02 September 2020

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo
The French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has reprinted several Mohammed cartoons on the cover of this week’s issue. The magazine, published today, features the headline “TOUT ÇA POUR ÇA” (‘all that for this’), in reference to the terrorists who killed a dozen of its editorial staff in 2015.

The trial begins today of fourteen people charged with assisting the killers. The cartoons on today’s cover were first published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, sparking worldwide protests. Charlie Hebdo’s first Mohammed cover, published in 2006, was one of many cartoons created in solidarity with Jyllands-Posten, published by magazines and newspapers including Weekendavisen, France Soir, The Guardian, Philadelphia Daily News, Liberation, Het Nieuwsblad, The Daily Tar Heel, Akron Beacon Journal, The Strand, Le Monde, Nana, Gorodskiye Vesti, Adresseavisen, Uke-Adressa, Harper’s, and the International Herald Tribune (in 2006 and 2012).

Charlie Hebdo subsequently published increasingly provocative Mohammed cartoons. Its offices were firebombed in 2011 after it released a special edition ‘guest-edited’ by Mohammed. In 2012, it depicted him naked on its back page. In 2013, it created a comic-strip biography titled La Vie de Mahomet, followed by a sequel and an expanded version. In 2014, a cover depicting Mohammed being beheaded led to the 2015 terrorist attack on its offices. A week after the killings, the magazine defiantly printed another Mohammed cover.

The documentaries Je suis Charlie, “C’est dur d’être aimé par des cons”, and the BBC’s Bloody Cartoons all discuss Charlie Hebdo and the Mohammed cartoons controversy. The magazine’s 2015 Mohammed cover was reprinted by various newspapers and magazines, and several of its Mohammed caricatures appear in the Japanese book Are You Charlie? (イスラム・ヘイトか、風刺か).

16 February 2020

The Amazing Thai-Land III

The Amazing Thai-Land III
Buddha Man
The Statesman
The third issue of Chalermpol Junrayab’s The Amazing Thai-Land comic was published last month, in a limited edition of 100 copies. Chalermpol creates parodies of Marvel and DC comic-book covers on his iPad; The Amazing Thai-Land is an ironic reappropriation of the Tourist Authority of Thailand’s slogan ‘Amazing Thailand’.

The book includes material from Chalermpol’s debut solo exhibition, and each work is a parody of contemporary Thai politics. Targets include the late Prem Tinsulanonda—portrayed as a Mafia godfather, representing his position in the so-called ‘network monarchy’ patronage system—and the public shaming of a student who painted the Buddha as Ultraman.

16 October 2019

The Amazing Thai-Land

The Amazing Thai-Land
The Amazing Thai-Land
The Amazing Thai-Land
The Amazing Thai-Land
The Amazing Thai-Land, is graphic artist Chalermpol Junrayab’s debut solo exhibition. (The title is an ironic reappropriation of the Tourist Authority of Thailand’s slogan ‘Amazing Thailand’.) Chalermpol creates parodies of comic-book covers on his iPad, satirising Thai politics.

Junta leader and Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha is caricatured in several of Chalermpol’s prints. In Final Curve, for example, the 24th March election campaign is depicted as a dodgem race, which Prayut (car number 44) wins with the help of a turbo engine representing the 250 senators he appointed. Another print, Buddha Man, refers to the recent Ultraman Buddha controversy, with an inset portrait of the Buddha wearing Ultraman’s costume.

The Amazing Thai-Land opened on 12th October at Sathorn 11 Art Space in Bangkok. Free copies of Chalermpol’s 2019 desk calendar are available at the exhibition, which runs until 25th October. (Political calendars caused controversy in 2016 and 2018, when calendars promoting Thaksin and Yingluck Shinawatra were seized by the military.)

09 September 2019

พระพุทธรูปอุลตร้าแมน

Terminal 21
Popularity 2
Popularity 1
Popularity 4
Popularity 3
Paintings depicting the Buddha as Ultraman (พระพุทธรูปอุลตร้าแมน) have been removed from an exhibition in Nakhon Ratchasima. The works, part of a series titled Popularity, were put on display at the Terminal 21 shopping mall on 3rd September, though they were withdrawn following allegations of blasphemy. The exhibition, เต๊อ=เติ๋น (literal translation: ‘too much=terrace’), is scheduled to close on 11th September.

