Malaysian artist Fahmi Reza was sentenced to one month in prison for his political cartoons of the country’s prime minister.
41-year-old Fahmi, a political cartoonist, is known for portraying Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak as a ghostly clown with arched eyebrows and scarlet lips. Najib, who faces a general election this summer, remains tainted by a 2015 scandal over siphoning millions from Malaysian investment funds. Artforum reports that this week, a court in the northern city of Ipoh sentenced Fahmi to one month in prison and demanded $7,700 in fines for his cartoons of the embattled prime minister, who is still expected to win the upcoming election. On Twitter, the artist wrote that his portraits are an “act of protest against this corrupt government that uses the Sedition Act and other draconian laws to silence dissenting voices.” The Sedition Act, a law enacted in Malaysia by British colonial administrators in 1948, prohibits any publication, action, or language displaying disapproval of the government. While Fahmi was able to raise funds to cover the entire amount of his fine, the artist’s lawyer, Syahredzan Johan, says they plan to appeal.