08:17 GMT25 November 2020
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    A caricature artist persecuted for self-expression told Sputnik France about the regression of freedom of speech in his country.

    The Charlie Hebdo attacks sparked debates over the self-expression all over the world. A rally was held in Paris after the attack with 40 of the world's top officials.

    Journalists and cartoonists defended their right for freedom of speech. But it seems like something is rotten in France.

    A Frenchman called Zeon, 31, originally from Paris told Sputnik France his striking story. Recently he was arrested by the French government for his caricatures.

    “On Tuesday March 3, 2015, police broke into my house at 7 a.m. The officers were following orders of a judge and led me to the court and then put me under arrest. I was arrested for a caricature which I drew in 2011 and which was opposed by the organization BNVCA (National Bureau of Monitoring of Anti-Semitism). The organization filed a complaint on me in 2011. Currently, the investigation continues.”

    He used to draw comics, and since 2007 engaged in caricatures and gained fame as a caricaturist. Currently he leads a group of illustrators and caricaturists who have been boycotted by the media.

    In his efforts to express his concern over the situation that was happening to him, Zeon contacted Plantu a famous French cartoonist, who is also a defender of freedom of expression of artists around the world and one of the founders of the organization "Cartooning for Peace". He also contacted the creators of the film "Cartoonists — Foot Soldiers of Democracy”. Unfortunately, no one responded to Zeon’s plea.

    “With Charlie Hebdo we all heard the slogans that artists have the right to criticize the government, to condemn in the name of freedom of speech and expression. In theory, yes, but in practice freedom of speech is only regressing. Everyone understands and feels that it is becoming increasingly difficult to speak freely in France. There is a very high risk of reprisals from the justice system.”

    Zeon together with his team has published several collective publications, such as “Almanac for all.”

    In 2013, Zeon was condemned by the International League against Racism and Anti-Semitism (LICRA) for a cartoon that he drew.

    Zeon further said, “I am surprised and shocked by these methods of intimidation, which is usually applied to criminals. Through my caricatures I have never advocated violence or hatred towards anyone; on the contrary I am for tolerance and peace.”

    “What is happening to me is a sign that the regime of Hollande is increasingly approaching to a dictatorship. Especially when the government spends it’s time attacking and bombing other countries, such as Libya or Syria ‘in the name of democracy’."

    Zeon told Sputnik that he received support from various people, but noticed that those who claimed to be “Je Suis Charlie” did not extend any support to him.


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