The spokeswoman for a leading Muslim-American group called the latest provocation from New York Post cartoonist Sean Delonas "insane," but the paper seems to have lost some of its its power to shock.
The cartoon, which compares an Afghan woman’s brutal execution at the hands of the Taliban to Katie Holmes’ struggles with Tom Cruise’s belief in Scientology, ran on Page Six of the Post Thursday. Delonas’ image, a stylized depiction of the murder, sparked condemnation from some Muslims, who also said the cartoon as representative of the Post’s lengthy history of printing content offensive to Muslims.
“I think that the incident that took place with the execution of this woman was heinous and completely in violation of Islamic teachings,” said Edina Lekovic, Director of Policy & Programming at the Muslim Public Affairs Council. “But to draw this sort of sensational attack on Islam using the news peg of the TomKat divorce is just insane.”
Lekovic and Hussein Ibish, a Senior Fellow at the American Task Force on Palestine, emphasized the danger of having the media equate Islam with the extremist actions of the Taliban.
“To imply that the Taliban are representative of Muslims or Islam — it’s reductive in a very damaging way,” Ibish said.
“I think it does a disservice to Scientology, Islam, and the Post all at the same time. And I’m somebody who loves political cartoons,” Lekovic said. “I picture new Yorkers flipping through this on the subway and I cringe.”
Delonas is perhaps best known for a cartoon depicting President Obama as a monkey, which drew wide condemnation and an official apology, but The Post, a no-holds-barred conservative tabloid, has also flack from Muslim leaders occasionally over the years for Delonas's work. Complaints in 2002, in fact, led some Muslim shopkeepers to cease carrying the paper in their stores.
But Muslim leaders — working in the shadow, in part, of extremist attacks on a Danish cartoonist — have stopped calling attention to the images.
“Luckily I don’t think people are taking the bait,” Lekovic said, adding that she did not know of any organized public response to the Post’s cartoon.