Far from being blasphemous, the paintings present the Buddha as a heroic figure for young Ultraman fans. Nevertheless, the student artist, Suparat Chaijangrid, was required to issue a tearful public apology at a Buddhist temple on 7th September. (This ritual, in which transgressors of social convention must repent and plead for forgiveness, is a regular media spectacle in Thailand.)

The case recalls that of Withit Sembutr’s painting of Buddhist monks from 2007, Doo Phra (ดูพระ), which was withdrawn from a Bangkok mall under similar circumstances. Depictions of the Buddha in Thai art are generally reverential and thus uncontroversial, though an exception was Vasan Sitthiket’s Buddha Returns to Bangkok (พระพุทธเจ้าเสด็จกรุงเทพ 2535), a response to the 1992 ‘Black May’ massacre. Vasan has also painted the Buddha shooting corrupt politicians with a machine gun.

18 January 2019

McJesus

McJesus
McJesus, a sculpture depicting the crucifixion of Ronald McDonald, has been removed from an exhibition at a modern art gallery in Israel. The sculpture, by Jani Leinonen, was first exhibited in 2015, and had been on show at the Haifa Museum of Art since 4th August 2018.

Last week, the gallery was firebombed, and police fired tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators who accused the artist of blasphemy. The exhibition, Sacred Goods, is due to close on 17th February.

Jake and Dinos Chapman caused controversy with a similar sculpture in 2012. Their Unholy McTrinity, which also featured a crucified Ronald McDonald, was shown at the Hermitage in Russia.

03 July 2018

Preacher

Preacher
Dirty Little Secret, an episode of the second season of Preacher, begins with Jesus having sex with a woman after the Last Supper, on the night before Good Friday. Afterwards, his disciples arrive, and he leaves with them for the Garden of Gethsemane. Later, the episode reveals that the woman gave birth to his child, thus continuing his bloodline. The latest descendent is Humperdoo, a mentally disabled man worshipped as a living messiah. The Preacher is based on a comic series written by Garth Ennis. Dirty Little Secret was broadcast on 21st August 2017 on the US cable channel AMC.

The myth of a divine bloodline was popularised forty years ago by Donovan Joyce's The Jesus Scroll, and more recently by Dan Brown's novel The Da Vinci Code. Nigel Wingrove's short film Visions of Ecstasy depicts Saint Theresa's fantasy of sex with Jesus during his crucifixion. Martin Scorsese's film The Last Temptation of Christ caused controversy with a dream sequence in which Jesus has sex with Mary Magdalene. A sexual relationship between Jesus and Mary was also featured in the D.H. Lawrence novella The Escaped Cock (retitled The Man Who Died) and Fernando Bayona's photographic exhibition Circus Christi.

09 November 2017

Visions of Ecstasy (DVD)

Visions of Ecstasy
Nigel Wingrove's short film Visions of Ecstasy was banned by the British Board of Film Classification in 1989, and is the only film to be banned in the UK on the grounds of blasphemy. Wingrove lost all of his subsequent appeals against the ban, both in the UK and the European Union.

However, the UK's blasphemy law was repealed in 2008, making Visions of Ecstasy legally available for the first time (along with James Kirkup's poem The Love that Dares to Speak its Name). It was released on DVD in 2012 by Wingrove's distribution company, Redemption, along with a booklet (Finding Ecstasy on the Road to Redemption) written by the director.

03 October 2015

Je Suis Charlie

The new documentary Je Suis Charlie is a profile of the satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in the aftermath of the terrorist attack against it this January. The film was co-directed by Daniel Leconte (who also made a previous authorised Charlie Hebdo documentary, "C'est dur d'etre aime par des cons") and his son, Emmanuel.

The documentary includes interviews with most of the editorial staff who survived the attack, with the exception of Renald Luzier (known as Luz). Luzier drew a defiant Mohammed cover illustration only a week after the murders, though he recently announced that he is leaving Charlie Hebdo.

(One of the original 2005 Mohammed cartoons was reprinted last month. Kurt Westergaard's caricature, first published by Jyllands-Posten, was reprinted by the Chinese newspaper Global Times on 28th September.)

27 May 2015

Artforum

Artforum
The April issue of Artforum magazine includes The Innocence Of The Image, an article by Nasser Rabbat analysing historical depictions of Mohammed and the Islamic taboo against his representation. Several paintings of Mohammed are featured, in which his face is not veiled. "The most awe-inspiring image of an episode from the life of the Prophet", a manuscript illumination from 1436, is reproduced as a full-page image.

