Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff reports via Twitter receipt of notice that his website will be denied to Pakistan’s internet users, withdrawn by WordPress after a request from the Pakistani government.
— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) July 12, 2018
It’s hard to identify what the basis of their objection might be. Latuff apparently hasn’t posted about the country in over three years and when he last did was perfectly even-handed and the butt of the joke was the USA.
UPDATE: Latuff himself ascribes the controversy to a 2012 cartoon decrying Islamophobia in Europe which has been misconstrued as a blasphemous insult to Islam in itself. On a related note, a 2008 cartoon altered to include racist and antisemitic tropes and misascribed to the right wing American cartoonist Ben Garrison was “accidentally” retweeted by Libertarain politician Ron Paul before a hasty deletion and apology earlier this month.
This situation has arisen before, when a similar instruction from the Turkish government was also obeyed by those running the popular website platform. As we highlighted at the time a threat of loss of service across a whole nation is clearly taken seriously by providers and is a worse scenario for those living and working there. However in abetting the vendettas of dictators against individual bloggers WordPress has time and again set a dangerous and unwelcome trend.
Cartoonists in the Asian subcontinent are quite accustomed to similar instances of online censorship, particularly on Facebook. In the past twelve months there have been two notable instances of Facebook posts resulting in harassment of Indian cartoonists and a past CRNI Courage in Editorial Cartooning Award winner came under attack once again.
Of course, all such moves are ultimately counterproductive. In Latuff’s case his cartoons will only have greater caché in Pakistan and interested parties will seek them out via other platforms and websites.
UPDATE: Latuff further confirms that once again the Turkish government has successfully petitioned WordPress to target his blog.
Five days after blocking access of my cartoon blog in #Pakistan due pressure of Pakistani authorities, I got a new notice from @wordpressdotcom saying that it’s also complying with orders from Turkish regime to ban my blog in #Turkey. Erdogan’s democracy in action!@CRNetInt pic.twitter.com/3rrFA50tPr
— Carlos Latuff (@LatuffCartoons) July 17, 2018