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Artist at work

Cartoons: A Laughing Matter?

Plastic surgeon to patient: Why would you want a new face? You look just fine.

Patient: I am the guy who drew the Muhammad cartoons.

In 2005, a Danish paper published 12 cartoon caricatures of the prophet Muhammad which were quickly reproduced around the globe. Violent protests erupted; cartoonists received death threats; offices of newspapers were attacked. The Great Mosque of Paris sued but did not prevail.

If you are a cartoonist for the New Yorker, your greatest fear might be that of rejection. In other parts of the world, the fear of losing your job, your freedom or even your life is very real. There is no liberty of expression in places like Iran, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Russia or even Tunisia where Islam cannot be attacked with impunity. Still cartoonists continue to take risks every time their irreverent pens put them in direct conflict with the objects of their defiant wit.

The Association “Reporters without Borders” was created to promote freedom of the press and has often taken aim at such retribution. Continue reading