A cartoonist in Bangladesh, Arifur Rahman (age 23), is in trouble with religious extremists for drawing a child naming his cat Muhammad. Conservative Madrassa clerics led demonstrations against him, claiming that naming an animal for the Prophet insulted Islam. He (not the demonstrations) were declared a threat to public safety. He was thrown in jail for several months, and lost his job at the popular daily newspaper “Prothom-Alo.” His continuing legal battle has been expensive, and he has faced this problem nearly alone.

Now his situation has turned even worse. His mother has been hospitalized with damaged kidneys. Now on dialysis, she requires a kidney transplant. This would cost $5000 in Bangladesh, but the death rate there from post-op infections is high. The nearest safe place to bring her for the surgery is India, where it would cost about $22,000.

Here is the controversial cartoon with a translation at Cartoonists Rights Network International: http://cartoonistrights.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=52&Itemid=51

From Arif’s blog (translated from Bangla): http://cartoonist.amarblog.com/posts/116439

“I heard from my granny that my mother was married when she was only 12/13 years old. I was born only year and half after her marriage. When I was only 12/13 and my only sister was 2/3 years old; my dad divorced my mom and there after he did not bother to care about us for a bit. My mom took us to our grandparents home and raised us with great care under extreme hardship.

“When I was in jail in 2007 it was very difficult for her to visit me. She used to send her affectionate letter for me by hiding inside the rice cake for me. From the village, she came to visit me in Dhaka city for the first time of her life, but could not visit for the first time. Then she succeeded after a great difficulty. I still could see the tears running out of my eyes after realizing her irresistible love and affection for me.

“Today she is seriously ill, both of her kidneys were damaged. She must need kidney transplantation, and by that needs dialysis twice a week, with expensive medications. I am trying my best to treat her, though it is beyond my imagination to think about all of the costs associated with the treatment. I only can rely upon God, and the well wishers.”

If you can help Arif, please send funds through the Cartoonist Rights Network. 100% of all donations will be directly tranfserred to Arif.

Checks can be sent here (please earmark for Arifur Rahman):

Robert Russell, Executive Director
CRNI
10600 Alison Drive
Burke, VA 22015

Online donations can be made to CRNI through their fiscal sponsor, The New York Foundation for the Arts, here: http://www.nycharities.org/donate/c_donate_nyfa.asp?CharityCode=1285. Type “CRNI – for Arifur Rahman” in the Emerging Organization field.

There is also a Facebook page, “A Mother Needs Children,” here: http://www.facebook.com/#!/group.php?gid=150532911652011