A cartoonist in exile

When editorial cartoonist Nik Kowsar left Iran in 2003 he escaped not one, but two serious threats on his life after depicting Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi as a crocodile strangling a journalist. Jenny Vaughan spoke to Kowsar about power, the Green Movement and whether he ever plans to return to Iran.

The crocodile cartoonWhen Nik Kowsar left Iran in 2003 he escaped not one, but two serious threats on his life. “I was really scared to death,” the editorial cartoonist says from his Toronto home. He had worked for over twenty newspapers in his country when he drew his now infamous “crocodile cartoon” depicting Ayatollah Mesbah Yazdi (the Farsi word for crocodile, “tesbah,” rhymes with his name) strangling a journalist. The image inflamed conservative politicians and thousands students, who held public protests and called for his death. The cartoon landed Kowsar in Iran’s notorious Evin prison, which prompted him to contact Reporters Without Borders and the Cartoonists Rights Network who eventually helped him come to Canada where he works today running the citizen journalism platform khodnevis.org in addition to roozonline.com, a news website for Iranians living in Iran and abroad.

This post originally
on Tehran-To.ca. Iran’s media censorship inspired a class
of Canadian journalism students to create Tehran-To.ca: a multimedia
news portal that embraces social media and digital content as they cover
post-election Iran. Re
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