Latest Mohammed Cartoon Controversy, this Time in South Africa

The cartoon — Mohammed on a couch, complaining that “OTHER prophets have followers with a sense of humour!” (apparently referring to the controversy over Everybody Draw Muhammad Day — is here; it was published in the Mail & Guardian last Friday. The South African Council of Muslim Theologians tried to enjoin the publication of the cartoon, but the court didn’t grant an injunction. For more on the story, see this column by the Mail & Guardian‘s editor; the cartoonist is promising a follow-up cartoon tomorrow.

Thanks to Prof. Howard Friedman (Religion Clause) for the pointer. For my earlier posts on the original Muhammad cartoons controversy, and follow-ups to it, see here.

UPDATE: I’m sorry to say that the Mail & Guardian has apologized, and basically promised not to do it again, certainly during “the review period” but I suspect afterwards as well:

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.

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