If you can’t hold a pen, is it still mightier than a sword?

Though the pen is mightier than the sword, the sword speaks louder and stronger at any given momentThe Mouse That Roared

Image: Washington Post/Facebook

Making fun of politicians
Is a noble, grand tradition;
In the freest of societies, it’s cherished as a right
Elsewhere, though, if you’re outspoken
You can get your fingers broken
As this Syrian cartoonist, in the hospital tonight.

The photo above is of cartoonist Ali Ferzat, Syria’s best-known political cartoonist. He is in hospital tonight with broken hands, as a warning not to continue lampooning Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

Ink is powerful stuff. In the long run, Ferzat and other critics may find they had the power to help topple a government. In the short run, he’s in the hospital with two broken hands.


  1. Die Anyway says


    In fact, so many of your posts leave me almost speechless except for a few choice epithets (to be aimed at the perpetrators or the horrendous situation). At least sometimes your poetry lightens up the situation a bit. Not much you can do to lighten up broken hands though. Double damn.
    I wonder if I would be so brave or daring in the face of a tyrant? I would like to think so but I doubt it.

  2. Cuttlefish says

    I can’t imagine what he feels right now. I mean, getting the first few death threats from Mabus was disconcerting (ok, maybe even frightening), but breaking your hands? I couldn’t blame him a bit if he gave it all up, but I hope he has the last laugh.

    I also can’t find any of his work online–even the wayback machine did not back up his site, and it is currently offline.

  3. F (entropy) says

    The very fact that the sword was used against him shows how frightening the pen is to sword-wielders. Bastards.

    Unfortunately, I don’t recall hearing of this fellow or seeing his work.

  4. Seymour Brighton says

    That’s how governments can tell they are thugs and bullies, and that they will fail — when they are scared of ONE MAN.

  5. Midnight Rambler says

    If you search for his name on Google images you can find his cartoons. This one from a couple of days ago, of a sweating Assad trying to hitch a ride from a fleeing Gaddafi, was apparently the last straw for Assad’s thugs. The site has quite a few more if you search on it for his name.

  6. Cuttlefish says

    Thanks! Yes, that’s the one all the news stories are referring to! Clearly, reason enough to break a man’s fingers.

  7. F (entropy) says

    I’m not afraid of internet search, but thank you, Midnight Rambler. Much appreciated. Also appreciated is the context comment from the Cuttlefish.

    Just for clarification, I meant that I am sad that the only reason Ali Ferzat came to my attention (as far as I can recall) is due to this… incident.

  8. amphiox says

    I couldn’t blame him a bit if he gave it all up, but I hope he has the last laugh.

    I would have to say that it looks like he just did.

    Well, not necessarily the last laugh, but at least the next one.

  9. Didaktylos says

    I seem to recall the story that Pinochet’s thugs smashed Victor Jara’s hands before murdering him.

  10. Marlene says

    It wouldn’t have surprised me one iota if Assad’s thugs cut his hands off.

    The last, desperate acts of a cowardly bully. After NATO clears out of Libya, the Arab League should ask for them to take out Assad and his bunch of cowards.

  11. Cuttlefish says

    Good point–I’ve only seen it labeled that (and it looks like his style), but it certainly is possible that it is someone else’s. The signature matches, though, and I can’t imagine an admirer would pretend that Ali Ferzat had drawn it, if AF himself thought it too dangerous!


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