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A Familiar Name in Turkish Politics Demonstrates a Refreshing Sense of Humor

03/25/2012

Cartoon by Erdil Yaşaroğlu for the Turkish magazine Penguen

On March 22, 2012, Turkey's European Union Minister Egemen Bağış posted on his Twitter account a cartoon poking fun of him.  The cartoon by Erdil Yaşaroğlu appeared on the cover of the weekly comic magazine Penguen.  Both the minister's name and the name of the magazine should sound familiar to supporters of free speech.

Egemen Bağış is the one and same minister who took great offense in November of 2011 when Dutch minister Barry Madlener sparked an international incident by demanding that Minister Bağış accept a copy of a cartoon by Bahadir Baruter denying the existence of God at the same time that Minister Madlener was questioning Turkey's, and every Muslim country's, compatibility with free speech.  To read our news report of that incident, click on Turkish Cartoonist Bahadir Baruter Says Recent EU Incident Complicates His Situation.

Penguen is the satirical magazine that not only published Bahadir Baruter's cartoon, but is also the magazine that famously showed solidarity with Musa Kart and his newspaper Cumhuriyet when they were sued by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan for gently poking fun of him.  Musa and his paper were sued back in May of 2004 for Musa's work depicting the long serving Prime Minister as a kitten entangled in a ball of yarn.  In response to the Prime Minister's attack on free speech, the brave staff at Penguen defiantly released an issue of their magazine with nine caricatures of the Prime Minister as nine different animals, including of course a penguin, on the cover of the magazine.  To read more about Penguen's show of solidarity with Musa and Cumhuriyet, click on Eastern Europe in the Art To Die For section of our website.  

The recent Penguen cover cartoon, which amused Minister Bağış, features a caricature of him asking a hen which has just laid an egg, "What if your egg had hit my eye?!"  The cartoon is referring to an incident in December 2011 in which he was hit in the eye with an egg thrown by one of two egg hurling university students.  To read more about the incident, click on EU Minister Tweets Cartoon Mocking Him which appeared in the Turkish newspaper the Hürriyet Daily News.

We at the Cartoonists Rights Network International hope Minister Bağış' amused reaction to Erdil's recent cartoon will serve as a model for Prime Minister Erdogan.  As a public servant, the Prime Minister should learn to expect and accept criticism from those he is paid to serve.