A Political Cartoonist’s Worst Nightmare

The political cartooning community was shaken today by news of Syrian cartoonist Ali Ferzat’s beating by pro-Assad thugs. They broke his hands to stop him from drawing cartoons critical of the President.

This horrifying incident reminds me of an exchange I had earlier this summer when meeting with political cartoonists from the Middle East and North Africa through a State Department program. Naturally, a prominent topic of discussion was the freedom of speech we American cartoonists enjoy. I was on crutches thanks to a skiing accident (I’m mobile now, thank you), and I made a dumb joke, obviously tongue-in-cheek, about how the Obama administration didn’t like one of the cartoons I drew. “Ah, so you are like an Arab cartoonist!” one of the visitors joked back. The whole room laughed, maybe a little too hard. Gotta admire the bravery of the Ali Ferzats of the world.


Jen Sorensen is a cartoonist for Daily Kos, The Nation, In These Times, Politico and other publications throughout the US. She received the 2023 Berryman Award for Editorial Cartooning from the National Press Foundation, and is a recipient of the 2014 Herblock Prize and a 2013 Robert F. Kennedy Journalism Award. She is also a Pulitzer Finalist.



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