M&G 'regrets' cartoon offence

2010-05-27 07:08

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!"

Islamophobic sentiment

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".

  • fairuz - 2010-05-27 10:04

    What's the point of having satirical cartoonists if they are censored even when their work is deemed acceptable by a court of law? I am a muslim and I would never depict The Prophet (pbuh) or gaze upon such a depiction, but I also understand that freedom of expression needs to be guarded vociferously and that not everyone shares and/or respects my viewpoints.

  • Howler - 2010-05-27 10:06

    Aaargh - M&G apologised. One group's belief structure shouldn't dictate the practise of others. What next... do we apologise to Hindus for every steak we eat?

  • Anon - 2010-05-27 10:09

    " decided to review its editorial policy on religion, especially where it concerned the Prophet Muhammad." Why should Muhammad get special consideration? What about Jesus and Buddha and all the others? What makes Muslims so special?

  • hendrik - 2010-05-27 10:28

    finally, someone steps up and draw Muhammad! Why can they make fun of Jesus,and any other religion, but nooooooo,not Islam y'know! Why are they so special? Its quite ironic, if the comic was false, nothing would have happened, but every muslim is furious! So the comic is 100% correct!!!!

  • Steve - 2010-05-27 11:05

    Where do you draw the line? To be fair, would you not publish drawings about any religion? It is a very dangerous slippery slope to be getting on!

  • Proud Muslim@All Anti Muslims - 2010-05-27 11:21

    M & G now understand what Our Beloved Prophet(Peace Be Upon Him) is all abouT. To the rest of the Anti Muslims: EDUCATE YOURSELF ABOUT Muhammed PBUH)BEFORE YOU JUMP ON THE BANDWAGON!

  • Anonymous - 2010-05-27 11:37

    Let me explain something to you guys.
    Our religion revolves around obeying the commands of ALLAH SWT (our creator) as shown to us by our most beloved Prohet Muhammed SAW (Peace be upon him).So we follow his way of life known as the SUNNAH.We hold all the other prophets in high esteem as well, but not in the same calibre as Muhammed SAW (Peace be upon him)was the final messenger.
    For muslims religion is a way of life.
    That is why we will stand up for anything said against our Prophet Muhammed SAW (Peace be upon him).

  • question - 2010-05-27 12:05

    didnt zapiro initially say that he DID draw it in the spirit of draw muhammed day? now distancing?

  • Goofy - 2010-05-27 12:14

    Fine, draw up a policy that limit's the Prophet Muhammad being depicted... As long as the policy also includes the fact that it could should concern itself with other groups personal belief systems... Jesus, Buddha, the flying spaghetti monster etc. The policy must either cover all or none otherwise it's biased towards one group in particular which will show that the news paper's integrity has been compromised...

  • aadila - 2010-05-27 12:26

    Oh you beleivers " of any True Religion " respect is what our Prophet Mohammed SAW PBUH has taught us, an understanding tolerance of each other, y do you not see a muslim person going around drawing Jesus PBUH, as we beleive in him as one of prophet's and messenger's of Allah SWT and we understand your religion learn to respect ours and most importantly understand it !! This will make your lives less stressful.

  • liberal - 2010-05-27 12:49

    @ hendrik...if such cartoons were published about other religions and no one stood up against it then that is not our problem. we take religion seriously because we will have to answer to God as to why we didnt do anything when the Prophet (s.a.w) was mocked. you dont find muslims doing such things we respect all people and all religions! and everyone should do the same.

  • Proud Muslim @ Hendrik - 2010-05-27 12:53

    If you maybe rant & rave more about Jesus, for whom we also have the greatest respect, instead of moaning about worldly things you will understand. Get your facts right about Muslims making fun of Jesus!!!