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09 May 2015

Muhammad Cartoon Contest

Muhammad Cartoon Contest
Today's edition of the International New York Times features an editorial cartoon by Patrick Chappatte, commenting on the recent attack on the Muhammad Art Exhibit in Florida. The cartoon depicts sketches of Mohammed being judged by Pamela Geller and other members of the American Freedom Defense Initiative.

One of the sketches shows Mohammed as a stick figure, as in a 2010 episode of South Park. This is Chappatte's third Mohammed cartoon. He previously drew Mohammed in a 2006 cartoon, after the Jyllands-Posten controversy; and in a 2012 cartoon, he drew a miniature reproduction of Charlie Hebdo's Mohammed caricatures.

04 May 2015

Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest

Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest
Two gunmen have been killed at an exhibition of Mohammed pictures in North Garland, Texas. The two men opened fire outside the Curtis Culwell Center, though they were both shot dead by police. The attack took place at the venue of the Muhammad Art Exhibit & Contest, an event organised by the anti-Islamic American Freedom Defense Initiative, which included a presentation by Fitna director Geert Wilders.

This is the third attack related to Mohammed images this year: there was a shooting at a cafe in Copenhagen in February, and a dozen people, including several Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, were killed in Paris in January. The Jyllands-Posten caricatures of Mohammed, and Charlie Hebdo's first Mohammed cover, were reprinted by the French magazine L'Obs on 16th April.

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17 February 2015

Are You Charlie?

Are You Charlie?
A new book published in Japan has reprinted a selection of Charlie Hebdo's most controversial cartoons. The book, Are You Charlie? イスラム・ヘイトか、風刺か, also includes several Mohammed cartoons from Jyllands-Posten. Mohammed's face has been pixelated in each cartoon reprinted in the book, though the cartoons on the cover have been only slightly blurred.

Are You Charlie? includes all of Charlie Hebdo's Mohammed covers (2006, 2011, 2014, and 2015), and its back-page Mohammed cartoons from 2012. Oddly, in the cartoons of Mohammed naked, only his face has been pixelated, while his genitals and buttocks remain uncensored. Also, the pixelation is not entirely successful: two images have been mistakenly pixelated, even though they depict generic Muslim men rather than Mohammed; only the larger of the two Mohammed caricatures on the Charia Hebdo cover has been pixelated; and two covers featuring adverts for La Vie De Mahomet Part 2 have not been pixelated.

Meanwhile, following the attack on Charlie Hebdo's office last month, there has been an attempted assassination of Danish cartoonist Lars Vilks in Copenhagen. A lone gunman fired into a cafe where Vilks was holding a meeting on Sunday morning; one person inside the cafe was killed, though Vilks escaped unharmed. (A previous plot to murder Vilks was uncovered in 2010, and cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's life was also threatened earlier that year. Vilks became a target after he exhibited caricatures of Mohammed as a dog in 2007.)

11 February 2015

"C'est dur d'etre aime par des cons"

C'est dur d'etre aime par des cons
"C'est dur d'etre aime par des cons", a documentary directed by Daniel Leconte, profiles the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo and its staff as they defend themselves against a lawsuit brought by the Grand Mosque of Paris and the Union of French Islamic Organisations. (The magazine was acquitted in 2007, and the BBC programme Bloody Cartoons also covered the trial and its aftermath. Last year, Charlie Hebdo was sued by the Muslim Judicial Defence League.)

The documentary takes its name from a 2006 Charlie Hebdo cover which depicts Mohammed weeping and complaining that "It's hard being loved by idiots". The cover appears in the film, and was even included on its theatrical poster, and Leconte's choice of title immediately dispels any notion of impartiality. (Charlie Hebdo's current issue again features a weeping Mohammed on its cover. The documentary was made before the infamous Charia Hebdo issue, and the terrorist attack on the newspaper last month.)

The film also features the twelve Jyllands-Posten Mohammed caricatures, a front-page France Soir newspaper cartoon commenting on the controversy, preparatory sketches of Mohammed drawn by Jean Cabut and Georges Wolinski, and a cartoon inspired by Kurt Westergaard's drawing of Mohammed with a bomb in his turban. A featurette on the DVD includes a rejected version of the film's poster, depicting a cartoonist stabbed in the back after drawing Mohammed.

