Northern Light

Cartoon crisis in Japan

Sheik Abdul Hamid Attrash, chairman of the Fatwa Comittee at Egypt’s Al-Azhar University, the highest Sunni muslim authority in the world, is offended by a cartoon from a popular animated movie in Japan.

  At issue is a 90-second segment from JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure, which depicts Dio Brando, a villain, picking up a copy of the Quran from a bookshelf and examining it as he orders the execution of the hero and his friends.

  ”The scene depicts Muslims as terrorists, which is not true at all. This is an insult to the religion and the producers would be considered to be enemies of Islam,” Sheik Abdul Hamid Attrash told Kyodo News.

 Well, it’s a fact that terrorist acts are being committed in the name of Islam, which of course doesn’t imply that every Muslim is a potential terrorist. The odd thing is that quite a few people who call themselves Muslims issue threats: If you say we are violent or that our holy book incite violence, we are going to kill you! In stead of pointing their finger at a Japanese cartoon Al-Azhar should fight the intolerance and violence that is being committed in Islam’s name.

 Angry responses to the cartoon were carried by more than 300 Arab and Islamic web forums. The former heaad of Al-Azhar’s Fatwa Comittee, Gamal Qutb, told Kyodo News that Muslims will initiate a boycott against Japanes products.

  ”Muslims will be forced to adopt a position toward their civilization, from arguing their worship through boycotting their products to responding in the same manner if necessary.”

 The movie is based on a popular comic book which has been carried in a Japanese weekly, from 1987 to 2003. A pirated version with Arabic subtitles has been distributed by several websites since 2007.

As a response to the angry reactions from Islamic clerics and Muslims the publisher behind the movie, Shueisha Inc., issued an official apology:

“We would like our Muslim audience to know that there was never any intention to insult Islam and Muslims (as if that is the same thing, FR). Shueisha and A.P.P.P. Co., Ltd. had no intention to show any disrespect for the Holy Qur’an or to describe Muslims as enemies.”

This is a another example showing how important it is to accept that one risk being offended in a globalized world because taboos and codes of the sacred and the profane are so diverse.