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Critical cartoonist viciously attacked by armed men

(CRNI/IFEX) - The BBC and MSNBC report that early on the morning of Thursday 25 August 2011, Syrian editorial cartoonist Ali Ferzat (60) was dragged from his car by four heavily-armed thugs and severely beaten. Before they finished, the thugs broke both of Ferzat's hands.

Ferzat is one of the Middle East's most respected and widely-read editorial cartoonists. He is in a Syrian hospital with heavily-bandaged hands and stitches over one eye.

Ferzat recently published a cartoon showing Syrian President Bashar al-Assad hitchhiking along the road, desperately trying to get a lift from a car recklessly driven by Libyan strongman Muammar Gaddafi.

Ferzat's website is currently off-line.

In many countries in the Middle East, directly depicting the head of state in a cartoon is considered to be stepping over the red line. Now, during the Arab Spring, many cartoonists around the region are beginning to take greater risks and drawing the actual visage of the head of state.

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