Cartoon drawn in May creates outrage in August

A controversy regarding North Cyprus is spreading between Turkey and the Turkish Cypriot state.

A cartoon drawn by local cartoonist Utku Karsu (main photo) for Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Kibris,’ depicts a group of criminals disembarking from a landing craft onto North Cyprus shores. It is a mystery as to why there is a controversy since the cartoon was published in May this year, writes Yusuf Kanli in his regular column for Turkish daily ‘Hurriyet’.

He writes:

“Nationalists, associations, and a political party claiming to represent Anatolian Turks who have settled in Cyprus since the 1974 Turkish intervention have been staging demonstrations, accusing the cartoonist and Kıbrıs newspaper of disseminating hatred and thus spreading “fascist, racist, and anti-Turkish feelings” among the local Turkish Cypriot people.

“Indeed, the cartoon was badly drawn, and personally, I consider the depiction of mainland Turkish settlers in Cyprus as criminals as a deplorable and disgusting approach even though statistics vividly demonstrate the overwhelming majority of inhabitants of the Turkish Cypriot prison facilities have a mainland background. Yet, it is totally unacceptable to disseminate a rejectionist, racist mentality of looking down on them. But, cartoonists, like anyone else, should be entitled to express their opinion in any way they consider appropriate. How could the freedom of expression be denied to an artist, writer, journalist, academic, or plain citizen?”

“Why did a cartoon published in May become a source of controversy in August? Of course, some people see some benefit in encouraging racist controversy between the local and post-1974 population of Northern Cyprus. This is a very bad game.

“Thus, not only for the sake of freedom of expression but also in seeing the very bad designs of disseminating hatred between the Turks of Cyprus and the Turks of Turkey, this controversy must be terminated.”

Meanwhile, Mert Ozdag in Turkish Cypriot daily ‘Yeni Duzen’ referring to the same cartoon by Karsu in Kibris on 6 May, 2017 writes, inter alia, the following:

“[…] The caricature actually tells us of a reality and its results to our face and we prefer to discuss the caricature instead of the realities. The problem actually lies in the phony system in which we live and not in the caricature.

“Mainly, the issue of ‘entering with an identity card’ causes problems. We should note this somewhere. Citizens of all countries in the world cannot enter with identity cards into the northern part of Cyprus! This practice has been created for Turkey. It has been created because the mentality, which has been governing Turkey for years, considers the northern part of Cyprus, Turkish land’.

“Because of this ‘misunderstanding’ all mistakes come in rapid succession. Many of the problems we experience, from the island becoming Turkish and Islamisation, are administrated by the same centre and are promoted from there. It is understood that the ‘case of the caricature’ had an effect and is creating a window of opportunity to discuss these issues”.

North Nicosia Mayor, Mehmet Harmanci, commented that they should not remain silent on the issue because “this will not end well”. “I think that the event has to do with the inability to correctly control the borders of a country and not with racism”, he argued adding that Karsu had criticised him in the past with his cartoons but this had not bothered him.

Hurriyet, Yeni Duzen

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