Syrian cartoonists who dare depict Bashar Al-Assad’s character are paying a heavy price. Earlier on August 25, 2011, Ali Ferzat, the 60-year-old famous cartoonist was dragged and beaten by three masked men, who then also broke his hands.
Akram Rslan, is another Syrian cartoonist who works in the government-run newspaper Fedaa [ar]. He was detained on October 2, 2012, after publishing a cartoon critical of the Syrian President, as reported by blogger The-Syrian blog [ar]:
It was only a matter of time before [Rslan] was arrested as he continued to criticize the regime and its oppression, going so far as to attack the President himself. [Rslan] did not hide and he remained in his home and at his job in the Hama-based Fedaa newspaper. The regime eventually lost its patience with him and arrested him from his workplace on Monday, October 2, 2012. Since then, there has been no information about him.
The blogger also publishes the cartoonist’s biography and a selection of his work, including the one cartoon that is believed to have caused his arrest (see below). The cartoon illustrates an infamous slogan often chanted by Assad’s henchmen, the “Shabiha,” who claim they prefer to burn the country than to leave power:
Akram Rslan, born in 1974 in Soran-Hama, is an 1996 literature graduate. He is one of the many, many members of our revolution who prefer to struggle away from the media and the limelight, and whom we know little about until they get arrested or martyred. Freedom for the artist [Rslan] Akram. Following is a selection of Rslan’s work, including the cartoon (the first one) that caused his arrest.
The Doha Center for Media Freedom has condemned the detention of the cartoonist, issuing the following statement:
The centre urges the Syrian authorities to release Rslan immediately and to put an end to the ongoing targeting of journalists and critics of the Assad regime. The government must do more to ensure that members of the media are protected and do not face intimidation, harassment or detention as a result of carrying out their work.
The website ArabCartoon has also condemned the arrest.
A campaign to free Akram Rslan has been launched on Youtube under the banner: “Freedom to Akram Rslan”.