Friday, 30 January 2015

"We did what was written, right?!"

Get your visuals right! To paraphrase Ganzeer's message two days after the massacre at Charlie Hebdo: The murderers were camouflaged in black, not in long robes and beards.

And most cartoonists were already doing exactly that. The Black Clad have been all over the picture planes since last summer, giving them a tangible presence to our minds. In fact they may wish for more beards, since their masking have proved to be the perfect canvas to unmasking them, as it is.

For one thing they are constantly being compared to donkeys, configuring the Arabic correlation of "stupid" and "donkey". Doaa Eladl has consequently made the ultimate coupling, camouflaging them as donkeys. With the Qur'an read upside down, and whether Bearded or Black, in her cartoons guns have always just been fired:

Doaa Eladl, Charlie Hebdo, January 13, 2015
- We did what was written, right?!

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Doaa Eladl and must not be reproduced without her permission. A special thank you to Tony Daoud for translating and explaining.

Thursday, 29 January 2015

Shaimaa al-Sabbagh

On the eve of the fourth anniversary of the Egyptian uprising a young woman, Shaimaa al-Sabbagh was shot and killed while marking the anniversary with flowers at the place were it all began.

I ought to write activist rather than stating her gender, but she was caught on camera at the very moment she was being helped from the scene, one of her co-activists gripping her to carry her away. Man and woman opposing each other, each in his and her own pain and shock, vulnerable and yet so strong in their desperation at the realization. An icon from the instant it was caught on camera.

The very image has been brought to the streets, demonstrators taking on the pose of the two in Paris while their unity were made into a cut-out cardboard held above the heads of protestors in Cairo. And now it is a Khartoon too.

Khalid Wad Albaih has condensed them to the core of their unity, keeping the blood streaming on her cheek and down her hand, accentuating her delicate fingers stretched out in the shock, still in life and yet griveously barely so. She is dissolving into light, while he is grown all the darker trying with all his might to keep her in life. Their basis is constituted by the word Egypt.

It is stencil ready. May it find it its walls.

Khalid Wad Albaih, January 29, 2015.

The Khartoon shown is courtesy of Khalid Wad Albaih and must not be reproduced without his permission.

"Tu rêvais d'être libre, et je te continue"

Tu rêvais d'être libre, et je te continue, "You dreamt of being free, and I will continue you", were the final words by the French Minister of Justice Christiane Taubira, quoting Paul Eluard in her formidable address to Tignous, cartoonist at Charlie Hebdo at his funeral this month.

Amine Labter / Vit'amine! September 14, 2014.
Another decapitation: What is the goal of IS?
- That is to be seen black on white!
Nevertheless, the media keep posing the question, if Tignous and his colleagues will indeed be continued? A Danish national paper has issued a questionnaire to authors and cartoonists, if they will be inflicting self-censorship upon themselves from now on. Are there taboos such as religion, extremism and fundamentalism, which you will refrain from drawing? Are you inhibiting yourself before you even put pen to paper?

The question cannot be answered.

Cartoonists reflect upon the now. They are taking in the perspectives of before and after, transforming the now into a symbolic setting, literally drawing a greater picture. But the core of the matter is the need to reflect on what is taking place before us.

What is relevant one day, may be the wrong thing on which to focus the day after. Timing is everything in humor and journalism alike and cartooning amalgates the two. There were cartoons out on Houellebecq's new and about-to-be-released book on the morning of January 7, which were wonderfully playful when they were published. But they would have been hurtful if anyone had had the strength to take a look at them a few hours later, seeming almost indecent on the cartoonists' part.

Amine Labter / Vit'amine! January 18, 2015.
Daesh (IS) claims responsibility of the attack against the
Algerian Embassy in Tripoli!
- Please, please stop there are no cartoonists among us!

Another thing to bear in mind is the fact that cartoonists are already living at the frontline. They know the danger of personal exposure, threats, prison, torture and exile, leaving their loved ones behind. Having been through all of this before, their resolve has already been made. Not an easy one as each and everyone points out. But they have all been there before.

