Hello dear Er,
below is the English translation of Nizar Outhman’s article that appeared on Assafir.
I did this little “cartoon montage” to illustrate it.
Banksy by Banksy,
B. Heine by Carlos Latuff)
A Tribute To Their Brush…
By Nizar Outhman (*)
Translated by Adib S. Kawar
This paragraph was quoted from the dialogue with the cartoonist David Baldinger (link), published by the Iran Cartoon website on the Internet. The point of view of this American artist summarizes the points of view of many other Western caricature artists who oppose the policies of the U.S. Administration put into effect concerning the Middle East.
We are afraid that it shall not be possible to write in detail about all these artists, their cultural backgrounds, their thoughts or their nationalities, or even their effect on their surroundings, but it would be worth focusing on one point that had a great effect on many of them. That point drove them to give up their stance of neutrality towards the line of confrontation against what they considered an unjustified duality that subdued public opinion standards in the West. This was represented by the incident of the Danish caricature drawings, which was met with unprecedented Western support on one side, and the “Holocaust” contest sponsored by the Iranian paper “Hamshari” and the Western condemnation and disapproval on the other side.
The works of those artists is concentrated on this duality, and their mechanisms vary starting with caricature drawings through other activities aimed at criticizing the practiced policies by the United States and Israel in Iraq and Palestine in particular, and in the Middle East in general.
The Belgian artist, Ben Heine, took a personal initiative aimed at focusing the spotlight on Arab causes within caricature circles by organizing dialogue among outstanding cartoonists of the world, concentrating on the paradox that the principle of (freedom of expression) in the West is subdued with, and on the duality of standards that controls this principle.
As for the famous British artist, Banksy (link), well known for his huge murals that transformed the mammoth, racist, apartheid cement wall in occupied Palestine to an exhibition that changed it to a painted language mixing between the beauties of creativity and exposing the sway of occupation, and the extent of the suffering the Palestinian Arabs live under.
The Brazilian artist, Carlos Latuff (link), who won second prize in the Holocaust contest, was subjected to a ferocious propaganda campaign lead by partisans and supporters of the Zionist Israeli “Likud” party. This went to the extent of threatening him with death, because of his drawings that criticized the Zionist war arsenal used in the July 2006 war on Lebanon. In spite of this, Latuff displayed several months ago his caricature drawings in an exhibition organized by Palestinian activists in Amman, Jordan.
One cannot overlook the importance of the positive role played by the Internet, focusing light on these artists and giving them daily political assistance with detailed current affairs. The Internet participated by building bridges between them and Arab caricature artists. In the same framework, one cannot deny the important role played by Arab caricature Internet sites, although proportionally few in number, in giving them space to display their works and promoting their most important activities.
It is unfortunate that many of those world famous artists who enjoy great fame in the international caricature circles, and a high standard of artistic-cultural potentials, are still in general unknown in our Arab circles. Their activities, taken by their own personal efforts, are centered on defending the Arab image. These efforts do not have support or patronage by any Arab organization, institution or society. We do not have to remind any body that they are messengers of civilization that made use of the art of caricature for defending just human causes, among which are Arab causes. They did all possible to defend and demonstrate their justice and weight in Western societies, not caring for the threats that they could be exposed to or the cost they could suffer as a result.
(*) Nizar Outhman is a Syrian cartoonist and journalist, born in Lebanon in 1974. he publishes his work in Assafir, Albalad, Al Nida, Manasheer, Josor, Al Safeer… You can see some of his cartoons on these links : [link 1] , [link 2] , [link 3] , [link 4] and reach him at : firstname.lastname@example.org
--> The article originally appeared on Assafir