(JTA) – Art Spiegelman, the cartoonist best known for his Maus graphic novel about the Holocaust, called the group that sponsored a contest in Texas for cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed a “racist organization.”
Two gunmen attempted to shoot participants at the suburban Dallas cartoon contest Sunday, but police stopped them, killing the assailants in the process. Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) has claimed responsibility for the Sunday attack.
In an interview with Time about an award the PEN writers’ group gave France’s Charlie Hebdo magazine in defiance of protests by some PEN members, Spiegelman said the American Freedom Defense Initiative, founded and led by New York-based blogger Pamela Geller, is “exactly the nightmare version that the writers who were protesting the PEN award thought Charlie was.”
In January, two gunmen stormed Charlie Hebdo’s Paris office, killing 11 people and injuring 11 others. The Charlie Hebdo shooting occurred three days before another gunman held shoppers hostage at the Hyper Cacher kosher supermarket, killing four.
Geller, Spiegelman said, “is intentionally trying to start war of culture with Islam by saying that all Muslims are terrorists under the surface, and we’re going to prove it.”
In addition to the cartoon contest, Geller’s group has also put out controversial anti-Muslim ads on public transportation in several U.S. cities.
While noting that Geller and her organization deserve free-speech protection, it does not, unlike Charlie Hebdo, deserve a “courage award.”
Spiegelman’s Maus was recently pulled from Russian booksellers because it features a swastika on the cover.