Five years after masked gunmen stormed the offices of the French weekly newspaper Charlie Hebdo in Paris, killing twelve people including a police officer, the French Ministry of Culture revealed that it is planning to establish a center dedicated to satirical cartoons. The announcement was made on January 7, the fifth anniversary of the terrorist attack. In rememberance of those who died, the newspaper released a special edition of the publication, which also denounces the new censors of today, and held an event where the public was invited to meet current contirbutors.
French culture minister Franck Riester said that the idea for a training and exhibition space for the medium was supported by Georges Wolinski, one of five caricaturists killed in the attack. A press statement issued by the ministry called editorial cartoons “a reflection of our times, our freedoms, and the dangers that threaten them.” It also said, “Drawn to amuse and inform us, often in an irreverential tone, editorial cartoons are a powerful form of expression and creativity in our societies that enhances the independence of the media and therefore of the vitality of our democracies.” The president of the National Book Center, Vincent Monadé, was tapped to spearhead the project, proposals for which will be submitted by the end of May 2020.
Riester said that the center will shine a spotlight on cartoonists and the current challenges they face, which range from censorship to a shrinking market. Many publications have scaled back on their commissioning of political cartoons including the New York Times, which announced last June that it would no longer publish them in its international edition. The move followed fierce backlash over an anti-Semitic cartoon that showed Donald Trump wearing a black kippah and walking a guide dog, which was portrayed as a dachshund with the face of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and a Star of David around its neck.