Palestinian cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh has been suspended from his job at al-Hayat al-Jadidah newspaper after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered an “immediate investigation” into one of his cartoons.
The cartoon in question, published February 1, shows a robed figure sprinkling light over the globe from a heart-shaped pouch. The illustration, according to the artist, is meant to convey the benevolence of Islam but has been misinterpreted by some as a depiction of Muhammad.
“The intention was not to represent the prophet,” Saba’aneh writes. “My point was to defend religion in the face of attempts to distort it, by using the same means: a caricature.”
Representatives of al-Hayat al-Jadidah have formally apologized for the cartoon, but stated that the illo was meant “to defend the role of Islam in spreading the message of love and peace.”
President Abbas, recently prominent among world leaders in a show of solidarity for press freedoms following the Charlie Hebdo killings, is quoted by the Palestinan news agency WAFA as demanding “deterrent actions against those responsible” for the cartoon’s publication.
“Despite facing a committee of inquiry, I love this country.”
UPDATE: Following widespread news coverage of his plight, CRNI has received word from Mohammad Saba’aneh that he is back at work at his paper, al-Hayat al-Jadidah. A Saba’aneh cartoon was posted on the paper’s website on February 10, and the postings continue.
There has been no announcement as to whether the government-ordered investigation is continuing, has concluded, or is being dropped.