The unstoppable Ali Ferzat reminds us why the Assad regime hates him
On August 25, the 60-year-old Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was driving home from his office in Damascus when a car with tinted windows blocked the road. Men dragged Ferzat from his car, stuffed him in a van, beat him severely and broke both his hands in what they called "a warning" and dumped him on the side of the road.
"Once my fingers have healed, I'll go back," Ferzat told an interviewer in December, after finally leaving the hospital.
Above is a particularly trenchant cartoon from Ferzat,* a stunning indictment of Syria's absurd and self-defeating crackdown. Egyptian blogger Bassem Sabry called it "one of the most amazing cartoons I have ever seen." The man in the blindfold has Ferzat's unmistakable beard, though the cartoonist is using himself as a stand-in for Syrians as a whole.
Syrian security forces have so far killed over 5,000 civilians, including hundreds of children, and have imprisoned, tortured, and often killed many outspoken critics such as Ferzat. Syrian troops are believed to be defecting with increasing rapidity, creating a nascent insurgent movement. As Ferzat's cartoon suggests, President Bashar al-Assad's decision to wage total war on his own people may in fact be dooming his regime, a process of self-destabilization that seems to be accelerating.