Obama slams cartoon, calling it an insult to Muslims


Washington : Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential candidate, has spoken out about the satirical depiction of him and his wife on a magazine cover, calling it an insult to Muslims. Speaking on Tuesday night on the CNN’s Larry King show, Obama said the cartoon, which depicts him and his wife as flag-burning “radicals”, did not bother him. “You know, there are wonderful Muslim Americans all across the country who are doing wonderful things and for this to be used as sort of an insult, or to raise suspicions about me, I think is unfortunate,” he said.

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Obama blamed himself for not being forceful enough in challenging some of the misconceptions about him, including the false belief held by some Americans that he is a Muslim. “I do think that, you know, in attempting to satirize something, they probably fuelled some misconceptions about me instead,” he said. “But, you know, that was their editorial judgment. And as I said, ultimately, it’s a cartoon; it’s not where the American people are spending a lot of their time thinking about.”

The satirical cartoon by The New Yorker magazine depicting Obama in Islamic dress beside a burning US flag is sparking outrage in the U.S. “The New Yorker may think, as one of their staff explained to us, that their cover is a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create,” Obama’s spokesman Bill Burton said in a statement cited by AFP. “But most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive. And we agree.” Under the title “The Politics of Fear”, the magazine ran a cartoon showing Obama and his wife Michelle standing in the White House’s Oval Office with an American flag burning in the fireplace under a portrait of Al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Obama wears a robe and turban while his wife is in military fatigues with a Kalashnikov strapped to her back. The couple also gives each other a fist bump — a common greeting they have given each other in public. Last month, a Fox News television presenter once called Obama-Michelle fist bump as a “terrorist fist jab.” “I just saw a picture of it on television … I think it’s totally inappropriate and frankly I understand if Senator Obama and his supporters would find it offensive,” said Republican nominee John McCain. The New Yorker defended the caricature.

“Our cover ‘The Politics of Fear’ combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are,” said editor David Remnick. “The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall — all of them echo one attack or another,” he said. “Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover.”