Another day, another Islamic religious leader says something wacky that makes headlines. My heart sinks.
A religious leader (whatever that is) thinks that Peppa Pig is unsuitable for Muslim children and proposes a suitable alternative. Peppa Porcupine perhaps? A male porcupine, of course. And instead of splashing in puddles, he should sit cross legged and learn Arabic scripture by heart. Have you ever noticed how giggly and fun Islamic religious leaders are?
To defend Peppa Pig is so ludicrous to me that I refuse to do it. Can you name one old cartoon where the protagonist is a cute fun loving girl? Enough said. Muslim parents watch Peppa Pig to enjoy a giggle with their toddler and use her as a distraction while they shovel green vegetables into them. If you prick us, our blood is probably pink and sugary from all the Percy Pigs we are eating while we watch Peppa.
To me, the problem is twofold.
First, Islam is not a centralised religion. We do not have a Pope, Archbishop or Chief Rabbi to think carefully about statements before releasing them to the press. Any old self-appointed crazy can declare himself a religious leader and say whatever he likes. If you ask enough Christians, you will find one that will say Sesame Street's Ernie and Bert sleeping in the same bed is gay and unholy. But that Christian won't get into the news, will he?
Which leads me to the second issue: the media is lining up to present Muslims in a bad light. Bad news is good for business and constantly showing Muslims as "The Other" sells papers and gets clicks online. Oh, it's December and here are the stories that Muslims are trying to ban Christmas. (Incidentally, Jesus is the second most revered prophet in Islam; we believe in both the immaculate conception and second coming. But more importantly, do you think we would miss out on presents, food and glitter? Not likely!)
There is a huge liberal, easy-going Muslim population. Some of them may even be your friends and can drink more prosecco than you. We are perfectly capable of doing what all other liberal religious people do: ignore the bad bits and take spiritual guidance from the good bits.
I suppose there probably is a market for religious cartoons but I will bet a cool million those cartoons are dreadful. Kids don't want to watch cartoons where you learn some naff pious message. They want to giggle at something naughty. Don't we all?
As a Muslim, I love Peppa Pig. And she loves me because I won't eat her.