Amine Labter / Vit'amine! September 23, 2014.
Kidnapping of a French backpacker
- We too love the nature
So the three weeks since their colleagues at Charlie Hebdo were murdered is a case in point. They have been doing much the same type of work they have always done.

This blogpost is in the company of quite a few black-clad Algerian Jund/Jounoud al-Khilafah militants, who first made their presence known in 2014, declaring allegiance to IS. The cartoon to the left was drawn the day before they announced having decapitated the French guide Hervé Gourdel.

The militants are masked, finding strength in a cause freeing themselves from their personal responsibility and making them part of a single bodied group of artlovers of still lives, natures mortes.

And yet they are all the more undressed qua their visual uniformity, making greater room for us to scrutiny their whats and whys. Given to us by the cartoonist Amine Labter, whose courage thus reflects the question on the possible fear of addressing extremism.

Amine Labter / Vit'amine! January 16, 2015.
Demonstration in Algier!
No Shahada (i.e. the Islamic creed) but le Way Way 
the craze of the young Algerians, a dance mix including mimics mocking one's adversary.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Amine Labter and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Tuesday, 27 January 2015

Auschwitz Day 2015

- Holocaust Memorial Day in Denmark

With Auschwitz to the back of the camera towards the life denied.
Photo: Niels Larsen, 2014.

today I am standing before you - a survivor
personifying silence

- two lines of the poem Auschwitz by Andrzej Ostrowski. The silence from the impossibility of using old and worn words to describe the not before known.

"We became aware that our language lacks words to express this offense, this demolition of man" with which the likewise Auschwitz-survivor and author Primo Levi described how the survivor is being torn between the impossible and yet the need to tell what took place, living in the constant torture of never being able to leave the camp mentally.

Primo Levi wrote some of the most important works on Auschwitz and let us on this day, 70 years to the day of the Russian troops liberating the camp, quote his words taking us to the core of that very feeling of necessity; the task he and his co-prisoners put upon us: Act. Act when needed to so that extermination camps of this kind shall remain a monument of what took place and never again become a place to murder the living:

Detail of the metal sign above the entrance to the Auschwitz camp on what it was not.
Photo: Niels Larsen, 2013.



From whatever country you come,
look at the ruins of the camp.
Think, and do all you can,
so your pilgrimage
be not in vain,
as was not in vain our death...

The shape of the hole poked in the can says it all
- the type of device used, the one blow with which it was done,
the procedure having been gone through so many times.
Each can represents the murder of humans crammed into one chamber.
Photo: Niels Larsen, 2014.

For you and your children,
the ashes of Auschwitz are
a warning.

"the city which was dying of Zyklon B
the city which was drowning in its own ashes"
- from the poem Oswiecim by Immanuel Mifsud
Photo: Niels Larsen, 2013.

Act so that the terrible fruit
of hatred,
whose traces you saw here,
will never grow a new seed
neither tomorrow, nor ever!

Photo: Niels Larsen, 2013.

The photos shown are courtesy of Niels Larsen and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Saturday, 24 January 2015

Satire Tolerated?

I just happened upon a discussion on some online-board, one commenter having found a printed page on the Norwegian Queen Maud. Drawn by Valdemar Andersen.

The question running through the discussion was what to think of it. At once ethereal from the dotting as if the reflection from her diamonds is dissolving her, while being a fully frontal and confronting portrait of double size of those beneath her. Regally tall as she is, she hovers over her countrymen, who are bowed into submission to a degree that they are hardly detectable from the mountainous landscape.

Is it meant to be satirical?

Of course it is.

It was created for the satirical magazine Klods-Hans as a full page print in or right after 1905. Klods-Hans was heavily inspired by Simplicissimus and was a magazine in which authors and cartoonists had a ball taking a closer look at the outpourings of those regarding the public space as their personal limelight.

The interesting situation of seeing her online today is that she is totally out of context. She was not put online because of her artistical value, or rather it was the artistry - the dotting creating a ethereal quality in combination with the thin if clear cut confrontational outline - with which she is drawn, which brought out the disbelief of something not quite right.

What was the political stance of the artist? And with this the implied accusation if she ought to be seen this way?

If Valdemar had been charged with a lese majesty, he would be the first to be proud.

