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The Power of Cartoons 8 - Eray Özbek from Turkey

This series was produced in a partnership with Dutch magazine Nieuwe Liefde. Eight of our cartoonists talk about cartoons that were controversial or that got them in trouble. The interviews run in the March issue of Nieuwe Liefde magazine, and will be published in English here on the blog. The interviews were conducted by Julia Ploum. Today's cartoonist: Eray Özbek from Turkey

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The Turkish cartoonist Eray Özbek received extreme reactions from insulted Muslims because of his cartoon about elections in the Arab world.

What inspired you to make this cartoon and what were the consequences?

‘I drew this cartoon in December of 2011 because I shared the Islamic world’s excitement during the expected democratic voting in their countries. I was surprised by the ado; I never wanted to mock anything with this drawing, I wanted to encourage the democratic growth. The ballow-box, with which I am referring to the Ka’aba, I only meant respectfully.’

In which ways is freedom of press restricted in your country?

‘With the instalment of Erdogan there hasn’t been much change for cartoonists. Some people apparently think cartoons with a religious element only want to mock. At least that would explain the furious reactions. Besides, I cannot find a single sentence in any of the holy books that praises humour. But fatal conflicts arise from our intolerance and our intolerance arises from a lack of confidence in our own doctrines.’

How, in your opinion, can cartoons contribute to greater freedom?

‘Cartoons can contribute by, instead of insulting or correcting people who are wrong, pointing out their own contradictions.’

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