M&G 'regrets' cartoon offence
Johannesburg - The Mail & Guardian newspaper says it regrets the offence caused by a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad which was published on Friday.
Editor Nic Dawes said the newspaper, along with cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, met Muslim community representatives and business leaders on Wednesday to discuss their concerns.
"We explained to them that we did not intend to cause any harm and we distanced ourselves from the islamophobic imagery depicted on a Facebook group," Dawes told Sapa.
The cartoon depicts Muhammad lying on a couch complaining to a psychiatrist: "Other prophets have followers with a sense of humour!"
Dawes said publishing the cartoon did not mean the newspaper supported the Facebook group "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day" that sparked outrage in Pakistan and other Muslim countries.
In distancing itself from the group, the M&G explained on its website the group claimed to be a protest against restrictions on freedom of speech and religious fanaticism, but had seemingly become a forum for venting Islamophobic sentiment.
"We certainly didn't intend the cartoon to be an endorsement of those kinds of sentiments, which we repudiate," Dawes wrote on the site.
"We regret the offence caused by the cartoon and the pain experienced by many Muslims around the country."
On Wednesday Dawes said in light of what the paper had learned since publishing the cartoon on Friday, it decided to review its editorial policy on religion, especially where it concerned the Prophet Muhammad.
The review would be informed by consultation with a variety of parties within the country and based on "the constitutional values of freedom of expression and the M&G's own values of social justice".