Poking fun of dictators is considered one of the greatest taboos, which curtail freedom of expression and endanger the lives of cartoonists anywhere, anytime. Syrian cartoonists are not an exception and have suffered torture, attacks from regime loyalists and even death for daring to speak up. Yet, the cartoons they draw reflect the lives of millions of Syrians and Arabs, and have found their way online in the four years of uprising against Syrian President Bashar Al Assad's regime, thanks to social media.
Assad's acts towards his people have inspired Arab and foreign cartoonists, who have flooded the printed, digital, and social media portals with thousands of drawings. In this post, we are showcasing the works of six Syrian artists, who have dared speak up, in no particular order.
Not to forget, we have to mention two Syrian artists who suffered the most: Ali Farzat, internationally awarded artist, who has been beaten up for mocking Assad in early days of the Syrian revolution, and Akram Ruslan who detained and reportedly killed for the same reason.
1. Hussam Sara
He is one of early revolution activists and posts his drawings on his Facebook page. He has worked for several Arabic newspapers in Bahrain. He is son of Fayez Sara, an opposition leader and a brother of Wisam Sarah, a martyr pacifist activist who was tortured to death in Assad's prisons in February 2014.
2. Kamiran Shemdin
Born in al-Qamishli, in 1974, Kamiran Shemdin published his cartoons in Aljazeera website and Ge P magazine in Iraqi Kurdistan. In an interview with SyriaUntold he says: “The sight of the thousands of Syrians marching in the streets without fear and calling for the downfall of the regime gave me a feeling of solace and of being free myself. Despite my exile, I was a part of them with all my feelings.”
3. Amer M. Zughbi
Amer worked in several Arab newspapers is currently working in Albayan newspaper in the UAE newspaper and publishes his work on AlJazeera website. He won the Arab Journalism Award for best cartoonist in the Arab newspapers and publications for three times, in 2007, 2009 and 2013.
4. Firas Bachi
Born in 1979 in Damascus, Firas Bachi holds a B.A. in Economics but is still in love with art and drawing. He is a cartoonist, caricaturist, and an advertising art director. On his Facebook page he describes his cartoons as: “against all forms of dictatorship politics, human injustice, suppression and oppression, racism and discrimination. cartoons that dig to expose the fuzzy scenes in a world of injustice where surrendering suddenly became a habit, and supporting the unjust became a worship.” More of his works can be found at FirasBachi.com
5. Ahmad Jalal
Do you remember the infamous people of “Liberated Kafranbel” holding creative cartoons banners? Ahmed is behind them. His hobby before the revolution, turned him into the “Kafranbel Cartoonist”. He works within a group of young people filled with irony spirit and creativity in their village in the countryside of Idlib, Syria.
6. Saad Hajo
Born in Damascus in 1968, Saad Hajo graduated from the Faculty of Fine Arts. He works in “An-Nahar” and “Al-Safir” newspapers in Beirut, Lebanon. He has several published books, one of which is entilted “بلاد العنف أوطاني” (Countries of Violence are my Homeland). He is the winner of the “Gabrovo Carton” award of humor and biennial art in 2005 in Bulgaria.