Reported worldwide today, Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was abducted early Thursday morning by pro-Assad forces. Beaten near the airport, his hands were broken “as a warning”, and then abandoned on the highway.
The following cartoon, showing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hitching a ride out of town from deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi, was cited as being one of the more critical cartoons against the current regime.
It, and other cartoons on this topic, can be found here.
Al-Assad had been a supporter of Ferzat’s work before Assad assumed the presidency upon the death of his father. Assad had allowed a satirical magazine, titled “Lamplighter”, to be published. However, widely popular, it was shut quickly shut down.
Ferzat’s website had been temporarily unavailable, presumably due to a surge of traffic. Located at http://www.ali-ferzat.com/ it is currently available, with a full archive of his work. The artist’s website, translated via Google. (Be advised… the picture archive does not function under Google translate.) There is also a Facebook page.
Due to the ongoing tensions in the Middle East, Ferzat had been lauded in the West for his editorial cartoons, and Cune Press published a collection of his work in 2003.
Ferzat is recovering. In the meantime, please visit his website, and do what you can to promote and protect freedom of speech, even in countries where the government actively supresses this freedom.