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Tunisia's top cartoonist denounces President Saied

In this picture taken on April 25, 2023, Tunisian architect turned cartoonist known only by the initial 'Z' to protect his anonymity, works in his office in Tunis   -  
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FETHI BELAID/AFP or licensors


Tunisia's top cartoonist, who goes by the name of Z, has realised the power of drawing to reach people and agitate minds.

The former architect turned cartoonist is one of the most ferocious critics of President Saied, who assumed wide-ranging powers in 2021 and rules by decree. 

According to the artist, anonymity became vital.

"I admit that I am happy to have kept my anonymity during the past ten years of post-revolution. Today, anonymity became vital because some people are being arrested just for expressing their opinion on Facebook.
You can imagine then what it is like for a cartoonist who criticises the president day and night. So, anonymity is a necessity", said the artist. 

After Z's blog was censored in 2008, the artist turned to drawing as a way to circumvent censorship by expressing himself through cartoons and using social networks to reach a wider audience.

"When my blog was censored back in 2008, after I started to attack the regime (of Ben Ali, Ed.), I realised that social networks were becoming popular, and that I found that I could circumvent censorship by expressing myself through cartoons, and reach a wider audience who was not interested in politics because they were afraid of it, or because it did not interest them. And so, I finally realised the power of drawing".

Z still believes in the "magical power" of satire to explain current events in Tunisia.

"When I was in elementary school, drawing could provoke, at times in an excessive manner with a simple gesture; anger or wonder. It provoked things. And for me when I was a child it was always a kind of magical power", concluded the artist.

Although Z's cartoons are rarely published in print in Tunisia, they have a large following on the social networks.

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