Sunday, May 23, 2010

Zapiro in hot water over ‘controversial’ cartoon

By Ofentse Mokae
23 May 2010


Media association the National Press Club has called on the national newspaper publication Mail and Guardian to resolve issues surrounding the publication of a cartoon depicting Prophet Muhammed.

In what has been a controversial and a sensitive matter, the cartoon has reportedly offended a number of communities including the Muslim community.

Chairperson of the club Yusuf Abramjee, a Muslim himself, says as much as freedom of expression should be promoted, it should however be weighed against religious tolerance.

“The media needs to be sensitive to religious beliefs and must not marginalise any community. We need to act responsibly,” said Abramjee.

He however urged members of the Muslim community to respond to the issue in a cool, calm and collective way.

“There is no need for anger, abuse or threat,” he said.

It is not the first time cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro has been in trouble over his creative work.

In 2008, Zapiro, his pen name, met animosity from the the ANC over a cartoon that depicted a scene where President Jacob Zuma, ANC’s alliance leaders holding down ‘Lady Justice’, while Zuma in a state of undress getting ready to "rape" Lady Justice.

For this he was sued R15 million by Zuma, R7 million for the cartoon, R5 million for damage to his reputation and R3 million for injury to his dignity.

He is quaoted in a local publication as saying: “I believe all religions should be subjected to satire and that some religious groups should not be able to think they are above society. I did not try to draw a cartoon that is as offensive as possible, I just drew a cartoon that is challenging”.

Abramjee says he has been invited to a meeting of Muslim leaders in Johannesburg this afternoon where he will call on them to engage the publication and Shapiro to find a solution.

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