meeting between Muslim leaders and the Mail & Guardian after the publication of a controversial cartoon has left M&G CEO Hoosain Karjieker proud of the community and the process followed to reach a resolution.
The newspaper has undertaken to refrain from publishing any images of the Prophet Muhammad while reviewing their editorial policy in terms of religious matters, after a meeting with Muslim leaders from a cross-section of organisations, and interest groups.
The meeting at Channel Islam in Johannesburg on Wednesday followed a failed court attempt by the Muslim Council of Theologians to stop the newspaper from publishing a Zapiro cartoon on May 21.
The cartoon depicted the Prophet Muhammad reclining on a psychiatrist’s chair bemoaning his followers’ lack of humour. It referenced the uproar in some Muslim communities over the Everyone Draw Muhammad Day campaign.
While interest in the incident has been high, with traffic volumes doubling on the M&G site, there was no violent backlash. Karjieker was particularly impressed with the Muslim Judicial Council (MJC), which called on the community not to boycott the newspaper.
“It’s been very good,” said editor Nic Dawes. “I think a discussion that has been simmering quietly has been brought out into the open. Ultimately we’ve reached a very South African solution.
“I’m delighted actually.”
Represented at the meeting were leaders from the MJC, the Muslim Council of Theologians — or Jamiatul Ulama — and the Somali Association of SA, among others.
“It was a tough meeting but the level of engagement was very mature,” said Karjieker. “It was on a level we haven’t had before as a community or a paper.”
~~~~~~~ And now, for a different article on same ~~~~~~~~
May 26, 2010 6:45 PM | By Sapa
The Mail & Guardian (M&G) newspaper regrets the offence caused by a cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad published on Friday, editor Nic Dawes said.
Dawes said the newspaper, along with cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro, better known as Zapiro, met with Muslim community representatives and business leaders in Johannesburg on Wednesday to discuss their concerns.
“We explained to them that we did not intend to cause any harm and we distanced ourselves from the islamophobic imagery depicted on a Facebook group,” Dawes told Sapa in a telephonic interview.
The cartoon, published on Friday, depicts Muhammad lying on a couch complaining to a psychiatrist: “Other prophets have followers with a sense of humour!”
Dawes said publishing the cartoon did not mean the newspaper supported the Facebook group “Everybody Draw Muhammad Day” that sparked outrage in Pakistan and other Muslim countries.
In distancing itself from the group, the M&G explained on its website the group claimed to be a protest against restrictions on freedom of speech and religious fanaticism, but had seemingly become a forum for venting islamophobic sentiment.
“We certainly didn’t intend the cartoon to be an endorsement of those kinds of sentiments, which we repudiate,” Dawes wrote on the site.
“We regret the offence caused by the cartoon and the pain experienced by many Muslims around the country.”
On Wednesday Dawes said in light of what the paper had learned since publishing the cartoon on Friday, it decided to review its editorial policy on religion, especially where it concerned the Prophet Muhammad.
The review would be informed by consultation with a variety of parties within the country and based on “the constitutional values of freedom of expression and the M&G’s own values of social justice”.
“We have committed to not reproduce depictions of the Prophet during the review period.”
Dawes could not give a time frame on how long the review process would take, but said it may be a couple of months. The review did not mean the M&G was going to relinquish its editorial independence.
“I cannot commit myself to any religious rules in editorial considerations,” he said, but consideration would be given to respect all communities.
“We parted very amicably with the community and I am very pleased that we can come out of it with one of those very special South African solutions where dialogue managed to resolve a very difficult situation,” Dawes said about the meeting.