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Munich Newspaper Apologizes for Racist Zuckerberg Cartoon 

Jerusalem/Berlin (MunichNOW News / dpa) – German daily Sueddeutsche Zeitung has apologised for publishing a cartoon that depicted Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg as a big-nosed octopus, with its author rejecting accusations of anti-Semitism and racism.

Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg delivers a speech at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, northeastern Spain, 24 February 2014. photo: dpa

“Anti-Semitism and racism are ideologies that are completely foreign to me. All the more reason why I have been shaken by one of my cartoons now been seen in this light,” said cartoonist Burkhard Mohr in a statement sent to dpa on Tuesday.

The original cartoon, which appeared in less than 10 per cent of Friday’s editions of the liberal paper, shows the octopus figure with tentacles taking hold of computers and smart phones.

His hat, on curly hair and above a thick-lipped smile, has the Facebook logo. In one tentacle he holds the logo of WhatsApp, which his company purchased last week for 19 billion dollars.

The Munich-based newspaper had already ran a tweet on Sunday apologizing for the cartoon.

Mohr reworked the original cartoon so that the revised version, which replaced the face with a rectangular-shaped box, appeared in more than 90 per cent of Friday’s editions.

Efraim Zuroff of the Simon Wiesenthal Centre in Jerusalem had earlier called the orginal cartoon “shocking” and “almost a replica of a Nazi caricature from 1938.”

“I have no doubt there is a scent of anti-Semitism emanating from this,” he had told dpa.

“Zuckerberg doesn’t have a big nose, but in the caricature his nose is emphasized. The hook nose is a typical caricature of a Jew,” said Zuroff.

“It is clear that whoever drew the caricature is emphasizing the fact that Zuckerberg is Jewish. It’s classic. The Jews are taking control of the world. It reinforces all the stereotypes about Jews,” he said.

The drawing had also generated angry comments on social media.

“Anyone who knows my drawings and me knows that it is not like me to defame people because of their nationality, religious beliefs or family origin,” said Mohr.

He said the cartoon was in part inspired by the octopus from the Pirates of the Caribbean movie and was not intended to be anti-Jewish.

“To me it was not about Mr. Zuckerberg, but Facebook,” Mohr said.

“I’m very sorry that there has been this misunderstanding and that I might have hurt the feelings of a a section of [the newspaper’s] readers with my drawing,” he said.

Global messaging service WhatsApp is back online after an outage lasting more than three hours on Saturday. Server issues were reportedly to blame just days after Facebook’s acquisition of the service for $19 bn. (Photo by Alex Milan Tracy/NurPhoto)

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