Cartoonist attacked in Syria

Hospitalised with serious injuries, 60-year-old Ali Ferzat has become the most famous victim of the repression of Syria’s five-month uprising. The attack on him was a stark reminder that no Syrian is immune to the crackdown.

“This is just a warning,” the gunmen told Ferzat. “We will break your hands so that you’ll stop drawing.”

The men then singed the artist’s beard, put a bag over his head and dumped him on the side of the road.

The widely popular cartoonist, who works late into the night, left his studio at 4 am on  Thursday.

A jeep with tinted windows soon started trailing him and cut him off on a Damascus street. Four masked gunmen dragged him out of his car, bundled him into the jeep and drove him to the airport road just outside Damascus, beating him and making threats all the while.

Angry reaction
After news of the attack broke, online social networking sites exploded with angry postings.“Assad’s Syria is the burial ground of talent,” read a posting on Twitter.

“Ali Ferzat, your innovation will stand in the face of their cowardice and hate,” wrote Suheir Atassi, a prominent Syrian pro-democracy activist.

Pictures published on online forums on Thursday showed the artist in a hospital bed with heavily bandaged hands and a bandage above his right eye.

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