Flamman launches satire competition to protest against Erdogan

This week's cover is a pastiche of artist Carl Johan De Geer’s landmark ”Skända flaggan” (”Desecrate the flag”) from 1967, which depicts the a burning Swedish flag with the word ”cock” written on it. Photo: Henrik Montgomery/AP. Illustration: Petter Evertsén after Carl Johan De Geer.

Erdogan is trying to pressure Sweden to deport Kurds and restrict the freedom of expression. Flamman therefore initiates a satirical drawing competition with a prize sum of SEK 10,000 (€ 1,000). The best works will be published in the magazine. Send your contribution to red@flamman.se.


After the heinous triple murder at a Kurdish cultural center in Paris, the Kurdish minority is rightly in despair. In an interview with Flamman’s foreign editor Jonas Elvander (#2/2023), the association’s foreign affairs spokesperson Berivan Firat said that Turkey’s persecution makes Kurdish lives insecure throughout Europe, and that Sweden is undermining its democracy by selling out the Kurds to Erdogan.

She is absolutely right. Just the other day, Turkey summoned the Swedish ambassador to a meeting and canceled a visit by Speaker of the Swedish parliament Andreas Norlén, in response to a protest with a doll representing Erdogan hanging upside down from a rope.

A macabre protest indeed, but as the right’s selective defenders of free speech usually point out, it is there to protect that which disturbs. Yet the government just issued an official statement, declaring the protest as a ”tasteless” sabotage against the Nato process. But what is actually tasteless is feeling concern for a harmless puppet, while simultaneously ignoring the deeds of its motive: the world’s most powerful violent Islamist, an unrestrained autocrat who imprisons oppositional and ethnic minorities, and steers the economy in favor of a band of tightly-knit plunder families. The country also has imperial ambitions in Africa (Flamman #1 2023), and has repeatedly bombed the Kurdish forces in Northern Syria who defeated the Islamic State. The differences to Putin are shrinking by the day.

The conservative government is now doing everything to appease this oppressive regime. Foreign Minister Tobias Billström has even described Turkey as a ”democracy” several times, even though the country according to all expertise is regarded as a hardening hybrid regime. Just one month ago, Istanbul’s popular mayor Ekrem Imamoglu was sentenced to two years and seven months in prison for ”insulting” the court that arbitrarily annulled his election victory in 2019. He won re-election by an even larger margin, and would count as an important contender in the June 18 election if he is not banned from participating.

But when Tobias Billström shuttle-flies between Stockholm and to Ankara, it is not to stage protests. Instead, Dagens ETC (4/1) revealed that just days after the verdict against Imamoglu, he promised Turkish TV viewers a ban on waving ”terror flags”, referring to the PKK banner. On his chest, as usual, he had a Swedish-Turkish flag pin, and I ask myself which symbol is more blood-drenched – the one belonging to the movement that crushed the Islamic State, or to the Turkish nation fighting on the side of the Islamists?

All defenders of Kurdish rights, a democratic development in Turkey and Swedish freedom of speech, now need to gather in protest. Sweden should immediately cancel the entry into NATO, which was wrongheaded from the beginning. A process that was supposed to increase our security has, on the contrary, put us in the lap of a power-hungry autocrat who wants to dictate Swedish legislation. This is precisely what the left warned would happen last Spring, when the Nato process was initiated by the Social Democratic government.

Now I welcome everyone, professionals and amateurs, to participate in Flamman’s satire competition. The prize sum is SEK 10,000 (€ 1,000) and the best contributions are published in the newspaper. Send us your interpretation of the Turkish autocrat to red@flamman.se on January 20 the latest.

Let the imagination flow!

Leonidas Aretakis

  • Erdogan
  • Tobias Billström
  • Turkiet