Pakistan Censors Garfield Cartoon

In Islamic Pakistan, a strict ban on alcohol appears to extend even to a cartoon character drinking root beer.

The News, an English-language daily newspaper, blacked out the word "beer" in today’s Garfield cartoon strip that featured Garfield’s owner, Jon Arbuckle, drinking root beer.

The decision to censor the cartoon was not an editorial one, said Gul Hamid Bhatti, a senior editor at the newspaper. "I think the woman who made up this page just took an independent decision," he said. Bhatti said the employee may have feared backlash in a conservative country where drinking liquor is outlawed as against the tenets of Islam.

Readers often call to complain when they think the editors have crossed the line, he said, particularly about the word "pig." Eating pork also is banned in Islam. He said the editor apparently did not know that root beer is nonalcoholic, but "even if it were, the word beer is not forbidden."

Reported by Ibn Warraq