Don’t compare Nanyang to Charlie Hebdo, IGP warns

PAS supporters protest over insulting caricatures published in the Nanyang Siang Pau newspaper, April 11, 2017. ― Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 12 ― The police have warned the public today against linking the recent controversial caricature by local Chinese newspaper Nanyang Siang Pau to Charlie Hebdo, the French satirical weekly attacked by Muslim terrorists for alleged blasphemy.

Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar also reminded the media today against publishing cartoons or drawings that may irk the public.

“Don't associate it with Charlie Hebdo. I advise everyone, we live in a multiracial country with various religions.

“You have to be sensitive. Don't do anything or publish any drawing that can cause exasperation in the community,” he told reporters in a press conference today.

Yesterday, Penang PAS commissioner Muhammad Fauzi Yusof had reportedly warned the press that publishing cartoons that anger Muslims may result in a backlash like the Charlie Hebdo tragedy.

In January 2015, two terrorists opened fire at the weekly’s headquarters in Paris, killing twelve, in retaliation of its depiction of Islam’s Prophet Muhammad.

Khalid added that the police have received over 20 police reports on the cartoon publication of a monkey caricature depicting Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia and PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.

“We have to be careful on this, we will investigate,” he said.

Nanyang came under fire after it published a cartoon titled “Monkey Act” on April 8, two days after Hadi tabled his controversial private member’s Bill in Parliament to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act 1965, also known by its Malay short form, RUU355.

The vernacular paper has since apologised for the caricature, which featured a monkey with a songkok labelled “Speaker” while the other sported a turban and identified as “Hadi Awang” atop a tree named “Act 355”, and removed it from its digital edition.

The Home Ministry has called up the publication and issued a show-cause letter the caricature was deemed to have made a mockery of Parliament and Islamic matters that could affect public order by “encouraging malice, enmity, hatred and prejudice towards other races”.

Despite that, PAS and Umno groups held protests and filed police complaints demanding stern action, including withdrawing Nanyang’s publication permit, for what they see as an insulting act to Islam, the religion of over 60 per cent of Malaysians.