Murat Yilmaz is a Turkish illustrator. He was born in 1969 in İzmit, Turkey. He began to draw in 1981. Between 1988-1990 he drew for Yeni Düşünce Newspaper. Then he drew for other local papers. He has worked for Tırpan magazine between 1992-1994. He is still working for an information and culture magazine called Semerkand. He is married and he has a son. Murat Yilmaz gives us below his opinion about freedom of expression.
How did you become a cartoonist?
I decided once to send my drawings to some magazines and newspapers. Most of them liked my works. Then I started to draw more and more. I have never stopped until now.
Which papers, magazines or websites do you work for?
I have been working for almost three years for a magazine named “Semerkand”. I’m also the founder of Karikaturevi, which means “The House of Cartoon” in Turkish.. Karikaturevi is an interactive Website that gathers the drawings of worldwide cartoonists.
What elements usually strike you and inspire you in the political news?
Religion, countries’ history, people. Actually all kinds of dreadful injustice done to human beings interest me a lot. I try to show my indignation through my cartoons.
Do you think there should be limits to the cartoonist’s freedom of expression? If so, what are the « redlines »?
Yes, there should be. The cartoonists shouldn’t insult people or represent things that do not exist or that are not true in reality.
Is there only one freedom of expression or are there several ones? (Regarding the cultural differences from one country to another)
Each country and each people has its own culture. If there are different cultures then obviously there are different behaviours.
What do you think about the Holocaust cartoon contest organized by the Iranian newspaper Hamshari, in response to the caricatures of Muhammad published in several Europeans papers?
I think the persons who launched this contest could have rather organized an alternative competition about Muslim culture and about love between all human beings. Such an event would have broken the negative stereotypes about Muslims believed by many people. Artists around the world would have been encouraged to find more information about Muslim culture and realities to realize their artwork. They would have discovered by themselves what is true and what is not and they would have produced new reliable and correct cartoons towards Muslims. Such a contest would have been a peaceful substitute to the growing hatred between West and East.
Have some of your drawings been censored? In which circumstances?
Yes, but the circumstances always change; it depends on the time and the country’s type of government.
Do you have any self-censorship? What are the most difficult subjects to represent?
Yes, I do have self-censorship.
If I cannot find enough information about the subject I’m working on, it becomes very difficult for me.
Do you think the cartoon is a political force that can make people change their behaviour?
Do you think that the cartoonist is an artist or rather a journalist, or maybe both?
It can be both of them.
According to you, does he have to make people laugh or to make them think?
According to me, it can be both at the same time. These purposes can also be separate.
What is for you the most difficult situation or person to draw?
It’s hard for me to draw about cartoons and cartoonists, because I belong to this world. So I don’t have an objective way of seeing things.