Muslim committee wants apology from M&G

2010-05-24 14:02

A newly-formed committee representing Muslims offended by a Zapiro

cartoon on the Prophet Muhammed, want an apology from the Mail & Guardian,

they said today.

The committee was also planning workshops with journalists to

explain why they are so upset.

“To a Muslim it would seem obvious, in terms of spiritual

relations, but to non-Muslims, they ask ‘why is it so?’,” Moulana Ebrahim Bham

told Sapa.

He said that while the committee, formed after a meeting of 17

groups representing Muslim leadership in the country, understood and accepted

freedom of expression, for them this was a case of “freedom to insult, and

freedom from insult”.

“That is the aspect we would like to address,” said Bham.

The furore began when a New York web-based group RevolutionMuslim

objected to the depiction of the prophet in a bear suit in the satirical cartoon

South Park.

The group found it insulting that the producers had made a joke of

Muslims’ belief that no likeness of Muhammed should be drawn, and so had instead

drawn him sitting inside a van and not visible, only talking, and then later

wearing a bear suit.

A blogger on the RevolutionMuslim website reportedly objected to

the depiction, not only of the prophet, but also of the show making fun of their

belief that he not be depicted.

The writer said the South Park creators might find themselves

suffering the same fate as Dutch film producer Theo van Goch, killed in 2004.

Van Goch had created a film about Islamic culture.

They also felt aggrieved that Christian figures Jesus and Moses had

been lampooned in South Park, saying it was also against their religion to

accept making fun of other prophets.

News reports said that Comedy Central withdrew the episode, so

Seattle-based artist Molly Norris drew a cartoon objecting to this, writing: “In

light of various threats aimed at the creators of the television show South Park

(for depicting Prophet Mohammed in a bear suit) by bloggers on

RevolutionMuslim’s website, we hereby deem May 20 2010 as the first annual

‘Everybody Draw Mohammed Day’.”

She said Comedy Central had “cooperated with terrorists and pulled

the episode”. The cartoon, headlined “Will the REAL likeness of the Prophet

Mohammed please stand up?”, has items like a tea cup, a cherry, a domino and a

box of pasta commenting individually that they are the real likeness of the


However, Norris had since written on her website that she did not

intend “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day” to be a real day, that her satirical poster

had been hijacked and made viral, and that she did not set up the Facebook sites

on the subject that led to the social networking site being banned in


“I apologise to people of Muslim faith and ask that this ‘day’ be

called off.”

She said she had spent time with a Muslim group to understand the

sensitivity about the matter. “Thank you to those who are turning this crazy

thing into an opportunity for dialogue. Oh, and screw all of you who are mad at

me for not leading a ‘movement’.

“My cartoon was the beginning and end of what I had to say about

this creepy, historic censorship. (By the way, where is Cowardly Central now?

Pretty dang quiet. Guess they can dish it out but can’t take it.)”

South African cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, aka Zapiro, drew the ire

of sectors of the Muslim community by drawing a cartoon of the prophet

complaining to a therapist that “Other prophets have followers with a sense of


On Thursday evening, the M&G won an eleventh-hour court bid by

the Council of Muslim Theologians to bar the publication of the cartoon.

The United Muslim Forum of South Africa (Umfsa) said they decided

unanimously that the cartoon was “blasphemous, insulting, insensitive, and

hurtful” and that the publication must apologise for it.

“The meeting noted that there were various options available to

them including legal action and public participation in protest action,” Umfsa

statement said.

Bham said that people had been urged to register their unhappiness

in terms of the law and that there would be no violence.

The controversy came shortly after Baghdad, Iraqi capital, security

authorities said they had arrested a man who allegedly planned to attack Denmark

and the Netherlands football teams at the forthcoming Fifa Soccer World Cup in

South Africa because a Danish cartoonist and a Netherlands filmmaker had

insulted the prophet.

Zapiro followed up the therapist cartoon with one of himself

tiptoeing through a “minefield” of people wearing the headgear of various


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