SINGAPORE, November 1 – The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has banned the dissemination in Singapore of a publication containing religiously offensive images that insult religions.
In a press release issued today, IMDA said the publication Red Lines: Political Cartoons and Countering Censorship was found to be “objectionable” under the Junk Publications Act.
The book by Singaporean scholar Cherian George and graphic novelist Sonny Liew was published in August of this year by The MIT Press. The book’s website describes the content as exploring the motives and methods of political cartoon censorship around the world.
It contains 29 offensive images, including reproductions of caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad from the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, which have led to protests and violence abroad.
The post also contained disparaging images of Jesus Christ and Hindu deities.
The authority said it engaged the publication’s distributor, Alkem Company, on the matter.
“The offensive Charlie Hebdo cartoons first surfaced in 2006 and have been widely characterized as irresponsible, reckless and racist.
“Most of the major publications refused to reproduce the cartoons because they were considered inflammatory,” IMDA added.
The reproduction of these graphics has caused unrest around the world, especially in Indonesia, the Middle East and the United Kingdom. It also led to violent attacks, including one even involving the premises and staff of the original publisher in 2015, where 12 people were killed.
Last year, a French teacher was killed by three teenagers after showing his students the cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad during a lesson.
IMDA said the offensive images were identified in consultation with the Home Office and the Culture, Community and Youth Ministry.
“Members of the public are advised not to share offensive images that denigrate religions and religious figures,” the authority said.
Responding to questions from the media, the Islamic Religious Council of Singapore (Muis) said they had examined the publication and found that it contained several caricatures and drawings of the Prophet as well as cartoons inciting discrimination against Muslims, making fun of the Saint. Quran and humiliating Islam.
“These images are offensive to many Muslims. Such content that negatively portrays Islam and Muslims, or any religion for that matter, is not acceptable, let alone in a multi-religious society like Singapore.
“Accordingly, Muis supports IMDA’s decision taken for the publication,” he said.
The Minister in charge of Muslim Affairs, Masagos Zulkifli, said that any material or media denigrating a religion or religious figures “should be treated with the utmost caution”, even for academic purposes. “Especially when they can ignite a community to act violently against the author or producer and worse against another community,” Mr. Masagos said.
Responding to the ban, Dr George, the author of the publication, said the book called into question the “legitimacy of much of the current censorship, while asserting that some red lines are necessary, in especially against hate speech “.
“To discuss these controversies and gray areas in depth, we wanted to show, not just tell. Even so, we had already covered up potentially inflammatory cartoons without any redemptive educational benefit, ”he said on the book’s website.
IMDA has “opted for extra caution,” said Dr George. “We will need some time to determine if and how we can offer Singaporean readers an edited version of Red Lines that fully and faithfully communicates the substance of the book, while addressing the regulator’s concerns about the presentation of works. which he finds “reprehensible”. “
This post will join six others classified as objectionable for offensive content under the Unwanted Posts Act.
Under this law, anyone found guilty of importing, selling, distributing, making or reproducing such a publication could be jailed for up to one year or fined up to S $ 5,000 ( RM 15,382), or both. – TODAY