The Prez in the Fez
Powell, Sara, Washington Report on Middle East Affairs
LONG-TIME POLITICAL cartoonist for the Washington Report Khalil Bendib kicked off his "presidential campaign" with a packed house at Mudraker's Cafe in Berkeley, CA on Aug. 30. Wearing his signature fez-part of his persona as cartoonist, Bendib doesn't affect the fez in his roles as painter and sculptor (see July 2001 Washington Report, p. 55)-Bendib laid out his presidential platform to an appreciative audience.
Although tongue-in-cheek (born in Algeria, Bendib is ineligible to run for president in his adopted country), his platform included points that won over listeners. Bendib promised that "as the first prez in a fez" he would act like a patriot and immediately repeal the PATRIOT Act. Since many of those detained and prosecuted under the PATRIOT Act have been either Arab or Muslim or both, this is an issue close to the heart of the first Muslim American to "run for president."
On another serious topic, education, Bendib called for "pens not guns, books not bombs, math instruction not mass destruction." Of course, being a satirist-albeit one who addresses serious issues in his political cartoons-he threw in wisecracks about Danish cartoons and the oil business as aspects of foreign trade. Bendib also cited renowned consumer advocate and former presidential candidate Ralph Nader as a role model. Nader was one of several luminaries who endorsed Bendib's new book of cartoons, Mission Accomplished: Wicked Cartoons by America's Most Wanted Political Cartoonist (2007, Interlink Publishing, available through the AET Book Club). …