Ferzat in a photo taken August 14, before he was brutally attacked. (AP/Muzaffar Salman)

Masked men break hands of critical Syrian cartoonist

August 25, 2011 1:47 PM ET

New York, August 25, 2011--Ali Ferzat, a famous Syrian cartoonist critical of the government, was abducted and severely beaten by masked gunmen as he left his office early on Thursday in Damascus, international media reported. The attackers stomped on his hands and said the beating was a warning, the Associated Press said. He was dumped bleeding on a roadside several hours later.

"Since the start of the uprising, stories of brutality against journalists in prison have surfaced but the beating of Ali Farzat shows publicly the intensity of the violence against the critical press," said CPJ Deputy Director Robert Mahoney. "The international community must condemn this attack and make clear to the government in Damascus that it will be held accountable for this and all attacks on journalists."

Ferzat, 60, is renowned in the Arab world for his caricatures of authoritarian leaders including Syrian President Bashar al-Assad who has sought to quell protests across the country this year and silence critical media.

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