Tom Spurgeon's Web site of comics news, reviews, interviews and commentary

August 26, 2011

Updates On Cartoonist Ali Ferzat’s Thursday Morning Beating


What follows are links to updates on various aspects of yesterday's big news story: that a group of masked gunmen aligned with Syrian security forces kidnapped and broke the hands of that country's most prominent dissident political cartoonist, the 60-year-old former publisher and current Damascus gallery owner Ali Ferzat.

* the BBC has a fine, general report up which places the attack in the context of ongoing violence in Syria. Foreign Policy had the best reaction and context-of-the-cartoonist's-work article up late yesterday.

* the US condemned both the general acts of repression and this act specifically in a statement by the State Department yesterday.

* the cartoon reprinted above from Ferzat's site has become a second or even third contender for "cartoon that set the authorities off."

* as that link indicates, the cartoonist's site is back up.

* an early article on the beating shows what Ferzat looked like when he didn't have the shit kicked out of him (I would imagine he's standing in his Damascus gallery), says he was taken to Al Razi hospital, and I think suggests he might have had surgery, which doesn't sound right to me. A later article from that same publication says that Ferzat was pulled from his car by his attackers, there were four of them, and that a bag containing his work and work implements was taken from him. It also says he had no idea where he was taken or dumped (it was a road near the city's airport).

* as that article indicates, initial reports such as the one that ran on the Washington Post blog gave Ferzat two broken hands when it looks like now only one may be broken. Both hands were obviously savagely attacked, incompetence being the sole factor from both being broken, and the cartoonist has repeated his claim this act was directly intended to silence his pen and punish him for past cartoons.

* the New York Times tallies the injuries as two fingers on his left hand broken, his right arm fractured and general bruises including more severe damage around his left eye. This would match the bulk of the pictures emerging, such as this thorough group, and explain why he held up his left hand for inspection and not the right one. No mention of the spinal cord injury suggested in a couple of the Arabic-language pieces.

* that Al-Jazeera blog post linked-to just above this line indicates that the cartoonist is resting at his home in Damascus.

* maybe the best of the as-yet-unconfirmed nasty stories surrounding the incident.

* the bulk of reports indicates that the perpetrators were a group of "Cbihh," a much bandied-about and controversial term used to cover a broad range of extra-military, hired thugs working in conjunction or even in excess of what uniformed soldiers are doing. I would imagine this will give authorities some room for denial of involvement, and I would imagine reading some of the anger involved that most people on the ground there won't have much patience for claims made on that basis.

* as expected, state-run media founts are reporting that Syrian authorities are looking to apprehend the men that administered the beating.

* U.S. cartoonist Jen Sorensen rightfully calls this "a political cartoonist's worst nightmare." Robot 6, Cartoon Brew and The Beat are among those comics-related news sources that have covered the story so far.

* here's an array of Ferzat cartoons set to music. Here's another, I think better, one.
posted 4:35 am PST | Permalink

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