Outrageous: Jesus Christ holds a beer can and a cigarette

The latest righteous fury among Christians in India over the blasphemous picture of Jesus Christ holding a beer can and a cigarette is in retrospect not exactly a new, uhm, news. Sometimes in Aug 2007, a similar incident happened in Malaysia. Again, it featured (in bad taste), Jesus Christ holding a cigarette.

Sigh. Those Who Forget History Are Doomed to Repeat It, indeed...

CHRISTIANS in India's northeast are outraged after a picture showing Jesus Christ holding a beer can and a cigarette was discovered in primary school textbooks.

The image appeared in a handwriting book for children in church-run schools in the Christian-majority state of Meghalaya, where it was used to illustrate the letter 'I' for the word 'Idol'.

'We are deeply shocked and hurt at the objectionable portrayal of Jesus Christ in the school book. We condemn the total lack of respect for religions by the publisher,' Shillong diocese Archbishop Dominic Jala told AFP.

Police said they were hunting for the owner of the New Delhi-based publisher, Skyline Publications, who faces charges of offending religious sentiment, local police superintendent A.R. Mawthoh told AFP.

The Roman Catholic Church in India has banned all textbooks by Skyline, while Protestant leaders called for a public apology. The state government also denounced the publication. 'We strongly condemn such a blasphemous act. Legal action has been initiated against the publisher,' M. Ampareen Lyngdoh, an education minister in the Meghalaya government, said.

English-language daily The Shillong Times said Skyline had apologised for 'hurting people's religious sentiments", but had offered no explanation as to how the error occurred. Efforts are underway to recall all copies of the book, the publisher was quoted as saying.

From Straits Times, "Outrage over boozing Jesus".(22/02/10)

A newspaper catering to Malaysia’s ethnic Indians published a front-page apology Thursday for printing an image of Jesus Christ holding a cigarette.

Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi criticized the action as hurtful and an insult to Christians, and called on people not to play with religion, the national news agency Bernama reported.

“If the Christians get to know about it, it will create problems,” Abdullah was quoted as saying. “I remind them again to stop doing this.”

Mistake
S.M. Periasamy, general manager of the Tamil-language daily Makkal Osai, told The Associated Press that the newspaper published the image by mistake.

“The graphic artist, whom we have already suspended, didn’t see the cigarette,” Periasamy said. “It was a mistake.”

He said the artist downloaded an image of Jesus from the Internet for use along with a quote from the Bible on the paper’s front page Tuesday. But the artist overlooked the fact that the image had been, with a cigarette in one hand and another object — a can or a book — in the other, he said.

Kuala Lumpur Archbishop Murphy Pakiam, who earlier criticized the image as a “desecration,” accepted the newspaper’s apology. In an e-mail to Periasamy, the archbishop’s office said Pakiam now “considers the matter closed.”

'Serious issue'
However, the Malaysian Indian Congress, a party in Malaysia’s ruling coalition, filed a police report and called on the government to close the paper, which has generally been critical of the MIC.

“It’s a very serious issue. For certain things you can apologize, but for this kind of sensitive issue, the editor should be sacked and the paper closed,” senior party official T. Mohan told the AP.

Makkal Osai is one of two newspapers catering to Malaysia’s largely Tamil-speaking ethnic Indians. The other is aligned to the MIC.

Ethnic Indians comprise 10 percent of Malaysia’s 26 million people, and are mostly Hindus with a sprinkling of Christians and Muslims; Chinese, who follow Christianity and Buddhism, 25 percent; Malay Muslims, 60 percent.

From MSNBC, "Malaysia paper apologizes over Jesus photo". (23/08/07)

Christians in India's northeast are outraged after a picture showing Jesus Christ holding a beer can and a cigarette was discovered in primary school textbooks.

The image appeared in a handwriting book for children in church-run schools in the Christian-majority state of Meghalaya, where it was used to illustrate the letter "I" for the word "Idol".

"We are deeply shocked and hurt at the objectionable portrayal of Jesus Christ in the school book. We condemn the total lack of respect for religions by the publisher," Shillong diocese Archbishop Dominic Jala told AFP.

Police said they were hunting for the owner of the New Delhi-based publisher, Skyline Publications, who faces charges of offending religious sentiment, local police superintendent A.R. Mawthoh told AFP.

The Roman Catholic Church in India has banned all textbooks by Skyline, while Protestant leaders called for a public apology.

The state government also denounced the publication.

"We strongly condemn such a blasphemous act. Legal action has been initiated against the publisher," M. Ampareen Lyngdoh, an education minister in the Meghalaya government, said.

English-language daily The Shillong Times said Skyline had apologised for "hurting people's religious sentiments", but had offered no explanation as to how the error occurred.

Efforts are underway to recall all copies of the book, the publisher was quoted as saying.

AFP was unable to reach Skyline for comment.

Christians account for 2.3 percent of India's billion-plus Hindu-majority population. The main concentrations are in the northeast, the eastern state of Orissa and in the southern states of Kerala and Goa.

In 2008, anti-Christian riots in Orissa left more than 100 people dead, according to Christian groups, after missionaries were accused of killing a Hindu holy man.

From Google News, "Boozing Jesus image outrages India's Christians". (22/02/10)

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