Zapiro responds to cartoon furore
Johannesburg - Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro (Zapiro) drew himself on the same therapist's couch as he put the Prophet Muhammad on last week, and poured his heart out on the difficulties of censorship on religious grounds, in his latest Mail & Guardian cartoon.
"Tough week?" asks the therapist, while Zapiro lying on a couch replies: "You have no idea".
Last week he drew the Prophet Muhammad complaining that other religions had leaders with a sense of humour, drawing criticism from Muslims locally and internationally who believe that images of the prophet are taboo.
Cartoon 'quite mild'
In Friday's cartoon he said he thought the cartoon that caused all the trouble was quite mild and "not like the Danish turban-bomb cartoon" which set off riots after Danish newspaper Jyllands Posten published it.
After the US's Comedy Central pulled an episode of South Park recently because it had a scene with the prophet in a bear suit, a Seattle-based cartoonist drew a piece satirising how the prophet may be depicted and titled it "Draw Muhammad Day".
A campaign was then started on Facebook which she says she had nothing to do with. She has also apologised for her own cartoon.
Zapiro's dialogue with his therapist continues with the therapist saying: "The issue is depicting the prophet... it's that simple".
Zapiro responds: "That's for adherents of Islam! Why should non-believers be censored? And there's the contradiction of all those ancient Iranian and Turkish Muhammad drawings... drawn by devout Muslims!"
He notes the irony of being roasted by Muslims who supported his pro-Palestinian cartoons that angered his fellow Jews.
"Are you sorry?" asks the therapist.
"I'm sorry I'm being linked to that juvenile Islamophobic Facebook campaign. And I'm sorry if anyone's linked me to the Islamophobia of the US 'war on terror'! ... Or the Burqa and minaret bans in Western Europe!"
He says that in South Africa Muslims are empowered. Muslim clerics told him this week during a meeting with the newspaper that they were for freedom of expression except for drawing the prophet.
"Making exceptions for religious censorship is hard for a cartoonist."
He says he may have to live with the contradictions and then his phone rings and he promises his editor he will not draw another Muhammad cartoon.
"Just a 188-word Muhammad essay."
The editorial on the opposite page says: "We clearly underestimated the depth of anger ignited by the cartoon, and sincerely regret the sense of injury it caused many Muslims".
The editorial said they had never thought quite as hard about religion before and felt it appropriate to do so. But, this would not turn them into "shrinking violets".