French Cartoonist Conference Cancelled After Cyber Attacks

The Le Mémorial de Caen Museum in Normandy, France has decided to cancel a planned cartoonists’ conference in April due to fears over a potential terrorist response, Monopol reports.

The institution added that its website had been targeted by cyber attacks six times in the last few weeks. The decision was made in light of the recent deadly shootings including a terrorist attack in Denmark that left one person dead and three injured after a free speech debate attended by the controversial Swedish cartoonist Lars Vilks was interupted. The French ambassador, Francois Zimeray, was also present during the attack. Semi automatic shots were fired through plate glass windows during the seminar. Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt described it as a “politically motivated” act of terrorism.

The attack came after 12 people were killed at the French magazine Charlie Hebdo. The attack on the office and staff of Charlie Hebdo was prompted by the publication of satirical Cartoons that depicted the Prophet Muhammad. The Paris-based publication had previously been targeted, fire bombed and burned to the ground.

According to Europe Online Magazine, museum director, Stéphane Grimaldi, commented via Twitter “We cannot peacefully organize the next events with cartoonists in the same spirit they have always been held.” He emphasized, “Under no circumstances can we take any risks vis-a-vis the cartoonists, the public, and the employees of the memorial.”

The Swedish cartoonist Ann Telnaes responded to the news with an opinion piece published in the Washington Post “I was angry about the cancellation because it again reminds me of the Paris murders and the senseless violence which is now a sad fact of my profession. I have said repeatedly ever since the Danish cartoon controversy in 2006 that there is no justification for violence if one is offended by a drawing.”

Although the cartoonist conceded “I fully understand the organisers’ reasons for cancelling the event; they have the responsibility of not only the safety of the invited cartoonists but also the safety of the community’s residents and businesses.”

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