Religious Leaders Seek to Prevent Re-Publication of Cartoons

February 6, 2006

Source: Daily News

On February 6, 2006 the Daily News reported, "Religious leaders across the spectrum in South Africa have come out in support of a Muslim group's actions to seek an interdict preventing South African newspapers from publishing controversial cartoons depicting the Prophet Mohammed... An interdict obtained in the Johannesburg High Court on Friday night prevented Inde-pendent Newspapers, John-com Media (publishers of the Sunday Times) and the Newspaper Printing Company from publishing the controversial cartoons.

Zubair Bayat, secretary general of the Jamiat-ul Ulama (Council of Muslim Theologians) in KwaZulu-Natal, said that the interdict had been obtained by the Jamiat-ul Ulama of Transvaal after newspapers had refused to give an undertaking that they would not publish the cartoons.

'It's blasphemy whether it is Mohammed, Jesus or a figure of any other religion depicted that way,' said Rev Cyril Pillay, spokesman for the Global Network of Christian Leaders.

Pillay said that while he appreciated that the press should have freedom, it should not be allowed to desecrate other religions.

'Religious tolerance is of paramount importance, especially in a democracy. Muslims were offended by this cartoon so I can understand and appreciate their stance,' he said.

Rabbi Hillel Avidan, of the Temple David synagogue in Overport, said he had not seen the cartoons but, from what he had heard of them, they were 'a terrible insult to Muslims'.

He said cartoonists and journalists needed to be more sensitive to people's religious beliefs and, if the need arose, withhold anything that may offend those beliefs.

'My sympathies rest with the Muslim community,' said Avidan."