Infamous South African cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro aka Zapiro is struggling to make headlines despite his best recent effort to earn himself a fatwa from the relevant Islamic authorities. Even Julius Malema is finding it tough to make the front page given the recent air disaster in India and the South African tragedy of numerous infant deaths in local hospitals. Besides that, following the South African Bafana Bafana team’s draw against Bulgaria in a soccer friendly on Monday night, a new wave of enthusiasm seems to have swept over the country.
Below is the controversial Zapiro cartoon in question:
The usual arguments for and against freedom of speech are being bandied about. The minority affected, in this case the Muslim community in South Africa has expressed its outrage. What Wonkie finds quite funny is that Yusuf Abramjee, the chairman of the National Press Club (NPC) has been quite vocal about this particular cartoon:
“The media needs to be sensitive to religious beliefs and must not marginalise any community. We need to act responsibly. As a Muslim myself, I find it offensive and provocative. We promote freedom of speech and expression. But, let’s not forget that it is not absolute. In this case, it must be weighed against religious tolerance.”
It’s funny because the NPC did not take a stance against Zapiro when he made equivalent fun of the Pope, catholics or the Jewish community. Does the NPC have to step in here because the Muslim community has a lower tolerance for anything said about them?
Zapiro claimed that his cartoon was in response to Everybody Draw Mohammed Day – a facebook fad that caused havoc on the social networking site internationally last week. Zapiro’s stance on the matter is quite clear and his actions have been consistent, although controversial over the years:
“I believe that all religions should be subjected to satire and that some religious groups should not be able to think they are above society.”
Surely religious conviction should be able to rise above such issues – or are followers’ beliefs that fragile that they can be easily broken with a pencil sketch? This article is certainly not just about the Muslim community either. Some of the religion-orientated commentary on some of the previous Wonkie posts has demonstrated that sensitivity on the topic is far-reaching.
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