Malaysian artist charged for depicting PM as clown
KUALA LUMPUR—A Malaysian graphic artist was charged on Monday with violating multimedia laws by caricaturing Prime Minister Najib Razak as a sinister clown to protest at allegations of massive corruption.
Fahmi Reza’s depictions of Najib went viral earlier this year, and posters and stickers bearing the images have also appeared in public places, earning the designer-activist comparisons to street-art provocateurs like Banksy.
He was charged under a section of Malaysian communications and multimedia laws that forbid disseminating online content deemed to “annoy, abuse, threaten, or harass” others.
Fahmi, 38, faces a possible one-year prison sentence and 50,000 ringgit ($12,200) fine, said his attorney, Syahredzan Johan. “This is essentially criminalising (free) expression,” said Syahredzan.
Fahmi pleaded not guilty after the charge was read out in court. Syahredzan said police were also investigating him for sedition. In a Facebook posting Monday, Fahmi vowed to “defend my rights to criticise the corrupt rulers by using art as a weapon”.—Agencies