The cartoon, the prophet and suburban radicals

This week’s Zapiro cartoon in the Mail & Guardian depicting the Prophet Muhammad has turned into a test, a sort of unsolicited opportunity for Muslims to think about what they believe, why they believe it, and how to go about fighting for it.

I’ve had to ask myself these same questions today.

There is nowhere in the Qur’an or Hadith that says the Prophet Muhammad cannot be portrayed as an image. It is a belief that has come about through tradition, somewhere in Islamic history.

Yet certain members of the Muslim community find the need for death threats and abusive phone calls to express their anger. It baffles me why people who claim to be so staunch about their religion have no qualms about swearing at people, something that is condemned in Islam. It’s embarrassing, really. They don’t react this way when Jonathon Shapiro takes stabs at the Pope, or Jewish rabbis. That’s okay, it seems.

However, I do think, though, that Shapiro might have shot himself in the foot. A cartoon that highlights and pokes fun at ridiculous religious fanatics, people who the Qur’an treats with disdain, has now had its content completely overlooked. The focus has shifted in an almost irrelevant direction. Or maybe that was his point. I haven’t asked him.

I wish this minority (I hope) of the Muslim community will see that they’re doing it again. They’re freaking out, and feeding into the stereotype of radicalism that has so hurt Islam over the past decade.

At the end of the day, my thoughts from all my identities, a journalist, a Muslim and a Muslim journalist, converge on one point: there is a way to go about expressing anger at alleged disrespectful acts, without hypocrisy and without abuse. This is where some Muslims are going wrong, and this is why no one is taking them seriously.

PW Botha wagged his finger and banned us in 1988 but we stood firm. We built a reputation for fearless journalism, then, and now. Through these last 35 years, the Mail & Guardian has always been on the right side of history.

These days, we are on the trail of the merry band of corporates and politicians robbing South Africa of its own potential.

To help us ensure another 35 future years of fiercely independent journalism, please subscribe.


South Africa has been junked

Treasury says the credit ratings downgrade “could not have come at a worse time”, as country enters a 21-day Covid-19 lockdown with little money saved up

Mail & Guardian needs your help

Our job is to help give you the information we all need to participate in building this country, while holding those in power to account. But now the power to help us keep doing that is in your hands

Press Releases

The online value of executive education in a Covid-19 world

Executive education courses further develop the skills of leaders in the workplace

Sisa Ntshona urges everyone to stay home, and consider travelling later

Sisa Ntshona has urged everyone to limit their movements in line with government’s request

SAB Zenzele’s special AGM postponed until further notice

An arrangement has been announced for shareholders and retailers to receive a 77.5% cash payout

20th Edition of the National Teaching Awards

Teachers are seldom recognised but they are indispensable to the country's education system

Awards affirm the vital work that teachers do

Government is committed to empowering South Africa’s teachers with skills, knowledge and techniques for a changing world

SAB Zenzele special AGM rescheduled to March 25 2020

New voting arrangements are being made to safeguard the health of shareholders

Dimension Data launches Saturday School in PE

The Gauteng Saturday School has produced a number of success stories