Not that he was a revolutionary of any kind. On the contrary he was very far from being a political animal.

But he was a free citizen in a democracy as was his Norwegian contemporaries. In 1905 Norway turned a fully independent nation, but it had by then had a constitution for nearly a century already. It might have eased the transition to independence creating a new kingdom for Norway, but to the free and logic mind in the year 1905 it must have seemed ridiculous.

Even more so as the king chosen was a Danish prince. Valdemar drew a counterpart for Klods-Hans of Maud's husband setting foot on the Norwegian coast for the first time and being welcomed by his predecessors back from the Viking Ages. I am sorry, I don't seem to be able to find an image of it right now (I will insert it when it turns up, too many GB of Valdemar, it would seem), but the mighty men are not much impressed by that thin thing before them, who is not able to take up an axe to prove his superiority.

It makes the uneasiness all the more interesting right now. The board in question ended up accepting the uneasiness as a way to take a closer look on what they had before them. A major move in the crossroad between any automatic reaction and obeying one's curiosity. We are meant to look at the image as free beings, using our understanding as well as playing along with what we see. Again, this image is of course seen out of context, but the drooping of the arms in the background makes the portrait.

The last thing we wish to mimic are the lackeys behind her.

Friday, 23 January 2015

"Let's be different, let's be beautiful!"

To "denigrate" i.e. to speak damagingly or to defame someone's character can be traced as a derogatory term as far back as 1520/30. Thus according to Webster's. To blacken - nigrare - someone verbally have in other words been a smearing of fellow men for 500 years.

Lotfi Ghariani, Left panel of triptych
January 15, 2015.
- the full tritych is shown below in this post

Je n'écoute pas ceux que te dénigrent -thus began one of the open letters from Mariam Toure, who addressed the Tunisian public the first time on September 29 last year and created a whirlwind in the country - and beyond. She is indeed a force, putting into words how she will no longer put up with racism, neither in its implied nor in its direct form in society.

She along with an artist as the Tunisian photographer Lotfi Ghariani are important eye-openers to all of us. Cartooning is suspected to be a place of speaking in types, but I wonder if it may not be even more markedly so when analyzing said drawings, categorizing in order to create deft analyses. When it happens, it is lazy thinking at best and that is a dishonor in cartooning and research alike, while at worst categorizing is hurtful and destructive.

Lotfi Ghariani, Central panel of triptych
January 15, 2015.
- the full tritych is shown below in this post

All the more reason for grasping the invitation and challenge alike given to us by Lotfi Ghariani. He has created a triptych of himself, set up as a mugshot, exhibiting how names may vary, but always to the same end of never seeing beyond that name. His artwork is all the more painful in that he soon added yet another name tag: Classification (2011-2015): "Product of the Arab Spring, North Africa".

"Today instead of working for diversity and tolerance we rush into the "categorizations" and "divisions" forgetting what we are all first of all: Human beings".

- in Lotfi Ghariani's own words to me. Absolutely! And so, January 23, is being marked in Tunisia for the second time on the anniversary of the slave abolition in 1846. The organization against racism M'NÈMTY is fronting the consequences of slavery; how it is all too present today mentally in society as in the social situation of the descendants of the slaves. One of the first steps in a new direction is described below in one of the open letters by Mariam Toure; this one is from November 4, 2014:

Lotfi Ghariani, Right panel of triptych
January 15, 2015.
- the full tritych is shown below in this post


One of the challenges many of us face is acceptance.

To be accepted by whom? Society.

That very same society which dictates the way we shall think, what we shall do or not do, how we shall reflect on everything.

That very same society which classifies all of those who do not fit into the image they wish they should convey.

This very society which to defend the "authenticity" of its members has created this word: Different.

Not resembling the average person of a particular society, is to be different; Not thinking like others is to be different; Not associating oneself to the same values as them is to be different; Not making the same choices, expressing onself in the same way or having the same aspirations as the others, it is to be different too. What must be remembered is that it is the variety of colors of a rainbow on the sky makes it so bright; difference should be seen as something BEAUTIFUL. 

"Normal" is a measuring system created by man to identify areas that he masters, knows and accepts the others ("the abnormal"). "Different" represents these other areas. 

