After receiving numerous threats of violence, condemnations and calls for a boycott of Dutch products on our Facebook page, we feel we need to make an official statement regarding the Prophet Muhammad cartoon contest organized by Dutch right-wing politician Geert Wilders later this year.
Because we are a cartoon organization located in the Netherlands, some people presume we support this initiative. We do not.
This cartoon contest is asking cartoonists to draw the Prophet Muhammad. Depictions of the Prophet are considered blasphemous by many Muslims. Geert Wilders claims that this competition is to show that freedom of speech should never bow down to region.
We agree. With the last statement, that is. We don’t agree with this competition. To us, Wilders’ initiative has much in common with the Holocaust cartoon contest organized a few years back by Iran. In both contests, cartoonists are asked to mock a specific subject with the aim of insulting a specific group of people. In the case of Iran, the aim was to insult Jews; in the case of Wilders, the aim is to insult Muslims. In both these contests, cartoons are wielded as a political weapon, to attack a specific group. Cartoons should never be used in this way.
However, we do agree that free speech overrides religion. And we strongly condemn the threats we have received by people who feel insulted over what is, in essence, a few lines on paper. In this case, these lines haven’t even been drawn yet.
Islam, like other religions (or any institution that wields power) is a legitimate target of satire, if that satire is aimed at exposing wrongs and injustices. And satire should never be afraid to be blasphemous to achieve this aim. We have no problem with depicting the Prophet Muhammad in a cartoon, if that cartoon is a legitimate criticism of Islam. But Mr. Wilders is not aiming for a meaninful critique of religion, or to start a thoughtful debate about religion and satire. He’s simply out to insult Muslims. And that’s something we do not want to be a part of.
The Cartoon Movement