Two Israeli caricaturists had their drawings censored at a Tel Aviv exhibit to commemorate last year’s terrorist attack on the Paris offices of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, Hebrew-language media reported on Sunday.
The works were allegedly censored after the French Embassy expressed concern over their portrayal of the Prophet Muhammad, both Globes and NRG reported.
Caricaturists Vladik Sandler and Roy Friedler had submitted cartoons to the “Apres Charlie” (“After Charlie”) exhibition — a tribute to the 11 people, including five cartoonists, who were murdered in the attack on January 7, 2015.
The exhibit opened Thursday and runs throughout January at the French Institute in central Tel Aviv.
Sandler’s picture, which portrayed Muhammad as a nude model for the five cartoonists murdered in last year’s attack, was removed from the exhibit. Meanwhile, a sticker was placed over an image of Muhammad in Friedler’s picture of the cartoonists going up to heaven, only to find Muhammad waiting at reception. In the accompanying text, one of the cartoonists says: “Friends, I think we’re screwed…”
In a Facebook post published Saturday, Sandler wrote: “I sent two caricatures to the exhibit, and both of them touched in one way or another on the fact that since the attack, Muhammad is not being drawn in the newspaper. To my great surprise, when I arrived at the opening evening of the exhibit, I discovered that after a special request from the French Embassy, one of my caricatures had been removed.”
Sandler wrote that although he does not usually enjoy drawing “provocative” and “callous” pictures, he felt that in this case, it was appropriate to draw the picture as a tribute to the murdered Charlie Hebdo cartoonists, whose magazine was specifically targeted due to its publication of cartoons featuring the prophet.
“The conclusions and calculations of winners and losers, people can do for themselves,” Sandler wrote of how he reacted to the removal of his work. “But I have been left with a feeling of terrible sourness that those people, whose only crime was dark humor, died for naught and that any symbolic heritage that they might have wanted to leave behind — has gone to the trash or is hiding behind red stickers of censorship.”
Speaking of his drawing’s censorship, Friedler told the Globes website that he found out about the problem the day before the exhibit opened.
“They asked me to participate in the exhibition, and one day before the opening they told me that there was a problem with [my cartoon],” Friedler said. “Because I only sent in one caricature, they wanted to put it in and also to satisfy the embassy, but they said that [the picture] would either be censored or not there at all.”
Friedler also said that the censorship of his work “messed up the punchline [of the cartoon], but also sent the message that the pencil has not beaten out the Kalashnikov.”
French Institute spokeswoman Ann Gollion told the NRG news site that the allegations were not true, and that concerns about space dictated which cartoons to display.
“To the best of my knowledge, no caricature was removed from the wall,” Gollion said. “Due to small amount of space to hang the works, we were forced to pick one of two works that the artists submitted and therefore not all of the works of the illustrators and caricaturists that were submitted, were presented. All of the works appear in the catalog. No pressure at all was put on us by the French Embassy, and there was no political interference.”