Zapiro cartoon outrage concerns FXI

2013-10-29 22:47
Jonathan Shapiro (Picture: Sapa)

Jonathan Shapiro (Picture: Sapa)

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Johannesburg - The Freedom of Expression Institute (FXI) expressed concern on Tuesday at the outrage about a cartoon by Jonathan "Zapiro" Shapiro depicting the Hindu god of success, Lord Ganesha.

"The importance of artistic expression is the provocation and facilitation of crucial debate that is often ignored or 'brushed under the table'," it said in a statement.

"It is, therefore, important that such manner of expression is not censored in favour of personal interests that are far outweighed by the public good. In a manner of speaking, we cannot have topics being 'out of bounds'."

The cartoon, which was carried on Shapiro's website on Sunday and by the Sunday Times, shows Lord Ganesha holding a cricket bat and money, while Cricket SA (CSA) CEO Haroon Lorgat, who is shown tied up on an altar, is about to be stabbed as a sacrifice by two CSA officials.

The cartoon refers to the CSA agreeing to suspend Lorgat for the duration of India's tour to South Africa after its hand was apparently forced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

According to reports, formal complaints against the cartoon would be laid with the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities and the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC)

"The Hindu community is said to have complained to the SAHRC along with other regulatory bodies, requesting the use of the Hindu deities or symbols not be used in manners such as the said incident in future," the FXI said.

"An order such as that would amount to blanket censorship, going against everything section 16 of the Constitution seeks to achieve."

FXI said that when concerns were raised about freedom of expression, there had to be consideration "of the balancing of rights that should be struck between the protection of rights that are personal to us on an individual or minority front as opposed to the broad facilitation of democratic discourse of a nation".

"As regards the case in point... the outrage by the Hindu community has had the effect of deflecting from the true issue at hand that the cartoon sought to bring to the fore," the FXI said,

"This is negative to the objects of the right to freedom of expression."

Read more on:    csa  |  sahrc  |  fxi  |  jonathan shapiro  |  johannesburg

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