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Palestinian artists, Cartoonists in Gaza Commemorate Assassination of Political Cartoonist Naji Al-Ali

Gazan artists commemorate death of political cartoonist Naji Al-Ali

Date: 06 / 09 / 2008  Time:  09:48

Gaza – Ma’an –

A group of Palestinian artists and cartoonists on Friday commemorated the renowned Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali in Gaza City.

Al-Ali is best known for his signature character, Handhalah. A young Palestinian refugee, the boy stands with his back to the viewer, looking out over all he has lost. In ragged clothes symbolizing his poverty, and hands clasped behind his back in a reflective stance, the child victim reflects on the state of his people and his country.

Cartoonist Abu Al-Noon, whose work is published by Ma’an, delivered a speech at the ceremony. “In my last 7 cartoons,” he said “I used the character of Handhalah to pay tribute to Naji. Handhalah is a symbol of which each Palestinian feels proud. It will remain deep in the hearts of all Palestinian cartoonists providing them with courage in their cartoons.”

Al-Ali’s drew and published more than 40,000 cartoons during his lifetime, and cartoons were deeply critical of Israel, Palestinians, and the Arab world.

In June 1987 Al-Ali was shot outside the London-based Kuwaiti newspaper with which he published his art. During the police investigation a Palestinian was arrested, and accusations of assassination were directed at Palestinian, Israeli, and a host of Arab state intelligence units. The man arrested was charged with weapons possession, and Al-Ali died in London hospital in late August of 1987.

Al-Ali was born in a Palestinian village north of Nazareth, and fled with his family to southern Lebanon during 1948. He later moved to Beirut where he lived in the Shatila refugee camp, and found work in the Arabian Gulf state of Kuwait as a young man. As his cartoons grew in popularity, Al-Ali lived between Kuwait and Lebanon, working for various papers there. In 1985 Al-Ali moved to London, where he stayed until his assassination.

The tribute to Al-Ali’s life and work included reading of new and classic poetry about Palestine, loss and freedom of expression. A film about his life was screened, and art students and established cartoonists exhibited art inspired by the work of Al-Ali.

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