After last month’s shootings at the Charlie Hebdo Paris headquarters, the remaining staff continued publication and the issue sold out seven million copies in six languages, in contrast to its typical French-only print run of 60,000.
Then, earlier this month, NBC news reported that a global cartoon competition based on the theme of Holocaust denial was launched in Iran in response to the magazine cover that featured a caricature of the Prophet Muhammad. All cartoons must be submitted by April Fools’ Day because “April 1 is the day of big lies, and the Holocaust is a big lie that the Zionists invented to suppress the Palestinians,” said Masoud Shojaei-Tabatabaii, head of House of Cartoons and one of the competition’s organizers. A total of $25,000 will be awarded to three winners.
This Valentine’s Day, a gunman fired into a Copenhagen café, where a debate on freedom of speech featuring Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks was being held. Vilks is the creator of a number of controversial caricatures of the Prophet Muhammad. He has been living under 24-hour police protection since 2010. One person was killed and three police officers were wounded.
Now, Pamela Geller, president of the American Freedom Defense Initiative (AFDI), has announced that she is organizing a “Draw the Prophet” contest and event in Garland, Texas—the same site of a recent “Stand by the Prophet” conference, organized by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (and protested by AFDI members). Artnet News called the AFDI contest “shameless Muslim-baiting.” The winner of this competition will be awarded $10,000. Entries will be accepted through April 5th and the event will take place on May 3rd.
The Southern Poverty Law Center has deemed the AFDI a hate group and refers to Geller as “the anti-Muslim movement’s most visible and flamboyant figurehead. She’s relentlessly shrill and coarse in her broad-brush denunciations of Islam and makes preposterous claims, such as that President Obama is the ‘love child’ of Malcolm X.”