Pig Photos Censored in Malaysia

We know that it is forbidden for Muslims to eat pork; but can they look at pigs?

A local printing company in Malaysia believes it is also haram for Muslims to see the pictures of pigs that is why it unilaterally decided to blacken out the snouts of pigs in two photos that appeared in the January 22, 2014 edition of the International New York Times.

The photos accompanied an article titled “Demand grows for pigs raised outside”.

The controversial 'blacked out' photo that appeared on the Malaysian edition of the New York Times. Photo from website of The Malaysian Insider

The controversial ‘blacked out’ photo that appeared on the Malaysian edition of the New York Times. Photo from website of The Malaysian Insider

A spokesman for the KHL Printing Co said that it has been their practice to cover ‘banned’ images in the Muslim-majority nation such as nudity, smoking and firearms. But the Malaysian government denied that it has a regulation that prohibits the publishing of images of pigs. The New York Times is also unaware about the decision to blacken out the photos.

Malaysians reacted humorously to the issue but many were also dismayed. anak1malaysia is worried that children in the future may not be able to know what a pig looks like:

I can foresee in the not too distant future, people would not know how a pig look like. And that would be dangerous if our muslim small kids may happen to cuddle a little cute piglet unknowingly because he/she has not seen one before even in their school text book.

Shawn Tan thinks this is a negative impact of self-censorship:

This is the culture of self-censorship because nobody wants to get into any trouble. Businesses especially, will try to avoid any mess. Play it safe.

Mediha reminded the printing company that it is not haram to see pigs:

It is not haram to see pigs. It is just haram to eat it, and need to purify if touched. Duh.

This is not the first time that an image was blackened out in the paper. Kilgore remembered how an article about a ‘kissing protest’ in Chile was given a similar ‘black out’ treatment:

Previously, the New York Times did a story on Chilean students’ ‘kissing protest’. These same people censored the picture by painstakingly pasting black boxes over thousands of students’ mouths as they simultaneously kissed.

Malaysian public saved again. Taxpayers’ money well-spent.

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