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PUBLISHED: Jan 9, 2015 10:49pm

Malaysian cartoonists draw in solidarity for slain comrades

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SUKHBIR CHEEMA By:
Sukhbir Cheema

A cartoon drawn by Arif Rafhan Othman of a gunman shooting indiscriminately at a pencil, with bullets almost hitting a Muslim family.

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KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 9, 2015: 

Malaysian cartoonists displayed solidarity with French satirical magazine, Charlie Hebdo whose eight staff including four cartoonists were brutally murdered by three gunmen on Wednesday.

In condemning the killings, renowned Malaysian satirical cartoonist, Zunar, or Zulkifli Anwar Ulhaque said every cartoonist should be allowed to criticise parties through their cartoons with disagreements responded in a civilised manner.

He said that even though one did not agree with the contents, the cartoonists’ rights to express their views should be respected.

“Any disagreement over the said cartoons should be responded in a civilised manner, such as intellectual discourses, open debates and other civilized damage-control methods,” Zunar said in a statement on his website.

Adding that Jan 7 should be made “World Cartoonist Day” to honour Charlie Hebdo editor Stéphane Charbonnier, cartoonists Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous, the 52-year-old challenged Muslim authorities around the world to work closer with cartoonists.

“Regarding Islamic content issues, as a Muslim myself, I would like to challenge Muslim authorities around the world to work closer with cartoonists to produce cartoons that can show the true image of Islam — a religion of peace, tolerance and moderation.”

The bold satirical magazine had in 2011 published cartoons of Prophet Mohamed and recently published a cartoon of an Islamic State (IS) leader.

Apart from Zunar, Allison Li-sin Hill, or AllieHill, uploaded an image of a blunt pencil against a painted backdrop of dark blue on her Facebook profile.

“I don’t always agree with what they (Charlie Hebdo) had to say. But I will hold a pencil up to their right to say it. I’ll hold a pencil up for the freedom to express ourselves. And I’ll hold a pencil up for more tolerance, more love, more understanding,” her image description read.

Online cartoonist, Sarah Joan Mokhtar, who described the killings as “horrible”, pointed out in the previous editions of the magazine, other religious figures were given equal satirical treatment.

She wondered why those who took offence did not retaliate with cartoons or comics of their own to express their anger.

“This is why art and expression are important, they could have let their feelings of anger out without this terrible massacre.”

Adding that cartoons and art could build bridges between cultures and create friendships along with sparking heated debates.

However, she said, they should never be justified as a reason to kill another human being.

Cartoonist Arif Rafhan Othman, on the other hand, uploaded an image of a terrorist shooting through a barricade made out of a pencil, the bullets piercing through, nearly hitting a Muslim family.

Stephanie Tan, who uploaded a doodle of a terrorist raising both his arms in surrender, said she was against killing.

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