Let's be different, let's be beautiful!

Lotfi Ghariani, January 15, 2015.
- please click on the photo for the full impact of the triptych.

The artwork shown is courtesy of Lotfi Ghariani and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Monday, 19 January 2015

On That First Cover

Could this be the very portrayal of the (wrongly attributed) Voltarian dictum of defending the right to speak of the one we disagree with?

Charlie Hebdo created a first cover after the massacre of which everybody disagrees. That is sort of the order of things; we should not have known them again otherwise. The artist of this drawing is among the disagreeing. And yet he has chosen to draw the disagreement as exactly that. Not his own stance as he had every reason to. But the very discussion of which we shall never find consensus.

Khalid Wad Albaih has thus portrayed the very heart of democracy. Democracy stands its test, when everybody gets his and her say, fighting on words for and against and is still alive when leaving the ring.

Even if Voltaire had no say in it.
Khalid Wad Albaih, Tout est pardonné, January 19. 2015.

The Khartoon shown is courtesy of Khalid Wad Albaih and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Thursday, 15 January 2015

"If you draw a picture attacking me, I will draw a picture back"

Minutes before the office of Charlie Hebdo was attacked, a drawing on al-Baghdadi was uploaded to Facebook, in which the latter was sending the cartoonists his wishes for the new year specifying his interest in their good health.

We have already taken a look at the drawing on this blog, only it was not a day to be looking at the dramatic elegance of Honoré; his planes of black versus white with each plane contoured by delicate scrolling in which the story line would be unfolding. In the case of a-Baghadi he was speaking on a background of open-ended flourishes (the decorations carved in the stone work on the actual photo we have all seen). It is as if we actually see his declarations bellowing from him.

The flourishes are no longer present in the stencil below, created by Tarek Alghorani on the very day of the murders. With good reason. This one is created for the walls of Raqqa from where IS is operating. So far, if ever, we cannot know if it has been put to use, but it is the first time we have a photo of a stencil intended for the Syrian anti-regime fighters and of which there is constant demand.

And of course no words. They will be added, chosen for that very wall onto which it shall be sprayed. The text with with Tarek presented his stencil on Facebook stated: Down with religious Fascism.

Tarek Alghorani, January 7, 2014, at FREEDOM GRAFFITI WEEK Syria

On the attack on Charlie Hebdo Tarek declared in an article published yesterday on the importance of continuing the fight for freedom and the freedom to speak freely:

"If you write something I don’t like, I can write something saying you’re wrong. If you draw a picture attacking me, I will draw a picture back. In this way, word by word, caption by caption, we can move forward. Not with violence. Violence will not stop anything. Violence is for dictators, for terrorists. It’s for everyone who wants to make us frightened. 

No, we will not give them that. We must continue.”

- And please put the stencil to use anywhere a wall seems right.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Four Years of Revolution, sorry, I mean of Willis

In light of the tragedy last Wednesday I saw some commentaries on a cartooning video questioning the need to speak so freely all the time. The commentaries were in a Danish context and I could not help thinking if we in the Danish debate at least have been too focused on stressing the right to speak freely - and we are in a context in which the word is already free and a matter of staying so - while forgetting to actually talk about cartooning. 

We have been looking at the form rather than the content.

But nothing is easier to change that course. Speaking up is a right or a demand, depending on where we are, exercised each and every day by the cartoonists. I am humbled when I look around on this blog alone and see their courage. They have been imprisoned, tortured, injured and exiled and they keep on drawing. What happened to their colleagues at Charlie Hebdo will only make them all the more determined.

And this is the very evening in which Willis entered Facebook for the very first time four years ago, testing whether he was allowed to do so and when he might be cut off by the authorities. It turned out to be the eve of the Arab Spring and we would and could not have been without Willis. The past week alone we could not have done without him at all

Congratulations, Willis, and may your wish come true!

Nadia Khiari, WillisFromTunis, January 13, 2014.
- What is your wish for your birthday?
- a revolution.
Note the absence of an exclamation mark in lieu of the determined full stop.
In fact Willis is all square and edgy of determination.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Nadia Khiari.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Vous êtes Charlie?

