On Wednesday four artists at the weekly satirical magazine paid the highest price for their work. Stephane Charbonnier, Georges Wolinski, Bernard Verlhac, and Jean Cabut were among 10 employees shot dead at the publication’s offices in Paris. Two police officers were also killed.
As French police conducted a massive manhunt for the suspected gunmen, tens of thousands of people, many holding pens, took to the streets across the country to pay their respects to the victims — and shown their defiance to what has been described as an attack on freedom of speech.
Sadly, it is not the first time cartoonists have been threatened, assaulted or even killed for using their pen to criticize and poke fun at political and religious figures.
Here are a few cartoonists who have faced threats for their work:
In August 2011 Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat was abducted from the streets of Damascus and brutally beaten by pro-Bashar al Assad militiamen, who smashed the cartoonist’s hands. The attack came after Ferzat, who no longer lives in Syria, drew a cartoon criticizing Assad.
Naji al Ali
Palestinian cartoonist Naji al Ali, one of the most popular cartoonists in the Middle East, was shot outside his office in London on July 22, 1987, and later died in hospital. Ali, whose work was characterized by the image of young boy called Handala, was highly critical of Arab politicians, including the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat. He had moved to London after being expelled from Kuwait over his work.
Doaa el Adl
Oppression doesn’t always involve physical violence. Celebrated Egyptian cartoonist Doaa el Adl, whose controversial work touching on sensitive subjects such as women’s rights and politics has drawn the ire of Egyptian authorities, was charged with blasphemy in 2012 after she depicted an Egyptian man with angel wings and a halo above his head talking to Adam and Eve about the Muslim Brotherhood.
Mexican cartoonist Mario Robles was physically attacked in April 2009 by members of the ruling Institutional Revolutionary Party after drawing a cartoon criticizing the then governor of the southern Pacific coast state of Oaxaca for a violent police crackdown on a teachers’ demonstration in 2005. Cartoonists Rights Network International later presented Robles with the Award in Courage for Editorial Cartoons for pursing his work despite political oppression.