The dangers of satire: 'Break his arms so he doesn't ever draw again'

Chinese satirical cartoonist Remon Wang (aka Rebel Pepper) reacts to the murder of fellow cartoonists at French magazine Charlie Hebdo

Story highlights

  • CNN revisits work of satirists who have faced violence, imprisonment or exile
  • Kudzanai Chiurai is living in self-imposed exile for his own safety, Remong Wang faced state censorship

(CNN)Wednesday's attack on journalists at French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo has shone a spotlight on the dangers faced by satirists around the world.

Here, we revisit other artists and journalists previously featured on the network who have faced violence, imprisonment or exile because of their satire.
Ali Ferzat, Syria
    A cartoon by distinguished Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat, drawn not long before his hands were broken in an attack. The attack came after Ferzat resolved to depict Assad as an identifiable figure in his work.
    "Break his arms so that he doesn't ever draw again."
    In this 2013 piece by CNN columnist John Sutter, Syrian political cartoonist Ali Ferzat describes a 2011 near-death beating that he received from people he believes were henchmen of the Syrian regime.
    Ferzat says they targeted his hands to stop him drawing cartoons critical of Syria's leader, Bashar al-Assad.
    Ali Reza Eshraghi and others, Iran
    'Love Letters from Prison' by Nikahang Kowsar, an Iranian-Canadian cartoonist, featured in "Sketches of Iran: A Glimpse from the Front Lines of Human Rights" (2012)
    Newspaper editor Eshraghi was imprisoned and his newspaper Hayat No was shut down when in 2003 he republished a 1937 cartoon of U.S. President Franklin Roosevelt, that Iran's Special Court for the Clergy ruled was insulting to the memory of the Ayatollah Khomeini.
    In this 2013 piece, Eshragi and others explain why they believe satire gives Iranian journalists a unique outlet to share ideas that are too dangerous to express in words.
    Kudzanai Chiurai, Zimbabwe
    Kudzanai Chiurai's controversial Mugabe poster raised the ire of Zimbabwe's ruling elite
    "It's more important now than ever."
    Artist Chiurai stirred up controversy during the build-up to Zimbabwe's violent and disputed 2008 elections with a series of controversial depictions of president Robert Mugabe.
    Chiurai's posters, which showed Mugabe in flames with horns on his head, raised the ire of Zimbabwe's ruling elite and got Chiurai threatened with arrest: He has been living in self-imposed exile ever since.
    The dangers of being a cartoonist in the Middle East
    Iranian cartoonist Nikahang Kowsar was arrested in 2003 for a cartoon he drew making fun of a famous Iranian cleric. Since living in exile in Canada, Kowsar has become more daring in depicting Iran's leaders and clerics.
    "The one thing a tyrant can't stand is to be laughed at."
    Robert Russell, the executive director of the Cartoonists Rights Network International, spoke to CNN in a 2013 interview in this piece exploring satire in the Middle East.
    "If everyone is laughing at you, what defense do you have?"
    Remon Wang, China
    The cartoonist first drew Pandaman after learning of "Batman" star Christian Bale's attempt to visit a blind Chinese activist.
    "Panda is a national treasure, and 'national treasure' and 'state security' sound the same in Mandarin."
    Wang's "Pandaman" cartoon, which featured a cuddly panda transformed into a menacing security agent, was wildly popular online.
    His work is hugely popular with Chinese netizens, but as a result he says he's faced censorship, visits from state security agents and his account on social networking platform Sina Weibo has been deactivated over 180 times.
    More from CNN's archive: