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CRNI Art To Die For in Norway

05/21/2014

The cartoon above was drawn by Bangladeshi cartoonist Arifur Rahman. It was for a children's publication, telling the story of a mullah (an Islamic cleric) asking a little boy the name of his cat.  The boy replies his cat's name is Mohammed.  In Bangladesh, as in many Islamic countries, it is taboo to name an animal by the same name as the prophet Mohammed. For this crime, Arifur spent about seven months in prison under unspeakably horrible conditions. When released he escaped, with the help of CRNI, and ICORN, to a safe haven city of Drobak, Norway.

CRNI and the House of Cartoonists, Drøbak, Norway celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Norwegian Constitution.

April 5, 2014

With support from the Fritt Ord Foundation in Norway, CRNI and the House of Cartoonists curated a show of cartoons taken primarily from the CRNI "Art To Die" for archive. The archive was started about 20 years ago when CRNI began compiling and conserving the cartoons that got cartoonists into trouble.  No institution in the world today is taking care to celebrate and document these cartoons and the cartoonists who drew them.  They are an important part of the historical record of journalism's fight against censorship and the impunity that tyrants, despots and religious fanatics usually enjoy when attacking journalists.

The collection was organized and translated into Norwegian by the House of Cartoonists curator Vigdis Wolden.   At the House of Cartoonists facility in Drobek, a four-day exhibit was put up with the help of volunteers from the local art school.  Prominent amongst these were three of CRNI's clients who found a safe haven in Norway.  Working through the good offices of the International Cities of Refuge Network, CRNI clients, Arifur Rahman, Abdul "Arts" and Fadi Abou Hassan, from Bangladesh, Somalia and Palestine respectively became the guests of Drøbak's good hospitality.  When ICORN was negotiating with the city of Drøbak to become a city of refuge, the town fathers and mothers agreed that they wanted Drøbak to be a safe haven for cartoonists anywhere in the world who found themselves in trouble because of their professional work.

Palestinian cartoonist Fadi Abou Hassan was recently rescued from a dangerous exile in Algeria where he was being hunted by agents of the Syrian government.  He had spent months in Syrian detention a few years ago because of his anti-Assad cartoons and he then escaped to relative safety in Algeria.  ICORN and CRNI have assisted him to find safe haven in Norway.   From there he is still drawing his hard-hitting cartoons exposing the brutality of the Assad regime. 

House of Cartoonists: ‘Hurray for freedom of expression!’

Cartoon by Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat
 
Ali Ferzat has been subjected to several attacks due to his activities as a political cartoonist; among other things, both his hands were crushed by political enforcement thugs in 2011.
 
This exhibit was one of two that the Fritt Ord Foundation's minor grants program allocated to the House of Cartoonists in Drøbak. Funding was granted for the exhibition "Hurray for Freedom of Expression!"  It opened on 5 April 2014 with a reception for over 50 guests.   Curated jointly by CRNI and the House of Cartoonists, the exhibition takes its point of departure from the Bicentennial of Norway's Constitution, with emphasis on the "freedom of expression statute", section 100.  This 200-year-old statute is one of Europe's first examples of a modern nation guaranteeing freedom of expression to its citizens.  The exhibit also illustrates the development of press freedom for newspaper cartoonists in Norway and abroad. 
 

 Vigdis Wolden, curator, House of Cartoonists, Drøbak, Norway

 Arifur Rahman with cartoonists Randi Matland and Siri Dokken

Palestinian cartoonist Fadi Abou Hassan, Norwegian cartoonist Siri Dokken, and Somali cartoonist Abdul "Arts."

 

These cartoons are by Somali cartoonist Abdul "Arts".

ICORN staff member Elizabeth Dyvik explaining the role of ICORN in finding safe haven for threatened human rights workers to the participants.   Drøbak is an ICORN safe haven city especially for cartoonists in grave danger from anywhere in the world.

Bangladeshi cartoonist Arifur Rahman contributed these cartoons

 

The cartoon second from the top, left nearly cost Arifur his life

These cartoons are by Abdul "Arts" from Somalia