03 February 2015

الحياة الجديدة

الحياة الجديدة
Avadhnama
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has ordered an investigation into the newspaper الحياة الجديدة, after it published a drawing of Mohammed. The cartoon, by Mohammed Saba'aneh, was printed on Sunday. Mohammed is depicted sowing seeds, a metaphor for peace, and the cartoon is perhaps the first modern drawing of Mohammed by a Muslim artist.

In a similar case, the Iranian newspaper Mardom-e Emrooz was closed down last month, after it used the slogan "Je suis Charlie" as a headline. Also, the editor of the Indian newspaper Avadhnama, Shirin Dalvi, was arrested on 28th January, after her newspaper printed Charlie Hebdo's 2006 Mohammed cover on its front page on 17th January. She wrote a front-page apology the following day, though the newspaper was closed down on 19th January.

The contemporary debate surrounding representations of Mohammed began with the publication of a dozen caricatures by Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005. Other newspapers subsequently printed their own Mohammed cartoons: Weekendavisen, France Soir, The Guardian, Philadelphia Daily News, Liberation, Het Nieuwsblad, The Daily Tar Heel, Akron Beacon Journal, The Strand, Nana, Gorodskiye Vesti, Adresseavisen, Uke-Adressa, Harper's, and The International Herald Tribune (2006 and 2012).

French newspaper Charlie Hebdo's depictions of Mohammed made global headlines recently, after many of its staff were killed by Islamic terrorists. In 2006, Charlie Hebdo published a cartoon of Mohammed complaining that he is "loved by idiots". Its offices were firebombed in 2011, after it published a Charia Hebdo issue guest-edited by Mohammed. In 2012, it printed a caricature of Mohammed naked. In 2013, it produced a comic-strip biography of Mohammed (part 1, part 2), with an expanded edition in 2014. Last year, it depicted Mohammed being beheaded by an Islamic State terrorist.

20 January 2015

Mardom-e Emrooz

Mardom-e Emrooz
An Iranian newspaper has been closed down after it expressed support for Charlie Hebdo, the French newspaper which suffered a terrorist attack earlier this month. On 13th January, Mardom-e Emrooz published the back-page headline (in Arabic) "I am Charlie, too". A court in Tehran this weekend revoked the newspaper's publishing licence, ruling that expressing solidarity with Charlie Hebdo, which has printed a new Mohammed cartoon, was unacceptable in an Islamic country.

14 January 2015

Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo
Le Monde
Les Inrockuptibles
The French newspaper Charlie Hebdo published a new edition today, just a week after Islamic extremists killed twelve people at its editorial offices in Paris. The murders led to international condemnations of religious terrorism, and a collective commitment to freedom of expression. French President Francois Hollande led over a million people in Paris on Sunday, marching in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo and the victims of the killings.

In an act of extreme defiance and principle, today's edition features a new front-page cartoon of Mohammed, by Renald Luzier (known as Luz). The prophet is depicted weeping, as he was on Charlie Hebdo's first Mohammed cover in 2006. He is shown holding a "Je suis Charlie" banner, which has become a symbol of support for the newspaper since last week's attack. Luz also caricatured Mohammed in Liberation in 2011.

The new cover appeared yesterday in several newspapers, including The Independent in the UK, Liberation in France, Sueddeutsche Zeitung in Germany, Corriere Della Sera in Italy, The Star in Kenya, and the New York Post. The cover filled the entire front page of Germany's Die Tageszeitung yesterday, and a collage of covers fills the front page of todays Liberation. It also appears in The Citizen (South Africa) today. In Japan, The Tokyo Shimbun printed the cover yesterday and again today. Turkish newspaper Cuhmuriyet published the cover twice in today's issue.

Today's issue of Le Monde has a front-page cartoon by Jean Plantureux (known as Plantu), showing Catholic, Muslim, and Jewish men all enjoying the new Charlie Hebdo. (Plantu previously drew a Mohammed cartoon for Le Monde in 2006, after the Jyllands-Posten controversy.) This week's issue of the French magazine Les Inrockuptibles, published today, has a new Mohammed cartoon on its front page, drawn by Charles Berberian.

Charlie Hebdo's offices were firebombed in 2011, after it published the Charia Hebdo issue guest-edited by Mohammed. In 2012, it printed a caricature of Mohammed naked. In 2013, it produced a comic-strip biography of Mohammed titled La Vie De Mahomet (part 1 and part 2), with an expanded edition in 2014. Last year, it published a front-page cartoon of Mohammed being beheaded by an Islamic State terrorist.