These past devastatingly sad days it has been emphasized how Charlie Hebdo is in a league of its own. It certainly has been next to impossible to quote from the weekly. The editorial interest does not lie in the actual rendering of the drawing; how making that slant of the pen would create a certain effect. They have partaken in and most often created new layers to the public debate, which is difficult to transform onto a blog such as the present one without the argument losing its spark.

Charlie Hebdo does, however, form part of a long tradition, of which Willis is another offspring. In the 18th century we had the likes of Rowlandson and Cruikshank bashing the authorities, being the first cartoonists operating in a democracy; while Daumier became a lighthouse of inspiration half a century later when he took down anyone claiming power over anyone or anything.

Nadia Khiari undresses the power by combining the confrontation and the outspoken drawing the figurative carpet away underneath the protagonists and the beholder alike. In the present cartoon a black ringed left eye sort of leaves the drawing to confront us, while Nadia Khiari gives the declaration of the past two days that tiny twist, which is her speciality, wringing out any touch of sentimentality and bringing in a larger perspective of the undertakings of the world in the meantime:

Nadia Khiari, WillisFromTunis, January 9, 2015.
Sofiane Chourabi and Nadhir Guetari
Two Tunisian journalists are being held hostage in Libya by ISIS
- Are you Charlie?

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Nadia Khiari. The situation of the hostages is uncertain. It is rumored that they have been executed, but it has not been confirmed. Let us remain hopeful about their safety.

Thursday, 8 January 2015

Je suis Charlie

The anger. The anger with which the self portrait of Annette Carlsen hammers a pencil into a kalashnikov.

And the context. In the sea of condolences in front of the French Embassy today. Everyone has laid pens and pencils; the flowers had likewise a pencil tied to them.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Annette Carlsen and must not be reproduced without her permission. The photos were taken by me.

"The truth reddens the eyes, but does not kill them"

From the African Centre of Caricature comes the reactions below following yesterday's murder on the cartoonists of Charlie Hebdo. As their cartoons show, the situation is only too well known to them:

Alain Mushabah Massumbuko,
Another drawing on me....I shall have you liquidated!

The African Centre of Caricature (CAC) joins in the mourning that has struck the family of cartoonists in the world and the Journal Charlie Hebdo; with the assassination, mere instances ago (in the afternoon of Wednesday, January 7, 2015), the cartoonists Charb, Cabu, Wolinski and Tignous) at the attack on the weekly Charlie Hebdo.

We call on all fellow cartoonists to join in our mourning in the memory of our gallant dead-murdered colleagues on the battlefield.

The CAC Team

Barly Baruti, 2002:
- Come on! Promise us to stop your !"#€%&caricatures and we shall let you go!
- Continue my friend!
-Ok! Ok!

"The long march to freedom of expression" does not end until the "dark figures" stop chewing on the freedom of expression.
It will never be possible to "chew up" CHARLIE HEBDO and all other media that work for the promotion of truth and PEACE!!!
CHARLIE HEBDO and all other media the truth will not be easily chewed up!!!

The CAC Team

Yves Hemedi

Caricature, a provocation against which "gods"?

In September 2005, four years after the attacks on Wall Street, the earth is shaken by a series of cartoons "Faces of Mohammed", which associate the image of the Prophet Mohammed with "fundamentalism" or "terrorism", the cartoons, performed by twelve Danish cartoonists, and published in the Danish newspaper "Jyllands Posten" were the basis of a wave of protests in more than one country in the Arab world, where the Muslim community did not hesitate to undertake retaliations by burning some Danish diplomatic representations before boycotting products from Denmark.

In Africa as elsewhere in the world cartoons are not always welcome where dictatorship, oppression and repression celebrate a great feast at the expense of poor people deprived of freedom and expression!

From Afghanistan to Pakistan via New York and Calcutta, from Algiers to Kimberley through France to Cabu, Wolinski, Charb and Tignous (peace to their souls) in Congo (DRC) ... whether you are for or against Jesus, Moses or Muhammad, caricature will keep an incessantly incisive and decisive outlook, facing all these "gods", who spread desolation in the world!

In bitter war and engaged in an endless battle against these "gods", the army of cartoonists will continue to grow in audiences and organize themselves so as to keep on to the truth!!!

