This is a picture of Jesus, by Dutch artist Dirk Hardy. More specifically, it is about Jesus’ ascension; important in Christian traditions, and often depicted before.
This picture by Hardy was supposed to hang in the town of Binnenmaas local authority in Brabant province. However, today the news is that mayor André Borgdorff, of the Christian Democrat party CDA, banned the picture, ‘as it might insult Christians’.
This happens in the same week where one can hear again and again three points about French weekly Charlie Hebdo and the massacre at its premises in the mainstream media, from government politicians, etc:
1. The massacre of cartoonists and other people at the Charlie Hebdo building was a terrible crime. So far, very true.
2. The free speech of Charlie Hebdo cartoonists should never be infringed by violence, etc. Also true. However, its credibility is undermined by people both in the French government and in governments allied with it, now denouncing the deaths of these twelve human beings in the media, who themselves violate free speech and other human rights.
3. It is supposedly ‘great’ that Charlie Hebdo published cartoons attacking Muslims, Islam and Muhammad, the prophet of Islam, etc. Well, it is not really ‘great’ to re-print the Muhammad cartoons of the xenophobic Danish daily Jyllands-Posten, depicting Muhammad as a bomb-throwing terrorist etc. Some people might say: Charlie Hebdo attacked not just Muslims, but also French government politicians. True. But when Charlie Hebdo cartoonist Charb depicted French minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, of African-Caribbean ancestry, as a monkey; then Charb sank to the racist level of a politician of Marine Le Pen‘s National Front, who did the same. On this blog, by Astrid Essed in the Netherlands, are more examples of racist cartoons in Charlie Hebdo (which, needless to say, can NEVER EVER be an excuse for the horrible killing of Charlie Hebdo people).
Back to Dirk Hardy’s Jesus picture. In this week, when all media are full about Charlie Hebdo cartoons, free speech, etc.: in this week that Jesus picture is banned.
Hardy’s picture is not a cartoon. Contrary to a Jyllands-Posten and Charlie Hebdo cartoon depicting Muhammad as a bomb-throwing terrorist, it is not a personal attack on a religious figure revered by hundreds of millions of people throughout the world. In Christianity there is no rule against depicting Jesus, similar to rules against depicting Muhammad in most Muslim tendencies. Yet, the Jesus picture is banned. While the Muhammad cartoons are praised.
Let us look at the ‘Danish cartoon controversy’ in 2005-2006. That was started by the biggest corporate newspaper in Denmark, Jyllands-Posten. Jyllands-Posten had a tradition of supporting Mussolini since the 1920s and Hitler since the 1930s. It had refused to publish cartoons of Jesus Christ, offered to them by cartoonists; and had campaigned not for free speech, but for banning such cartoons in media which it did not control itself (the ‘worst’ one of these Danish Jesus cartoons showed him having an erection. According to Christian dogma, Jesus Christ is both fully divine and fully human. As fully human beings of the male sex usually have erections, that cartoon cannot be said to be really anti-Christian. At least certainly not to the same extent that the cartoons commissioned by Jyllands-Posten, depicting the prophet of Islam Muhammad as connected to bomb throwing terrorism, can be said to be anti-Muslim).
Contrary to the Danish Jesus cartoons, made by cartoonists on their own initiative, Jyllands-Posten sent messages to Danish cartoonists urging them to draw cartoons for them on Muhammad; implying that if they would not do so, it would name and shame them as cowards.
And now, from Denmark in 2006 to the Netherlands in 2015. Dirk Hardy’s depiction of Jesus is even less controversial than the Danish Jesus cartoons; let alone the Danish Muhammad cartoons. Yet, the Jesus picture is banned. While the Muhammad cartoons are praised. Double standards, anyone?