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