Hindus give Zapiro, paper ultimatum

2013-11-08 00:00

THE Hindu community has given the Sunday Times and cartoonist Zapiro till today to apologise for “insulting the Hindu religion” or face being hit with boycott action against the paper.

Hindu and religious denominations met with Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt at the newspaper’s offices in Durban yesterday, trying to diffuse the situation.

On Tuesday Press Ombudsman Johan Retief ruled in favour of Zapiro (Jonathan Shapiro) in a complaint lodged by the Hindu community, after the cartoonist depicted Hindu god Lord Ganesha holding a cricket bat and money while Cricket SA (CSA) CEO Haroon Lorgat, tied up on an altar, is about to be stabbed as a sacrifice to him by two CSA officials. In the cartoon, Lord Ganesha symbolises the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

Deputy president of the South African Hindu Dharma Sabha (SAHDS) Advocate Resh Brijraj said they had an opportunity to inform Oppelt of their concerns regarding Zapiro’s recent cartoon which they feel was an insult to their religion.

“We feel that the meeting was fruitful in that the editor and her management team listened to us. She then asked us to give her time to go and ponder about this matter and will come back to us by tomorrow [today],” said Brijraj.

He said should the response be positive the Hindu community will reconsider the resolutions taken in a public meeting at the Durban Hindu Temple on Wednesday evening.

“But if we are unhappy with her response, then we will go ahead with our resolutions,” he said.

At Wednesday’s meeting, the community resolved to appeal the press ombudsman ruling on their complaint against Shapiro.

SAHDS president Ram Maharaj said: “We have communicated our dissatisfaction with the parties concerned. If we don’t get an apology from Zapiro and the Sunday Times by Friday [today], we will then proceed to burn the newspaper’s copies at the Temple on Sunday morning. We have a team of attorneys working on the appeal against the ruling”.

He called upon government to initiate legislation and promulgate prescripts of law that will prohibit the denigration of any religion or sacred religious symbols, either directly or indirectly, through the use of religion and/or its symbols as subject matter, metaphorically or otherwise, for non-religious purposes, distortion or caricaturing of God of any name, form or attribute via any electronic or print media or by any other means.

By the time of going to press, Oppelt and Zapiro could not be reached for comment.

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