Zapiro responds to cartoon furore

2010-05-28 09:36

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."

Anger 'underestimated'

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".

  • Juan - 2010-05-28 09:43

    GO ZAPIRO!! I think people should be more offended by islamic men beating their wives for showing an inch of skin!

  • HRV - 2010-05-28 09:52

    Lost some respect for Zapiro. He clearly folded under pressure.

  • Andy - 2010-05-28 09:52

    Crazy! Exactly as he says, why should non believers have to be subjected to their belifs about not drawing a fictional character. The problem now is that if people give into what the muslims want then every religion has the right to demand what they want and if this is the precident, they should get what they want! Pathetic, religion is just another barrier and is utter nonsence!

  • @zapiro - 2010-05-28 09:56

    Is that all you are sorry for?

  • Lorenzo - 2010-05-28 09:59

    "sense of injury it caused many Muslims".

    Do me a favour... grow some balls and a sense of humour.
    I hate Religious nuts! They’re pathetically sensitive!
    There’s more important things in the world to worry about. How can a cartoon deeply hurt anyone?? IT IS A CARTOON for gods sakes!

  • Jillian - 2010-05-28 09:59

    What makes their prophet more important than the prophets of other religions? M&G should not back down for one religion. The rest of us find the cartoon humorous

  • Norma - 2010-05-28 10:03

    I am all for respect ,but why should the whole world tred on egg shells around Muslims-they needs some serious anger management!!People should have the right to free speech-he wasent saying anything about the prophet actually about the prophets followers-Zapiro you are still the king of cartoons in our hearts,keep it up

  • jonathan - 2010-05-28 10:04

    is this guy so dumb that the only thing he can make jokes about is sensitive topics, including politics and religion.romans pizza was forced to remove an ad because of offending the afrikaners, so he should be roasted for this

  • Pierre - 2010-05-28 10:04

    I am afraid this cartoon was completely unnecessary and is the same as "Kill the Boer" song by the pathetic clown. In this country at this time, why do it?
    Freedom of speech and all that is only valid with respect for others.

  • Monty Python - 2010-05-28 10:04

    If the Jehova scene in The Life of Brian was about Muhammad more Monty Python it was banned in SA in the 70s

  • twincamsam - 2010-05-28 10:05

    It is sad. They pull a South Park episode with the prophet waring a bear suit. But they curse God all of the time. The world has become sick.

  • Mojo - 2010-05-28 10:06

    Poor Zapiro! Are we meant to feel sorry for him? He and these publications know exactly what they are doing so these "apologies" and "regrets" are fake. After the initial response he made himself to be fighting for freedom and a struggle hero - struggle for what I don't know. They seem to compete as to how much further they can lower themselves. This has nothing to do with freedom of speech. If you can't hold religion sacred, then nothing will be sacred to you. These people are deluded and quite sad looking for attention. Get a real job...

  • Brad - 2010-05-28 10:06

    Wow - What a load of rubbish. Lost respect for Zapiro. He folded as mentioned.
    If it had been Jesus all would be fine!
    Feel free to attack other religions - Just not Islam. Rubbish.

  • CTheB - 2010-05-28 10:06

    It is sad that religion is so often treated as if it's beyond criticism or any sort of negative commentary. The fact that some of the religious community believe it's ok or even their responsibility to force others to adhere to their rules is even sadder.

  • Rus - 2010-05-28 10:07

    Narrow minded people won the day again... very sad.

  • Bradley - 2010-05-28 10:07

    A person would think that Jesus, God, Muhammad are huge enough to fight Their own battles. We are all loosing the sense of faith.... it's not a drawing, and a personal matter. This is crazy...

  • why? - 2010-05-28 10:10

    why can't one draw Muhammad anyway? what's the big deal?

  • PICTURE PERFECT - 2010-05-28 10:11

    The image of the prophet is therefore blank. He does not exist except as a word, an idea, an empty space. Christianity gives us on the other hand the concept that God wanted so much to be among us that he sent himself down into the world in the form of a man, who made himself visible, tangible, vulnerable, humbled; and who is kept alive in the imagination of the faithful by all sorts of images, art, pictures. anyway, if folk want their faith to be blank, so be it.

  • @Juan - 2010-05-28 10:12

    Juan, in which part of your pathetic life have you come accross Muslim men beating their wives not only for showing an inch of skin but also for any other reason? Are you a wife beater? Sounds like!

  • @Jaun - 2010-05-28 10:13

    U are so ignorant and arrogant, it is men well not real men batter their wife's it is not a religious thing. U can't use the K word it is not acceptable not even in a good expression now what about freedom of expression, Would U use the k word? U probably would when no one is around that will object, it reflects on who U really are.

  • Godschild - 2010-05-28 10:14

    It is time that non believers stop trying to break down other peoples belief under the banner of 'humour' or 'freedom of speech'. Nobody appreciates someone belittling the God that they serve, simply because they do not believe in that God. Because someone does not believe in something does not make it disappear or not exist. I believe that God created the universe, and as such, should not be joked about or broken down.

