Sunday, January 11, 2015

Famous Egyptian cartoonists in solidarity with Charlie Hebdo

Of course, you have heard of the news. Last Wednesday, El-Qaeda and ISIS-related militants opened fire on the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, killing twelve people including cartoonists, civilian and taking hostages in two places in France

Famous Egyptian cartoonists  have condemned the attack, siding with freedom of expression. On his Facebook page, Makhlouf noted that the four cartoonists were "among the most renowned cartoonists in the world. I am a cartoonist, Muslim, with freedom of speech and against murder".

In a recent article published by Al-Masry Al-Youm,  the two cartoonists, Makhlouf and Anwar, gave further insight into the French magazine. 

Satirical journalism, they pointed out, had a long tradition that dated back to the nineteenth century.

The French cartoonist Siné played an important part in the emergence of Charlie Hebdo. Siné took part in the France's student revolt of 1968 that was critical of the rise of capitalism and commercial values in the French society. He established, together with Georges Wolinski, L'Enrage that introduced a generation of cartoonists who later established Charlie Hebdo.  

Makhlouf and Anwar remarked that- in essence - Charlie Hebdo is hostile to any form of authority, whether it is religious or political. The magazine made fun of religious symbols, politicians and celebrities. The authors cite one quotation by Charb who was killed in the attack: "It is a right of any individual to be religious but what does not seem acceptable to us are the thoughts and actions of extremists".

Egyptian cartoonists have also expressed solidarity with Charlie Hebdo through their drawings. One drawing by Makhlouf portrays him raising a pen. The Arabic reads in "solidarity with Charlie Hebdo". Another painting by well-known Hicham Rahma satirizes ISIS.

You can view the drawings by Egyptian cartoonists, here.


Like many Egyptians, and many Muslims, I was aggravated by the terrorist attacks in France.

While  you may or may not agree with the publication of cartoons that satirizes religious symbols,  in a broad sense of the term "religious", what is rather certain is that the attack on Charlie Hebdo is an atrocity.  In this post, I pay tribute to the civilians and the four cartoonists who were murdered. I present below a short biography of them.

Georges Wolinski (aged 80 years)
Born in Tunisia in 1934, Wolinski began to draw political cartoons in 1960. Together with Siné, he established L'Enrage after the student revolt of May (1968). 

Tignous (aged 57 years)
According to Anwar and Makhlouf, before his death, Tignous was experimenting with a new technique of painting through the use of the computer.

Charb (aged 47 years)
He worked in different newspapers before joining Charlie Hebdo in 1992. He was the editor-in-chief of Charlie Hebdo from 2009 until his death on 7 January 2015. His cartoons has anti-capitalist and anti-racism themes. One of his cartoons is an anti-racism poster that reads: "I would hire you, but I don't like the color of ... uh ... your tie!".

Cabu (aged 76 years)
His drawings were first published in 1954.  During the Algerian War of Independence (1954-1962), Cabu was forced to be conscripted in the French Army, an experience that  shaped his anti-militarist tendencies. His popularity grew in 1980 as he took part in one children's TV programme, Récré A2.