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.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in