At the ICJ in Washington DCCartoonist’s work symbolizes Yemeni strife [Archives:2005/810/Last Page]

January 24 2005

For Yemen Times Staff
Yemeni cartoonist Saleh Ali may be surprised to know that one of his works in 1995 is currently hung on the wall of one of the most prominent journalism institutions in the world, the International Center for Journalists in Washington DC.

Indeed, just as you go into the main office of the center, you would find the framed cartoon next to the elevator, symbolizing our strife to enhance our democracy, and telling us that other countries are informed about our tiniest of efforts in the journalism field.

This may come as a surprise to Ali himself. But as an appreciation of his efforts and as a token of gratitude to the ICJ, we decided here to reproduce the original text that accompanied the framed cartoon.


Saleh Ali, Yemen 1995

“Democracy, according to what I'm in the mood for

In June of 1995, Reporters sans Frontieres was informed that during the month of April, three journalists had been arrested and then released. They were apparently re-arrested in May, and released again. Apparently, either the government couldn't make up its mind, or the journalists couldn't keep out of trouble.

One of the journalists released in May was Saleh Ali, a cartoonist for 'Al Wahdawi' newspaper. That Cartoonists Relief Network was ale to track down this talented cartoonist was mostly due to the persistence of the political officer at one of the Western Embassies in Yemen.

Ali has been traveling around inside the country and has been difficult to get in touch with. He finally came into the embassy in question and contributed about 6 cartoons to this exhibit, all of which had caused him some trouble with the authorities.

Ali usually represents the Yemen “common man” as a poor, confused, well meaning sort who usually trusts in the better judgment of the authorities who control his destiny. In this cartoon, the Police Officer has arrested him, tied his hands behind his back, and locked his mouth shut. The poor fellow listens patiently as the arresting officer explains just what democracy means for him in his present situation.

In another cartoon, a mother and father were worried that their child, reading a newspaper on the floor, is growing up to be too creative. “God Forbid!”, the mother comments.

Name: Saleh Ali

Country: Yemen

Crime: Never revealed

Punishment: Saleh was arrested, released, re-arrested and re-released.

Outcome: His current status with the authorities is unknown, but he is free and is still drawing cartoons.