The front page of The Independent newspaper in the UK.
The front page of The Independent newspaper in the UK.

Charlie Hebdo 'relentless' on Islam, says Aussie cartoonist

AN Australian cartoonist says many of the anti-Islamic cartoons which sparked deadly fury in France would never see the light of day in this country.

Peter Broelman said he watched the terrorist attack on satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo on television and was stunned by what was happening.

"I was watching it unfold. It was very surreal,'' the secretary of the Australian Cartoonists Association told APN.

  He said while Australian cartoonists might receive abuse for a cartoon which offended someone, they were unlikely to be subjected to death threats.

Mr Broelman said he and other Australian cartoonists would not draw cartoons which offended religious groups because they would not want to upset readers, or put newspapers which published them at risk.

"There is a reluctance to print those sorts of cartoons, especially those saying something about God or Jesus Christ,'' he said.

But he said that during a visit to France and Europe he was personally surprised at the number of anti-Muslim cartoons being published.

He said Charlie Hebdo was known for 'pushing the envelope'', particularly against Islam. "They were just relentless.''

The satirical weekly was firebombed in November 2011 a day after it carried a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad.

"I would not do them,'' Mr Broelman said of those types of cartoons.

"The last thing I would want is for a receptionist (or someone at a newspaper office) to cop a spray (of bullets) for something that was published.''

He said the cartoons in French and Europe reflected growing disquiet about the rise of Islam and increasing Muslim populations.

Historically, he said cartoons reflected societal values of the time.

He said there were extremely anti-Jewish cartoons published in Nazi Germany while in Australia, there had been racists cartoons published by the Bulletin magazine when White Australia policies were popular.

The loss of the lives of 12 journalists and cartoonists has dominated front pages throughout Europe.

Cartoonists too have united behind those lost, with a stream of poignant and emotional images produced as artists mourn those who share their trade.

We are Charlie Hebdo

FREEDOM of speech is the primary tool of all cartoonists.

It isn't pen or ink or graphic tablet. It isn't the page, the file or the canvas they use.

It is the freedom to speak their own opinion based on truth.

In Paris this week, this tool was momentarily blunted by extremists who do not hold that freedom of speech is a tool.

They consider it a threat.

Where freedom of speech has the power to change minds, extremism would rather destroy any objection to their own beliefs.

But this of course, is an illusion to the short-sighted. It doesn't blunt the tool at all. It sharpens it. It makes it stronger.

The Australian Cartoonists Association condemns all actions worldwide in which freedom of speech is repressed, is damaged and in cases like the Charlie Hebdo tragedy, is savagely attacked.

Our commiserations and thoughts extend to our brothers and sisters across the sea, their families and their loved ones during this awful time.

One thing the short-sighted extremists haven't taken into consideration - cartoonists are a subversive and rebellious group.

We traverse the grotty wainscotings of society demanding truth be heard.

An incident like Paris doesn't stop us. It will never stop us.

Because we are the truth in a complicated society. We shine the light on a darkening world.

We were the first media and we will be the last media.

We are Charlie Hebdo.

Jules Faber

President

Australian Cartoonists Association
 

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