The Arabic edition of NEWSWEEK interviews Syrian political cartoonist Ali Farzat, whose stinging cartoons caused the Syrian government to close down his magazine in 2003. The BBC is now looking to animate some of his cartoons:
Are you threatened with arrest at any time?
I’ve been questioned by the security agencies that deal with political affairs, and I’ve been sued by the Syrian minister of Defense because of one of my drawings. What’s funny is that it’s the same cartoon that caused me problems with Saddam Hussein in 1989, and I went through the same ordeal when I drew a cartoon published in an Egyptian magazine depicting Libyan President Muammar Kaddafi. The then-editor of the magazine told me that Kaddafi had barred the magazine in Libya because of my drawings. When I draw a dictator, a hundred dictators think that I’m criticizing and making fun of them. Similarly, the corrupt feel targeted when I draw cartoons depicting corruption. Many Syrian government institutions used to complain about my work even though my cartoons dealt with “wrongdoing” without mentioning names or providing descriptions.