November 24, 2009 Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 561

Anti-Terror Cartoons in the Saudi Press

November 24, 2009 | By E. Glass*
Inquiry & Analysis Series No. 561


On August 27, 2009 a suicide bomber attempted to assassinate Saudi Deputy Interior Minister for Security Affairs Prince Muhammad bin Naif, who is in charge of Saudi Arabia's anti-Al-Qaeda campaign. Following the assassination attempt, the Saudi press, both inside and outside the country, published numerous anti-terrorism cartoons. Some cartoons focused on the terrorists themselves, portraying them as blind or brainless, as deluded by false promises of Paradise, or as misinterpreting and harming Islam. Others stressed that terrorism hurts the perpetrators more than anyone else, and that Saudi Arabia, thanks primarily to its security apparatuses, is stronger than the terrorists.

Especially interesting is the visual representation of the terrorists in these cartoons: they are portrayed as faceless monsters, as animals (mostly cockroaches or other insects), or as puny figures, dwarfed by large images representing Saudi Arabia and its security forces.

The following is a selection of cartoons:

Terrorism is Blind, Heartless, and Faceless

Terrorist with explosive belt around his brain

(London), August 28, 2009
Cartoonist: Habib Haddad

Headless terrorists following a blind leader

(London), September 3, 2009
Cartoonist: Habib Haddad

Fatwas containing accusations of heresy cover the terrorist's eyes and block his ears

(Saudi Arabia), September 4, 2009
Cartoonist: Hajed

The doctor tells the terrorist: "The X-ray shows you have a heart of stone!"

(Saudi Arabia), September 3, 2009
Cartoonist: 'Adel Sa'id

Terrorism is Fed By Extremism and Incitement

Terrorism feeds on the brain of the extremist

Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), August 31, 2009
Cartoonist: Jihad 'Awartani

Extremist ideology is transferred from the inciter's brain to the terrorist's brain

Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), September 3, 2009
Cartoonist: Rabi'

"How to Eliminate Terrorism?"
A security official tries to uproot the phenomenon of incitement

Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), August 30, 2009
Cartoonist: Jihad 'Awartani

Extremism is an "Ideological Trojan Horse"

Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), September 2, 2009
Cartoonist: Jihad 'Awartani

The Internet hatches eggs of "heresy accusations," "terrorist attacks" and "destruction"; the terrorists use them

Al-Hayat (London), September 5, 2009
Cartoonist: Nasser Khamis

Terrorism is Fed By False Promises of Paradise

The extremist ushers the terrorist through a door labeled "The Road to Paradise," leading to Hell.

Al-Sharq Al-Awsat (London), August 30, 2009
Cartoonist: Amjad Rasmi

Young man to his sick mother: "Leave me alone, I want to go blow myself up so I can enter Paradise"

Mother: "Son, Paradise lies at the feet of mothers" (an allusion to a well-known hadith of the Prophet Muhammad about honoring parents, especially mothers).

Al-Jazirah (Saudi Arabia), September 7, 2009
Cartoonist: Hajed

Terrorism is Misinterpretation of Islam, Harms the Religion

The terrorist paints the Islamic crescent black

'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), August 29, 2009

Terrorism, with hands dripping blood, reads the Koran upside-down

Al-Madina (Saudi Arabia), August 30, 2009
Cartoonist: Alaa Al-Laqta

Saudi Arabia Is Stronger Than the Terrorists

The terrorist is felled by a Saudi flag before he can commit his crime

Al-Watan (Saudi Arabia), August 29, 2009
Cartoonist: Muhammad Mas'oud

Terrorism crushed by the iron fist of the Saudi security forces

Al-Riyadh (Saudi Arabia), September 2, 2009
Cartoonist: Rabi'

The Saudi security forces uproot terrorism

'Okaz (Saudi Arabia), September 4, 2009
Cartoonist: Yahya Sharifi

*E. Glass is a Research Fellow at MEMRI

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