Protests over Jesus’ blasphemous picture in Telugu daily

July 14th, 2008 - 12:36 am ICT by IANS  

Hyderabad, July 13 (IANS) Christian groups Sunday attacked the offices of Telugu daily ‘Sakshi’, owned by Andhra Pradesh Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy’s family, to protest the publication of a blasphemous picture of Jesus Christ. The daily’s Sunday edition carried a picture showing Jesus with a beer mug in one hand and a cigarette in the other. The chief minister’s family, which practices Christianity, has tendered an apology.

The chief minister’s son and newspaper owner Y.S. Jaganmohan Reddy and the chief minister’s wife tendered an apology to the Christian community for the faux pas.

Protesting the publication of the picture, Christian groups attacked the newspaper offices in Prakasam, Srikakulam, Vijayawada, Nizamabad and other towns. Raising slogans against the newspaper, they barged into the offices and ransacked the furniture.

In Hyderabad, the police arrested a group of Christians holding protest in front of ‘Sakshi’ head office.

Following the incidents, security was beefed up at the newspaper offices across the state.

Jaganmohan Reddy, who is also the managing director of the newspaper, apologised for the major faux pas and said the newspaper would carry the apology on the front page Monday.

He said the newspaper had highest regard for Jesus Christ and recalled that the daily was launched on Easter.

Chief minister’s wife Vijayalakshmi, in a statement, apologised to the Christian community and said the newspaper would ensure that such mistakes were not repeated in future.

The newspaper management said it was a mistake on part of the sub-editor concerned who had downloaded the picture from the Internet.

An official journal of a Catholic diocese in Kerala had published the same picture, evoking strong protests from Christian community.

“Vachana Jyotis”, the magazine published by diocese of Neyyattinkara in Thiruvananthpuram, carried the picture on the cover page of its June issue.

‘Sakshi’ was launched in March this year by Jagati Publication of which Y.S. Jaganmohan is the chairman. The first Telugu daily with all pages in multi-colour is being printed from 23 centres, including New Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore and Chennai.

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