Cartoonist Gets his Hands Broken by Syrian Assad’s Regime
Lets talk about the power of cartoons.
Ali Ferzat, a renowned editorial cartoonist in Syria, recently took a stance against the regime of President Bashar Assad, breaking the line in the sand that state sanctioned media placed on such criticism. The result? Laughing it off as mere child’s play? No. Ferzat was soon visited by masked thugs of the regime and brutally beaten, while breaking both of his hands to stop his cartoons.
Thomas Nast was one of the first to realize the power of the political cartoon in the 1800’s when he took on Boss Tweed and Tammany Hall in New York. Boss Tweed was heard to say “Many don’t read the articles, but oh,, those damn cartoons”. It was said that Nast’ cartoons were the most powerful spotlights on the corruption which led to Tweed’s conviction.
Even in my small ( and nothing coming close to the dangers Ali faces) world of San Jose when I was Political Cartoonist for the San Jose Sun, I was on a “dark list” for taking on corrupt councilman who were on the take by developers to “overlook’ zoning and urban sprawl laws. I was 17.
Same goes with animation, in films and TV cartoons. We can call attention to news and ideas. Look at Persepolis, a graphic novel turned into a strong animated film by Marjane Satrapi. Calling attention to the Iranian revolution.
Yes, cartoons and animation can be funny. But also look at the power they yield. They do threaten regimes. Only by the power of the pen.
What do have to say with your work? Is it just just funny, or does it make us think about something? Does it shed light on issues most would rather bury in the sand? Picasso once said “ Art is a lie which makes us realize the truth.” Is there passion in your work? Taking it out of the hands of mere surface fluff of unicorns farting rainbows makes our work mean more to ourselves. And I by no means want to take lightly, or trounce on the horrible brutality that Ali Ferzat faced for stating his opinion.
The good news is that Ali Ferzat was not stopped. His hands healed and he is now back drawing even stronger cartoons to a world that is now watching more than ever due to the brutal attack.
Look at the change you help make with your art. Any art. Music, Writing, drawing. It’s powerful.