His critical cartoons not only turned Ali Ferzat into one of the Arab Spring's major figures, but also into a target. After masked gunmen broke his hands in August 2011, he spent months in hiding, making him unable to come to Brussels to receive the 2011 Sakharov Prize when it was awarded to him. However, on 10 October he was finally able to accept the award in person when he took part with two other Sakharov laureates in a debate on "Voices for Democracy: Citizenship in the Making".
Mr Ferzat said during the annual Sakharov Prize Network evening debate at the European Parliament in Brussels: "The Syrian regime fails to recognise freedom. God created humans' yearning for freedom and no one can take that away from us. I'm very proud to receive this token of recognition."
Together with 2011 Sakharov Prize laureates Asmaa Mahfouz, from Egypt, and Ahmed El-Senussi from Libya, Mr Ferzat shared his experiences, memories and hopes for freedom and democracy. They answered questions from participants, but also from people around the world, who participated in the debate on Facebook and Twitter.