Tokyo firm to publish book with Muhammad cartoons

JIJI, Staff Report

Tokyo publisher Daisan Shokan will publish a book containing Charlie Hebdo cartoons of the Prophet Muhammad, the firm’s president said.

The 64-page book about the massacre at the French satirical weekly earlier this month is slated to hit the Japanese market Feb. 10, Daisan Shokan President Akira Kitagawa said Wednesday.

The tentative title is “Isuramu Fushi Ka, Heito Ka,” which can be translated as “Satire on Islam or Hate?”

“We want to provide readers food for thought” about whether such cartoons should be defended under the right of freedom of expression, Kitagawa said.

Some 40 satirical cartoons will be included in the book, such as the one of the prophet shedding a tear that ran on the front cover of the Charlie Hebdo edition released Jan. 14, the first following the massacre. It will also carry comments from around 20 people, including experts on Islamic affairs.

The massacre was unjustifiable, “but we’ve thought that the cartoons seem to be on the border between satire and hate speech and that a discussion is necessary,” Kitagawa said.

He said he does not think the release of the book will affect the fate of two Japanese being held by the Islamic State group. The militants have threatened to kill the hostages unless a ransom is paid by the Japanese government.

The police have asked the publisher about details of the book and are considering whether to enhance security at the firm’s offices in central Tokyo.

Daisan Shokan sparked a controversy in 2010 by releasing a book put together from what were believed to be confidential and leaked materials on investigations into international terrorism by the Metropolitan Police Department.

Kyodo News meanwhile reported that a group of Muslims, including the head of a Pakistani residents group in Japan, submitted a letter of protest to the Tokyo Shimbun over its decision last week to run the controversial Muhammad cartoon from the post-attack edition of Charlie Hebdo.

About 50 Muslims staged an angry protest in front of the headquarters of the left-leaning daily in Chiyoda Ward on Wednesday afternoon. The paper ran the satirical cartoon in its Jan. 13 and 14 issues, in which Muhammad was shown holding a sign that reads “Je suis Charlie” (“I am Charlie”), the slogan representing freedom of expression that sprang up after the attack.

The protesters said the Tokyo Shimbun’s decision represents an “affront to Muslims” and demanded in writing that the paper run a formal apology.

The newspaper replied that it had no intention of insulting Muslims and ran the cartoon to allow its readers to think about the balance between free speech and religious faith, Kyodo said.

  • Hanamanganda

    Good for Japan. Good for freedom. We can discuss what we want, and make up our own mind about these cartoons.

    Religious fanatics cannot silence us in this day and age. Let those who oppose freedom to laugh, joke, and mock, and who want to stifle debate and discussion go back to the medieval lands where their ideas originate.

  • J.P. Bunny

    To the protestors that say the book is an affront to Muslims, how about not reading it? No one is forcing you to read what you consider offensive. The Bible and Koran are full passages that some people find offensive, but we don’t hear screams to pull them from print, or heads being lopped off because they are an insult to the belief of others.