PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) president Abdul Hadi Awang has asked Muslims in the country to forgive Chinese daily Nanyang Siang Pau for a cartoon it published on April 8, which was deemed insulting to Islam.
In a statement posted on his Facebook page, Datuk Seri Hadi said PAS has received an apology from the daily on April 12, and noted that it had also published a public apology.
"So I ask Muslims who are offended (terguris) by the caricature to join me in forgiving the newspaper with hope that this act would not be repeated again in the future," he said.
The cartoon had depicted the PAS president and Dewan Rakyat Speaker Tan Sri Pandikar Amin Mulia as monkeys on a tree labelled "Act 355" while a group of monkeys fought under it.
The cartoon was published two days after Mr Hadi tabled his Private Member's Bill to amend the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act or RUU 355 in Parliament on April 6. All government businesses had been cleared to give prominence to the Bill, but the Dewan Rakyat Speaker deferred it to the next Parliamentary meeting in July.
Mr Hadi said the lines between freedom of expression and satire and the sensitivities of Muslims were hard to differentiate.
"I feel that the mistake of publishing (the caricature) is due to the ignorance and rashness on the limits of religious sensitivities. It is hoped that with this forgiveness, we can together be committed towards boosting harmony and understanding," he added.
On Saturday, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed said the Home Ministry has accepted Nanyang Siang Pau's apology and explanation over the controversy.
Datuk Nur Jazlan said no action would be taken against the daily, stressing that the same mistake should not be repeated as the cartoon had caused dissatisfaction among PAS members and the people.
"The Home Ministry will start taking incidents like this very seriously and will not hesitate to take serious action. We cannot hurt people and then just apologise," he was quoted as saying.