“Turkey has one of the most advanced comic scenes in the world . . . It has a half-dozen weekly comic magazines, plus political cartoons are just huge in the daily newspapers, online, Facebook, Twitter,” says journalist Jonathan Guyer.
Guyer told Public Radio International: “Literally from the day after the coup, cartoonists in Turkey have been hitting quite hard against their president . . . The cartoonists are not softening their radical message. They’re acting as ombudsmen and holding the government to account.”
Guyer recently spent a month in Istanbul researching the cartoon scene, departing days before the July 15 failed coup against President Recip Tayyip Erdogan. His complete PRI interview can be heard here. Jonathan Guyer’s comprehensive report about the state of political cartooning in Turkey is available at the Institute of Worls Affairs website. [Page]
Badiucao — born in Shanghai, now based in Australia — uses the Internet to protest against China’s rulers, but he’s worried that the web portals he needs to get his work into China are diminishing. Though there are still ways for mainland Chinese to circumvent the censors and access Twitter and the China Digital Times, which publishes Badiucau and other dissident Chinese cartoonists, the appointment of a former Chinese government apparatchik as Twitter’s first Chinese regional manager could signal a further closing of China’s informational firewall.
Germany’s postal service Deutche Post and the Protestant social-advocacy group Diakone have chosen artwork by cartoonist Abdul Arts for a stamp that was issued this week to commemorate World Refugee Day. Abdul Arts (Abduallahi Muhiaddin) is himself a refugee, having been forced to flee Somalia and then Egypt after threats by both Somaili government agents and the militant group Al-Shaabbab because of his cartoons. In 2011, through the efforts of ICORN and CRNI, Abdul Arts was welcomed by ICORN city of refuge Skien, Norway. Abdul Arts donated the money paid for the use of his artwork to a fund for refugees.
[For an interview with Abdul Arts and CRNI founder Robert Russell, click here.]
“Laws exist, rightly, to protect vulnerable people and minority groups from abuse. Comedy exists, essentially, as a means to be transgressive in a way that does not damage anyone. These are the waters cartoonists must navigate, and that’s tricky enough in a ‘liberal’ country. We’ll talk today about cartoonists who aren’t so lucky”. — Terry Anderson
On three successive weekends in April and May I had the opportunity to speak about CRNI and our work at some very different events around the UK. There were a few things I wanted to foreground every time, most importantly the plight of Atena Farghadani. Another was the notable hardening in the attitude of Charlie Hebdo’s editor, Laurent Sourisseau, who following March’s atrocity in Belgium suggested that a supposed politically correct anxiety over criticism of Islam in French society offers a toehold for extremism. Riss lost friends and colleagues in the January 2015 attack and is himself a survivor of a murder attempt. It is probably too much to expect a dispassionate view from him on the topic. However it is difficult to differentiate his point from those made by France’s Front National, the far right party that is usually Charlie Hebdo’s chief bugbear.
CRNI regional representative Mohammad Saba’aneh recently organized and taught a five-week cartoon workshop to students at the Islamic School for the Deaf in Ramallah, Palestine.
Saba’aneh explains why he believes such workshops are important: The cartoon is not just an art — it is a language anyone can use to express their opinion . . . A cartoon depends on two items: art work and the idea. When you teach kids to cartoon, you provoke critical thinking in addition to art skill.
You can use cartooning as a therapy . . . At a small center in a village close to the city of Jenin, I was teaching cartoon art workshops for a group of kids. One of the kids was aggressive and I thought she hated me, so I asked her to draw a cartoon about me, to express her opinion through the cartoon. She criticized me by drawing a funny cartoon and I tried to give her a positive reaction, showing that I accepted her cartoon and her opinion about me — so that my reaction would give her an idea that there is another way to express her opinion about anyone.
After three months her mother came to the center to thank me, and told me how the workshop changed her daughter’s behavior. The cartoon became her way to criticize anyone and to express her opinion about anything.
I think my visit to United States in 2010 — as part of the International Visitor Leadership Program funded by the U.S State Department — was the reason I looked seriously into this. When I was there I visited an institution called P:EAR (creatively mentoring homeless youth). Artists and volunteers work with homeless kids and help them through art. It was a great idea, and it got me thinking seriously about working with this idea in my homeland.
In 2011 I held my first workshop for deaf children with support and funding from the American Counsulate General in Jerusalem. I have been teaching such workshops ever since.
I think we have to give these kinds of kids and people a way to melt and mix with society. I think one of the most important ways for that is through art. If we give attention to this experiment and develop a cooperation between artists, sociologists and psychiatrists we will have a great result.
The cartoon can be a cure, a weapon, a language, a business, a joke . . . I tried to improve my ability not just to be a cartoonist, but also to explore how this art can be a partner for the teacher.
The public exhibition of the students’ work at the end of the course was not only a way to celebrate their accomplishments, Saba’aneh says. It was also a way for the students to give the greater community a sense of what it is like to be deaf.