- Books based on political cartoons banned in Singapore
- Ban imposed due to cartoons of Prophet Muhammad
- Government said – this is not accepted in Singapore
A book has been banned in Singapore for publishing cartoons and controversial images of the Prophet Muhammad. Muslim Affairs Minister Masagos Zulkifli has said a book containing political cartoons has been banned because it is unacceptable to publish satirical and derogatory images of the Prophet Mohammed in Singapore.
Speaking in Singapore’s parliament on Wednesday, Massagos said, “The pictures in the book Red Lines: Political Cartoons And The Struggle Against Censorship are objectionable to Muslims, whether they are published in the name of free speech, education, or otherwise.” . Apart from cartoons of the Prophet and Islam, the book also includes pictures insulting other religions.
‘The authors can say that their intention is not to insult or humiliate anyone through the medium of the book, their intention is to educate, but the government rejects it.’
According to the report, Singapore’s government body Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) had said last November that the book published in August would not be allowed to be sold or distributed in Singapore. Because this book has been kept in the ‘objectionable’ category under the Undesirable Publication Act for content defaming religions.
The book also features a cartoon of Charlie Hebdo
IMDA said that the book also included a cartoon of the Prophet Mohammed from the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, which led to protests and violence abroad. Also includes derogatory references related to Hinduism and Christianity.
The book is written by Cherian George, Professor of Media Studies at Hong Kong Baptist University, and graphic novelist Sonny Liu. The book has already been distributed in many countries including America. The book examines political cartoons from around the world and explains the various motivations and methods for cartoon censorship.
The Singapore minister said derogatory pictures of the prophet have led to riots and deaths in many parts of the world. Major publications have refrained from publishing these objectionable pictures.
He said that Singapore’s harmonious society and religious ties require constant care and attention from the government and society and it is important that every religion is respected.
‘Don’t want to take risks’
“We don’t want to risk anything that starts disturbing that peace and harmony,” Masagos said. We are committed to working closely with all our religious communities to preserve and strengthen our racial and religious harmony, which is the basis of our united society.
On Wednesday, Information and Broadcasting Minister Josephine Teo also spoke about the book and stressed that the government does not allow any religious group to be insulted or attacked. Because hate speech and objectionable content easily become commonplace and if it is not taken care of then it leads to social division.
“To maintain racial and religious harmony in Singapore, we take a firm stand, regardless of the purpose of publishing such content,” the minister said.
Josephine Teo said that in the last five years, the government has considered six other books apart from Red Lines as objectionable for defaming different religious communities. These books have been banned in Singapore. The books have been banned as being objectionable because of their potential to create feelings of enmity, hatred, ill-will or enmity between different racial or religious groups.
On Wednesday itself, Singapore’s Interior Ministry said that it would not allow objectionable cartoons like Charlie Hebdo to be published here, even if the cartoons are about Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism or other religions.
The Ministry of Home Affairs said, “Such pictures, whether placed in the book as a social commentary or to discuss the issue of censorship, can create violence between different religious communities.”
The ministry said, ‘In our view the cartoons used in the book Red Lines are objectionable to many religions. The multi-racial and multi-religious harmony that we enjoy in Singapore today does not happen everywhere. This is a country for which we have worked hard.
According to the 2020 census data, Singapore has 31 percent Buddhists, 18 percent Christians and 15.6% Muslims. At the same time, the population of Hindus is 5 percent.