South Africa’s Globe & Mail, which last week published a cartoon by Zapiro featuring Mohammed talking to a shrink, has issued an apology to the various Muslim groups after a meeting last week.
Here is the official statement:
The M&G communicated to the meeting its regret for the harm caused by the publication of the cartoon, and apologises for the effects thereof. The newspaper in no way intended to cause injury, or to associate itself with Islamophobia, which it repudiates in the strongest possible terms.
We have learned an enormous amount since the publication of the cartoon about the depth of reverence in which Muslims hold the prophet. We invite community leaders and ordinary readers to communicate their devotion in our pages, as some have already begun to do.
In light of the injury caused by the cartoon we are reviewing our editorial policies on religious matters broadly, and the depiction of the prophet in particular. This review process will be informed by consultation with religious leaders including, but not limited to, the United Muslim Forum of South Africa. We commit during the review period to honouring the prohibition on representation of the prophet.
Any final policy that emerges from the review process will be informed by the experience of the past week, and by what we now know of the depth of feeling in the Muslim community on this matter.
The M&G is committed to editorial independence and press freedom. We are guided by the Constitution and our own values of social justice in dealing with South Africa’s diverse religious and secular communities.
So, an apology for “injury” caused and an undertaking to refrain for further Motooning until a review is complete. It is not as bad as it could be. Indeed the editor Nic Dawes claims to be “delighted.”
The South African Muslim groups have done something quite remarkable. They have transformed what was merely a very good cartoon into a brilliant piece of situational art. The cartoon claimed Mohammed’s followers had no sense of humour, and they played their role to perfection – demonstrating the essential truth of the original by their reaction, and doubling its impact as a work of satire. And, of course, ensuring that it reaches a far greater audience than it ever would have had they simply ignored it.
Brilliant. Just brilliant.