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Now Zapiro cartoon furore threatens to play out on Facebook

In the wake of last week’s Zapiro cartoon furore over the depiction of the prophet Mohammed, a brand new group has sprung up on Facebook targeting the famous South African cartoonist.

The group, entitled “ZAPIRO (JONATHAN SHAPIRO) IS A PRICK WHOSE [sic] DEFINITELY BURNING IN HELL!” , had just 138 members at the time of writing and was created in response to Zapiro’s cartoon on May 20.

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A message on the wall begins by saying “insha Allah this bastard wil [sic] burn in hell”, and goes on to explain that this kind of thing would not be happening if Muslims in South Africa were united and organised.

Another suggests that Zapiro looks in the mirror before drawing pictures of “our beloved prophet”.

The cartoon in question was published by the Mail & Guardian and depicted the prophet Mohammed lying on a sofa talking to his therapist, complaining that “Other prophets have followers with a sense of humour!”

The cartoon was Zapiro’s contribution to the debate that erupted around the controversial Facebook group “Everybody Draw Mohammed Day — May 20th” that caused anger in many parts of the Muslim world and led to Facebook being blocked by religious leaders in Pakistan.

Zapiro, aka Jonathan Shapiro, is an award-winning cartoonist whose work appears in numerous South African publications and is always controversial and thought-provoking. His Facebook Page has more than 27 000 followers but there are no comments about the latest furore.

The Muslim Judicial Council of South Africa has denounced the cartoon, but also came out strongly against all death threats against Zapiro, calling such threats “un-Islamic” and going on to say that “it only implies that Muslims lack the intellect to resolve disagreements through proper dialogue and communication, which is far from the truth.”

Nic Dawes, editor of the Mail & Guardian supported the cartoonist’s right to free expression by stating publicly that “no cartoon is as insulting to Islam as the assumption Muslims will react with violence.”

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