Shooting the Witness

Shooting the Witness is an exhibition at London’s Political Cartoon Gallery (6 March – 12 April 2008) of the work of the Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al-Ali, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of his assassination in London.

Naji Al-Ali was one of the most prominent cartoonists in the Arab world. Sarcastic, poignant and perhaps too bold, El Ali’s cartoons were drawn from his experience as a Palestinian refugee since childhood and clearly reflected his political stance.

Naji Al-Ali had no political affiliations and the absence of slogans and dogma in his work brought both success and criticism. His bold and illustrative cartoons, widely published over the past 20-30 years, reveal the tragic state of the Middle East. The artist combined art and political satire like none other; his work sadly still rings true today, drawing a critique of all sides in the conflict, and the world’s complicity in the prolonged occupation of the Palestinians.

“Naji al-Ali developed a stark and symbolic style during his thirty-year campaign on behalf of the Palestinians, a web site dedicated to him declares. “Unaligned with any political party, he strove to speak to and for ordinary Arab people. His life was seamlessly interwoven with the trials of exiled Palestinians. Due to invasion, censorship and threats he lived in exile most of his life, much of the time between Beirut and Kuwait.”

His cartoons portrayed the bitter struggle and plight of the Palestinian people against Israeli oppression. He also campaigned against the absence of democracy, widespread corruption, and gross inequality in the Arab world. He was said to have antagonized virtually everyone in the Middle East. During his lifetime, he was said to have drawn around 40,000 drawings, on average two cartoons a day, working for various publications in the Arab world.

On 22 July 1987, Naji al-Ali was shot in the face and mortally wounded in London, outside the offices of al-Qabas, a Kuwaiti newspaper for which he drew political caricatures. He died five weeks later.

His killers were never identified.

For the first time in London, sixty of Naji Al-Ali’s original artwork will be exhibited in the Political Cartoon Gallery, the world’s only centre dedicated to Political Cartoons and Caricature. The gallery is organising the exhibition in cooperation with the SOAS Palestine Society, the Nakba60 group, Cartoon County and the family of Naji Al-Ali.

• The Political Cartoon Gallery, 32 Store Street, London WC1E 7BS, is open Monday to Friday 9.30am – 5.30pm and on Saturdays between 11.30am – 5.30pm.
Wikipedia article on Nji Al-Ali

Categories: Events, Exhibitions

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