Speaking of cartoons and satire…
[Atena] Farghadani, a 28-year-old Iranian artist and activist, rendered visual judgment last year, lampooning members of her nation’s parliament over their vote to restrict contraception and ban certain birth-control methods — just one of her works satirizing the government. Tehran’s Revolutionary Court has now announced that it is rendering its own brand of judgment.
The artist’s crimes include “insulting members of parliament through paintings” and “spreading propaganda against the system,” according to Amnesty International.
Yeah, see, insulting members of parliament shouldn’t be a crime, and neither should objecting to the system. That’s the first thing that should be wide-open to criticism including insult, not the last.
Farghadani, a former fine-arts student who has expressed her opinions prominently through provocative works, was arrested last August and held for months. She was released for several weeks late last year before being rearrested after she spoke out about her mistreatment at the hands of guards. After her second incarceration, in Tehran’s infamous Evin Prison, she went on a hunger strike in February, reportedly suffered a heart attack and at one point lost consciousness. (Amnesty International details her timeline here, including her attempts to draw in prison by using flattened paper cups as her canvas.)
One political cartoonist particularly knowledgeable about her plight is Iranian American artist Nikahang Kowsar. Now a CRNI board member based in the Washington area, Kowsar was jailed in his native Iran 15 years ago for his cartoons critical of the country’s leaders.
“Atena is being punished for something many of us have been doing in Iran: drawing politicians as animals, without naming them,” Kowsar tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “Of course, I drew a crocodile and made a name that rhymed with the name of powerful Ayatollah, and caused a national security crisis in 2000. What Atena drew was just an innocent take on what the parliamentarians are doing, and based on the Iranian culture, monkeys are considered the followers and imitators, [and] cows are the stupid ones.
“Many members of the Iranian parliament are just following the leaders without any thoughts.”