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Monday 24 July 2017

Mohammed cartoon row stirs South African emotions

Daniel Howden

SOUTH Africa's foremost cartoonist, Zapiro, has been greeted with plaudits and protests after publishing a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed.

The artist, who has been sued by Jacob Zuma and poked fun at Nelson Mandela, waded into the world's most controversial satirical arena yesterday with a treatment far gentler than the ones he usually doles out.

The cartoon shows the Prophet as a patient on a psychiatrist's couch bemoaning the fact that "other Prophets have followers with a sense of humour".

South Africa's 'Mail & Guardian' newspaper went to court late on Thursday night to see off an injunction from the Council of Muslim Theologians, who said the depiction was offensive.

The cartoonist, whose real name is Jonathan Shapiro, took on the topic after a furore over a Facebook group, which had called for cartoons of the Prophet, led to the site's ban in Pakistan.

Speaking after his latest work was published online, he said he would not be "cowed into submission".

Meanwhile, the US cartoonist whose work inspired the online group "Everybody Draw Muhammad" publicly distanced herself from the row.

Molly Norris, who in April drew a cartoon of the Prophet after a US television network pulled an episode of South Park containing a contentious depiction of Mohammed, apologised. On her blog she said her work had been hijacked and that the campaign was "offensive to Muslims".

In Johannesburg, the Muslim theologians group Jamiatul Ulama argued in court papers that the publication could constitute a threat to the World Cup next month. But the High Court rejected the injunction after accepting arguments that the paper was already available in some places and the cartoon had been published online.

The same group succeeded four years ago in stopping another South African paper from republishing Danish cartoons of Mohammed. (© The Independent, London)

Irish Independent

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