Syria’s best-known cartoonist, Ali Farzat was driving home at 4:30 am through Ummayad Square in Damascus on Thursday when masked pro-regime Shabiha militiamen seized him. He was beaten up badly and thrown out of the vehicle.
The artist was discovered on the road to the airport by a passerby and taken to the hospital. The contents of his briefcase, especially his drawings, were stolen by his assaulters.
He can be seen here at the hospital where he was being treated for bruises sustained on his face and hands which were particularly affected.
Ferzat is one of the Arab world’s most prominent cartoonists and has been critical in his work of President Bashar al-Assad’s brutal crackdown on protesters.
Ferzat was once close to Assad before he became President. He granted Ferzat permission to establish the first independent newspaper in Syria in 40 years but then ordered it shut down in 2004 after the publication of an article critical of Assad’s reform plans.
In a meeting with a group of Syrian youth, Assad accused Ferzat of stabbing him in the back.
The attack on Ferzat caused outrage amongst intellectuals and journalists in the Arab world and international community who renewed calls for halting of the crackdown on protestors which has killed thousands since it began in March.