Egyptian cartoonist Islam Gawish arrested at his office - lawyers

Sunday 31-01-2016 07:14 PM
Egyptian cartoonist Islam Gawish arrested at his office - lawyers

By Menna Zaki and Hend Kortam

CAIRO, Jan 31 (Aswat Masriya) – Egyptian cartoonist Islam Gawish was arrested Sunday at his office in a Cairo information technology company but the reason of his arrest remains unclear. 

Mohab Saeed, a lawyer at the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), told Aswat Masriya policemen entered the office, escorted Gawish out and seized two computers.

Gawish runs a Facebook page, "al-Warka", which features satirical content and points to social and political issues. The page has more than 1.5 million likes.

"Al-Warka" announced the suspension of all "art work" because of Gawish's arrest, in a statement posted on Facebook.  

A security source from Cairo's security directorate told Aswat Masriya that authorities arrested Gawish based on a decision by general prosecutor over drawings, which were deemed offensive to the state. 

Gawish's lawyer Mahmoud Osman told Aswat Masriya that so far no official charges have been leveled against him. He is due to face prosecutors this evening, Osman said.

Osman added that the right of artistic freedom is guaranteed by the constitution.

Article (67) stipulates that the "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."

Friends of Gawish showered him with statements of solidarity, posted to his personal Facebook account, once the news of his arrest came out. In tandem, Twitter users started circulating hashtags in solidarity with Gawish and many have expressed their disdain at his arrest.

Leftist Egyptian lawyer Zyad Elelaimy described the regime as being "afraid of mockery, a flower and a drawing," in a message he posted on Twitter.

Poet Abdul Rahman Yusuf, who is also the son of Islamist preacher Yusuf al-Qaradawi, said if Gawish were a "thief or a killer, they would have reconciled with him... unfortunately, there is no reconciling with Islam Gaweesh's crime; his crime is called #freedom."

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