Tuesday, 1 December 2015

Lokmat Office Attack: A Classic Example Of Misinterpretation!

Amid all the talk of tolerance and intolerance going on among people and making headlines in the media, this comes as a classic example of misinterpretation. As I was checking out the morning headlines yesterday, this news caught my attention and I was unable to decide whether I should be furious and condemn it or simply laugh it out. Lokmat, one of the leading and widely circulated daily in Maharashtra witnessed attacks on its offices at several places two days ago after it published a cartoon in one of its news stories on Sunday.

Initially, when I went through the news, I couldn’t make out what the exact issue was and what made people go so furious as to attack the daily’s offices at several places. After reading about 4-5 news reports of the same news published in different dailies and websites did I come to know that the newspaper had published the cartoon of a swine in one of its news stories that was named ‘ISIS cha Paisa’ which translates to ISIS money. The Islamic State has been making a lot of headlines in the international media these days due to its growing power and atrocities and also due to the recent attacks in Paris of which it claims responsibility. The cartoon published by Lokmat depicted currencies of several countries falling into the piggy bank that had the name of Prophet Mohammad written on it just like the ISIS flag.

Protestors, as reported by news channels, attacked several Lokmat offices across Maharashtra and also burnt the Sunday copies of the daily to demonstrate their anger. People also resorted to social media to condemn the newspaper and express their views. The cartoon, they said, was derogatory as the swine is considered haraam (inauspicious) in Islam. The Muslims argued that the cartoon had hurt their sentiments by showing a pig and establishing its connection with Islam and ISIS.

When I saw this news, honestly, it made me laugh. It also made me think whether people actually have any work in life rather than misinterpreting every single thing that crops up in the media and then demonstrating their anger through violent protests. Okay, let’s just imagine that the cartoon hurt the sentiments of Muslims. But, they could have simply written to the editor mentioning it and Lokmat would have apologized if they had made a mistake anyway. In my personal view, I don’t think Lokmat has made any mistake, although the daily has already apologized for it.

Ever since childhood, we all are aware of piggy banks and most of us have also used them to store money that our parents and relatives gave us occasionally. In fact, a piggy bank has always been a commonly used symbol globally that depicts savings, money and finances in general. The graphic designer who made the cartoon, of course, did not have any intention of hurting people according to me. The cartoon was a simple and clear illustration of how ISIS gets its money through various sources across the world for its terrorist activities. Thus, the currencies depicted belonged to different countries and were falling in a single piggy bank that was shown to belong to ISIS. Therefore, the script or the name of Prophet Mohammad on it, just like it features on the ISIS flag!

Why do people always have to misunderstand and misinterpret things and then resort to protesting in a violent way? Aren’t there better things to think about in life or grave problems in our country to deal with? Chennai is battling the worst flood in 100 years, flights have been canceled and thousands are stranded, the entire city is under water! Isn’t this an issue more serious than a cartoon published by a daily? People have time to gather and protest, to burn newspapers and attack offices, but how many of them actually thought of helping people in Chennai? Why don’t people come out together to offer help to others rather than causing violence in the society?

It is high time each and every one of us thinks about this and acts in a sane way. Humanity, after all, is greater than any religion in the world!