Thugs break hands of Syria's top cartoonist for Assad lampoon

Syria's most renowned political cartoonist, who recently drew a sketch comparing President Bashar al-Assad to Libya's Muammar Gaddafi, had both his hands broken in an attack yesterday by masked gunmen who dragged the 60-year-old out of his car.

Ali Ferzat, whose satirical art once drew death threats from Saddam Hussein, was treated in hospital. He was attack as he left his Damascus studio at four o'clock yesterday morning.

Mr Ferzat was trailed by a 4x4 with tinted windows, said activists, and one of Mr Ferzat's relatives. Four men then dragged him out of his car, forced him into the Jeep and drove out to a highway on the outskirts of the capital. "We will break your hands so that you'll stop drawing," said the gunmen, the relative told the Associated Press news agency.

Mr Ferzat had used his website to publish a caricature of Mr Assad carrying a packed suitcase and fleeing in a car alongside Colonel Gaddafi. The website, ali-ferzat.com, was inaccessible yesterday. Making a caricature of the President is illegal, under Syrian law. The cartoonist has been honoured with dozens of international exhibitions during his 30-year career.

Ironically, before Bashar al-Assad became President he visited one of Mr Ferzat's shows and saw several cartoons which had been banned in Syria. The future leader reportedly told the cartoonist he saw no problems with the drawings.

Mr Ferzat was an early supporter of Mr Assad when he took power in 2000. He benefited from the so-called "Damascus Spring", when the new President briefly permitted a wave of media liberalisation, and set-up a newspaper called Al-Domari, or the Lamplighter, which became an instant success.

But the publication was soon removed from Syrian newsstands by the Baathist regime. In an interview a few years later, Mr Ferzat warned about the dangers of President Assad continuing in the tyrannical vein of his father, Hafez al-Assad, who ruled Syria for three decades.

He told a news website: "If they don't recognise the dangers and if they continue to deprive other national parties of true and effective participation, I foresee a monumental crisis. The regime is in need of total reform and change."

Mr Ferzat is one of the most high-profile victims of the violent security crackdown being inflicted by the Syrian government in response to a five-month uprising aimed at forcing President Assad from power.

Human rights groups say more than 2,000 people have been killed and many thousands have been more arrested and tortured since March, when widespread anti-government protests began.

Suggested Topics
PROMOTED VIDEO
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB6, WinForms)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: C# .NET Software Developer (Client-Side, SQL, VB...

C# Developer (Genetic Algorithms, .NET 4.5, TDD, SQL, AI)

£40000 - £60000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Developer (...

C# Full Stack Developer (.NET 4.0, ASP.NET, MVC, Ajax, WCF,SQL)

£55000 - £65000 per annum + Benefits + Bonus: Harrington Starr: C# Full Stack ...

AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - Investment Management

£450 - £600 per day: Harrington Starr: AIFMD Business Analyst / Consultant - I...

Day In a Page

Middle East crisis: We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

We know all too much about the cruelty of Isis – but all too little about who they are

Now Obama has seen the next US reporter to be threatened with beheading, will he blink, asks Robert Fisk
Neanderthals lived alongside humans for centuries, latest study shows

Final resting place of our Neanderthal neighbours revealed

Bones dated to 40,000 years ago show species may have died out in Belgium species co-existed
Scottish independence: The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

The new Scots who hold fate of the UK in their hands

Scotland’s immigrants are as passionate about the future of their adopted nation as anyone else
Culture Minister Ed Vaizey: ‘lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird’

'Lack of ethnic minority and black faces on TV is weird'

Culture Minister Ed Vaizey calls for immediate action to address the problem
7 best quadcopters and drones

Flying fun: 7 best quadcopters and drones

From state of the art devices with stabilised cameras to mini gadgets that can soar around the home, we take some flying objects for a spin
Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

Andy Murray: I quit while I’m ahead too often

British No 1 knows his consistency as well as his fitness needs working on as he prepares for the US Open after a ‘very, very up and down’ year
Ferguson: In the heartlands of America, a descent into madness

A descent into madness in America's heartlands

David Usborne arrived in Ferguson, Missouri to be greeted by a scene more redolent of Gaza and Afghanistan
BBC’s filming of raid at Sir Cliff’s home ‘may be result of corruption’

BBC faces corruption allegation over its Sir Cliff police raid coverage

Reporter’s relationship with police under scrutiny as DG is summoned by MPs to explain extensive live broadcast of swoop on singer’s home
Lauded therapist Harley Mille still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Lauded therapist still in limbo as battle to stay in Britain drags on

Australian Harley Miller is as frustrated by court delays as she is with the idiosyncrasies of immigration law
Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world. But could his predictions of war do the same?

Lewis Fry Richardson's weather forecasts changed the world...

But could his predictions of war do the same?
Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs: 'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

'I want to have contact with the audience, not iPhones'

Kate Bush asks fans not to take photos at her London gigs
Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities, but why?

Young at hort

Under-35s have rated gardening in their top five favourite leisure activities. But why are so many people are swapping sweaty clubs for leafy shrubs?
Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award: 'making a quip as funny as possible is an art'

Beyond a joke

Tim Vine, winner of the Funniest Joke of the Fringe award, has nigh-on 200 in his act. So how are they conceived?
The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

The late Peter O'Toole shines in 'Katherine of Alexandria' despite illness

Sadly though, the Lawrence of Arabia star is not around to lend his own critique
Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire: The joy of camping in a wetland nature reserve and sleeping under the stars

A wild night out

Wicken Fen in Cambridgeshire offers a rare chance to camp in a wetland nature reserve