Thursday, August 25, 2011

Syrian forces beat up political cartoonist Ali Ferzat

Ferzat, who had become increasingly critical of Bashar al-Assad's regime, found bleeding at side of Damascus road

Nour Ali, Thursday 25 August 2011

"Syrian security forces have beaten up a prominent Syrian political cartoonist and left him bleeding on the side of a road, in the latest episode of a campaign to quash dissent against the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.

Ali Ferzat, 60, is one of Syria's most famous cultural figures, and his drawings and cartoons have pushed at the boundaries of freedom of expression in Syria.

Working from a gallery in central Damascus, Ferzat has long criticised the bureaucracy and corruption of the regime and since March has turned to depicting the uprising.

In the early hours of Thursday, masked men seized Ferzat on a Damascus street and beat him up before dumping him, bleeding, on the capital's Airport Road where he was found by passersby, activists said.

Ferzat had become increasingly critical of the regime and its brutal crackdown. He recently appeared on al-Arabiya television and his drawings were avidly followed by Syrians looking for some light relief.

In a recent cartoon he critiqued the regime's offers of reforms, with a picture of an official with rosebuds in his speech bubble – and a coiled turd in his head....."

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