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Khalid Albaih Featured by the New York Times


CM member Khalid Albaih, a Sudanese cartoonist currently living in Qatar, and one of the prominent young voices in the Arab World, is featured by the New York Times:

THERE are many players in a protest — the sign makers, the rabble rousers, the logisticians. And then there are the political cartoonists, who sketch the events unfolding on the streets and, if they are like Khalid Albaih, inspire even more tumult.

By day, he works in multimedia for the Qatar Museum Authority here, sitting behind a 27-inch iMac screen with a Superman bobblehead doll on his desk. After hours, though, he becomes a cartoonist with an attitude, one whose online work has inspired discontented youth across the Arab world.

Read the entire article here.

The interview is accompanied by a video showing how Khalid works, reminiscent of our Behind-the-Scenes series (but made with an NYT budget). Additionaly, they have posted a number of his cartoons with audio-commentary by Khalid.

Online Magazine Promoting Freedom of Expression

SWWe recently learned about Sampsonia Way, a non-profit online magazine dedicated to promoting freedom of expression and supporting wrtiers that are procecuted for their work.

The title Sampsonia Way refers to a street in Pittsburgh (USA) that provides a home for exiled writers. In addition to writers, the magazine has also begun to focus on cartoonists and their struggle for freedom.

Art to Die For is an interview with the director of Cartoonists Rights Network International, Rober Russell. The website also features interviews with numerous cartoonists: Doaa Eladl from Egypt, Iranian cartoonist Kianoush Ramezani, Lilia Halloul from Tunisia and Arifur Rahman from Bangladesh.

Cartoon Controversy in New Zealand

There is a debate going on in New Zealand about two controversial cartoons by Al Nisbet, published in the Marlborough Express and The Press at the end of May. Both cartoons depict adults (some of which are Polynesian/Maori) scheming to take advantage of a governmental policy of providing free school meals. In one of the cartoons, the characters discuss how they'll have more cash for 'booze, smokes and pokies' because of these free meals.

Al-Nisbet-cartoon-1Cartoon by Al Nisbet

Many people on Facebook and Twitter called the cartoons 'racist' and 'poor-bashing'. The New Zealand Human Rights Commission condemned the cartoons, calling them 'insensitive', but Race Relations Commissioner Susan Devoy claims 'the cartoons did not reach the level of racism within the commission's inquiries and complaints process'. She does go on to state that perhaps the treshold for racism is too high under the law, but that this is something the government should change. 'I don't think it was OK for them to print it, I'm just saying that they're allowed to print it.' she said.

Al Nesbit, the cartoonist, defends the images, stating that stereotyping is a tool often employed in cartoons: 'In Cartoonland it’s sometimes necessary to highlight the features of a race or group that will instantly be recognised so the reader can grasp an issue quickly.' At first he was delighted to discover the response to the cartoon, which even included raging Members of Parliament. He soon found out the response almost solely focused on the aspect of race, and not on the main point he tried to make in the cartoon, 'that some could plead poverty while surrounded by the unnecessary luxuries of life like booze, gambling and fags, all while comfortably ensconced within an obesity epidemic... while their children starved.'

Cartoon by Al Nisbet

Apart from judging if the cartoons are racist or tasteless, the debate itself is interesting because it touches on the core of what makes a cartoon work: creating simplified visuals, and condensing an issue to fit into a single panel. But it is also this process of simplification that often sparks controversy. What exactly will spark an outcry is largely dependent on the time and place where a cartoon is published, but the debate is always worth following, because it explores where the boundaries of freedom of expression are (and if there are any). Especially in New Zealand, where, although inevitably there has been some hatemail, the debate seems by and large to be conducted in a civilized manner. And that is refreshing, because in many parts of Cartoonland controversy all too often means lawsuits, prison or torture for the offending cartoonist.

Cartoon of the Day: Protests in Turkey

0886-130603 Erdogan (Lombardi)_small

Today's cartoon 'Protests in Turkey' by Italian artist Paolo Lombardi is in the spotlight at

Italian cartoonist Paolo Lombardi comments on the impact of social media on the efforts of Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan to control reporting on the protests there.

According to a Globe & Mail article linked at Cartoon Movement, Erdogan said, "Now we have a menace that is called Twitter ... The best examples of lies can be found there. To me, social media is the worst menace to society," adding, "People are being misled by outright lies."

This is an important and interesting statement on all sorts of levels, starting with a situation that I find much more common than I would like, in which someone you like and mostly agree with does or says things you really can't stand behind.

Read the entire reflection on Paolo's cartoon here