Less than two weeks after the fifth anniversary of the January 25 revolution, Egypt is not showing any signs of improvement in its treatment of human rights advocates. On the evening of January 31, security forces raided the workplace of satirist and cartoonist Islam Gawish.
Islam is a prominent cartoonist whose work had been featured in many media outlets. His satirical material is mostly related to social phenomena and rarely involves politics. The 26-year-old, who publishes his cartoons on a Facebook page called Elwarka, which has 1.75 million followers, was arrested after his workplace was raided by police, as reported by albidaiah:
وأوضح المصدر، في اتصال مع «البداية»، أنه جاري حاليا تحرير محضر ضد رسام الكاريكاتير بتهم إدارة موقع «أخبار مصر» بدون ترخيص، وإدارة صفحة «ورقة» بدون ترخيص، وبث بيانات على شبكة الانترنت على غير الحقيقة، وبدون الحصول على إذن من وزارة الاتصالات بالمخالفة لقانون الاتصالات 10 لسنة 2003، وحيازة برامج مقلدة ومنسوخة، بالمخالفة لقانون 82 لسنة 2002، وعرضه على النيابة.
ومن جانبه، قال محمد الزيات، زميل إسلام جاويش، في تصريحات لـ«البداية» إن قوة من مباحث المصنفات اقتحمت شركة أيجيبشن نتورك لتكنولوجيا المعلومات بأبراج الشرطة بمدينة نصر وقبضوا على إسلام.
A source clarified to albidaiah that Islam is now being charged with operating the website “Egypt News” without a license, running “Elwarka” [his cartoon Facebook page] without a license, publishing false news on the Internet and publishing news without a license from the Ministry of Telecommunications in violation of Communications Law no. 10 of 2003, and using unlicensed software in violation of law 82 of 2002. He will be referred to the Public Prosecution. Islam's workmate Mohamed Alzayat told elbidaiah that a group of the intelligence officials stormed the Egyptians Network Technology offices in Nasr city and arrested Islam.
There are almost 27 million Facebook users in Egypt and we can't confirm how many of them are licensed, since there isn't a public announcement that they should be, how to get this license or where to get it from. That has not slipped the minds of other satirists though as comical account hantarisha tweeted this Photoshopped photograph of his “Tweeting License,” which allows him to use the Internet:
Thank God I have a license
[Photoshopped image says: licensed to change the avatar and tweet no more than 6 political tweets a day]
Cartoonists were quick to respond to their mate being arrested, offering solidarity on social media. Among the news being circulated while Gawish was being held is that he was arrested for making fun of Egyptian president Abdel Fattah El Sisi in his cartoons – charges mentioned to Gawish when he was arrested but then dropped after the backlash his arrest created on social media.
Journalist Hossam Alsokari hits back on Facebook sharing cartoons by other cartoonists who reacted to Gawish's arrest by drawing even more cartoons featuring El Sisi.
#نصيحة.. إغلط في أي حد بس تجنب رسامي الكاريكاتير..
شارك بوضع رسوم أو روابط في التعليقات وسيتم تحديث البوست دوريا
(رسم أنديل من مدى مصر، وعبده البرماوي وهشام رحمة ومهاب من زائد 18، وأيضا صورة عمرو نوهان الذي حوكم عسكريا وحوكم عليه بالسجني سنتين)
Public Service Announcement: You can mess with anyone but cartoonists. Attached are cartoons by Andeel from Mada Masr, Abda Elbermawi, Hesham Rahma and Mohab from Plus 18. Also the picture made by Amr Nohan [featuring President Sisi wearing Mickey Mouse ears], who was tried in a military court and sentenced to two years.
Islam's arrest brought prominent activists to Twitter, the satirists and recently Emmy awards host Bassem Youssef tweeted:
لو اسلام جاويش كان اختلس ٣٧ مليون جنيه كان زمانهم بيتصالحوا معاه و رجع بيته #كفاية_بقى
— Dr Bassem Youssef (@DrBassemYoussef) January 31, 2016
if Islam had embezzled 37 million they would have already been reconciling with him and sending him back home. Enough is enough.
And Islam's story went viral:
— AlyaaGad AfhamTVأفهم (@AlyaaGad) January 31, 2016
Islam Gawish is trending worldwide
After being interrogated and questioned by the Pubic Prosecution, Gawish was released and all charges were dropped. On his Facebook page, the cartoonist pledges to continue doing what he loves doing most – drawing cartoons:
عمومًا هفضل أرسم أفكاري.. مش هأبطل رسم، وهكمل اللي أنا حابه وهفضل شغال فيه، وأنا لا بطبّل لحد ولا بشتم حد، ولا منحاز فكريًا لحد وليا أرائي سواء الفكرية أو السياسية الخاصة، ولا متطرف في الحوار ولا بدعي البطولة والمثالية
I will continue drawing my ideas. I will not stop drawing. And I will continue doing what I like and continue working in this direction. I am not cheering for anyone, nor am I insulting anyone. And I am not biased to anyone. I have my own opinions, whether intellectual or political and I am not extremist in my ideas and don't claim to be a hero and a role model. Thank you all.