Germany: Row over caricature of Jesus in art exhibition

29 August 2012

At the exhibition ‘Caricatura VI – The Comic Art – analog, digital, international’ in Kassel in Germany, a cartoon created by cartoonist Mario Lars has been removed after protests that it hurt people’s religious feelings

On its homepage and in the exhibition, the Caricatura gallery shows numerous caricatures of Jesus on the cross. Left: Excerpt of the caricature which caused the row

The drawing depicts Jesus suffering on the cross and a speech bubble, which apparently contains words from God, who says: “Ey… you… I fucked your mother.”

The caricature was displayed not only in the exhibition itself, but was also reproduced on a large advertising poster outside the building of Caricatura Gallery.

Barbara Heinrich, the city dean of the Evangelical Church in Kassel, said the caricature crossed a line of what is acceptable. She told the Stern Magazine: “The caricature hurt people’s religious feelings, and therefore should be removed from the front of the building.” She did not, however, ask to have the drawing removed from the exhibition itself, because she believed it would be up to people themselves to decide whether they will go inside to see it.
Blasphemy charges
Martin Sonntag, the managing director of Caricatura Gallery, defended the poster and refused to remove the caricature from the facade: “Caricatures can be offensive. We can not remove caricatures every time we get a complaint,” he told Stern Magazine.

A Protestant pensioner reported both the artist and Martin Sonntag to the police for blasphemy, and soon the row over the caricature reached a peak where the cartoonist Mario Lars said himself that the poster on the outdoor facade should be removed. Section 166 of the German Penal Code says that blasphemy is punished if it disturbs the public peace, and that the spread of blasphemy is punishable by up to three years imprisonment or a fine.

“It was not my intention to hurt the feelings of believers,” Mario Lars said to Hessische / Niedersächsiche Allgemeine, adding that he thought churches should take it easy and instead spend their time on more important issues.


The exhibition ‘Caricatura VI: Die Komische Kunst – analog, digital, international’ runs until 16 September 2012. It is described as “a large survey exhibition of new trends and master comic art from Germany, Austria and Switzerland as well as from Belgium, the UK, Iceland and the Netherlands.”




Eine Jesus-Karikatur in Kassel sorgt für Wirbel
Diese Karikatur ist provokant: Jesus hängt am Kreuz und aus dem Himmel kommt die Sprechblase: „Hey du, ich habe deine Mutter gefickt!“. Darf man das? Ist das lustig? Und noch viel schlimmer: Kann man so eine Karikatur auf ein Plakat drucken und zu Werbezwecken verwenden?
Quelle: © hr | hauptsache kultur, 31.08.2012




Home page of the exhibition hall:


Stern – 23 August 2012:
Anzeige wegen Blasphemie: Kassel streitet über Jesus-Karikatur
By Verena Kuhlmann


Tages Anzeiger – 22 August 2012:
Kirchen protestieren gegen Karikatur





Bringing tempers to a boil

Examples of religious groups protesting against what they find offensive broadcasts or publications.

The Danish website has listed five examples from the last decade where media statements and caricatures collided with the sentiments of religious groups.

1) Tele-evangelist Jerry Falwells statements on the television station CBS’s popular news programme ‘60 Minutes’ in 2002 about Muhammad being a terrorist led to demonstrations in and outside the United States.

2) British Christians were offended by a allegedly blasphemous musical, ‘Jerry Springer – the Opera’ on the BBC in 2005. Within a few days BBC received almost 50,000 complaints

3) American Catholics felt offended by a cartoon of the Pope and Jesus in the newspaper Le Monde in 2009 and flooded the newspaper’s servers with 500 angry incoming emails per hour.

4) In 2009, on the American tv station Fox News presenter Glenn Beck said that the word Ganges sounded like a disease, which caused widespread anger among Hindus, who regard the river as sacred. His statement was claimed to have belittled and ridiculed the world’s nearly one billion Hindus, of which 2.3 million live in the United States.

5) A Star of David on a dog in a campaign in an Austrian dog magazine angered the country’s Jews.


Jean Plantus’ controversial Jesus caricature in the newspaper Le Monde


Picture from Wuff’s campaign

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