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Wednesday, February 15, 2006

German Caricature Misunderstood, Caricaturist Threatened

According to German Spiegel and other sources German caricaturist Klaus Stuttmann of the Tagesspiegel newspaper is now receiving death threats. The German embassy in Teheran is target of protests as well. The caricature in question was an ironic commentary on a political issue discussed in Germany at this time: should the military be allowed to safe-guard certain objects during the FIFA world cup happening here later this year? Some say yes, it’s necessary because we don’t have enough regular police, while others say that’s ridiculous overkill.

So, in the caricature from last Friday, we can see an Iranian football team standing in a football stadium team dressed with bomb belts; next to them are German soldiers, and the drawing is titled “Why the German military absolutely needs to be guarding the world championship!!!” Obvious to most anyone living in Germany, this caricature is trying to picture how absurd military in a football stadium is precisely because Iran’s players do not wear such belts. It is arguing that the pro-military arguments in this German discussion often put up ridiculous stereotypes of “terrorists.” You may agree or disagree with these statements, and you may like or dislike the satire here – some Germans thought it was insensitive in the current situation – but that was what the caricature was getting at.

At this time, according to Tagesspiegel, Klaus Stuttman has left his home and went undercover, afraid due to the death threats he received (3 all in all). His drawing is making the rounds in places where often both the irony, as well as the actual target of the political attack (those favoring implementing military in Germany during the championship, and those promoting stereotypes), is lost to the viewer.

However, there’s hope the situation can still be resolved. I think most importantly, we need rational voices. I found many of these rational and peaceful voices at, where parts of this new controversy erupted. Martin-Reza in one thread writes:

“We all were angry, but threatening goes too far.

I think it would be a good idea for those people who took it too far and threatened the caricaturist’s life or similar stuff to mail him and apologize.”

A user by the name of PersianAllStars in another thread argues that the forum members should distance themselves from an intolerant way of criticizing.

If you have comments on this, please email me and I may add them to this post – I appreciate comments from people in Iran, Germany, and every other country in the world. In hopes to deescalate this situation as best as possible I will close the comments thread on this post.


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