Culture And Media

Malaysia: Daily suspended for Jesus cartoon

Kuala Lumpur, 24 August (AKI) - Malaysia's government on Friday suspended a Tamil-language newspaper, Makkal Ossai, for a month for publishing an image of Jesus holding a cigarette and what appeared to be a can of beer.

The general manager of the daily, S.M. Periasamy, confirmed that they had received the directive from the intemal security ministry.

The newspaper said it had published the image by mistake on Tuesday and ran an apology on their front page on Thursday.

The picture of Jesus was reportedly downloaded from the Internet and used in a section to highlight the sayings of great sages and leaders. The image was accompanied by a quote which said: “If a person repents his mistakes, heaven awaits him.”

A group representing religious minorities in Malaysia called on the authorities to take action against the paper for offending the Christian community in the country. Malaysia's prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said on Thursday that the picture was hurtful and an insult to Christians.

Indians make up 10 percent of Malaysia's 26 million people, and while most of them are Hindus, there are also some who are Christians and Muslims. The Chinese, who mainly follow Christianity and Buddhism, make up 25 percent of the population, while Malay Muslims comprise 60 percent.

The Malaysian government closed down two publications last year for carrying controversial images of the Prophet Mohammed.




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