The South African Globe and Mail was today beset by tiresome, bullshit-believing cretins with an inflated sense of self-importance. Resident cartoonist, Zapiro, had drawn a cartoon, and the newspaper had published it:
Before publication, the The Council of Muslim Theologians had gone to court in an attempt to block it, but they were turned down.
Ihsan Hendricks, the Council’s president, has no sense of irony:
It seems to be provocative in many ways on the very eve of the World Cup in South Africa, when we need peaceful co-existence and co-operation amongst religious communities in South Africa. What is behind this agenda?
Having kicked up the stink in the first place, Hendricks is now putting on a display of diplomacy:
We have called for calm in the Muslim community.
The Muslim community, however, have other ideas. The newspaper has been receiving threatening phone calls all day. Zapiro himself, whose real name is Jonathan Shapiro, got one from someone called Mohammed: “Which Mohammed is that?” he asked, before the caller became abusive.
Asked about the offence his cartoon caused to Muslims, Zapiro replied:
They should get over it.
Hear bloody hear.
I don’t regret doing the drawing. It was one of the safest of its kind. It poses the question and it has some empathy with those Muslims who feel others are too fanatical. If we can’t express opinions in a democratic society, we really are in trouble.
His editor, Nic Dawes, is standing behind the decision to publish:
In my view no cartoon is as insulting to Islam as the assumption that Muslims are incapable of reacting to a challenging image with anything but violence. I know that Muslims share our constitutional values, and are capable of having the most robust, angry and painful conversations in rigorous and peaceful fashion
The Guardian’s report of this story is helpfully illustrated with a photo of demonstrators in Pakistan. Wouldn’t the cartoon itself been a bit more useful?
UPDATE: (25 May) The Mail & Guardian set an example for the rest of the world’s press by insisting that there will be no apology for publishing the above cartoon.