"The truth is stubborn - very stubborn, she faces time and history, her verdict cannot be appealed"

"The truth reddens the eyes, but does not kill them"

The CAC Team

Thembo Muhindo Kashauri alias Thembo Kash:
We are all Charlie Hebdo and we shall never disarm! 
For Wolinski, Cabu, Charb, Tignous
Kinshasa, January 7, 2015.

The drawings shown are courtesy of their artists on behalf of KARIKA'FÊTE Festival (International Festival of caricature and drawn humor) and must not be reproduced without their permission.

Wednesday, 7 January 2015

Words from Socrates and his Successors today on Charlie Hebdo

Ali Ferzat: Dedicated to all the victims of thought, art and expression.
January 7, 2015.


Greetings to you all from Ivar Gjørup!

On this day you should read, what Plato once wrote in despair on the subject of terrorism (GORGIAS 469): "Imagine that we meet in public and I have an AK 47 hidden under my coat (this is Socrates speaking and he says "In a square crowded with humans with a knife hidden under my cloak" - but the meaning is the same). Now I am the world's most powerful man, I say so, because I have the power of life and death! Every one of those you see around you will die if I so wish!"

What kind of power is that, Socrates is asking. A lousy and callous power of violence, we answer, then as now. Soon I shall have finished my book about him, Plato.
And then I better take up drawing again.

And his original words in Danish:

Hilsen til jer alle fra Ivar Gjørup!

Læs på denne dag, hvad Platon skrev engang i fortvivlelse om emnet terror (GORGIAS 469): "Forestil dig, at vi mødes i det offentlige rum og jeg har en AK 47 gemt under frakken (det er Sokrates, der taler, og han siger 'menneskefyldt torv med en kniv gemt under kappen' - men meningen er den samme). Nu er jeg verdens mægtigste mand, siger jeg så, for jeg har magt over liv og død! Hver eneste af dem, du ser omkring dig, vil dø, hvis blot jeg vil det!"

Hvad slags magt er dét, spørger Sokrates. En elendig og afstumpet voldsmagt, svarer vi, dengang som nu. Om lidt er jeg færdig med min bog om ham Platon.
Og så må jeg vist til at tegne igen.

Nadia Khiari: Today you murdered cartoonists, but legions of cartoonists shall be born!
January 7, 2015.

And Tarek Alghorani has underlined yesterday's blog post: Remember we should never ask for forgiveness. Especially not from a dictator, criminal or terrorist.

All words and artworks are courtesy of their artists and must not be reproduced without their permission.

The many faces of Charlie Hebdo

The faces of Charlie Hebdo drawn by Erik Petri during a visit to their in November 2009. Among them are Tignous at the uppermost left corner and Cabu at the bottom to the right. Do click the photo to see more details of the richness of many faces of the weekly:

The art pages shown are courtesy of Erik Petri and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Charlie Hebdo

Drawn by Lars Andersen a few minutes after 1 PM today when the number of casualties was thought to be 11.

Each dotted bullet hole is a dark hole of mourning.

Shown by courtesy of Lars Andersen and must not be reproduced without his permission.

In support of Charlie Hebdo

This was published within the hour of the attack on Charlie Hebdo. If the cartoon triggered anything, then here it is:

Honoré for Charlie Hebdo, January 7, 2015.
Best wishes to Al-Baghadi too:
- And first and foremost good health!

ETA: It has been confirmed that Honoré are among the murdered.

Concerning the cartoon above, however, it has been speculated whether it was actually by him or the work of hackers? The cartoon might work both ways. It could be the malicious answer directed at cartoonists being murdered at that very minute. It could on the other hand be a rather teasing move on the side of Charlie Hebdo as if they were on best of terms with a major opponent.

At this time we cannot know, but it was preceded by a cartoon from this week by Charb in which it is written "Still no attacks in France" to which the protagonist shouts out. "Wait! We have until the end of January to extend our wishes":

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

"The white paper was impossible"

The title to this blog post was inescapable in its double association to the white and as yet unadorned paper and the necessity to express oneself. The artist finds it impossible to keep silent, while the prisoner tries to avoid marking the paper in the sham elections of Assad since his taking power in 2000. In unison Sulafa Hijazi and Tarek Alghorani manifest the corruption of humankind in an autocracy.

