The social networking giant Facebook removed a political cartoon posted by Kashmiri cartoonist Mir Suhail and barred him from his popular fan site on Tuesday, February 9. A Facebook official notified Suhail that the cartoon had been censored for “violating community standards.” The cartoon in question shows roots from the grave of Afzal Guru, who was hanged by the Indian Government in 2013, joining up with a distant tree labeled “Kashmir.”
“Even today, his [Afzal Guru’s] family is asking for his mortal remains. But the government is obviously not giving it back to them. So through this cartoon, I wanted to show that the roots of that tree called Kashmir are connected with the roots of that grave which is far away in Tihar. So I wanted to show that there is a subtle connection between the two. I wanted to show that there is some feeling due to which this connection is not direct or visible. This feeling, which also comes from Afzal Guru’s family, is strong enough to reach that grave in Tihar.”
Facebook reconsidered spiking the cartoon after word of the censorship reached Suhail’s social-media followers and fellow journalists and the story went public. The cartoon is now back on Suhail’s Facebook page and the page once again active.
In his interview with FirstPost, Mir Suhail offered some impromptu advice on how to deal with arbitrary censorship by a social media giant:
“I found out that I was blocked from messaging. I was also unable to post anything on Facebook. When I told my friend in China about everything that had happened, he asked me to send him a screenshot of my original cartoon and the message which Facebook had sent to me. And he posted those screenshots online. After that happened, the people — including journalists — who follow me and my work, both in India and abroad, called me up and asked me how a thing like this could happen.”
Once back on Facebook, Suhail posted the cartoon below: