The Cartoonists Rights Network International (CRN) awarded Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem and the eleven Danish cartoonists whose work was commissioned by the Jyllands-Posten to depict the prophet Mohammed and test the limits of freedom of expression in Denmark with the 2006 Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning on 9 June.
“CRN is proud to stand in support of cartoonists to express their points of view, whether popular or not,” said CRN’s President Joel Pett. “Mr. Dilem, in particular, has shown tremendous courage in the face of unrelenting political pressure.”
Ali Dilem has faced jail, threats and pressures several times during his 15 years of career. On 11 February 2006, he was sentenced to one year of prison for a series of cartoons depicting the President Bouteflika published in the daily Liberté in October and November 2003.
CRN said it decided to honor Dilem because of his refusal to choose exile or self-censorship in the faces of intimidation.
The eleven Danish cartoonists published twelve cartoons depicting the prophet Mohammed in the Jyllands-Posten in September 2006, which caused great up-roar in Muslim countries and led to a diplomatic crisis between Denmark and several Muslim states. Protests against the cartoons caused several deaths from Nigeria to Afghanistan.
The newspaper had published the cartoons calling them a test of whether fear of Islamic retribution had begun to limit freedom of expression in Denmark. Today, the cartoonists live under tight security since their lives have been threatened.