A book festival in Lausanne has cancelled an invitation to Marsault, a controversial French comic book artist, after the organisers said they received threats from activists.
The organisers of the Lausan'noir crime thriller book festivalexternal link say they will not be welcoming the French comic book artist Marsault to their event, which takes place in the Swiss city from October 27-29.
“The conditions were not met to be able to welcome him properly. There was a risk of being overwhelmed, which would have been a danger for the organisation of the event,” Isabelle Falconnier, the artistic director of the festival and president of the Geneva Book and Press Fairexternal link, told the Swiss News Agency, confirming earlier news reports.
Over the past few days, the organisers and the team at the Théâtre 2.21 had received numerous threats and hostile messages from feminist and anti-racism activists criticising an invitation sent to the French artist. Anti-fascist online groups accuse Marsault of spreading sexist and racist ideas. The comic book artist rejects the accusations.
Falconnier said the cancellation was not about censorship but rather a security issue.
“He is welcome to the Geneva Book Fair next year,” she added. “His work merits discussion but we wish for a constructive dialogue.”
Marsault wrote on Facebook: “The Swiss anti-fascists have managed to cancel my appearance at Lausan’noir. The same scenario as usual: two or three 18-year-old eunuchs who make phone calls pretending they are film gangsters, vague threats and there you go, you get shat on, and it’s cancelled.”
His publisher, Ring Publications, deplored the decision by the Lausanne festival.
“Extremist groups have stuck this disastrous image to him,” a Ring press officer told 20Minutes.ch.
Earlier this month, former CIA chief David Petraeus’s appearance at the Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich was cancelled amid security concerns. A group of students had called for protests against Petraeus, who had been invited by the Swiss Institute for International Studies (Siaf) to speak on October 5.
Despite the ETH cancellation, the former four-star US general delivered two separate speeches to private invitees in Zurich during his Swiss visit, according to the Tages-Anzeiger newspaper.