A magazine cover of Barack Obama and his wife has caused controversy in the United States.

The New Yorker cartoon depicts the Democratic presidential candidate as a Muslim and his wife Michelle in camouflage fatigues with a gun strapped to her shoulder, with a portrait of Osama bin Laden hanging over the mantel.

The magazine said the cartoon on its cover was satirical and designed to mock the misconceptions US voters have about Obama.

The cartoon shows the couple standing in the presidential Oval Office in front of a fireplace in which an American flag is burning.

The illustration by Barry Blitt showed Obama in sandals, robe and turban, and his wife dressed in camouflage pants, combat boots and an assault rifle.

The New Yorker issue, titled The Politics of Fear, hit the newsstands on Monday.

The presidential candidate did not respond when asked about the cartoon, but Bill Burton, a campaign spokesman, condemned the cover, saying the magazine might think of it as “a satirical lampoon of the caricature Senator Obama’s right-wing critics have tried to create, but most readers will see it as tasteless and offensive, and we agree”.

John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate, said the cover was “totally inappropriate”.

‘Obvious satire’

The New Yorker said the drawing “combines a number of fantastical images about the Obamas and shows them for the obvious distortions they are”.

“The burning flag, the nationalist-radical and Islamic outfits, the fist-bump, the portrait on the wall? All of them echo one attack or another,” it said on Monday.

“Satire is part of what we do, and it is meant to bring things out into the open, to hold up a mirror to prejudice, the hateful, and the absurd. And that’s the spirit of this cover.”

The magazine added that there were also two “very serious” articles on Obama in the same issue.

Patrick Egan, an assistant professor of politics at New York University, said people who read The New Yorker would see the cover’s satirical character as obvious.

“Anyone who knows anything about the New Yorker is going to be able to recognise that this is satire,” he told Al Jazeera.

“It’s taking what some Americans falsely believe and blowing it up to literally cartoonish proportions. And, in that sense, it is sophisticated satire and something that a lot of people can kind of laugh over.”

The cartoon controversy has highlighted the misconceptions about Obama.

A recent Newsweek magazine poll showed that more than a quarter of the American electorate believe that Obama was raised a Muslim and 12 per cent believe he remains a practising Muslim.

Obama is a Christian, and his campaign has had to set up what it calls an anti-smear website to combat rumours spreading on the internet about his faith and character.

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source:
aljazeera.net

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Polémica por sátira de Barack Obama
Lourdes Heredia

Lourdes Heredia
BBC, Washington

Caricatura de Obama y su esposa publicada por The New Yorker
Hasta los republicanos calificaron la caricatura de mal gusto.
Barack Obama, el aspirante demócrata a la Casa Blanca, aparece con túnica, sandalias y un turbante. Su esposa Michelle, en tanto, con botas, un peinado “afro”, un pantalón de combate y un fusil AK-47.

Así los dibujaron en una caricatura en la tapa de la revista The New Yorker, que ha causado una gran polémica en EE.UU.

Para los críticos, lo peor es que ambos aparecen chocando puños -que es su señal para festejar una victoria- en el salón Oval de la Casa Blanca, con un cuadro de Osama Bin Laden y la bandera estadounidense quemándose en la chimenea.

La campaña de Obama señaló que la carictura es de “mal gusto y ofensiva”.

“The New Yorker podría pensar, como un empleado de su equipo nos ha explicado, que la portada es un sátira de la caricatura que los críticos del ala derecha han intentado crear del senador Obama, pero la mayoría de los lectores la verán como de mal gusto y ofensiva; y nosotros estamos de acuerdo”, afirmó su portavoz, Bill Burton.

Incluso la campaña del candidato republicano John McCain afirmó que la portada es de mal gusto.

Sátira y rumores

La revista, sin embargo, insiste en que se trata de una sátira que ilustra un artículo donde se analiza la imagen que quieren dar los ultraconservadores sobre Obama.

“Es una serie de imágenes fantasiosas acerca de los Obama y los muestra como obvias distorsiones”, señaló el editor del The New Yorker, David Remnick.

“La sátira es parte de nuestra actividad y está destinada a poner las cosas al descubierto, a presentar un espejo frente al prejuicio, al odio y al absurdo. Ése es el espíritu de la portada”, agregó.

El problema es que en lugar de luchar contra los prejuicios, este tipo de portadas puede alimentar la máquina de rumores, provenientes la mayoría de manera anónima en internet, sobre Obama.

En un blog, por ejemplo, comenzaron a decir que Obama era musulmán, a pesar de que él se ha declarado cristiano en numerosas oportunidades.

Sin embargo, tal como lo comprobó BBC Mundo durante las primarias, mucha gente creyó en el rumor.

“Yo no puedo votar por Obama porque es musulmán”, le decían a esta corresponsal.

En febrero salió una foto de Obama vistiendo un traje típico somalí y un turbante, que también causó mucha polémica.