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Egyptian political cartoonist Islam Gawish was arrested in Cairo on Sunday, January 31, at his office at the Egyptian News Network for publishing a cartoon critical of the government, according to a posting on the cartoonist’s popular Facebook page Al-Waraqah (The Paper). The cartoonist’s lawyer, in a statement to the Associated Press, reiterated that the only charge against Gawish at the time of his arrest was “publishing drawings that are offensive to the regime.”
A pronouncement from the Egyptian Interior Ministry later stated that Islam Gawish was arrested for running a website ‘without permission from the Ministry of Telecommunications’ and for the possession of pirated software.
Gawish has now been released according to reports in Al-Masry Al-Youm, with a prosecution attorney quoted saying Gawish was arrested by mistake and that he was facing no charges.
A joint statement from eight opposition parties in support of Gawish decried the government crackdown on the regime’s critics, stating: “We warn about the consequences of a return to the police state and the repression of freedoms . . . There has to be an end for targeting people with free opinions, who wish for nothing but living in a country that respects freedom of opinion and expression, according to the constitution.”
Article 67 of Egypt’s constitution states that “freedom of artistic and literary creativity is guaranteed. The state shall encourage arts and literature, sponsor creative artists and writers and protect their productions, and provide the means necessary for achieving this end.”
In an interview with Al-Monitor Columnist Pinar Tremblay, Latuff said: “Turkey is the only country where access to my cartoon blog was officially blocked. I haven’t heard of a similar ban in other countries. In the case of Turkey, I have the document from the Turkish government certifying the ban.”
This is, according to journalist Tremblay, “the first time a foreign cartoonist is facing a legal ban in Turkey.”
For the Ms. Tremblay’s complete interview with Latuff, go to Al-Monitor’s Turkish Pulse.
Iranian artist/activist Atena Farghadani is recipient of the Population Institute‘s 2015 Global Media Award for editorial cartooning. Expat Iranian cartoonist and CRNI board member Nik Kowsar accepted the award on Ms. Farghadani’s behalf at a presentation at the institute’s Washington, D.C., headquarters in January.
The awards are presented annually to “recognize and celebrate authors, reporters, film makers, cartoonists, radio hosts, and others for their coverage of issues relating to population, family planning, reproductive health, and gender inequality.”
In its announcement of the awards, the Population Institute wrote: “Iranian artist, Atena Farghadani is the winner of this year’s Best Editorial Cartoon. Farghadani drew a cartoon depicting parliamentary leaders as animals after the Iranian legislature voted to ban vasectomies and other forms of contraception. The cartoon, unfortunately, landed Farghadani in prison, where she was sentenced to 12 years for spreading propaganda. Since being sentenced, Farghadani has been outspoken about the injustices of the Iranian prison system and the need for better treatment of women throughout the country.”