Italian cartoonist dropped after Israel furore

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The Independent Online

Italy's most popular cartoonist, Giorgio Forattini, was looking for a job yesterday after being controversially dropped by daily newspaper La Stampa in what is suspected to be a response to recent protests by readers incensed by the maestro's irreverent political sketches.

Italy's most popular cartoonist, Giorgio Forattini, was looking for a job yesterday after being controversially dropped by daily newspaper La Stampa in what is suspected to be a response to recent protests by readers incensed by the maestro's irreverent political sketches.

A Forattini vignette depicting Jesus Christ in a Bethlehem stable manger faced by Israeli tanks, asking "Are they going to kill me again?" generated a storm of protests, according to rival daily Corriere della Sera. Signor Forattini conceded that the cartoon "touched rather a delicate chord, but on the other hand that is my job".

The falling out set off speculation, strongly denied by the cartoonist, that he would join conservative Il Giornale, which is controlled by the family of Silvio Berlusconi, the Italian Prime Minister and media mogul. If he were to go to the Berlusconi-owned paper some Italian media commentators have speculated that the satirist, who started his career as a graphic lay out designer on the left-wing evening paper Paese Sera, might have difficulty in defending his reputation as a thorn in the side of politicians from across the spectrum.

"It was separation by mutual consent, everything happened most cordially," Signor Forattini said after failing to win a renewal of his €500,000 (£350,000) annual salary.

"I did not quarrel, nor was I thrown out or leave slamming the door, it was only a problem of costs. How dare the Corriere write that I will go to Il Giornale? They could at least wait for Il Giornale to call me. I have had offers in the past but the addio to my newspaper is something that happened yesterday and I don't think I can anticipate something that has not happened.

"My years with La Stampa have been idyllic and it is true that I never have been censored."

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