SINGAPORE – 01 NOV 2021
The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has assessed the publication Red Lines: Political Cartoons and the Struggle Against Censorship to be objectionable under the Undesirable Publications Act (UPA). This is because the publication contains offensive images that denigrate religions, including reproductions of Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons of Prophet Muhammad which led to protests and violence overseas. The publication also contained other denigratory references pertaining to Hinduism and Christianity.
IMDA, in consultation with the Ministry for Culture, Community & Youth (MCCY) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA), has identified 29 images that are objectionable under the UPA. IMDA has engaged the distributor, Alkem Company, on this.
The offensive Charlie Hebdo cartoons first appeared in 2006 and have been widely labelled as irresponsible, reckless and racist. Most major publications had refused to reproduce the cartoons as they were deemed incendiary. International media reports (BBC, Reuters, The Guardian, New York Times, ABC News) further noted that the reproduction of these graphics had led to violent riots and deaths. The cartoons sparked protests around the world including Indonesia, the Middle East, and the United Kingdom. The cartoons also resulted in violence including attacks on the original publisher’s premises and staff, in which 12 people were killed. Just last year, a French teacher was killed by three teenagers after he showed his students the caricatures of Prophet Muhammad during a lesson.
In the last five years, IMDA has classified six other publications to be objectionable for denigrating various religious communities. Under the UPA, anyone convicted of importing, selling, distributing, making or reproducing an objectionable publication is liable to a fine not exceeding $5,000 and/or to imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months. Members of public are advised not to share the offensive images which denigrate religions and religious figures.