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June 21 2012

Syrian cartoonist Ali Farzat: 'They broke my hands to stop me drawing Assad' - video

Drawing the revolution: In August 2011, Ali Farzat was attacked by Bashar al-Assad's militia who broke his hands. The incident prompted international condemnation

July 12 2011

Did Syria doctor this odd photo of Assad?

Something doesn't look quite right about a handout photo of the president swearing in a new governor

When state-run media manipulate photographs, the aim is generally to boost the government's popularity. But, done badly, the practice has the opposite effect.

In September 2010 an Egyptian daily altered a picture taken at the Middle East peace talks to position the former president Hosni Mubarak at the front of a procession of world leaders down the red carpet.

And in June, the Chinese province of Huili uploaded a photo on their website of three officials inspecting a local highway project.

A glance at either image is enough to reveal the cut-and-paste job, and both drew appropriate amounts of scorn.

But the Syrian media has not learned from these mistakes. The state news agency has released a photo of the president, Bashar al-Assad, swearing in the newly appointed governor of Hama, Anas Abdul-Razzaq Naem. But something does not look quite right.

The Guardian's imaging expert David McCoy believes two pictures have been merged to make it seem like the men are in the same room, with the one on the right positioned fractionally higher than the one on the left. This becomes clearer when you look closely at the floor, which is distorted. The right hand side of the picture has been stretched downwards into place to line up with the left side (which is not distorted).

McCoy says it is also suspicious that the two men are not looking directly at one another. "Assad [right] appears to have had the edge detail on his hair smoothed out, in contrast to the harsh, overly sharpened edges visible elsewhere on his body," McCoy says.

What do you think? Is the picture genuine? Or, with the government and opposition presenting vastly differing accounts of what is happening in Syria, do we chalk this one up to more misinformation? © Guardian News & Media Limited 2011 | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

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