Born in Galilee in 1938, Naji Salim al-Ali was a victim of the nakba (“disaster”) in 1948 when his region was cleared to make way for Jewish settlers. He grew up in Lebanese refugee camps and prisons, scribbling protest cartoons on the walls, and eventually found work in newspapers.
He drew over 40,000 cartoons, from sharply critical commentaries on Palestinian and Arab politics to visionary symbols of inhumanity and the pity of war.
From 1969 onwards, his images featured the figure of Handala, the barefoot child who silently watches all the evils perpetrated in the Middle East, and who has since become an icon of Palestinian defiance.
“At first he was a Palestinian child, but his consciousness developed to have a national then a global and human horizon,” his creator once said of the character’s origins. “He is a simple yet tough child, and this is why people adopted him and felt that he represents their consciousness.
Naji Al-Ali was well loved for his work but was also well hated, and he and his family received many death threats. In July 1997 he was shot by unknown assailants outside the offices of al-Qabas, a Kuwaiti newspaper, reportedly after receiving death threats following the publication of a cartoon attacking the Palestinian Liberation Organisation.
Speakers including The Guardian’s Steve Bell explore the much-admired Cartoonists’s story, influence and legacy.
• Naji al-Ali: A Tribute, 7.00pm, Friday 27th October 2017, Knowledge Centre, The British Library, 96 Euston Road, London NW1 2DB Web:
Tickets Full Price: £10.00 | Libray Member: £7.00 | Senior 60+: £8.00 | Student: £7.00 | Registered Unemployed: £7.00| Under 18: £7.00 | Friend of the BL: £7.00
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546 | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
• Please note the date of this event has changed. Tickets purchased for the original date in August will be valid, but all ticket holders will be contacted with further information
• A celebration of Handala and his creator can be found online at www.handala.org