  • john - 2010-05-28 10:15

    "Muslim clerics told him this week during a meeting with the newspaper that they were for freedom of expression except for drawing the prophet."
    Isn't that a bit like saying you're all for giving the vote to every race - except for black people? Freedoms are absolute. There is no "except for..." If we start allowing exceptions, then we get things like "no race on Earth should be subjected to genocide and gas chambers - except for Jews". "Every person on Earth should have domain over their own bodies and be allowed to decide who they will have sex with - except for women." And so on. It makes the whole idea of freedom ridiculous. Muslims must decide - either they want the Western liberal democratic way of life or they want the traditional Islamic way of life. The two are in conflict with each other, they cannot be reconciled with a few pat "except for..." clauses. It's the "except for..." clauses that put them in conflict in the first place. Africans also try this on occasionally - "children must have rights and be protected from harm - except for when we need to kill them for muti." There is no "except for". Deal with it.

  • Ir8m8 - 2010-05-28 10:15

    All a load of Codswallop...Go Zapiro Go!!!, can we draw one with God, Jesus and the "pro"fit getting slammed together at a bar, lets see which religeous nut job has the worst sense of humor.
    Welcome to our new world people, enlightened people not afraid to challenge idiosyncratic regimes.

  • FEDUP - 2010-05-28 10:15


  • Dave - 2010-05-28 10:16

    Zapiro did not "fold under pressure". With the eyes of the world on us at the moment not the time to stir up a hornets nest. People need to regain a sense of humour and not take everything so seriously. U go Zapiro

  • Zaakir - 2010-05-28 10:16

    Muslim men dont beat their off various faiths and those who dont follow any faith have been beating doesnt make it right anyhow....

    also no1 is asking you not to draw fictional characters just dont draw that of the Prophet Mohammed, cause to muslims it a sensitive issue, if you do draw it expect muslims to react....No muslim will stand to see the drawings of any Prophet wether it be Moses or Jesus, because we tawt to respect all....wether you agree or not....

    Andy if you dnt choose to follow a faith dont be critical, we are not critical of your choice what ever it may be....

    The problem is respect for religion is gone out the window...especially for Islam since the media portrays it as a violent religion whereas Islam is the most peaceful religion of All.....again you will disagree....its the Western Idiology that makes Islam so violent.....

    When you attack black people, they call it RACISM. When you attack Jewish people, they call it ANTISEMITISM. When you attack women, they call it SEXISM. When you attack homosexuality, they call it INTOLERANCE. When you attack your country, they call it TREASON. When you attack a religious sect, they call it HATE SPEECH...

  • azeem - 2010-05-28 10:18

    I have the utmost of respect for Zapiro and the Mail and Guardian. They have restored their pride and respect. Whilst as a Muslim, I am a proud South African and defender of our Constitution, it is important to note that Freedom of Expression and Media Freedom has boundaries. Zapiro transcended these, and given the beauty of the religion which is so negatively displayed in our society and press today, it was clearly important for us as Muslims to take a principled stand in this regard. Our activist and theological groups also need to be commended for their non reactionary stance and willingness to debate on this event.

  • Angel - 2010-05-28 10:19

    This whole debacle is ridiculous. I saw nothing imflammatory in the cartoon. Why is everyone so very afraid of these people? I can go on and on about the religion, but I would rather not. I just think these folks are being ridiculous. Kudos to Zapiro for how he handled it.

  • GBJ - 2010-05-28 10:19

    A muslim may not rip off a muslim, but may rip off a non believer, therefore a non believer may rip off a muslim. Go for it Zapiro!Don't back down.

  • turbo_superboss - 2010-05-28 10:19

    I think Zapiro's reaction is sufficient. Unfortunately he is in the uneviable situation where he will never be able to make everyone happy all the everytime. I am muslim and I think his reaction to his cartoon is okay. I won't be sending him death threats anytime soon.

  • Rhino - 2010-05-28 10:20

    What the??? What is all the hype about. When my preacher stands on the pulpid on a Sunday and say "Muslims are going to hell" then nobody cries. What about all the anti muslim christian web sites? Why pick on one athiest when there is a whole world out their that hate the muslims?

  • Peacock - 2010-05-28 10:20

    It's quite amazing when you think about it.
    Most of the K*K in the world, the blood shed created, the wars, bombings, shootings, has some religious back ground to it, and which religion is always at the forefront of it?, Yet they are adamant that all they want is a peaceful place. If what others do gets their goat, let them go an pray about it.

  • Angry - 2010-05-28 10:21

    "Why should non-believers be censored?" That is the core of the situation. I will not be told what to do and not to do by religious people who believe women must be covered from head to toe, and may be abused by their husbands. I do not care what they think, and refuse to submit to their demands or threats. Go to Mosque if you must, but you will make up those hours on other days if you work for me. Why must we bend to accomodate them - if that is the way it works, we have to allow Rastas to smoke weed at work as well. Other religions or atheists don't demand special treatment, why do we allow them to do it? If you don't like it in a non-muslim country, move to Afganistan.

