Blog Newsletter Syndicate

Turkey – So Angry About Cartoons

Here’s Turkey’s president by our Dutch cartoonist Bart van Leeuwen.

There’s another cartoon controversy that is causing friction for France. This time it is Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who is outraged by a cartoon that he claims he hasn’t seen, that graces the cover of Charlie Hebdo’s current edition. Turkey has been outraged recently by French president Macron’s defense of offensive cartoons as “freedom of expression” in the wake of the murder of a French school teacher who showed Charlie Hebdo cartoons in his class as part of a civics lesson. Erdogan accused Macron of being mentally unhinged, leading France to withdraw their ambassador to Turkey and both presidents are carrying on a worsening dispute, with Macron backed by European leaders and Erdogan backed by protesting Muslim countries.

The cartoon that offends Erdogan shows him in his underwear, lifting the skirt of a traditionally dressed Muslim woman, exposing her bare bottom, with Erdogan exclaiming, “OOH! THE PROPHET!” Both figures appear to be drinking beverages containing alcohol, a taboo for observant Muslims. The cartoon is signed “Alice,” a cartoonist who I don’t know, who my French cartoonist friends don’t know, and who is not credited in any news reports that I’ve seen.

“Insulting the president” is a crime in Turkey and Erdogan has a history of retaliating against people who insult him; more than 36,000 people faced criminal investigation and thousands have been imprisoned for insulting Erdogan in 2019, according to a report from the Stockholm Center for Freedom.

Erdogan’s lawyer filed a criminal complaint against Charlie Hebdo’s management with Ankara’s prosecutor stating that the Charlie Hebdo cover cartoon amounted to “criminal libel” that is “not covered by freedom of expression,” according to state news agency Anadolu. Turkey is now promoting a boycott of French products. Protests against Charlie Hebdo cartoons are again springing up in a number of Muslim countries, focusing their ire on French President Emmanual Macron and demanding that cartoons criticizing the Prophet Muhammad should be banned in Europe.  Here’s a good article from Britain’s Daily Mail.

Erdogan has overseen the mass imprisonment and suppression of journalists who are critical of his regime.  Lately, he seems to be picking a variety of fights with many countries about different issues.

Turkish cartoonist Musa Kart recently spent a year and a half in jail for his drawings. Kart famously drew a cartoon depicting Erdogan as an orange cat that landed him in prison on an earlier occasion. Cartoonists around the world drew cartoons in support of Kart; here’s one that I drew in support of Kart when he was in prison.

I did a quick search and I found that we have 716 cartoons about Erdogan on It is no surprise that Erdogan’s short fuse and suppression of the press has made him a favorite target for cartoonists around the world.

Freedom of expression is often brought up in defense of offensive cartoons, especially against tyrants who seek to ban speech that offends them. That said, freedom of expression is not a reason to publish offensive cartoons. Cartoonists have the freedom to be asses, but we should choose not to be asses.

I would have killed the cartoon on the cover of the current Charlie Hebdo issue if it had been submitted to me – but it is a top story in the news today, so I posted it here in our blog. It is the crazy reaction to the cartoon that makes the cartoon newsworthy.

Here is a nice selection from our vast, Erdogan cartoon archive.

Robert Rousso, France


Christo Komarnitsky, Bulgaria


Joep Bertrams, The Netherlands


Marian Kamensky, Austria


Tchavdar Nicolov, Bulgaria


Arend van Dam, The Netherlands

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Ugly Purge Lands a Turkish Cartoonist in Jail – Again

UPDATE Friday August 19, 2016: Dogan Guzel is released! Read about it in Spanish here, and the Google translation of the article here.

Two great cartooning organizations that I support, Cartooning for Peace and Cartoonists Rights Network International are spotlighting the arrest and imprisonment of Turkish cartoonist Dogan Güzel who was swept up in a mass arrest of journalists as he was visiting colleagues at the pro-Kurdish newspaper, Özgür Gündem in central Istanbul, which was raided and closed in the wake of the failed July 15th coup in Turkey. The Turkish police reportedly confiscated computers at the newspaper offices, which editors described as “looting” on Twitter.

Cartoonist Dogan Güzel being dragged off off to jail this week in a mass arrest at a small newspaper in Istanbul. He reportedly asked an attorney for a new shirt.

Dogan was convicted, sentenced to seventeen years in prison and spent a year and a half in jail for drawing cartoons critical of the regime in Turkey. He was given amnesty in 1999 and moved to Spain where he lived for more than ten years and was given political asylum; he is a Spanish citizen. He now lives in both Seville and Istanbul. Dogan is being held on the charge of “making propaganda for the Kurdish armed group PKK”.

