BANGLADESH GOVERNMENT DETAINS CARTOONIST
Bangladesh’s military-backed government on Tuesday arrested a cartoonist over a sketch considered offensive to Muslims, officials said.
Arisur Rahman, 23, was detained after the publication of the cartoon in a weekly satirical magazine Alpin published by the mass-circulated Bengali daily Prothom Alo, said Dhaka police chief Jane Alam.
In the cartoon a small boy is shown adding the name Muhammad to the name of a cat.
All copies of the magazine, published on Monday, had been seized for “hurting the mentality of the Muslim masses of Bangladesh,” the government said in a statement issued by the press information department.
“He (Rahman) has been arrested and will be taken to court tomorrow,” added Jane Alam.
Bangladesh, with a population of 144 million, is the world’s third-largest Muslim-majority country.
…this post forwarded by Windsor Humanist, Alexander Hodgins, after a September 19, 2007 article from the news wires of The Windsor Star
Alpin is a satirical cartoon supplement of the Daily Prothom Alo, which claims to be the most popular Bangla newspaper in Bangladesh. In the 6th page of its 431th issue a cartoon titled ‘name’ was published (on Monday, September 17, 2007) which created much controversy in Bangladesh.
So what was in that cartoon? The controversy is not in the picture, rather in the text. The Bangla blogosphere took on this issue right from the beginning.
The text of the cartoon is a conversation between a boy and an aged person.
* Boy, what is your name?
– My name is Babu.
* It is customary to mention Muhammed before the name.
* What is your father’s name?
– Muhammed Abu
* What’s this in your lap?
– Muhammed cat
This appears to satire the culture of the use of Muhammed in Muslim names and nothing to disgrace the prophet itself.
However the Islamist political parties thought otherwise. The Daily Naya Diganta reports that Khelafot Andolon had protested aginst this at Baitul Mokarram Mosque in Dhaka by burning copies of Prothom Alo. Its ameer, Maulana Shah Ahmadullah Ashraf stated:
“the cartoon indicates disgrace of the Muslim prophet by naming a cat ‘Muhammed’. Similar to the Danish Cartoon incident prophet Muhammed has been defamed in Muslim majority Bangladesh. He says Muslims use Muhammed in their names to pay the respect to the prophet. He demanded Prothom Alo to seek apology to the nation otherwise they demanded the Government to take strong action against Prothom Alo.”
According to a news item released by Daily Star “Law enforcement agencies yesterday arrested daily Prothom Alo cartoonist Arifur Rahman for a cartoon “hurting religious sentiments” published in the daily’s satire magazine “Aalpin” on Monday”.
The government has also confiscated all copies of the Aalpin’s 431st issue containing the cartoon titled “Naam” (name) on page six, a government press release said.
The press release also said Prothom Alo has already apologised and withdrawn the cartoon and dismissed an Aalpin sub-editor in this connection.
The government hopes everyone concerned with this unwarranted incident will exercise restraint and show sense of responsibility, said the press release.
Dhaka metropolitan detective police picked up Mr. Arif from his Uttara residence around 2:00pm and took him to their Minto Road office for questioning.
Mr. Arif was later handed over to Tejgaon police around 6:00pm.
Reacting to the incident, Law Adviser Mainul Hosein yesterday called a meeting of select Islamic experts led by Baitul Mukarram Khatib Maulana Obaidul Haque.
Mr. Mainul informed the experts that the cartoonist has already been arrested and Prothom Alo authorities have also promised to take action.
“There is a conspiracy to create a dangerous and unwanted situation,” Mr. Mainul said, adding, “Everyone has to remain united against the conspiracy to destablise the country.”
The meeting was attended by Home Secretary Abdul Karim, Information Secretary Didarul Anwar, Religious Affairs Secretary Atowar Rahman, Islami Oikya Jote (IOJ) Chairman Mufti Fazlul Haq Amini, IOJ Vice President Maulana Muhammad Mahiuddin, Secretary General Mufti Faizullah, Masjid Mission Secretary General Muhammad Khalilur Rahman al-Madani, Kamaluddin Zafri, among others.
At the meeting, the Islamic experts demanded that the Prothom Alo editor and publisher–also the editor and publisher of The Daily Star–surrender to the law enforcers. They urged the government to take legal action against those who are guilty.
The government ordered seizure of all copies of the Aalpin issue as it was banned for marketing, selling, reproduction or partial reproduction, publication or preservation for hurting the religious sentiment of the people of Bangladesh.
PROTHOM ALO STATEMENT:
The daily Prothom Alo in a statement yesterday apologized for inadvertently publishing the cartoon, describing it as “impertinent” and “completely unacceptable”.
The statement said the daily will no longer publish any written piece or cartoon by freelance cartoonist Arif. The Prothom Alo authority also assured that it will be extremely cautious to prevent similar incidents in future.