Previous month:
January 2015
Next month:
March 2015

Cartoon Event in France Cancelled, Deemed Not Safe


Yesterday, the Memorial de Caen decided to cancel a big cartoonist conference scheduled for April, because of safety concerns. The Memorial is a World War II museum in Normandy, France.

The Memorial has hosted a yearly meeting of French and international cartoonists for 4 years. This year, the fifth edition, would be the biggest one yet, with 44 cartoonists from all over the world coming together to discuss the profession and to remember our fallen comrades from Paris. But rising security concerns, such as more than six attempts to hack the Memorial’s website in the past month, forced Memorial director Stéphane Grimaldi to cancel the event.

Washington Post cartoonist Ann Tellies (one of the would-be attendees) writes she fully understands the reasons of the Memorial for cancelling, but is angry nonetheless:

I was angry about the cancellation because it again reminds me of the Paris murders and the senseless violence which is now a sad fact of my profession. I have said repeatedly ever since the Danish cartoon controversy in 2006 that there is no justification for violence if one is offended by a drawing. You can criticize, reject, ignore, protest, or draw your own opposing cartoon but threats and violence are not justified for any reason. Ever.

Spanish cartoonist Elchicotriste responded to the news with a cartoon, which you can see above. In his opinion, the cancellation is giving in to terrorists and thus bad news for the profession.

Personally, I am first and foremost sad that this is the new reality for cartoonists. We don't get to meet up that often, and this would have been a great opportunity to get together with cartoonists from all the corners of the globe, including several CM-members.

I do understand the decision to cancel. As host, the Memorial is responsible for the safety for 44 cartoonists. In his email, Stéphane Grimaldi writes that the meeting could only take place with far-reaching security measures. He rightly (in my opinion) asserts that this is not the spirit of these meetings.

Let’s hope this cancellation is merely a postponement, making it a very temporary victory for those who would threaten our freedom.

Tjeerd Royaards

Conflicting Cartoons

Cartoonists can't agree who's to blame for the crisis in Ukraine

At their best, political cartoons can explain the most complex situations, and provide clarity by dissecting the news and exposing the inner workings of politics. But cartoons, by their nature, are the opinions of their makers. Instead of providing more clarity, these opinions sometimes only add to the complexity of an issue.

We have cartoonists from both Russia and Ukraine, and, perhaps not surprisingly, their opinions of the situation in eastern Ukraine differ quite a lot. But this debate is not limited to cartoonists from the countries involved in the conflict, and virtually every cartoonist is more or less positioned on one side of the conflict.


The cartoonists' quarrel is aptly summarized by these two cartoons. The orginal was made by Russian cartoonist Sergei Tunin; in response, Ukrainian cartoonist Oleksy Kustovsky made a few small edits to the cartoon and reposted it.

While it is very interesting to follow this visual debate, it does not provide any answers to what’s really going on, and what the true actions and motivations of all the parties involved are. Here are a couple of examples of cartoons that represent the different opinions:

3Marian Kamensky from Austria leaves no room for doubt who the bad guys is.


5Dutch cartoonist Tjeerd Royaards portrays Putin more as a burden than a leader for Mother Russia.


2Elchicotriste from Spain sees Ukrainian president Poroshenko as a vehicle for American interests.


4Moroccan artist Jalal Hajir says you can only poke a bear so much before it wakes up.


1And finally, Russian cartoonist Igor Kolgarev states it's an easy choice for Ukrainians for conscription or accession.


One thing is clear: political cartoons will not provide the answer to this crisis. For more cartoons on Ukraine, check out our collection or visit our newsroom.

Tweet Lands Cartoonist in Jail

Malaysian authorities continue to pester Zunar. In their latest attempt to intimidate the renowned cartoonist, the police arrested Zunar on charges of sedition because he posted a tweet criticising the jailing of opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim.

