PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang today invited all Muslims, who were hurt by Nanyang Siang Pau's caricature of himself as a turbaned monkey, to forgive the Chinese-language daily.
Nanyang Siang Pau has retracted and publicly apologised for the cartoon, which also depicted Dewan Rakyat speaker Pandikar Amin Mulia, as a monkey.
Hadi said he had on April 12 also received a letter from the daily's editor in chief apologising for the cartoon which lampooned the tabling of amendments for the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act (Act 355).
"As such, I invite all Muslims who were offended by the caricature to join me in forgiving the daily, in hopes that it does not happen again.
"I feel the mistake in publishing the cartoon was due to the daily's ignorance of understanding the limit to religious sensitivities which is a very fine line.
"It is hoped that with this act of forgiveness, we can come together in our commitment to strengthen harmony and understanding among Malaysians," he said in a statement.
Limits to freedoms
Hadi said it can be difficult for others from different cultures, religion and education levels to understand the limit to freedom of expression and satire, and how they may impinge on the sensitivities of Muslims.
Muslims place religion as a topmost consideration in their lives, he explained.
PAS members had demonstrated in front of the daily's office and called for its closure. The Home Minister also issued a show-cause letter to Nanyang Siang Pau, but decided not to pursue further action.
However, Deputy Home Minister Nur Jazlan Mohamed warned print media not to publish material which could threaten national order and suggested Nanyang Siang Pau take action against those responsible for the cartoon, including the artist.
The cartoon prompted mixed views, including from artists, like famed cartoonist Lat who said Nanyang Siang Pau overstepped boundaries.
Artist Fahmi Reza published his own version of Hadi as an ape, prompting further outcry from PAS supporters.
Fahmi, who faces charges under the Communications and Multimedia Act over a caricature of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak as a clown, later published a caricature of himself as a monkey in clown face, with the caption: "Why so serious?"- Mkini