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Fair comment or racism? Award-winning German artist under fire over ‘Islamophobic’ cartoons

Fair comment or racism? Award-winning German artist under fire over ‘Islamophobic’ cartoons
A German feminist artist who has been honored by a journalist group for her caricatures, is now facing a fiery backlash over a series of “racist” and “Islamophobic” cartoons – many of them relentlessly poking fun at Sharia law.

Franziska Becker’s works have come under the spotlight after the Female Journalists Association (Journalistinnenbund) awarded her a prize for her “keen-witted and sharp-tongued” depiction of men and women. The group hailed Becker as “one of the most prominent, feminism-oriented successful personalities” – but the praise hit a nerve with some Germans.

Criticism began amassing on social media shortly after news of the award broke. Sibel Schick, a contributor to women’s Missy Magazine and TAZ outlet – and, ironically, a self-described pro-choice feminist – was one of the first to post some of Becker’s cartoons which she dubbed “anti-Islam and racist.”

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One caricature depicts a kindergarten where children – girls all wearing headscarves – are seen playing with toy "suicide" trucks or hijacked planes. Others are building a mosque and erecting a minaret.

Another one portrays a supposedly Muslim bank employee who tells her non-Muslim client that withdrawing cash is only possible with “a written permission from a husband, a father, a brother or a son.”

There was also a Becker cartoon in which a Muslim policewoman deals with a shoplifter using an axe – a blunt reference to a Sharia provision which prescribes that theft be punished by severing the thief’s hand.

Naturally, there was no shortage of criticism on social media, with users venting anger at both the artist and the journalists’ association.

The journalists’ group, meanwhile, has backtracked on promoting Becker’s award and said that “we take the criticism seriously and are currently discussing it intensively, but at first privately.”

However, those defending Becker pointed out that she isn’t overly obsessed with Islam. Other caricatures that she’s created have been equally critical of Christian preachers and Buddhists, it turns out.

Becker has always been a “super-left, super-feminist cartoonist,” one user wrote, wondering why “this woman is now supposed to be “racist” because she is critical of Islam (like any religion)?”

Twitter users aside, women’s magazine ‘Emma,’ where Becker works as an illustrator and cartoonist, has thrown its weight behind the embattled artist. The magazine publisher insisted that Becker, who has created satirical cartoons about “Islamic fanatics” since as early as 1991 had fallen victim to “a smear campaign and censorship.”

READ MORE: ‘Symbol of oppression:’ German college in hot water over controversial burqa course

As controversy mounted, Becker spoke out about her stance, telling the media that her satire was directed against violent Islamism, but had nothing to do with Islam as such.

“I am not concerned with the headscarf itself, but with the headscarf as a symbol of the oppression worn by female Islamists and converts,” she argued.

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