Rio cartoonist inspires Arab rebellions from afar

Mon Aug 29, 2011 12:05pm EDT
 
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By Stuart Grudgings

RIO DE JANEIRO (Reuters) - His cartoons are edgy, bold, and a thorn in the side of the Arab world's tottering authoritarians -- a gift to protesters from the unlikely setting of an apartment in beach-side Rio de Janeiro.

Carlos Latuff, a 42-year-old leftist whose only family link to the Middle East is a Lebanese grandfather he never knew, has become a hero of the tumultuous Arab Spring with rapid-fire satirical sketches that have helped inspire the uprisings.

All he has needed is his pen, a passion for the region's struggles and a Twitter account that he uses to send out his cartoons.

Starting with the Tunisia uprisings last December, Latuff's work has been downloaded by protest leaders and splashed on T-shirts and banners at protests from Egypt to Libya and Bahrain, becoming a satirical emblem of outrage.

In one, a jackboot representing Syria's government stamps on a hand writing the word "freedom." In another, a man representing justice under Egypt's military rulers holds a scale full of imprisoned protesters.

Latuff said he first knew his cartoons were having an impact when, watching TV, he saw them printed on banners as protests swept Egypt on January 25, only two days after he had made them available.

"That gave me certainty that my job was useful," Latuff told Reuters. "It's not the social platforms that make revolutions, it's the people. Twitter, Facebook, just like a camera or Molotov cocktails, are just instruments, equipment."

Latuff, who does work for Brazilian newspapers and other outlets, doesn't charge protest leaders for his work, saying he donates the cartoons to highlight injustices and to show his solidarity against authoritarianism globally.   Continued...

 
<p>A cartoon by Brazilian cartoonist Carlos Latuff depicting Muammar Gaddafi (L), a Libyan rebel and U.S. President Barack Obama (R), is released August 22, 2011. Latuff, a 42-year-old leftist whose only family link to the Middle East is a Lebanese grandfather he never knew, has become a hero of the tumultuous Arab Spring with rapid-fire satirical sketches that have helped inspire the uprisings. All he has needed is his pen, a passion for the region's struggles and a Twitter account. Starting with the Tunisia uprisings last December, Latuff's work has been downloaded by protest leaders and splashed on tee-shirts and banners at protests from Egypt to Libya and Bahrain, becoming a satirical emblem of outrage. REUTERS/Carlos Latuff/Handout</p>