In the artworks by Sulafa Hijazi bodyparts have been ripped apart. There is no bleeding, no outward reaction. The drama is in the suppression of everything human, while the severed bodyparts are serving the intent of the despot. To the extent that the body grows weaponry. And yet the severed heads have each their expression; every part of the picture planes has texture. There is no surrender into a solid calm. Not even in the red background. Especially not that one in its dense coagulation.

The militarized disease that is and was the Assad regime is addressed by Tarek Alghorani in words as clear-cut as Sulafa draws. Tarek endured imprisonment and torture for 5 1/2 years, convicted for blogging. He was one of a larger group of political prisoners granted amnesty in the spring of 2011 in an attempt from the regime to calm the call for change. His words are poignant on the right to remain silent that comes with the right to speak up:

Sulfa Hijazi, Sacrifice, November 5, 2011.


Freedom also means rejection.
Denial of rights and freedom of expression also means rejection of expression and the right to remain silent.
The prisoner cannot reject presidential amnesty.

The rejection of presidential amnesty
It was a kind of luxury and perhaps foolish to think of in Syria
I was not able to legally reject the amnesty, as a kind of protest
A protest... about everything

Sulafa Hijazi, Untitled, 2012.

In states of dictatorship
The right is also a duty
You must elect your president not as a right, but a duty
And you are an observer to the exhibition of chase because you did not exercise your "right"

In Assad's country silence was banned
Silence means rejection

The citizen must participate in any action by the system
It celebrates the military coup
and sings and dances
and proclaims the joy

Sulafa Hijazi, Untitled, 2012.

The citizen has to attend the sham elections
To elect B: Yes or No
On the survival of the president in power

The white paper was impossible
And in front of the ballot box the militaries are holding you at gun point watching what you write

Sulafa Hijazi, Untitled, 2013.

The amnesty was granted and I am in prison
I was angry

I had not sinned in the first place
Now too I should have forgiveness from the president
To my mind the president should have asked me to pardon him

Out of the detainee is a new birth
Born into the world again

Sulafa Hujazi, Untitled, 2013.

I was ready to make the sacrifice and stay another full two years in prison refusing to be pardoned
If you were in a less dictatorial country then maybe
But even to try to reject amnesty would have lead to death

The law makes no difference
I cannot reject amnesty

Sulafa Hijazi, Untitled, 2012.

I did not put anything on a white paper
I did not go to the elections ever

I am talking about the Syrians
their experience
Maybe I was an anomaly

- anomaly in that Tarek would never fall into his opponent's category, assuming to be speaking on behalf of everyone.

The artworks shown are courtesy of Sulafa Hijazi and must not be reproduced without her permission. A special thank you to her and to Tarek Alghorani for his permission to bring words that were spoken personally and to Tony Daoud for engaging in the discussion.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

The Little Match Terrorist

The fairy tales by Hans Christian Andersen were indeed never for the innocent. In their hideout at the Tunisian Mount Chaambi the Bearded Terrorists are presently performing a modern version of The Little Match Girl on that fated evening, the last evening of the year:

Nadia Khiari,, December 31, 2014.
Meanwhile at Mount Chaambi:
- Won't you blow yourself up so that we could get a bit of warmth?
- Coooome on!

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Nadia Khiari.

So, let's not...

... question the existential rights of anyone:

This one was found at:

It if after all a question which ought to be directed at ourselves. Terrified feathered beings running to and fro expose the brutality of our infrastructure.

Instead, on the first day of the year let us take to Abbey Road.

Note, how every detail below is correct; from the gate to the studios to the number plate of the white Volkswagen. But unlike the hoards of imitators of The Beatles striding across, the ducks are seen from above. By that the zebra crossing and adjoining zigzag lines are accentuated to make it known that right here and now the metal ramblers in the traffic have to give way for a string of nonchalant ducks.

Happy New Year!

Jørn Villumsen: Abbey Road.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Jørn Villumsen and must not be reproduced without his permission.

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