International caricaturists' meeting cancelled: Is extremism trumping freedom of speech?
A museum in the French town of Caen has cancelled its traditional international festival of political caricatures, which is held every five years, out of concern that terrorists might attack it. Deutsche Presse-Agentur reports that the meeting was originally scheduled to take place in April.
Karlstadt University in Sweden has also cancelled, for security reasons, a lecture by cartoonist Lars Vilks, the co-organizer of the recent debate in Copenhagen whose members were targeted for assassination. Stéphane Grimaldi. director of the Le Mémorial de Caen Museum in France, said that after the assassinations in the Danish capital in mid-February, his museum's website was attacked several times.
The attack in Copenhagen, which was perpetrated against a discussion of freedom of speech attended by Vilks, has simply confirmed concerns about other possible violent attacks in the wake of the January assassinations committed by radical Islamists in Paris that began with an attack on the editorial offices of the French satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The Caen memorial and museum in Normandy reportedly cannot organize the caricaturists' gathering in the spirit of its previous meetings now.
Several French and international cartoonists expressed concerns about the meeting becoming a target. The museum insists it cannot in good conscience expose the cartoonists, its staff or visitors to even the slightest risk.
The event will reportedly be realized elsewhere. Yesterday the Associated Press reported that after the Copenhagen attack, Karlstadt University has refused to host a lecture by Vilks, who is the author of controversial caricatures of the Prophet Mohammed.
Joachim Gustafssson, a spokesperson for Karlstadt University, has confirmed that the event with Vilks was cancelled because "we cannot guarantee security". A local organization focused on foreign policy originally invited Vilks to talk on 17 March about freedom of speech in the wake of the Charlie Hebdo attack.
Paula Holst, the organizer of the planned lecture, called the university's decision a "victory for extremism and terrorim." However, she also said she believed the event would still take place at another location in Karlstadt.
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