Z: The Anonymous Tunisian Cartoonist Championing Nature

z-debatunisie-development-flamingos-pink-green-cartoon ‘Z’ is an anonymous cartoonist whose pink flamingo trademark came about due to his efforts to stop development projects which would destroy the bird’s natural habitat

By day an architect and by night a bitingly critical cartoonist, ‘Z’ is a force to be reckoned with. His criticism of the previous Tunisian dictator Ben Ali meant he preferred to remain anonymous. And his continued criticism of the Tunisian government means that he will be ‘keeping his mask on’ for now. However, what appears to have inspired this architect-turned-cartoonist is the destructive force of development in the country which threatened the habitat of pink flamingoes. Z gave a rare interview to Samar Media about his work, the Arab Spring and why the pink flamingo became his mascot.

“My very first cartoons always featured pink flamingos. It has been my blog’s mascot until now,” says Z to Samar Media, which has produced a series on revolutionary cartoonist from the Arab world.

“Why pink flamingos? Because when I started drawing in 2008, there were projects in Tunisia that were supposed to be funded by Emiratis. Billions and billion of (touristic) projects were going to concrete the whole lake of Tunis… and I tried to raise awareness among the people about the environmental hazards of such a project, and the fact that there had been no consultation with the local residents.”

Sadly, this is a familiar story that appears to be affecting the entire Arab region. However, it is great to see a cartoonist taking an active interest in the environmentally harmful aspects of the boom-development projects. These projects so often end up being championed as job creating opportunities with very little attention paid to the long-term and environmental harmful aspects of the projects.

Z goes on to explain that what drew him to the story was that the age-old ecosystem which was under serious threat was to be taken by Ben Ali and his relatives. As such the situation had a particularly political slant and was a way for him to protest against the Tunisian regime and the extraordinary powers it held.

“You see here a protest of pink flamingos – they represent the oppressed citizens,” he explains to Samar Media. “The drawing was a trick to raise awareness among people about the dangers of the project and to talk about politics without directly mentioning the regime.”

:Hat tip to @arablit/ Arab Literature (in English)

:: All images via DebaTunisie.

For more on Tunisia and destructive development see:

Catch Up With Green Prophet in Tunisia

Saudi’s Mecca Becoming a Holy Sprawl

World’s Largest Artificial Lagoon Nears Completion In Egypt

Sinai’s Ecological Future Hangs in the Balance

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5 thoughts on “Z: The Anonymous Tunisian Cartoonist Championing Nature”

  1. JTR says:

    1. Peacefully reduce the human population with family planning education so there will be plenty of land, sea and sky for Nature.
    2. Safely recycle 100% of trash, garbage, junk, sewage, smoke and fumes so there will be no pollution. There is technology to do these things, but not the will.

  2. Tounsi says:

    Sorry!! … didn’t know this site is a sionist platform and that Arwa Aburawa was a mere soldier in it just like most of the other commentators here.

    P.S: and btw … -z- is no longer anonymous … since a veeeery long time now

  3. Teresa Toole says:

    It is so sad that people like Salam use polite wording to express threats and ugly hatred. It is up to the rest of us to not let the bullies do this anymore. Thank you for the story.

  4. Yassine says:

    Tounsi, the article did not glorify -z- in any way and merely shed light on his environmental activism (which is the purpose of the website may I remind you). The article did not contain any false information and his political or religious views do not really matter when talking about his efforts in protecting the environment again, the main focal point of the website.)
    Your talents in hyperbole are remarkable, “depicting the prophet Muhammed PBUH and even God SWT in more hideous ways than the Danemark cartoonist would have ever dared to make”, “his background and his anti-islam activism in Tunisia”. Through his cartoons, -z- wanted to expose and criticize the establishment of a theological dictatorship. He did not, at any point, deliberately or directly targeted Allah or Muhammed. They were only means for him to scandalize the gross instrumentation of religion by our brainwashing government.
    It is because of people like you that -z- must remain anonymous.

  5. Tounsi says:

    Dear author,

    From the profile picture and from the website you are writing on I assume that you have respect for the religion of islam and I also assume that you did not really look deeper for some of the other cartoons that this cartoonist has made. In his blog “debats tunisie” you will find cartoons depicting the prophet Muhammed PBUH and even God SWT in more hideous ways than the Danemark cartoonist would have ever dared to make.

    So I beg you to reconsider your presentation of this cartoonist. He would have never have been able to present himself in Tunisia the way he probably did with you, because we know his background and his anti-islam activism in Tunisia. Please remove this article and do not offer him respect he did not offer to our religion.

    Thank you in advance and

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