Hindus in South Africa outraged by Ganesha cricket cartoon

JOHANNESBURG: A cartoon of Lord Ganesha depicting the tussle between the BCCI and theCricket South Africa has outraged the Hindu community in South Africa which termed it as a denigration of their faith.

The cartoon by internationally-renowned political cartoonist Jonathan Shapiro depicts Ganesha as the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) with Cricket South Africa (CSA) chief executiveHaroon Lorgat lying on an altar at his feet about to be sacrificed by his bosses.
The cartoon in the Sunday Times also shows Ganesha holding a cricket bat in one hand and wads of money in the other.

CSA depends largely on Indian tours to boost its coffers, hence the depiction of sacrifice for money in the cartoon.
Representative Hindu organisations in South Africa have unanimously described the cartoon as a denigration of their faith.

The cartoon has been described by political analysts as brilliantly capturing the impasse between Cricket South Africa and the BCCI which led to CSA being willing to “sacrifice” Lorgat to save part of the tour by India.
CSA agreed last week to remove Lorgat from any dealings with the BCCI during the tour and for matters at the International Cricket Council (ICC) where BCCI is involved.
Lorgat was at loggerheads with BCCI while he was chief executive at the ICC.

The South African Hindu Dharma Sabha (SAHDS), the South African Hindu Maha Sabha and the South African Tamil Federation have all denounced the cartoon and called for an apology from the Sunday Times.

“We have been inundated with calls from members of the Hindu community since the cartoon appeared on Sunday, all calling for firm action against the cartoonist and the publication,” the South African Hindu Maha Sabha president Ram Maharaj said.
He described the cartoon as being “completely disrespectful”.
“Coming as it does just a week before the Diwali celebrations, it is particular offensive as Lord Ganesha, who is regarded as the remover of obstacles, is depicted here as a greedy and domineering cricket body,” Maharaj added.
He said that he had asked three institutions – the Commission for the Promotion and Protection of the Rights of Cultural, Religious and Linguistic Communities; the Human Rights Commission; and the Ombudsman of the Press Council of South Africa – to probe the cartoon.

“We believe in using avenues available to us, such as the constitutionally-established bodies that we have referred the complaint to, to ensure that the freedom of religion rights entrenched in the constitution are not trampled upon.”
Hindu Maha Sabha president Ashwin Trikamjee, said the cartoon showed a total lack of respect for religious beliefs and sensitivities.
“The matter is further aggravated by the fact that Lorgat is not even a Hindu, but a Muslim,” Trikamjee added.
Tamil Federation president Pauline Naidoo voiced similar concerns , calling the incident “a mockery of our faith.”

Despite strong reactions from the Hindu community, both cartoonist Shapiro, who uses the name Zapiro, and the Sunday Times said they would not apologise for publishing the cartoon.

“I think most readers would see my depiction of the deity Ganesha as metaphorical and not literal, in that it comments on cricket,” Shapiro said in a statement.
“The cartoon criticises the way the BCCI, the world’s richest and most powerful cricket board, has bullied CSA into sidelining its CEO, Haroon Lorgat,” Shapiro added.
Sunday Times editor Phylicia Oppelt concurred with this view in her statement.

“The fact that Ganesha’s headgear was labelled ‘BCCI Indian Cricket’, and he was holding a cricket bat and money, underscores the meaning the cartoonist sought to portray,” Oppelt said, adding that she did not believe the use of Hindu iconography in the cartoon amounted to disrespect.