February 21, 2006
Must-Read: Ali Dilem Interview
As a general rule I try not to appropriate other people's photographs, but I really liked the picture at left as illustration in a lengthy interview with the Algerian cartoonist Ali Dilem. Seeing a guy in a sweater and a Yankees cap in the midst of holding forth makes it a bit more difficult to dismiss these overseas cartoon-related press and free-speech controversies as something impossibly foreign, or, more insidiously, as a natural and to-be-expected part of a different way of life. He looks like any cartoonist speaking on a convention panel, and in the most important ways, Dilem is "any cartoonist."
Dilem talks about a variety of issues in this interview
, from the cartoon that recently earned him a one-year jail term, to the one that earned him death-threats from various religious communities, to the ongoing Danish Cartoons crisis. I don't agree with everything he says, but Dilem displays some skill at cutting to the heart of a matter, like when he notes the distinction between being provocative and providing education through illustration, and when he points out the bottom-line absurdity of prohibiting non-Muslims to draw Muhammed by comparing it to restrictions on non-Muslims so that they're held to Muslim culinary rules. I think Ali Dilem is one of the most important cartoonists in the world right now, and an interview like this is a gift.
posted 12:23 am PST
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