Fadi Abou Hassan is a widely published and award-winning Palestinian freelance cartoonist who has been living as a refugee in Syria until the uprising in 2011. He is known for his many cartoons which comments on the everyday life and political events in Syria and the Middle East in general. His cartoons focus on the themes of human rights, women’s rights, and political violence taking place in the country. He is very critical of the political elite in Syria.
His cartoons have been published in various print and online outlets, including Al-Quds Al-Arabi, Alroya (Muscat), Al-Seyassah (Kuwait), Aljazeera.net and Anoual.net (Amsterdam). He also publishes his cartoons online, on the Dutch webpage Cartoon Movement.
Threats, imprisonment and persecution: The situation of cartoonists in Syria
Fadi Abou Hassan has faced threats to his safety in Syria for his cartoons in recent years, mainly from Syrian security forces and the government’s supporters. He was arrested already in 2009 and was detained under Emergency legislation for 80 days where he was tortured and otherwise ill-treated because of cartoons he published.
The situation of cartoonists in Syria became even more critical since the rebellion started in 2011. From 2011-2012, Abou Hassan was summoned to the Military Intelligence in Damascus on several occasions where he was threatened and banned from travelling. The direct reasons for the summoning were his cartoons depicting Assad and his forces, as well as other events related to the Syrian popular protests and ensuing conflict.
Many other cartoonists have been subject to attack by the Syrian forces including well-known cartoonist Ali Farzat whose fingers were broken during an assault. Akram Razlan, cartoonist and friend of Abou Hassan’s, was arrested and faced trial for his criticism of the authorities. It is unknown if he is alive or not. He is charged with ‘disrespecting the leader, being in league with the rebels, and working against the interests of the state’.
See also: Cartoonistis Rights Network and The Washington Post
Fearing further and lengthy arrest and persecution, Fadi Abou Hassan fled Syria illegally in late 2012. Abou Hassan will continue his work for political change and freedom of expression.