danish imams would have been the first people to (1) say that's what they are and (2) encourage the recipients to report it as a hate crime. The fact that they have done neither and continue to be very evasive when asked about the source of the cartoons is very fishy indeed.

The combined AE character and the spelling of paedofile suggest the author is at least very familiar with the Danish (or Scandinavian) way of writing the word. Google "paedofile" and nearly all of the results are Danish sites using the combined AE character. The lovely Google herself asks "Did you mean paedophile?".
2.11.2006 8:54am
debbrowser (mail):
One other thing....the drawing itself looks familiar to me. If I recall correctly, I think I've seen it before, only the inference was that the character was a Jew. Someone with more time might want to do some sleuthing.
2.11.2006 9:06am
Mark A. Flacy (mail):
Looking at the larger graphic, I'm willing to believe that the original drawing was merely labeled "Den paedofile".

Someone else added the remaining text.

Notice that the two E's in the first line are similar, while the other E is different. Same goes for the letter A.

This would also track the MO of using some image that had nothing to do with Islam and turning it into an insult.
2.11.2006 11:17am
LK02 (mail):
I checked the cartoon before reading any comments. The letter U and the letter N seem to be written backwards to me. Check with the dynamics of your own writing, for the height of one side of a U or a N and the other side
2.11.2006 12:34pm
Actually, the cartoon itself is so poorly drawn, I thought Ted Rall did it!
2.11.2006 12:50pm
Mark James (mail) (www):
Subect: The connection between the 12 Danish cartoon and the 9 arsoned Baptist churches in the USA

Rusty Shackleford of The Jawa Report thought Islamists might have burned the nine or so churches:

I myself was thinking about why Islamists might burn Baptist churches. Remember it was Baptists who made the big anti-Muslim statements so far--not Lutherans or Catholics. Take for example:
o Jerry Falwell says, "I think Muhammad was a terrorist'' in an interview broadcast on "60 Minutes." Then 9 people died in Muslim riots in India.
o Jerry Vines, former head of the Southern Baptist Convention, said the Prophet Mohammad was a "demon-based pedophile."
o Franklin Graham, son of Billy Graham and the director of
Samaritan's Purse, has described Islam as a "very evil and wicked religion."

Remember that at least one of the 12 cartoons showed Muhammad as a terrorist, and one of the 3 fake-cartoons that the Imam included in his portfolio on the subject was of Muhammad as a two-horned demon holding 2 dolls, in other words, a "demon-based pedophile" just like Jerry Vines
labelled Muhammad. Did a Imam create the demon pedophile prophet based on Jerry Vines' description?
2.11.2006 1:21pm
I'm no expert but I do write write Arabic. What strikes me is the similarity in this lettering and these signs from the earlier London protest
2.11.2006 1:53pm
Socratease (mail):
I also picked up on the short legs of the 'U'. People generally shorten the leg that they finish on, not the one they start. Given enough elements like this, I think a plausable argument could be made for a foreign author, but I also think four words isn't a big enough sample to make a strong case. Since the blogosphere has already shown that the "pig snout cartoon" is a clumsy fake, the burden of proof shifts to the imams who promulgated these images to show they're authentic. It's now incumbent on them to show the chain of evidence for the additional drawings. The question is: will anybody in authority have the
cajones to hold them to it?
2.11.2006 4:00pm
Claire (mail):
The first thing that struck me was that the writing looks similar to those "anthrax letters" from 2001. Not that it's the same person, but maybe same etymology (if that's the right word.)

Bold, blocky, awkward.....

2.11.2006 9:29pm
Since these are purpotedly "hate-mail" pictures, isn't it plausible that the author would try to avoid leaving traces, and thus write with his left hand (when is he usually using his right hand) or try to garble his handwriting in some other way?
2.11.2006 10:27pm
sa (mail):
On the subject of the so-called "lowercase P": It may have started out as an uppercase P gone bad. Consider: if you're writing it right-to-left, and thus have to construct the U-shape before the vertical downstroke, it's much harder to guess where to start. (Easier on the letter R where you can work up from the baseline w/the tail of the R.)

So, somehow you forget and draw the U-shape on the baseline instead of "floating" halfway above it. What to do? At that point, with your lettering on the original, you cut your losses and pull the downstroke below the baseline. Voila, "lowercase" p.

Some may think this is splitting hairs, but to me it is more likely that a right-to-left calligrapher simply made an error they couldn't correct than that they were too illiterate to realize that the letter P is capitalized...

And FWIW I believe it's obvious one person wrote Line 1, and someone else wrote lines 2 and 3.
2.13.2006 2:43am