At the beginning of the century, depictions of Mohammed were not considered problematic: the South Park episode Super Best Friends and the cartoon What Would Mohammed Drive? did not cause significant controversy. However, the publication of a dozen Mohammed caricatures by Jyllands-Posten in 2005 sparked protests around the world. After this, subsequent appearances of Mohammed in South Park (in 2006 and 2010) were censored, leading to the Everybody Draw Mohammed Day! campaign.

Following the Jyllands-Posten controversy, many newspapers printed their own Mohammed cartoons: Weekendavisen, France Soir, The Guardian, Philadelphia Daily News, Liberation, Het Nieuwsblad, The Daily Tar Heel, Akron Beacon Journal, The Strand, Nana, Gorodskiye Vesti, Adresseavisen, Uke-Adressa, and Harper's. The International Herald Tribune has depicted Mohammed twice, in 2006 and 2012.

09 January 2015

Le Point

Le Point
The current issue of French magazine Le Point, published yesterday, contains an illustration of Moahmmed on its front cover. The cover story, La Vraie Vie De Mahomet, is a historical account of Mohammed's life, illustrated with numerous paintings of the prophet, in most (though not all) of which his face has been obscured in accordance with Islamic tradition.

Le Point's article is its response to the killing of several Charlie Hebdo staff this week. Charlie Hebdo published its own Mohammed biography, the irreverent La Vie De Mahomet in 2013 (part 1, part 2), with an expanded edition in 2014. Another French magazine, L'Express, printed historical images of Mohammed's face in 2008 and 2011.

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Charlie Hebdo

Charlie Hebdo
Charlie Hebdo
Berliner Kurier
Twelve people were shot dead on Wednesday in Paris, at the offices of the satirical French newspaper Charlie Hebdo. The newspaper's editor, Stephane Charbonnier (known as Charb), was among those who died. Several cartoonists, including Jean Cabut (known as Cabu), were also killed.

This is possibly the most violent attack ever committed against a media organisation. The killers were Islamic extremists, and Charlie Hebdo is notorious for its provocative caricatures of Mohammed. Last year, the newspaper was sued for blasphemy, and its offices were firebombed in 2011 after its Charia Hebdo edition. (The German newspaper Berliner Kurier yesterday featured a new cartoon of Muhammed in a bath of blood, holding a copy of Charia Hebdo.)

Charlie Hebdo published its first Mohammed cartoon in 2002. This was followed by a front-page Mohammed caricature in 2006, one of many Mohammed cartoons printed in Europe after the Jyllands-Posten controversy. In 2012, it printed a cartoon of Mohammed naked. In 2013, it produced a comic-book biography of Mohammed (La Vie De Mahomet, part 1 and part 2), with an expanded edition in 2014. Most recently, its 1st October 2014 edition featured a highly provocative front-page cartoon by Charb depicting an Islamic State terrorist beheading Mohammed.

13 December 2014

The Jakarta Post

The Jakarta Post
The editor of The Jakarta Post, Meidyatama Suryodiningrat, is facing a blasphemy trial in Indonesia, after his newspaper published a cartoon by Stephane Peray (known as Stephff) satirising the Islamic State terrorist group. Suryodiningrat could be jailed for up to five years if he is found guilty.

The cartoon, published on page seven on 3rd July, depicts an armed man raising a skull-and-crossbones flag bearing the words "There is no God but Allah" in Arabic. This slogan forms part of the Islamic shahada, which has been used on black flags by various Islamic terrorist groups including IS. (This year, IS has beheaded several Western hostages on video, echoing the actions of Al Qaeda in 2004.)

The editor issued an apology for the cartoon five days later, in a front-page editorial: "We sincerely apologize for and retract the editorial cartoon... The cartoon contained religious symbolism that may have been offensive. The Post regrets the error in judgment, which was in no way meant to malign or be disrespectful of any religion."

19 February 2014

La Vie De Mahomet

La Vie De Mahomet
Charlie Hebdo has published a new edition of its comic-book Mohammed biography. La Vie De Mahomet, by Stephane Charbonnier and Zineb el Rhazoui, was previously available in two parts (Les Debuts d'Un Prophet and Le Prophete De L'Islam); the new edition incorporates both of these together with an additional twenty pages of new material, including provocative cartoons of Mohammed having sex.

Charlie Hebdo previously courted controversy by printing cartoons of Mohammed in 2006, 2011, and 2012. It is currently facing a blasphemy charge following its headline criticising the Koran.