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.