Satirical Comic Misunderstood, Claims Supplier       

Gulf news, By diaa hadid  
March 1, 2006


This article is about the response to the depiction of "Muhammad in a Pancake," which appeared in a satirical piece in MAD Magazine written by Joe Raiola in response to the sighting of the Virgin Mary in a grilled cheese sandwich.  

Dubai: A distributer of a magazine that had images potentially offensive to Muslims has defended the publication, and said sensitivities over the Danish cartoon controversy made readers misunderstand the magazine’s satire.

Mad magazine, a comic book, frequently satirises religion, US policy, famous people and television shows.

The Mad Classics 2005 Yearbook included a satire of a piece of toast sold through an internet auction site, after the owner claimed the Virgin Mary’s face was imprinted on it.

The magazine mocked the news, sketching faces of religious figures into food, including “Mohammad in a Pancake.” The comic also satirised the US army’s reputation, running a mock advertisement for toy soldiers.

They included a Quran flusher, a soldier holding a book above a toilet. The figurine was in reference to a report, later retracted last year in Newsweek, that claimed US soldiers tried to flush a Quran down the toilet.

Another sketch satirised the role of Halliburton in Iraq, a contracting company the US Vice-President Dick Cheney used to work for, and to which the US government granted billions of dollars in contracts to rebuild Iraq.

The sketches show the Iraqi flag, which has written on it God is Great in Arabic (Allah Akbar), reworked to read Halliburton.

Gulf News received calls from readers who expressed their reservations about publishing the pictures, with the Danish cartoon controversy still a sensitive issue. But other readers said the comic was famous for satirising everything controversial.

Usman Al Shaikh Hassan, manager of Dar Al Hikma, which distributed 120 copies, said the country’s censors approved the magazine.

While Hassan said he did not believe the images were intended to offend Muslims, he would try to withdraw remaining copies from the market.

Hassan said sensitivities were running high because of the Danish cartoon controversy and feared people were misunderstanding the magazine’s satire.

A censor from the former Ministry of Information in Abu Dhabi said as long as pictures were not specifically captioned with the Prophet Mohammad (PBUH), they would pass.

“They could be talking about any Mohammad, it is a common name,” said the censor.

He added the book a soldier was holding over the toilet could not be considered the Quran and the other pictures did not specifically incite hatred or disrespect towards Islam.

Hypermarket takes copies off shelves

A hypermarket has withdrawn all copies of Mad magazine’s 2005 yearbook, and may not stock the title in future.

A senior manager at the hypermarket said it was the second time they had to withdraw the magazine from the shelves, the first following complaints about a soldier holding a book over a toilet, which also appeared in an earlier version.

He said he was “seriously considering” withdrawing the title completely from the hypermarket’s news-stands.

“We are not censors, but this is causing sensitivity with our customers,” the manager, who declined to be named, said.