“It is still hard to find words”, says ICORN director Helge Lunde, “but we do believe that, like after the gruesome attack on Charlie Hebdo in January, the people of Paris will stand up again, in defense and celebration of its core values, solidarity, hospitality, human rights and freedom of expression. The city of Paris has played an important role for ICORN since joining the network in 2011, and the city can count on extensive support, loyalty and solidarity from its fellow network members in the weeks and months to come”.
Paris joined ICORN in January 2011 and has since hosted the renowned Iranian Cartoonist Mana Neyestani and Syrian journalist Najati Tayara. The city is currently hosting the Afghani writer and filmmaker Abdul Hakim Hashemi Hamidi. The Municipality of Paris is the official ICORN host, partnered by among others Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris Biblilothèques, Reporters Sans Frontières and Maison des Journalistes.
The acclaimed Iranian cartoonist and human rights activist, Mana Neyestani, was Paris’ first ICORN artist. In Paris, he published his autobiographical graphic novel, Metamorphosis: The Iranian Way, about his stay in the Evin prison.
Trained an architect, Neyestani started his career as a cartoonist and illustrator for several cultural, literary, economic and political magazines in Iran. With the rise of Iranian reformist newspapers in 1999 he became an editorial cartoonist, and in 2000 he published his first adult comic book, Kaaboos (Nightmare), the first in Iran to be published without government support. The hero of the book, Mr. Ka, is also the main character in The Ghost House (2001) and Mr. Ka's Love Puzzle (2004). Neyestani came under attack in 2006 for a cartoon that highlighted the plight of the minority Azeri community in northwestern Iran; the cartoon incited rioting among Azeris. He was subsequently held in prison for three months and fled Iran while awaiting trial, and arrived in Paris in 2011.