  • Muslim - 2010-05-27 13:09

    It's well known that newspapers are floundering and losing ground to innovative and dynamic websites like Newstime. So every once in a while they have to come up with a publicity stunt to sell papers. The ill judged Zapiro cartoon is more about profits than prophets. If more people went out and bought the M&G last Friday a sub editor's job might be saved. But more importantly, it gets people talking about how brave Zapiro is and don't newspaper people love their egos to be inflated? Unfortunately cheap publicity stunts do occasionally go horribly wrong

  • Sabri - 2010-05-27 13:12

    @fairuz....Acceptable by court of law?..our law system is a joke...
    M&G...your apology is not accepted!!! Mr Dawes you say you never wanted to cause any when the Muslim associations tried to stop this cartoon from being published..Why did you go ahead when it was brought to your attention of the harm it will cause??? I suppose you wanted so badly to freely express yourself..well you have shown the world what an inconsiderate narrow minded individual you are!...
    Islam teaches repect and love for all creation...
    @Dawes and Shapiro..what religion do you belong to?...and what does your religion say about insulting others?
    To me my beliefs are a way of life (isn't that the way religion should be?)
    I wonder if all of those people out there who allow cartoons, jokes ,etc of their religious beliefs and practices take their religions as a past time or joke too...
    Maybe when they get to the pearly gates and ask to get in God will say "Nice know where you going"

  • Robert Kay - 2010-05-27 13:19

    "We regret the offence caused by the cartoon and the pain experienced by many Muslims around the country." Pathetice, Mr. Dawes. A minority of people jump up and down over a harmless cartoon, and you crawl to the muslim community. Worried about dropping sales perchance? I trust your publication will now desist from mentioning anything religious over the whole spectrum. As someone else mentioned - obviously no sens of humour in the muslim community.

  • JMT - 2010-05-27 13:26

    If Mohammed is real, let him fight his own battles

  • Tim - 2010-05-27 13:30

    I'm sorry that M&G backed down on this one. The cartoon did not attack Islamic faith, nor did it promote stereotypes. It was an intelligent and gentle joke questioning the tendency for Muslims to over-react to any interaction with their religion by outsiders.
    Quite frankly, I don't understand the 'pain' that is felt, nor why this cartoon deserves death-threats and boycotts.

  • Zee @ Hendrik - 2010-05-27 13:42

    Don't run your mouth if you don't know what you're talking about - Muslims are not allowed to depict ANY of the prophets (Jesus included), not just Muhammad (PBUH). And we're told not to do so in case it offends another religious group, as was done by Zapiro here. Thin line between offending someone and freedom of speech admittedly. Tought call, but i think any rational thinking person will know not to put something out there if they know it WILL offend certain people and certain groups. Eg. I would never draw a cartoon of Jesus because a) I'm not sure how people would find a picture of Jesus funny and b) I KNOW it will offend Christians - so why do it? Those seeking to offend will usually get whats coming for them fairly quickly.

  • riaz - 2010-05-27 13:46

    The question is do muslim cartoonist draw pics of jesus or any other relgious figures??if they don't do it out of respect for other peoples beliefs then why do non muslims do it??but if they do then they got nothing to complain about

  • Brian - 2010-05-27 13:50

    Ford said of his newly invented motor vehicle, "You can have it in any colour you want, as long as its black". Funny? yes. Now it seems we can also have freedom of speech, provided that such freedom is not exercised with something offensive to a certain sector of the community. Right? Come on. When Zapiro depicts Israeli soldiers as Nazi's (which is abominable to my mind) are there court applcations, threats of violence, urgent meetings and protracted debate? Not that I know of. Perhaps someone can tell me if I am wrong. Freedom of expression can't be absolute, but this is making it a mockery.

  • luke - 2010-05-27 14:11

    To make fun of and poke at any religion is wrong. Especially when it is done in the name of freedom of speech. Bigots, racists and the like hide behind the guise of freedom of speech.

  • sanjiv - 2010-05-27 14:12

    I am dissappointed to see a newspaper bow to the lunatic fringe. Its a cartoon - meant to incite laughter ! What next - no Van Der Merwe jokes jokes? Heard the one about...

