The Cartoonists Rights Network International has just announced that Indian cartoonist Kanika Mishra and Palestinian cartoonist Majda Shaheen are the 2014 winners of the Award for Courage in Editorial Cartooning.
The CRNI presents the honor to “a cartoonist in great danger who has demonstrated exceptional courage in the exercise of free-speech rights under extraordinary circumstances.”
Mishra and Shaheen are the first women ever to win the award, says CRNI executive director Robert Russell.
In the face of death threats against her and her family, the Mumbai-based Kanika Mishra took on the “outrageous hypocrisy” of popular religious leader Asaram Bapu, who was accused of raping a 16-year-old, CRNI says. Bapu was eventually arrested and jailed.
“Kanika, like some cartoonists who find themselves under pressure, refused to bend or compromise her art,” Russell tells The Post’s Comic Riffs. “With every new phone threat or attack, her cartoons just got stronger and stronger.”
Through her cartooning, Shaheen “depicts her view on the relationship between Ismail Haniyeh [senior political leader of Hamas] and the Al-Quds Brigades,” says CRNI, noting that she also faced threats of violence for her commentary.
“Majda thought the climate for free speech in Palestine would be stronger, but the threats made against her — asking people to find where she lived — caused a deep sense of fear,” Russell tells Comic Riffs. “Neither she nor her husband ever thought her cartoons would cause that kind of a backlash.”
The awards will be presented Oct. 11 in San Francisco, during the Association of American Editorial Cartoonists convention.