Hayao Miyazaki Calls ‘Charlie Hebdo’ Muhammad Cartoons a Mistake

A recent issue of Charlie Hebdo, featuring a drawing of the Prophet Muhammad. Photo: Charlie Hebdo/EPA

Hayao Miyazaki, the Japanese animator and 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 (via the Telegraph). “Instead of doing something like that, you should make more caricatures of your own country’s politicians.”

This isn’t the first time the director has been politically outspoken. In 2003, he 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 takes a similarly anti-war stance.

Miyazaki’s opinion may prove controversial, but is also shared by many. After an initial wave of support for the magazine after eight staffers and four others were killed, there has been significant backlash against some of the more baiting cartoons. Hebdo has been called both heroic and racist, sometimes in the very same article.

It’s worth noting, however, that the magazine does often ridicule French politicians, as well as Catholicism, the most prevalent religion in France. The cartoons do not exclusively target Muslims, or any other demographic.

Last week, artnet News reported on a “Draw the Prophet” event scheduled to take place in Texas, which actually encourages people to come draw the prophet Muhammad for a chance to win $10,000. It is being run by the American Freedom Defense Initiative, which is classified as a hate group.

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