My Father, the Cleaver: Remembering a Libyan Cartoonist’s Satirical Legacy

For decades, Hasan Dhaimish’s ‘Alsatoor’ lambasted and lampooned politicos and the elite in the country he fled

My Father, the Cleaver: Remembering a Libyan Cartoonist’s Satirical Legacy
An illustration depicts former Prime Minister Ali Zeidan going in blind on Libya in the years after the 2011 revolution. (Hasan Dhaimish)

Back in spring 2013, I was in Doha, Qatar, at a loose end. After finishing my degree in Leeds three years earlier, I had gone on to teach English in South Korea, followed by a stint of backpacking in Asia. I decided to stop off on my way back to England and see my dad, Hasan Dhaimish. Since the early 1980s, he had been producing satirical cartoons in print and digital formats as a way to express his frustration with the Libyan political landscape, largely aimed at the regime of Moammar Gadhafi. To many, he is remembered as a daring satirist who confronted tyranny with the power of his pen. But as with all who wield the double-edged sword of satire, his legacy is nuanced.

He had moved out to Qatar in April 2011, leaving behind his teaching job at Craven College in North Yorkshire and our family home in Pendle, Lancashire, to join other Libyans from around the world and help establish Libya Al-Ahrar TV, a station set up at the onset of the civil war that erupted in February of that year, targeted at ousting longtime dictator Moammar Gadhafi. My dad had been hired as the in-house satirist, producing short skits as a roundup of daily news; he also aired short montages of sketches inspired by old photographs of Libya to remind people of the country’s rich cultural history. The majority of his work, however, was published independently on his own website and social media, free from editorial control.

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