El Jueves, Spanish Satirical Weekly, Asks: What Does The Prophet Look Like?

Spanish Magazine's Unique Take On Muhammad Scandals

From HuffPost's Spanish edition, El Huffington Post. Read the original here:

El Jueves, a Spanish satirical magazine, dedicates its front page to the riots in the Islamic World caused by the various representations of the Prophet.

The riots were sparked by a video deemed blasphemous and cartoons published by French magazine Charlie Hebdo. This week, the Spanish weekly jokes around with the controversy.

In the cartoon that appears on the cover, various Muslims appear in a lineup under the title: "But does anyone knows what Muhammad looks like?".

Mayte Quílez, editor of El Jueves, told El Huffington Post that the cover "does not intend to portray Muhammad". "It's a parody of the situation we are experiencing" in Islamic countries.

"If you can’t depict Muhammad, how do you know it is him in the cartoons?" she asks.

Quílez recognizes that they are playing "with the double meaning, which is a humorous one" and adds that they were "thinking a lot about it because it is a contentious issue, but we decided that we had to position ourselves" within the debate on freedom of expression in satirical media revived by the case of Charlie Hebdo.

The editor of the magazine defends the cover "great, very humorous" and asserts that there are not "disrespectful to religion but rather to intransigence".

"We're against an intransigent group which pressurizes and kills in the name of something," she explains.

Quílez ensures that for now they haven’t received any warning about the possible consequences of the cover. "We get to be disrespectful," she adds, "and with humor we can reach the limit."

The magazine has also published on its Facebook page an alternative cover to the one which will hit the newsstands on Wednesday with the headline: "Any excuse to burn an American embassy."

It's not the first time that El Jueves refers to Muhammad on their covers. In the previous 'crisis of the Muhammad cartoons', unleashed by some drawings in the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten in 2005, El Jueves dedicated its front page to the issue. On that occasion, the jester (symbol of the magazine) appeared on the cover erasing a drawing of Muhammad: "We were going to draw Muhammad, but we shit ourselves !" said the headline.

According to José Luis Martin Zabala’ account in a post on El Huffington Post, at that time the "pen dropped from their hands."

"We went through a similar situation a few years ago with the issue of the Muhammad cartoons. The editorial board decided to publish a picture of Muhammad on the cover and while we were creating it (our job as cartoonists is very artisanal) we started hearing in the news that Western embassies were raided and that there were casualties. Someone asked: "What if after our magazine gets published Spanish embassies get attacked and someone dies, then what?" We dropped the pen we had in hand and we opted for our famous cover "We were going to draw Muhammad ... but we shit ourselves." No regrets, we think we did the right thing at the time, but that doesn’t mean that the editor of Charlie Hebdo doesn’t have have our sympathy and solidarity. "

The riots in these past few weeks in Islamic countries revived the debate on the threshold between freedom of expression, censorship, extremism and respect for religions.

Kurt Westergaard, the Danish author of the first cartoons on Muhammad, has argued that the West can’t be gagged for fear of hurting Islamic sensitivity and be subjected to "censorship".

The director of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo, Stephane Charbonnier, known as Charb, defended the right of the magazine to show the cartoons and said that if they would auto-censor themselves , "the handful of extremists who disturb the world and France would win."

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