Three years ago, Damien Glez, a Burkina Faso-based cartoonist who draws for World Policy Journal, caricatured the King of Morocco for the French newspaper Le Monde. Spain’s leading daily El Pais recently republished the same cartoon. The government of Morocco promptly banned the newspaper from the Kingdom and ordered all copies seized. On Wednesday, Glez sent a letter to King Mohammad VI, observing that “not being ‘chewed up’ in a humorous publication is to lack notoriety, even popularity. And this is not a Eurocentric analysis.”
The full text of the letter, translated by World Policy Journal follows. An article that appeared in the Winter issue 2011-2012 of World Policy Journal by the distinguished editor of the French magazine Marianne, Martine Gozlan, may be found here.
A large number of political leaders rant against being drawn by caricaturists of their country. It is an attitude as diverting as it is incongruous, that you must have observed in Brussels, capital of the comic strip, during your trip in 1988 on the invitation of Jacque Delors, at the time president of the European Commission. Not being “chewed up” in a humorous publication is to lack notoriety, even popularity. And this is not a Eurocentric analysis. The best-loved of all African heads of state, Nelson Mandela, amused himself with these sketches, to the point where he actually contacted some of their authors like Zapiro. If your image is considered sacred by the law of your country, and thus banned from the pencils of the the artists, you should know that the former leader of the ANC, himself, is sacred to the hearts of his people, especially because he has accepted such humorous critiques.
Monarchs as majestic as your majesty, in the image of your "neighbor" Juan Carlos affirmed their appreciation of graphic representations. Faint sincerity? What difference? The King of Spain certainly is sincere by accepting that the drawing of Kap or Antoni Ortiz Fuster—as audacious as they might be—only consolidates his position on the throne. Attacking every lover of caricatures is a strategic error. Especially since the extent to which a drawing is spread is exponential to the censure that that's brought against it. Such a desperate effort to sterilize these efforts, can only be most darkly counterproductive.
[Cartoon: Courtesy of El Pais]
[Photo: Courtesy of Shutterstock]