Cartoonist of Palestinian origin Mahmoud Abbas lives in Sweden. On 20 April 2020, his cartoon about the collapse of international oil prices went viral on Twitter in Saudi Arabia. It shows a person in a Gulf Arab dress and a rolling barrel of oil behind him. The character was identified by the audience as crown prince Mohammed Bin Salman and the cartoon was perceived as “mocking the Gulf”.
Since 21 April, Mahmoud Abbas has received thousands of tweets and comments on social networks, including insults, hate speech and death threats against him and his family. Some described him as a “terrorist”. Personal information about his family and his location in Sweden was also shared.
A complaint was filed to the Swedish police with the help of SJF and the case was sent to the Mapping Media Freedom and Council of Europe platforms.
IFJ and EFJ said: “We stand in solidarity with Mahmoud Abbas. We are appalled by the violence of the threats and slurs. Cartoonists have become a prime target of autocratic regimes. They need protection”.
SJF President Ulrika Hyllert said: “The attack on Mahmoud Abbas is unacceptable. An attack like this is not only an attack on Mahmoud Abbas as a person but also a threat to press freedom. We require that the police investigate the case thoroughly and do their outmost to ensure Mahmoud Abbas’ safety”.