The Özgür Gündem newspaper is small, with a circulation of only 6,700; it has been banned many times for its coverage of the Kurdish conflict, a continuing thorn in the side of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who seems to be using the coup as an opportunity jail all of his critics. Here is a nice report in Spanish. There is little or no coverage of this story in English.

Cartooning for Peace is soliciting cartoonists to draw on Dogan’s behalf. Cartoonists Rights Network International posted the report below.

Cartoonist Dogan Güzel was among the journalists arrested in the government raid on the Kurdish newspaper Özgür Gündem in Istanbul on Tuesday. Photos show the cartoonist in a torn shirt in police custody. In 1999, Dogan Güzel was the first recipient of CRNI’s Courage in Political Cartooning award. At that time, he had just spent a year in jail for “drawing a cartoon that called the state ‘weak,’ and for publishing his cartoons in the Kurdish language.” Cartoonists Rights joins Reporters Without Borders in condemning the closure of the newspaper and calls for the release of the journalists.

Message from CRNI founder Robert Russell
We have recently come to know that our friend and former Courage in Editorial Cartooning award winner, Dogan Güzel, has been rounded up in a raid on his newspaper in Turkey.
We call on the government of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to quickly release our colleague Dogan Güzel, and all other journalists who are legally carrying out their professional duties in accordance with their constitutional rights. This kind of thing will happen in any country where the head of state is allowed to act as if they are more important than the constitution that they swore to protect. All of Turkey seems to be evolving into its own prison.
Robert Russell
Executive Director

Here is a sample of Dogan’s work. See more here.


Recep Tayyip Erdogan With Label

Recep Tayyip Erdogan With Label © Daryl Cagle,,Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Prime Minister, Turkey


Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster!

Here are my new cartoons!  The most recent one is about Obama’s response to the crisis in Syria.  Drawing Arabs as dogs is deeply insulting – I suppose that just puts dogs onto cartoonists’ palettes of cliches.  I may get some angry mail for this one.  I’m annoyed by Obama’s worthless response to Syria, at the same time, I’m happy that Obama isn’t jumping in to chew it up in this Syrian dogfight when both sides look to be bad guys.

132900 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons


This one is a drawing of Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.  He’s a pretty easy caricature, and I think I nailed him.

132771 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons

… still, I hate to put labels in cartoons – particularly when the label is to identify someone who is drawn with an identifiable caricature, something lousy cartoonists do when they can’t draw good caricatures.  Sometimes I just can’t depend on the readers to know what the guy will look like and I have to put in a label – still I hate it, so I distributed a second version of this one without a label.  I suppose this would work as an illustration for an op-ed piece about the turbulence in Turkey.  He’s a fun guy to draw.  I love the shape of his head.  I also like his middle name – it sounds like something Paris Hilton’s dog would say.

132772 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons

This one is about the split in the Republican party on immigration Reform.  I suppose we’ll see if any reform-candy comes out of that pinata next week.

132712 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons

The next one is a Muppet cartoon, with Cookie Monster the Republican enjoying all the White House scandals.

132570 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons

Regular readers here know that I worked for the Muppets for the first half of my career and I’m a big Muppet fan.  I draw a Muppet themed cartoon about once a year – this is a good excuse to show a few more …

I drew this one back in the George W. Bush days when we were all talking about torture and water-boarding.

31472 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons

I once illustrated a whole childrens’ book about Elmo – who claims a permanent space in my brain – oh!  I hear the voice!  I drew the one below when we got the news about the CEO of Chick-fil-A opposing gay rights, and the Muppets spoke out against it and in favor of gay rights – makes me proud of my Muppet roots.
116279 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons

This one was when congress was threatening to cut funds to public broadcasting – and Sesame Street.

90283 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons

When the Sesame Street people decided to make Cookie Monster love vegetables, and made cookies a “sometimes food” I drew this one.
14745 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons

I drew this one when there was a scandal at Goldman Sachs, and it was revealed that greedy, Wall Street types derisively call their clients “Muppets.”

108292 600 Syria Doggies, Turkey, Immigration and Cookie Monster! cartoons




Recep Tayyip Erdogan Without Label

Recep Tayyip Erdogan Without Label © Daryl Cagle,,Recep Tayyip Erdogan,Prime Minister,Turkey