Paris Shooting Confronts Pakistani Cartoonists With More Threats

Posted January 11th, 2015 at 4:54 pm (UTC+0)
18 comments

Sabir Nazar 2
By Iftikhar Hussain
Pakistan’s leading cartoonist Sabir Nazar says that they are already under attack from the extremists, Pakistan cartoonists now face a bigger threat after the Paris shooting. He fears that rings an alarm bell for cartoonists around the world and especially those in Pakistan, where blasphemy carries the death sentence. “The biggest problem is that now cartoonist will be targeted as community because of the blasphemy image perceived by the extremist,” he said.
In an exclusive interview with VOA Deewa after Paris shooting, Nazar shared his career long experiences working for Pakistani media what he dubbed as increasingly overtaken by religious and conservative thought.
Nazar, who currently works for Express Tribune news publishing company, has worked for Pakistan’s leading newspapers and is known for his incisive satire on the country’s political and social issues.
He says that in the face of growing extremism, the cultural space is squeezing in Pakistani media and it has restricted the pen of a cartoonist. Nazar predicts that Paris shooting is a precursor to more attacks in future on visual arts in Pakistan. “The extremists are afraid of visuals more than words and that means more trouble for music, theater, film and all visual arts in future.”
He raised questions on the Pakistani media pro-right wingers discourse. He says, “Pakistani mainstream Urdu media ran a headline on Paris shooting saying, Sahtim Rasool wasil Jahannam Hogiya –a blasphemer sent to hell”.
He told VOA Deewa that extremism has changed the satire climate in Pakistan. “I make 40 cartoons instead of 30 because mostly my cartons are censored.”
Uneasy with a censored media environment in Pakistan for years, he was frank to say, “This self-censorship has pushed me to a very strict playfield.” I am clearly told not to make cartoons on Pak Islamist parties, Pakistan army and blasphemy laws.”
You cannot select political parties for satire and have to be objective. “If I am not allowed to make cartoons of PTI, JI and the army, why I should satire the other parties and I have principally decided not mock PMLN and PPP.”
“Given the shrinking space for free expression and thus my work, in Pakistani media I often think to burn my cartoons.”
He says Pakistani media serves as fronts for different industrialists and safeguards their interests and the real media is social media. For an example, he says that the Hangu school boy Aitzaz Hassan story, who confronted a suicide bomber to save his school, was not carried for days by the mainstream media and after his picture was shared on twitter, he got attention from the other media. And so is the case of Malala, she was not given due attention until the social media campaign and later the Nobel Peace Prize made her way to the Pakistan media.
And finally he doubts the official rhetoric in Pakistan that the military is targeting extremist in North Waziristan in the ongoing operation, and says, “Are the rational and liberal voices in Pakistan safe? The answer is no, how can I believe that Pakistan is targeting extremists.”
Militants have also this image of taking offense to satire and criticism. They are known to frown on laughter at their expense and they would respond with violence.

18 responses to “Paris Shooting Confronts Pakistani Cartoonists With More Threats”

  1. Benjamin says:

    Pakistanis are also fed up of the extremists, who are using Islam as a violent source of method to kill other Muslim sects, specially the Ahmediyas.

  2. James says:

    They are not “extremists” they are true to the Koran. they follow it to the letter. the “so called peaceful Muslims” are Muslims by birth and so much a choice. In Christainity theyre would be called backsliders. gone the way of the world.

    The Islamic fighters are true Muslims this world and its politicians need to wrap that around their finger it is religion not politics. it is a personal belief in a very nasty fake God called ALLAH

    the true peaceful God came in the form of JESUS Christ. He never ever promoted the things that that the wack a doodle Mohammad has or did 7 year old brides consummating at 9 years of age. total depravity of man total DEVIL worship the hate is from the devil LOVE is from Christ and true followers.

  3. Barkat says:

    I agree, word to word, of this Article of Mr. Iftikhar Hussain & with the views of cartoonist Sabir Nazar . to speak or mention Truth is a great crime here! I too faces the same dilemma of Threats, with perplexity!
    I congratulate Mr. Iftikhar Hussain & Mr. Sabir Nazar for their courage to write this Article, I may not be so courageous!

  4. A Pakistani says:

    Mr. Nazar, have you ever tried making cartoons about holocaust. Please do it once and see their comments or it will get censored befor going to press. Mr. Nazar, grow up and face the reality.

  5. Patrick says:

    I AM CONS CARTOONISTS!! Just saying!

  6. Philip Smeeton says:

    I defend the right to free speech for people like Hebdo, but I do not defend the right for our politicians to lie to us and say that this has nothing to do with Islam The killers were Muslims and they were inspired by Islam.

    • Abdul Basit says:

      Ofcourse they were Muslims. Of course it is freedom of speech to say cajole & ridicule Muslims, their prophet and their religion. However… Not a single word on Jews is allowed. Freedom seizes at anti Semitic speech or book or any other mode of expression. Allow us to explain what really happened in WW II in Nazi camps. All with proofs, and let’s see how many Europeans then vote against Islam & Muslims. Hypocrites, that’s what you are or have become.

  7. Nouman says:

    Thank you for sharing the views of a liberal. I’m liberals too, in every sense but I dont think the satirical and blasphemous cartoons have any similarity in terms of consequences when they are compared with political cartoons. If by the censorship, the cartoonist refers the blasphemous cartoons, then indeed Pakistan is proud to impose such cencorship. As far as the other type of cartoons are concerned, by all means, Pakistani media is more free than ever in its freedom-of-expression. Stop publishing posts that potray Pakistanis are intolerant nation. When it comes to the respect of our prophet we will always be narrow-minded. Yes at the same time we condemn attacks on French people. Justice must be done by government and not by armed individuals.