Zunar has drawn many cartoons about Anwar Ibrahim, two of which were published by us. In Zunar’s words, the Anwar case is as follows: 'Former Deputy Prime Minister and charismatic opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim's popularity is a threat to  the Prime Minister Najib’s political career. Thus the administration concocted the infamous sodomy charge in order to send Anwar to jail even though the fact that the 'sodomy' never took place.'



Cartoonists Rights Network International has issued a statement, calling for cartoonists to draw about Zunar's plight to raise international awareness. We hope a lot of cartoonists will pick up their pencils in response.

Palestinian Authority Targets Cartoonist Over Alleged Muhammad Cartoon

SabaanehCartoonists Rights Network International reports that Palestenian cartoonist (and CM member) Mohammad Saba’aneh has been suspended from his job at al-Hayat al-Jadidah newspaper after Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas ordered an 'immediate investigation' into one of his cartoons. The cartoon in question, published February 1, shows a robed figure sprinkling light over the globe from a heart-shaped pouch. The illustration, according to the artist, is meant to convey the benevolence of Islam but has been misinterpreted by some as a depiction of Muhammad.

Read more on the website of CRNI or at the New York Times.

Holocaust Cartoon Competition

The Theran Times reports that Iran’s House of Cartoon and the Sarcheshmeh Cultural Complex plan to hold a second international contest on the theme of Holocaust denial in the near future. The competition is a direct response to the recent publications of cartoons that insult the prophet Mohammed in Charlie Hebdo.

The manager of the House of Cartoon, Shojai Tabatabai, said in an interview (in addition to accusing renowned cartoonists Ranan Lurie and Plantu from somehow orchestrating a cartoon attack on Islam): 'The strange point is that western government officials explain insulting [the] Islam prophet as […] freedom of expression, but [when] we ask them: [why is it] when anybody talks about Holocaust he [might go to] prison [or receive a] cash penalty and nobody [is allowed] to [re]search […] this issue?'

At Cartoon Movement, we consider ourselves to be very strong defenders of freedom of expression, even if it results in cartoons we utterly abhor. So, what's our take on a cartoon competition denying the Holocaust?

We're based in Europe, and in Europe the Holocaust (or anything related to the Second World War) is a big thing. It's is considered a no-go area for many European cartoonists, and you can be sure to stir up controversy if you do make a reference to the Holocaust in a cartoon.

Derkaoui Abdellah                                        1st Prize in the 2006 Holocaust competititon - Derkaoui Abdellah/

But because something weighs heavily on our European conscience, should it be considered a taboo for others as well? If we take a look a the results from the first Holocaust competition from 2006, we see that only a few cartoons actually deny the Holocaust. The majority of the cartoons compare the plight of the Palestinians to the plight of the Jews during the Holocaust (with the Israelis now as perpetrators instead of victims) or accuse Israel of using the Holocaust as a shield against any criticism of their policies regarding Palestinians. The comparison of the Holocaust with the way Palestinians are treated is blatantly wrong in one very important way: Palestinians are not systematically exterminated in gas chambers. There is no genocide. But does that mean we should ban any cartoon comparing Gaza to a concentration camp?

Jaber Asadi                                               Honorable Mention in the 2006 Holocaust competititon - Jaser Asabi/

Of course we think a cartoon competition that sets out to deny the Holocaust is tasteless, to say the very least. But it is actually another reason that should stop any self-respecting cartoonist from entering. This competition is politically motivated, politically funded, and politically controlled by the Iranian government. As such, it is diametrically opposed to one of the essential requirements of being a good political cartoonist, which is to be independent.

The prizes to be won in the competition ($12000 for first place, $4000 for second and third each) are some of the highest to be had in any competition around the world, probably meant to entice as many cartoonists as possible to send in work. But this is not a prestigious competition such as World Press Cartoon (with comparable monetary awards) where the best press cartoons are honored. This competition is nothing more than simple state-funded propaganda to make a political point. Regardless of the subject matter, that alone should be enough to put off true political cartoonists.