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Durban - The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has thrown its weight behind the Hindu community in condemning cartoonist Zapiro’s “extremely offensive” depiction of one of its deities.
A handful the ANC’s Gedleyihlekisa Zone members joined a protest outside the Sunday Times offices in Durban on Thursday.
Provincial Task Team member Visvin Reddy issued a statement warning that “religion is close to a person’s heart, people have been killed because of reckless statements”.
In another statement by the ANC read out by eThekwini council Speaker Logie Naidoo at the protest, the party pledged its solidarity with the Hindu community and other South Africans who found the cartoon of Lord Ganesha holding a cricket bat and money, while Cricket SA chief executive Haroon Lorgat, is stabbed as a sacrifice to him by Cricket South Africa, in very poor taste.
The cartoon, by award-winning Jonathan Shapiro, appeared in the Sunday Times. It refers to Cricket SA agreeing to effectively suspending newly appointed chief executive, Lorgat, for the duration of India’s tour to South Africa after its hand was apparently forced by the powerful Board of Control for Cricket in India.
“Yes, we are proud of our constitution which enshrines freedom of speech, but the right to say and do something does not make it right. Rights must come with responsibilities” read the statement.
Protest organiser, Hindu Youth Network president Pragasen Pillay, said the cartoon may have been within a certain context, but once Shapiro and Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt realised how much it had offended and hurt people, they should have apologised.
In an interview with the Daily News earlier this week, Shapiro said it was not his intention to offend the Hindu community.
In another article he was reported to have said: “I don’t want to come across as brutal. But if pushed, I will, so I don’t think I will apologise.”
Businessman Vivian Reddy called Shapiro an “intolerant racist who deserves to be punished”. He called for firm action to be taken against the cartoonist for his “continued abuse of the South African community”.
The head of the Grey Street mosque, AV Mohammed, said Zapiro’s cartoon was blasphemous, antagonistic and destructive.
“To put them (Hindus) through this during Diwali, at a time when the Hindu community is supposed to be celebrating, is disrespectful.”
The president of the South African Hindu Maha Saba, Ashwin Trikamjee, said they would pursue legal action should Shapiro and Oppelt not issue an unconditional apology and retraction.
A memorandum demanding a public apology was accepted by Sunday Times KZN editor Simpiwe Piliso.