  8. Hasan Jawaid (USA) says:

    This mindset is a gift to us from muslim countries. Our weak leadership and declining economy is responsible for giving space to these countries helping them export their version of militant Islam in our country. Such a militant mindset could not have flourished had it not been for the current/previous leadership and religious scholars. They have allowed this extremism to permeate our religious and social fabric over the years that has chewed up the freedom of expression terrorizing anyone who dared express their voice/opinion verbally or graphically. Well – rapidly declining institutions, non-existing utilities, and spiraling out of control terrorism – is getting us closer to the stone age where they want us to be. No sweat, our militant exponential leap will get us there soon.

  9. Hasan Jawaid (USA) says:

    This mindset is a gift to us from muslim countries. Our corrupt leadership and declining economy is responsible for giving space to these countries helping them export their version of militant Islam in our country. Such a militant mindset could not have flourished had it not been for the current/previous leadership and religious scholars. They have allowed this extremism to permeate our religious and social fabric over the years that has chewed up the freedom of expression terrorizing anyone who dared express their voice/opinion verbally or graphically. Well – rapidly declining institutions, non-existing utilities, and spiraling out of control terrorism – is getting us closer to the stone age where they want us to be. No sweat, our militant exponential leap will get us there soon.

  10. Syed A Zafar says:

    As per cartoonist Nazar “I have principally decided not to mock PMLN and PPP” Why? What a principle to spare the biggest thugs of Pakistan, especially when it comes to PMLN who has been the supporter and facilitator of religious extremists/terrorists in Pakistan and because of them they and PTI are in power today. Besides, I do not think that making cartoons against religious extremists in Pakistan has direct relevance with what has happened in France. The French cartoonists concentrate on prophet Mohammad where as Nazar is not doing the same. In fact there is great need of making mock of religious extremists and especially of those religious cum political parties like JI, PMLN PTI who indirectly support the religious extremists. Taking advantage of French issue and mixing it with local political/religious issues for personal publicity is not honesty in my opinion. However, I agree that for cartoonists like Nazar who make general cartoons against religious extremists, there is a great risk and danger for them, but it cannot be a bigger danger making mock of PTI, PMLN, PPP and JI leaders. Besides, being selective and picking and choosing to make mock of some and spare some is neither honesty nor professionalism, but a profit and loss factor in my opinion. There are tons of other burning issues in Pakistan, why cartoonists do not pay attention to them, why to go with the flow only? speaknothingbutruth@gamil.com

  11. Kabir says:

    I will sit on the fence, As i have seen at times, When Pakistan was way ahead of India in terms of economy , moderation and social tolerance. In India, Even today where hindutva extremists , who burn Non-Hindu man , women and children.Whether it is killing of secular mahatma gandhi , Babri Masjid destruction incident , or Gujrat riots. Which will be far more dangerous to civilization then Talibans.
    Given the fact , Aghan-Pak Taliban were made just to put offence against soviets , but no body gave any funds to educate them , they were left to rot in cold. Slowly their new ideology aggregated with fundamental strict rules of War time, Which now world call them as extremists. Same is happening to Indian occupied Kashmir , the people are strife of their basic rights. No body cares for them .There are U.N resolutions but nothing has come to stop aggression and brutality Indian forces inflict on innocent lives of people.

    Now that we are facing this, It is a more failure for ISI and Pakistanis, who did not force western allies to give funds and take care of these tribal people ,and by not building facilities for education and law, Therefore they are to be blamed as this was growing in there back-yards. But blame more to Western allies , who trashed Tribal people and left them more worse then a prostitute who has no value after finishing off their part in others region.Indian RAW and Anti Islamists should consider not to play with such issues but to handle them with care.There is solution for everything and War is not answer.

    If Freedom of speech is used just to malign a religion and not condemn bad peoples act by helping build nations educate and eradicate such culprits. By Considering hate and biased rations against particular religion or belief will not take India beyond just dreaming of becoming a business hub ,It might become their night-mare for them. If they consider Kashmiris, Pakistanis and other stakeholders toilet paper!.

  12. Ammar says:

    For every area there are certain limits and code of ethics. So if one wants to express skills thru any medium, it must be kept in mind that sensitive points and especially Religion or sacred beliefs are not targeted. Don’t start provocation, if you don’t want same for yourself. Simple rule.

  13. Pak Tiger says:

    Mr. Nazar is over reacting. It has become fashionable to criticise Pakistan and get into international news. Cartoonists must respect religious sensitivities of people. Freedom of speech does not mean deliberate attempts to instigate trouble.

  14. tariq cheema says:

    Madness is not just confined to Pakistan, it’s all over….Charlie Hebdo’s lawyer Richard Malka told France Info radio: “We will not give in. The spirit of ‘I am Charlie’ means the right to blaspheme.”

  15. Abdul Basit says:

    Mr. Sabir Nazar have somewhat overexaggerated the difficulties faced by his sect of press in Pakistan. No doubt presently Pakistan is one of the most dangerous areas for those related to press. However, so far no cartoonist have suffered through the extremists of any type. The cartoonists may have faced.threats, but in reality their work is hailed by all concerned. As far as blasphemy law of Pakistan is concerned, we’re aware of its strengths and shortcomings and it is expected fromage seasonal cartoonist to express his views in conformity of the law.

  16. […] visual media, which he was already dealing with when we covered him back in June. This week, he told Voice of America that “[t]he extremists are afraid of visuals more than words and that means more […]

  17. ammar says:

    Shame on you idiot. Cant u respect the Holy Prophet Sallal Laho Alaehe WaSallam n other saceed personalities? Listen if you have any moral courage n sense. Islam ordered us to respect every prophet and holy people n books of other divine religions. And we do respect. But you are a filthy person spitting insult but only upon yrself. Shame on you n yr provocative words.

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