Handala and the Cartoons of Naji Al-Ali


18 May – 31 August 2007


Handala and the Cartoons of Naji Al-Ali

presentation by

Dr. Fayeq Oweis



This exhibit is being held in commemoration of the 20th anniversary of Naji al-Ali’s assassination. The cartoons have been generously provided by his son, Khalid al-Ali.


The late Palestinian cartoonist, Naji al-Ali, produced over 40,000 cartoons satirizing the powers that be in the Middle East. Emerging from humble beginnings in the refugee camps, for over 30 years he was an uncompromising critic of a regressive Arab political culture and of Western intervention in Arab affairs. As one of the most popular artists in the Arab world, he was loved for his defense of ordinary people and for his criticism of despotism and repression.  His unrelenting cartoons exposed the brutality of the Israeli army and earned him many powerful enemies.   He developed a stark, symbolic style in his work and is perhaps best known as creator of the character Handala, who has since become an icon of Palestinian struggle and steadfastness.  Al-Ali was killed on July 22, 1987 by an unknown assassin as he left the London offices of Al Qabbas newspaper.

Dr. Fayeq Oweis is an Arab American artist and professor of Arabic Language and Culture at Santa Clara University in Santa Clara, California.  He has a Ph.D. in interdisciplinary studies with a focus on Arabic and Islamic arts and has published extensively and gave numerous presentations on Arabic Language and Culture, Islamic Arts and Arabic Calligraphy, and Arab American Artists. His presentation, delivered in conjunction with the exhibit, will explore the relevance, characters and symbols of Naji al-Ali’s work.