The interesting thing about cartoons is that the very best of them have so many meanings, so many interpretations, and very many tangents. The same can be said about comedy, Jane Austen literature, and any piece of art by Picasso.
So what do you see in this cartoon printed in the comic section of the NST yesterday and reprinted today in a “column of defence“:
I find it amusing that this cartoon strip has caused such an uproar: its rare that the NST dedicates a long writeup explaining something it published a day before; current events worldwide aside, its rare that people lodge police reports over a drawing.
What’s wrong with the picture?
It doesn’t depict the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) in any way. It shows a man, on a street, drawing pictures of the Prophet. A play is made with the word “caricature”, as a sign of the times, referring to the recent uproar surrounding pictures of the Prophet appearing in a newspaper in Europe, and in a newspaper in East Malaysia.
UPDATE: This is worthy of a laugh — some people have said the cartoon is offensive because it has “Prophet Muhammad” (the words) in it. The Prophet’s name appears everywhere, reprinted millions of times over hundreds of years. Just because his name appears in a cartoon doesn’t mean it was being used in vain or as an insult to his name; the subject of the cartoon itself is a serious and current matter.
“The most feared man in the world…” is satire, indicating the absurdity of events: how mere pictures can cause so much grief, riots, killings and mayhem. The cartoon in its entirety is showing us how ridiculous the whole situation has become. People have lost their lives, livelihood and reputation over pictures of the Prophet. It seems that Jeff Ooi, et al want the same to be removed from the leadership of the NST because of the picture above.
Comedy, art, satire, even cartoons exist for a reason: to children, its a form of entertainment, invoking laughter and smiles, to adults, its supposed to make us think and reflect about issues that are important to society. The NST’s cartoon accomplished those goals, and the leadership of the newspaper shouldn’t be punished for doing their jobs.