  • Pope - 2010-05-28 10:23

    What is it about Islam that irritates certain groups so much? We all know what they say about Idle hands

  • Fred Basset - 2010-05-28 10:23

    The very first episode of South Park had young Kyle calling Jesus a pig-f%#@er....repeatedly. And it was very funny. You can't promote a world of free speech when some religions are exempt. I say f&^@$ all religions.....they are all based on childish and immature ideologies.

  • @zapiro - 2010-05-28 10:24

    Why on earth should he apologise ? Its time the world united and stood up against the tyranny of fundamentalism.

  • Pieter - 2010-05-28 10:24

    If you a god fearing person, then you need to be appreciative of other religions beliefs as we ultimately believe in the same God. I believe in freedom of expression but if Islam says dont depict an image of a prophet, then who am i to go against their beliefs. Christians could learn from this.

  • Realist - 2010-05-28 10:25

    brainwashed Juan..totally brainwashed

  • Michael Bowery - 2010-05-28 10:25

    Casting a stone in a very muddy pool -
    Islam, is a religion based on fear not love. I'm afraid that some christian religions function in much the same way. However, I have a question to ask of Muslims and it's an open question. Before the modern age, and after Prophet Mohammed, where did the first and future images of Mohammed come from if not from Muslims? If so, why were they not equally sacrilegious?
    If this is incapable of being answered then it seems yet another element of a religion meant to instil fear. In the same way in which certain factions of christianity function. If one doesn't believe entirely or questions the faith, you become pagan and will most certainly go to hell. All very confusing.

  • Raymond Hocknell - 2010-05-28 10:26

    I fully support Zapiro's stance that the prohibition on images of the prophet are intended for Muslims. Much the same way that the rules of blasphemy only extend to Christians. Why should people who do not believe in your religious doctrine be subjected to your rules?What's next? You, regardless of belief, will be open to censure for not praying or attending services?

  • Fdp - 2010-05-28 10:26

    Andy, its not about being subjected to someone else's believes. Its having respect for and showing tolerance to people of other faiths and convictions. Religion is a very personal issue and therefore not something to be made fun of in a way that you know for sure will not be acceptable to people of that religion/faith/conviction. So in what case is religion another barrier? To what? I think there are far worse things in this world to worry about then to see religion as a barrier to the progress or openness of society. With being open and tolerant comes responsibility, and uttering derogatory remarks is clearly counter productive to freedom of expression. Its not a blank cheque to say and do as you want.

  • Rob - 2010-05-28 10:27

    What would be funning is depicting the Prophet Mohammed as Scientist called Prof. Mohammed, linking him to Scientology. Now that would be hilarious, would love to see how they would react to that. ha ha ha

  • LordWabbit - 2010-05-28 10:49

    ZA is not a religious state, it allows religious freedom. This country is governed by its LAWS not every religion's rules. One of those laws is freedom of expression. I fail to see why we cannot do something in our own country if it does not violate our LAWS. If I want to eat pork I eat pork, I don't then go and apologise to the Jewish community. If the muslims want to live in a country where no one draws stuff they don't like then they should bloody well move to one that supports their religious rules!

  • H - 2010-05-28 10:49

    @PICTURE PERFECT 5/28/2010 10:11:00 AM.......Those pictures or drawings of Christ are from an European perspective......Christ, may peace be upon him, was not a European White man.....the bible describes his skin as dark and his hair as curly as a sheep's sorry to burst your bubble but the depictions of Christ are not true....and to those who say that his race or colour is of not importance then if that is really tru in your heart then why does almost everybody continue to depict Christ as a White Man?

  • Cire - 2010-05-28 10:51

    Muslims are trying to impose their double standards on the rest of us. Blowing up an ancient statue of the Buddha is fine but drawing a picture of big Mo is offensive? Why should religion be exempted from criticism and satire? So sad to see that the M&G and Zapiro are so ready to grovel to Big Brother!!

  • @fred - 2010-05-28 10:51

    fred i'm sure you wake up every morning with the belief that you have no purpose. that your worth is equal to that of a dung beetle who goes about every day eagerly sniffing for the next bovine backside. and once that is accomplished you feast on the stool; take a nap and eagerly await the next poop hole ..
    BUT most of us here believe we have a purpose,follow a religion, and believe we are superior to the DUNG beetle in all respects.

  • GJB - 2010-05-28 10:52

    Thumps up for Shapiro!.Brilliant by putting himself on the couch to address the recent issues. Please note that freedom of speech is limited by the well being of a nation or something like that. Regards and go for it, Mr. Shapiro!

  • Zee - 2010-05-28 10:53

    F you CHristians who dont know a thing. Your religion is filled with hypocrisy. Sies. You believe and favour what you want. You have no religion, you believe in anything that favours you. Lets draw the Pope and Priest touching young innocent boys, and abusing them. Arent you ashamed. Go shout out at them.

  • H - 2010-05-28 10:54

    Halleluyah............Hallelu-yah........yah-Hallelu......Ya Arabic translated to God is Great......we are closer than we think.....

  • Zee - 2010-05-28 10:55

    Lets draw your sick Pope or Priest hugging young innocent boys. Go shout at them you, you obey the devil.