No apology for Ganesha cartoon: Zapiro, Sunday Times
Satiric cartoonist Zapiro and the Sunday Times have responded to the criticisms of their latest cartoon depicting the Hindu deity Ganesha.
The cartoon, which appeared in the newspaper on Sunday and carried on Zapiro’s website, shows Lord Ganesha holding a cricket bat and money, while Cricket SA (CSA) CEO Haroon Lorgat, tied up on an altar, is about to be stabbed as a sacrifice to him 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.
The Star reported that Hindu organisations described the cartoon as a "flagrant disrespect and denigration of our glorious Hindu faith".
Sunday Times editor Phylicia 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.
Zapiro, whose real name is Jonathan Shapiro, said: “Broadly speaking, cartoonists do two kinds of cartoons involving religion.
“Firstly there are cartoons commenting on a particular religious doctrine or the way some of its adherents behave, especially with regard to universal human rights.
“Then there are those cartoons, like my Sunday Times cartoon of 27 October 2013, that use religious iconography as a metaphor to comment on something else.”
He said he does not imagine many Sunday Times readers will think the cartoon is an attack on any aspect of Hinduism, rather that most readers would see his depiction of the deity Ganesha as metaphorical and not literal, in that it comments on cricket.
“The cartoon criticises the way the Indian Cricket Board (BCCI), the world's richest and most powerful cricket board, has bullied Cricket SA into sidelining its CEO, Haroon Lorgat.
“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.”