In the wake of the Paris terror attacks on the satire magazine Charlie Hebdo, a number of other instances of censorship and terrorism against artists and satirists have been ignored – perhaps even deliberately – by the mainstream media.
The cartoonist Mohammad Saba’aneh was arrested at the Allenby Bridge checkpoint in Israel and sentenced by the Israeli Salem Military Court in April of 2013 for “contact with a hostile organization.”
But Saba’aneh and his supporters say that this was all backlash against his political cartoons, by the State that he was so critical of.
Saba’aneh was held without charge from the beginning. The military courts couldn’t decide if they wanted to have formal charges brought against a political cartoonist, so they just held him indefinitely, extending his detention. Meanwhile, his attorney protested that there was no evidence Saba’aneh had committed any offense whatsoever. But that didn’t matter to the State, or to the media abroad which completely ignored this case.
The State alleged that Saba’aneh had contacted a publishing company about publishing his cartoons in a book. That Jordanian publisher also put out a book about Palestinian prisoners. The State of Israel said that this book was a threat to national security. Saba’aneh’s contact with this publisher was thereby used as a pretext to lock up the controversial cartoonist before he could connect with a broader audience via this publishing house.
Saba’aneh was ultimately sentenced to five months in jail after serving out his informal and continuously extended detention. He was also fined 10,000 shekels for his “contact with a hostile organization.”
His brother, Adel Saba’aneh said that, “The only thing Mohammad did was contact a publisher in Amman who publishes a book about Palestinian prisoners.”
Adel Saba’aneh commented on the conditions he was kept in for months without formal charges being brought: “He’s sick, he was transported to a different place every few days and a pre-existing intestinal condition was aggravated because of the prison food.”
“In similar cases, the lawyers say people are often released, but the authorities were determined to convict Mohammad. The longer he would refuse to confess, the higher the sentence would be. They would not let him go.”
So while you are reading all about freedom of speech and the like, in the aftermath of the Charlie Hebdo bombing, remember that Muslims are not the only ones to send men with guns to come after journalists and political cartoonists. They just happen to be the only ones that the mainstream media focuses on.