Akram Raslan was a Syrian political cartoonist. As Asher Kohn (follow him on Twitter @AJKhn) writes in his Slate Roads & Kingdoms piece “Drawn in Blood“, his voice was silenced by the Syrian Assad regime.
“In October 2015, Raslan was confirmed to have been killed by Syrian police. A pseudonymous fellow prisoner said that Raslan died in a prison hospital, possibly after torture. It had been three years since he was first taken into custody and four since the Syrian civil war began. Raslan had been one of Syria’s best-known cartoonists before the war began. His colorful, almost optimistic scenes mocking corruption and senselessness set his work apart from his colleagues’. (…) Raslan’s style was more straightforward, almost insidious.”
Following the Paris attacks, it seems the last and best refuge of Europe is now an unlikely haven for dissenters like Raslan. It is a dark time to live in a world where a regime targets political cartoonists for torture and execution. Worse, it’s shameful that terrorist acts by the few restrict access to life-saving asylum for so many. As in all cases, art imitates life, yet it also intimates life–political cartoons and other types of open dissent make apparent what is known about corrupt and unjust regimes. Let us listen to the voices of reason from within conflicts such as that in Syria, and better understand the will of the people, by what the artists and journalists will have us know through their courageous acts of storytelling.
“Any haven would be too late for Akram Raslan, whose name now graces a magazine that acts as a eulogy. It is a haunting toast to a man who, a year into the Syrian civil war, seemed so sure of his ability to bring change to his country. Few changes since his death have been for the better, and it is hard even for an optimist to imagine Raslan’s pristine blue skies showing up again anytime soon over Syria.”
Image courtesy of the Freedom for Akram Raslan Facebook page.