Maps have many fathers. One of them is the genie of omission. So beware of the map that is too straightforward and simple. It may very well be obscuring something. For also in cartography, this general rule applies: If it looks too good to be true, it probably is. An interesting point in case are the twin maps of Africa shown below, one of the spread of Islam, the other the spread of AIDS. The contrast is striking: where one occurs, the other is absent. Is this proof of Islam’s salutary effects? Or do the maps merely demonstrate the power of map-based propaganda?
The message implied by the juxtaposition of these two maps is clear and simple: Islam is the best form of AIDS prevention. These maps first popped up on Pass the Knowledge , the blog of Dr. Bilal Philips. A Jamaican native, Dr. Philips grew up in Canada, where he converted to Islam. He studied in Saudi Arabia and the UK, and currently resides in Qatar. Dr. Philips’ supposedly extremist views have gotten him expelled or barred from half a dozen countries. As recently as January 28, his blog re-posted a speech by Anwar al-Awlaki, the Yemeni-American propagandist of jihad who was killed by a US drone strike in 2011.