Civil Liberties

More Cartoon Offenses: Sweden & Opus


Via Drudge, the Washington Post, according to "sources" at the paper, killed a Berkeley Breathed cartoon for fear of offending Muslims. From Fox:

The Washington Post and several other newspapers around the country did not run Sunday's installment of Berkeley Breathed's "Opus," in which the spiritual fad-seeking character Lola Granola appears in a headscarf and explains to her boyfriend, Steve, why she wants to become a radical Islamist.

Sources told that the strips were shown to Muslim staffers at The Washington Post to gauge their reaction, and they responded "emotionally" to the depiction of a woman dressed in traditional Muslim garb and espousing conservative Islamic views.

There was also considerable alarm over the strip at the highest echelons of The Washington Post Co., according to the sources. Lago said she flagged some of the syndicate's newspaper clients for two reasons: because of the possibility that the jokes about Islam would be misconstrued and because of the sexual innuendo in the punchline.

But over in Sweden, where no mainstream newspapers dared run the Jyllands-Posten cartoons (and many of whom tongue-lashed those who did), another cartoon controversy is raging. The top story at, website of Sweden's largest-selling tabloid, says the country's chargé d'affaires to Tehren, Gunilla von Bahr, was called into a meeting to discuss a cartoon of Mohammad that recently ran in the (local) Swedish newspaper Nerikes Allehanda. The Iranians were, apparently, offended by the Örebro daily, and desired Swedish government intervention.

When artist and art historian Lars Vilks, the man behind the beautiful "Nimis" sculpture in Skåne, couldn't find a gallery to display his series of ink drawings, which includes a representation of Mohammad as a dog, the paper published them in support. Sound familiar? The Iranian goverment, on a summer break from hanging gay men, has taken action, warning the Swedish government that the cartoon is "insulting to the prophet Mohammad." A Foreign Ministry spokesman was having none of it: "The Iranian government can protest whatever they want. But the Swedish Foreign Ministry and government have no reason to comment on this protest," the official told TT, the country's largest newswire.

A few English stories on the Vilks controversy here and here. None of them mention that a moderate Muslim group in Sweden offered to exhibit the drawings—that is until Vilks published this anti-Semitic drawing of a hook-nosed sow, gobbling up Palestinians. Caption: "Modern Jew sow, swollen by capitalism, on his way out to tear apart (att böka sönder) some peaceful villages. (In the style of Cézanne)"

Vilks Mohammad cartoon here.