/ 29 October 2013

Sunday Times: Zapiro cartoon was not disrespectful

Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro.
Cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro. ((David Harrison, M&G) )

Editor of the Sunday Times Phylicia Oppelt has responded to the criticism of a cartoon by Zapiro that has angered Hindus.

The cartoon shows Lord Ganesha holding a cricket bat and money, while Cricket SA (CSA) chief executive Haroon Lorgat, tied up on an altar, is about to be stabbed as a sacrifice by two CSA officials.

The cartoon refers to the CSA agreeing to suspend Lorgat for the duration of India’s tour to South Africa after its hand was apparently forced by the Board of Control for Cricket in India.

According to Times LIVE, Oppelt said in a statement on the website that it is unfortunate that so many Hindus interpreted Zapiro’s cartoon featuring Lord Ganesha as an attack on their deity.

“The cartoon made no comment on Hinduism or on Lord Ganesha. It did comment, and robustly so, on Cricket South Africa’s decision to sacrifice chief executive Haroon Lorgat in order to secure a lucrative Indian tour to South Africa later this year.”

She went on to explain: “The cartoon suggested that CSA behaved as supplicants to the Board of Control for Cricket in India. Ganesha was depicted in the cartoon as a symbol of the BCCI and was chosen because of the deity’s strong association with India.

“The fact that Ganesha’s headgear was labelled BCCI Indian Cricket, and he was holding a cricket bat and money, underscores the meaning the cartoonist sought to portray.

“To read the cartoon as an expression of disrespect to Hinduism is to misconstrue the point. Sunday Times has the utmost respect for Hinduism and the contribution its practitioners have made to South Africa and the world at large. We do not, however, believe the use of Hindu iconography in Zapiro’s cartoon amounts to disrespect,” the websote reported.

The cartoonist respnded saying that he used religious iconography as a metaphor to comment on something else.

“The Hindu faith has provided the world with some of the richest imagery found in any religion. India is so closely associated with Hinduism that I feel the metaphor I have used will be broadly understood.

“I accept that my criteria as to what is an appropriate metaphor may be different from the criteria of some devotees of various religions,” he said on the website.