Well, well, well. The Times today, 23/03/13, decided to run a cartoon by the multi-award winning political cartoonist, Peter Brookes. Now, we are sure that Peter has been a great cartoonist, in fact, he has produced some of the finest political satire through his work which enriches political debate in our country. Our objection is therefore not to the political satire of this wonderful cartoonist, but to the manner in which he has decided to give the impression that ALL migrants are Muslims.
Recently, there was furore linked to the cartoon by the Guardian cartoonist, Gerald Scarfe, who depicted Binyamin Netanyahu as cementing a wall with blood and where Palestinian bodies were entraped within. The Community Security Trust objected to the cartoon since it played to the Blood Libel caricatures that have been circulating globally for hundreds, if not over a thousand years. The CST and many Jewish individuals and groups rightly objected to the cartoon saying that it conjured up feelings of hate towards all Jews by association, whether overt or covert, to the disgraceful Blood Libel stereotypes.
Now, we are in no way suggesting that the cartoon printed today by Peter Brookes is on a par with the strong feelings that Gerald Scarfe’s cartoon brought up. We acknowledge that the cartoons are inherently different in their nature and they also conjure up different responses. However, what we strongly believe, is that both cartoons are similar in the manner in which they seem to caricature certain communities. Take in this case the assumption that all migrants are Muslims. The characteristic beard, the prayer cap, the ‘Pakistani’ or Muslim attire and the Asian look of the individual all seem to place him within the sphere of someone from Pakistan or Bangladesh, given that the individual is clearly a Muslim. So by implication, the majority of migrants are Muslims from the sub-continent.
Findings from the Migration Observatory in Oxford University list the following facts:
– “That India, Poland, Ireland and Pakistan are the top 4 countries of birth for the foreign born, followed by German and Bangladesh. Poland is the top country of citizenship of foreign nationals.”
– ONS statistics also highlight the following: “The most common non-UK countries of birth for usual residents of England and Wales in 2011 were India, Poland and Pakistan. Poland showed by far the largest percentage increase in the top ten countries of birth, with a nine-fold rise over the last decade and following its accession to the EU in 2004.”
India has over 200 million Muslims in the country and is not a Muslim majority country. Yet, if the majority of the migrancy is from India, why is the Muslim man getting excrement on his head? Are we saying that it is acceptable to play to the dog whistle populism of associating migrants to those somewhat ‘dark, hairy, religious’ individuals called Muslims.
It seems that the Times has stooped to a low in publishing this cartoon which is factualy inaccurate and deeply offensive. Whilst being offensive is protected as a right to free speech, being factually inaccurate is unacceptable in an information rich society. Shame on the Times!