Spirited Away Director Hayao Miyazaki Speaks Out Against Muhammad Cartoons

The acclaimed animator Hayao Miyazaki, has waded into the highly contentious debate surrounding the publication of religious satire, and the issue of potential terrorist responses, with a statement to the press. The Japanese director behind beloved films including ‘Spirited Away’ and ‘Howl’s Moving Castle’ has recently spoken out about the cartoons of Muhammad that provoked the tragic massacre at the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo.

“I think it’s a mistake to caricature the figures venerated by another culture. You shouldn’t do it,” Miyazaki said in an interview with Japanese radio station TBS (in an article via the Telegraph). “Instead of doing something like that, you should make more caricatures of your own country’s politicians.”

Following the terrorist attack that killed 12 people at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, much of the mainstream media has self-censored cartoons from the controversial publication. AP was accused of hypocrisy for choosing not to distribute Charlie Hebdo’s politically and racially sensitive material, while continuing to sell an image of artist Andres Serrano’s photographic work ‘Piss Christ’, at the same time as the BBC’s Newsnight, briefly showed a copy of the edition of Charlie Hebdo, which displayed a cartoon depicting the Prophet Muhammad on its cover.

This isn’t the first time that Miyazaki has been politically outspoken. In 2003, the director refused to attend the Academy Awards ceremony where ‘Spirited Away’ won an Oscar for best animated feature, because of the US involvement in the Iraq war. His 2013 film ‘The Wind Rises’ is also anti-war in nature.

Denmark is still recovering from a terrorist attack that left one person dead and three injured after a free speech debate attended by the controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks was interupted. The French ambassador, Francois Zimeray, was also present during the attack. Semi automatic shots were fired through plate glass windows during the seminar.

In 2007 Lars Vilks released drawings of the Prophet Muhammad dressed as a dog. In 2010 an attempt was made to burn down the cartoonist’s house in southern Sweden and two brothers were imprisoned for attempted arson.

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