Saturday, 13 November 2010

Remember Naji Al-Ali

بسم الله الرحمن الرحيم
In the name of Allah, Most Gracious, Most Merciful

Taken from Arabic Lit (in English)

On August 29th Al Masry Al Youm celebrated Palestinian cartoonist Naji al-Ali on the 23rd anniversary of his London murder (August 29, 1987).

Al-Ali, a prolific cartoonist, was—and is—widely loved in the Arabic-cartoon-reading world. However, with “cartoonists” (er, graphic novelists) hitting an even higher note of prestige and popularity in recent years, it’s a shame to have a pen like al-Ali’s missing.

According to Al Masry Al Youm, al-Ali viewed the role of a political cartoonist as not unlike that of other artists: “The function of a political cartoonist, as I see it, is to provide a new vision.”

Al-Ali’s best-known character, حنظلة, was a 10-year-old boy who always kept his back to the viewer and his hands tightly clasped. In a 1984 interview with Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour, al-Ali talked about what حنظلة meant to him:

That was when the character Hanzala was born. I introduced Hanzala [also transliterated as Handala, Hanthala, or Handhala] to the readers at some length: “I am Hanzala from the Ain Al-Helwa camp. I give my word of honour that I’ll remain loyal to the cause…” That was the promise I had made myself. The young, barefoot Hanzala was a symbol of my childhood. He was the age I was when I had left Palestine and, in a sense, I am still that age today. Even though this all happened 35 years ago, the details of that phase in my life are still fully presentto my mind. Read on

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