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The first time that Naji al Ali drew Handala, the little refugee boy with shabby clothes and no shoes, he depicted him with his face towards the audience. But after his disappointment in the Americans and Arab leaders in the early seventies, he turned his back towards the viewers in protest against the 'American way' and the negative tides in the region.
Handala is a ten year old boy and Naji al Ali said he would always remain ten years old, until he would be able to return to his homeland Palestine. Ten years old, just like Naji al Ali was when he and his family were forcibly displaced out of their hometown As Shajara. He grew up in the refugee camp of Ein al Helwa in Lebanon.
As a cartoonist he was critical towards the powers that be, the establishment, not only the Israelis and Americans but also the Arab leaders. He spoke out against injustice and showed solidarity with other struggles.
This is just a short podcast episode to introduce you to the work of Naji al Ali and to the very symbolic figure of Handala, that you will see depicted all over Palestine and among people who are supporting the Palestinian cause for justice and the right of return of the refugees.
If you want to read more and see some of Naji al Ali's work then you can use the following links:
Information and cartoons
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