Friday, May 21, 2010

Uproar over Mohammed cartoon in South Africa, Muslim group predicts violent backlash.

Via Mail and Guardian.

It was a late night in court for the Mail & Guardian as the Council of Muslim Theologians on Thursday evening tried to stop the newspaper from publishing a Zapiro cartoon featuring the Prophet Muhammad.

An interdict was not granted, but on Friday morning M&G editor-in-chief Nic Dawes and other staff were fielding a flood of angry callers, and even death threats hit the newspaper's office.

"You've got to watch your back" and "This will cost him his life" were some of the remarks made.

The cartoon followed the furore surrounding the Facebook page, "Everybody Draw Muhammad Day", which was sparked by threats by a radical Muslim group against the creators of US TV series South Park for depicting the prophet in a bear suit.

But Zapiro's cartoon, published in Friday's M&G, was far gentler in its satire, depicting the prophet reclining on a psychiatrist's couch and bemoaning his followers' lack of humour.

......The Council of Muslim Theologians is the same organisation that succeeded in preventing the Sunday Times in 2006 from republishing the controversial Danish cartoons of the prophet.

During Thursday's application the council repeatedly raised the spectre of a violent backlash, saying that the timing of the cartoon was bad because of a possible threat to the Soccer World Cup.

It added that while it wouldn't advocate violence, it couldn't necessarily guarantee that there wouldn't be any.

"We very much saw that as a threat, and our counsel vigorously objected," said Dawes. The judge upheld the objection.

....."The M&G is a platform for debate," Dawes emphasised, adding that everyone was welcome to engage in debate and discussion with the paper. "My view is no cartoon is as insulting to Islam as the assumption Muslims will react with violence."

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