Five Episodes of South Park That Depict Islam’s Prophet Muhammad Dropped from HBO Max, Raising the Issue of Hypocrisy


    Five episodes of South Park were removed by HBO Max for depicting the Islamic prophet Muhammad, reminding viewers that nearly every other religion is acceptable to make jokes about—with the exception of Islam.

    South Park, which started in 1997, features five episodes with Muhammad: “Super Best Friends,” “Cartoon Wars Part I & II,” “200,” and “201,” all of which are now missing from the HBO Max lineup, Screen Rant noted.

    As well as being removed from the streaming network, the episodes are also not available on South Park Studios' website, with each episode tagged with a “currently unavailable” notice.

    In the episode “Super Best Friends”—that first aired on July 4, 2001—cartoon character Stan invites a group of superheroes to take on the suicidal cult of David Blaine, known as “Blainetology,” which is a direct dig at Scientology. The superhero team consists of the leaders of the most popular religions in the world: Jesus, Buddha, Moses, Krishna, Joseph Smith, Laozi, and Muhammad.

    Muhammad is also featured in the two episodes “Cartoon Wars Part I & II,” which first aired in 2006. The shows are influenced by the controversy over an article in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, which ran a cartoon of Muhammad with a bomb as his turban in 2005. In the episode, the fictional city of South Park is panicking after the TV show Family Guy announces it will show Muhammad in its show. The Cartman character claims that the depiction of Muhammad is offensive to Muslims. The Kyle character believes that the Family Guy episode should be shown as a demonstration of freedom of speech.

    Before the episodes first aired in 2006, South Park creators were reported to be in a dispute with Comedy Central over depicting Muhammad. Comedy Central ended up airing the shows with a black title card over the Muhammad sequence. But the show was removed from HBO Max, despite censorship already being in place.

    In the midst of the controversy, South Park creators Trey Parker and Matt Stone argued that Comedy Central was hypocritical since the majority of other religions were considered acceptable to poke fun at but not Islam.

    The two episodes “200” and “201” were also censored by Comedy Central when they originally aired in 2010. In the episodes, actor Tom Cruise recruits 200 fellow stars who have previously been ridiculed in the show to file a class action lawsuit against South Park for defamation. Cruise eventually agrees to end the lawsuit on the condition that he meet with the prophet Muhammad. At this point, the “Super Best Friends” from previous years return, which offers a new portrayal of Muhammad. At the end of the show, a speech by Kyle is heavily censored, with viewers able to listen to very long audio bleeps as well as observe that Muhammad is covered by an enormous black box and his name by more audio bleeps.

    Yet, despite all the censorship, these episodes can't be found on HBO Max.


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