  • Mennace - 2010-05-27 14:16

    Freedom of speech allows us the liberty to speak our mind. Be that as it may, why then was the "shoot the Boer" banned, why is the derogatory term (K*****) given to black folk by whites banned? This is because at some point you have gone beyond the behavioural understandings of what " freedom of speech" actually means. You cannot just walk around saying and doing anything. There are certain moral and ethical boundries that one shouldn't cross. And before people ask why are Muslims jumping for their Prophet (PBUH). The very same religeon stood up against a playwrite in England, very recently, who wanted to portray Jesus as a homosexual. Religeous tollerance is a foundation that our rainbow nation was built on. If we leave this behind we are heading towards a long dark road. In that case, no one should EVER protest when Julius Malema says or sings what he wants too.

  • James - 2010-05-27 14:19

    M&G knew exactly the kind of response it would envoke, this is not ground breaking stuff. That they would choose to paint a bullseye on S.Africa for all terrorists, RIGHT before the WC 2010, well that's just very irresponsible. Zaphiro, to to an Islamic country holding up your comic on a billboard and take responsibility for your own actions.

  • Ebrahim - 2010-05-27 14:27

    all relegions should be respested, sure other relegions in the past were offended, but why didnt the followers of those relegions not protest like the muslims did, maybe we muslims love our prophet more than other groups love theirs. I message, if someone offends your relegion, do something about it in a peaceful and legal manner.

  • abdullah - 2010-05-27 14:32

    i think the way this situation was resolved showed and proved to many people that islaam and muslims are very capable to resolve sensitive issues by open debate without violence,which a large section of people waited to happen.fredom of speech has to hav limits,if however some1 in the future depicts moses,jesus or any other prophet of god be assured muslims will strand up against it

  • zunaid - 2010-05-27 14:35

    I don’t think people understand that muslims believe in both jesus & moses,there has to be a limit to freedom of speech especially when its making mock a mock of a prophet of god,without religion we will have no morals to follow, religion is what guides us

  • Convert - 2010-05-27 14:36

    I was a muslim.The sadest thing is that we live for our faith!! But basicaly we are nothing but hippocrits. Reason why I say this is because we follow what muhammad is saying and love the same time we blow innocent people up,flying into towers.Now my question,WHERE is the LOVE in that.?

  • Bobbi T - 2010-05-27 15:30

    I agree with steve - where do you draw the line - I also agree that that inciting islamophobia is not a good idea but people need to realise that not everyone has to believe the way you do. (If everyone was like me - there wouldn't be religions at all) so having someone do something against your religion is just one of those things - as yet no one has proved there is a god, Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism etc - until then - just relax.

  • anonymous - 2010-05-27 22:14

    Read between the lines. The paper "regrets the offense caused." This is not the same as "we're sorry for doing it." And saying Muhammad won't be shown during this "review period" implies that he probably won't always be off limits -- and this "review period" seems to me to be a placebo to satisfy hot tempers, rather than something with any real consequence.

    Which is a good thing. Kudos to M and G for publishing it, this response is maybe more "tactful" than it is "flip-flopping."

  • Sham - 2010-05-28 08:09

    at goofy...dont hate muslims becuase they are willing to defend that what is sacred to them. If other faiths would stand up for Jesus and Buddha as you say then they wouldn't be depicted in that you have to it sacred to you.

  • Ted Harris - 2010-05-28 09:13

    Interesting reversal by Nic "Where is the Daw'. Either you mock all beliefs or you mock none. Makes for disturbing reading when '....especially the Prophet Mohammed' is stated. And I thought the M&G had credibility...sucker!

  • tas - 2010-05-28 10:24

    i am a proud muslim and i feel that cartoonists like zapiro have absolutely no respect. islam is a way of life and the prophet Mohammed PBUH is our final messanger and we will always stand up for him.@convert its sad to know that you have went out of the fold of islam. i hope that one day you realise your mistake and are given the chance to make ammends. we as muslims take our religion very seriously and do't appreciate anyone mocking it.

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