This just might be every cartoonist’s worst nightmare: Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat was kidnapped and later found bleeding on the side of a road with his hands broken. Unsurprisingly, the attack is being blamed on the security forces of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad. Ferzat, according to the Guardian, is “one of Syria’s most famous cultural figures,” and he has “long criticised the bureaucracy and corruption of the regime and since March has turned to depicting the uprising.” His work has also served as inspiration for animated projects in Syria.
A few weeks ago, the Syrian regime killed the singer Ibrahim al-Qashoush, the composer of a popular anti-regime song, and dumped his body in a river with his vocal chords ripped out of his throat. These desperate attempts to shut down the voices of the country’s most creative people is disheartening, but it also speaks to how much power artists wield throughout society and how much fear they can instill into governments. Even in the United States, cartoonists have been responsible for bringing down corrupt politicians with nothing but their pens. Ferzat’s story is something that every cartoonist and animator should remember the next time they make a drawing: cartoons have the power to create positive change, and there are cartoonists around the world risking their lives to do just that.