This article is part of the Media Monitoring Highlights of March, a monthly overview of the most significant results of our monitoring of traditional and new media in Belgium, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, and the United Kingdom.
Date of publication: 4 March 2020
Media outlet: The Guardian, British daily newspaper
Cartoonist: Steve Bell
Description of the anti-Hindu content: This cartoon, which was created by Steve Bell for The Guardian, shows the ebuyoth drawn as cows with horns and with rings through their noses. There was outcry at the cartoon, as many people felt that it was offensive towards Patel’s Hindu heritage. Former Chancellor Sajid Javid called out the cartoon, writing on Twitter: “Reminiscent of anti-Semitic cartoons from the last century. Incredibly offensive. @guardian should know better.” Despite backlash, the Guardian did not remove or offer a defence of the cartoon.
Myth debunked: Priti Patel is Hindu, and many saw this cartoon as Hinduphobic due to the illustration of both her and Boris Johnson as cows. The Hindu Human Rights group explains: "The discourse around that is a classic example of medieval ‘witch hunting’ where an accusation of the ‘blasphemy’ of her ‘being a bully’ was made and out came the stereotype of a ‘bull’. The bull is an ancient and sacred symbol of Hinduism, prevalent throughout Hindu iconography as Nandi. It is depicted on the helm of Vedic sea vessels. It links Hinduism to its origins of indigenous, ‘heathen’ worship. Social media comments have compared the depiction as similar to anti-Semitic portrayal of Jews by Nazis. Hinduphobic attacks frequently utilise the worship of cows to diminish indigenous traditional knowledge, whilst distributing the blame for isolated accounts of cow protection gangs across the entire community as ‘violent’.” It is unclear why Steve Bell chose to depict Patel and Johnson as cows, and The Guardian has offered no explanation on this matter. On the topic, the British Tamil Conservatives added: “This cartoon is offensive on every level. – It’s anti-Hindu. It portrays the Home Secretary, of Hindu origin as a cow. A sacred symbol for Hindus. – It's racist and – misogynist. It’s plainly unacceptable! It may constitute a hate crime.” Hateful caricatures are unfortunately something that many religious communities have had to deal with, and it is unacceptable for it to take place in a major British newspaper.
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