PA Daily Suspends Staff over Controversial Prophet Caricature

RAMALLAH, February 3, 2015 (WAFA) – A top official Palestinian daily Tuesday suspended staff responsible for the drawing and publishing of a caricature which was interpreted as depicts the prophet Mohammad, said al-Hayat al-Jadida newspaper in which the caricature was published.

The caricature published in its Sunday issue, showed a middle aged man in black, standing on earth in the middle of space and holding a heart-shaped bag. The figure, standing with bright light surrounding him, was spraying water over earth with the words prophet Mohammad written at the top of the drawing.

In Islam it is prohibited to depict prophets, on the basis that it is a disrespectful act and could undermine their reverence. Depictions of prophets are completely refused by Muslims to avoid any attempts to treat them as Gods or worship them.

The drawing stirred controversy among Palestinians; many explained that the drawing is not meant to depict the prophet, but his message of peace and love.  Meanwhile others said the artist behind it, Mohammad Saba’aneh, has failed to express his intention by using the wrong title.

President Mahmoud Abbas issued an order to investigate the drawing and to question those who published it.

Al-Hayat al-Jadida published an apology addressed to its readers and denied claims that the caricature is aimed at depicting the prophet.

The paper said in a press statement that it has launched an investigation and shared the results with the committee in charge of the investigation, which was appointed by Abbas.

The daily’s board decided to suspend those in charge of the publishing of the caricature until the investigation is concluded. Meanwhile, the names of those who were suspended remain unknown until the moment.

On his part, Saba’aneh defended his piece saying, “I refuse allegations against me that I intended to depict the Prophet. The drawing doesn’t portray the Prophet, and the words reading ‘Prophet Mohammad’ were only used to reinforce his role in spreading Islam and its message.”